Traveling home from China took me 46 hours from door to door. It was a long time. I slept maybe 4-5 hours total and wanted to die at least double that amount of times. But, I made it home. So now, I am here, and have practically nothing to do. So, I spend a lot of time on my computer… and well, I do miss China, but I don’t miss the constant nagging of people asking me ridiculous questions. And this is my own fault, I know, but, I remain on QQ (Chinese instant chat tool…if you would like to download it…go here: http://www.imqq.com/) to stay in touch with Chinese friends, but that means, I have the incoming flood of pointless questions. For example:
“Where?” That’s how people have been saying hello to me for the past two months.
“How can I improve my English?” – Study. That’s how you improve anything.
“Why is English difficult?” – I don’t know.
Oh. Those are just a few of the questions. But the way Chinese people chat on this QQ mechanism is infuriating. And the worst thing is, after using it as much as I have, I have picked up SOME of their habits. I have not gone this far yet, but here is how people in China say hello:
🙂 – they often use a smiley face. the worst is the blushing smiley face. yes, Chinese QQ is far more advanced as far as smileys go than any American chat tool.
Nudging – A nudge shakes your chat window and brings it to the front of your screen. This is especially annoying because 1 – no one wants another person to have the control to intentionally get your intention by shaking something on your screen and 2 – if you are typing, you may accidentally type in the shaking window giving away that you are actually at your computer and then you are no longer free to hide. Bottom line: I hate nudging, unless I am annoying an American friend who is using QQ.
你好 – That means hello in Chinese. I understand that much. But they often follow it up with more Chinese. Most often something like this: 你会说中文吗？ Do you speak Chinese? And it’s usually from one of my students. When in class have I ever given them the impression that I speak Chinese? Never is that answer. Whenever I did say one word in Chinese in class, I sounded like a fool. So please, don’t type in Chinese to me. If they typed in pinyin (the characters spelled out) then I can maybe understand some of it. But when they type in characters, that means I have to use a translator. And hey, when I am on the computer chatting, I don’t want to have to do that. I am an English teacher. If someone wants to speak to me on QQ, they must use English.
—So those three greetings are three greetings that I have chosen to ignore. If someone says hello to me by one of those methods, I will neglect to respond. Sorry.
I said QQ smileys are way more advanced than anything in America. And I mean it. They have icons for everything. And they move a lot. And do crazy, scary things. They have bloody butcher knives (my personal favorite), but it is a little disturbing when people send it to me for no reason. And, I know they all have some sort of meaning, that people can read in Chinese. However, I cannot, so I am always confused when someone sends a little astronaut jumping up and down doing jumping jacks to me. What can that mean? I’ll spend ten minutes at a time trying to decipher it. I’ll go back over our last ten lines….but…what can it mean??? WHAT DOES IT MEAN? As we speak, someone just said to me, “My English isn’t very good,” and followed it up with a picture of some cartoon bunny-like figure with squinted/closed eyes waving it’s arms up and down as if attempting to fly. How does that fit the context of the conversation? REALLY!?!? How? Dear lord, China. (the bunnies ears are way too small..completely disproportionate…someone fucked that up)
Lastly, QQ is more than just a chat tool. It is EVERYTHING. It is email, TV, radio, mp3 player (you can look up and play any song for free), and QQzone. QQzone is basically facebook. People can post pictures and write on walls, have blogs, post statuses, even use QQ farm (like farmville…both of which I hate) you know, all that fun stuff. So, I get really confused when people try to send me stuff, I can’t understand Chinese. I usually end up just clicking around and trying to figure out what is happening. I fail, of course. But I did manage to post a bunch of inappropriate pictures on my QQ zone. Inappropriate as in, just pictures of me in college having fun. Not too much drinking, but still, I look like a goofball, and my students can see them. Oh well.
k. That’s it for now.
Cultural Difference #2:
China: There are no driving laws. I mean, there are. But, that means very little. I have met traffic officers before and asked them how they spend their time since they clearly do nothing. They thought I was joking. I wasn’t. And it got even more ridiculous when one said he was trained to kill someone with one punch. Because that’s necessary of all traffic officers. But yeah, people swerve all over the roads. It’s normal to drive on the wrong side of the road…nbd. People go through red lights (sometimes by faking a ride turn and then going straight…very strategic). There are no stop signs. And most importantly, people in China beep for no reason at all. It doesn’t matter where you are. In the countryside by yourself. You beep. On a highway, by yourself. You beep. Stuck in traffic with thousands of other cars. EVERYONE BEEPS. The trucks and buses especially enjoy this. It’s one of those, ‘mine is bigger than yours so I’m going to show it off’ mentalities, I believe.
America: We stop at lights. We have stop signs (or roll through is more like it). We sometimes speed but not dangerously whizzing all over the street. And we beep when it is necessary. (still boring…)