How does one know if one has truly integrated into Chinese society, culture, and customs? Although there are no set standards or rules, one can say that a foreigner has sufficiently adjusted when he or she:
1. Clips one’s nails in public (in the street, bus, restaurant, etc)
2. Is able to fall asleep at any moment at any place.
3. Speaks the local dialect.
4. Has learned to feel shameless about going to the toilet in front of a dozen curious women.
5. Talks to loudly in the phone
6. Chews with deafening sound effects
7. Stops whatever it is one is doing when one sees a group of people huddled together in the street and immediately goes to see what’s going on.
8. Takes a six-hour bus ride and considers it short.
9. Can quarrel in a tone of voice that makes one sound like a hoarse chicken on acid.
I caught myself doing all of the above recently. Have I lost all sense or does this mean that I have gone native?
To be continued…
V.V. Aku: writer, mother, rock-climber, kung fu addict. and explorer, lived in China on the border of Tibet with her Black Yi family for over a decade. She recently moved back to The Netherlands where she devotes her time to writing book and scripts for film and TV.