Becoming 'a little more Chinese'

Becoming 'a little more Chinese'

Two foreign tourists pose for a picture in Jingshan Park

Chinese portal  1. Drinking hot water.——Yup, I've found I really enjoy drinking hot water not only in the morning, but throughout the day. Although my American friends might raise an eyebrow at the practice, it's actually better for the digestive system than the ice-cold beverages we usually drink in the States.

Two foreign tourists ride bicycles to tour around the West Lake in Hangzhou city, east Chinas Zhejiang province

2 A little bit pushier.

I learned very quickly in China that you get pushed around a lot. It doesn't matter if you were the first one in line waiting for the bus; if you're not a bit assertive you'll end up as the last one to get on. At first, I just sighed and reminded myself that patience was a virtue. Now, I marvel at how quickly my ingrained-since-I-was-5-years-old custom of "waiting my turn in line" could get thrown out the window. Sure, I still wait, but don't cut me off.

Foreign tourists pose for photos on the Tiananmen Square in Beijing

3 A little more expressive.

Well, I actually don't know if that's true. I've just learned a new noise to express myself. I'm talking about the noise of surprise that Chinese people make. If you've never heard this particular expression and don't what I'm talking know, it's hard to explain. If you have heard it, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Every time one of my students is surprised or shocked they make this little uuuhhhhmmmm sound in the back of their throats. Long story short, I now make the noise too.

Foreign tourists pose with Chinese "Damas" at Lvcheng Square of Zhengzhou

4  More open when meeting people.

Western culture dictates there are certain things you don't discuss when you first meet someone, and you definitely don't take selfies with them. When meeting someone new, I'm used to putting up a few walls that I won't take down until I get to know them a little better. In China, however, I usually don't have time to put up any walls before my new friend has already added me on WeChat, taken a picture or two, found out my age and my reasons for being in China (and possibly even my salary), and invited me to lunch. At first, it felt a little invasive. Now, it almost feels strange when they don't ask for my WeChat number.

A billboard at an auto show in Beijing. The Hangzhou-based website has become the biggest online trading platform in China as well as the most important platform for thousands of online entrepreneurs

5 Embraced the Taobao lifestyle.

I never did much online shopping when I was at home in America, and when I found out that most of my students make the majority of their purchases without leaving their dorm rooms I was skeptical. But then my students hooked me up with a account and I discovered I could buy virtually anything from boots to ukuleles to imported butter, generally for less than 100 RMB. Since then, I've converted to Taobaoism and even was one of the shoppers that put money into Jack Ma's pocket on 11.11.