Imported Habits

Last week I stumbled across this post written by a foreigner in China about the habits she has picked up in China that she will take with her upon leaving.

A summary of her list:

1. Saying “bye bye.”

2. Drinking hot water

3. Bargaining “out of principle.”

4. Adding Chinese words into English sentences

5. Inspecting plates and cutlery in restaurants to make sure they are clean.

6. Checking out big bank notes to make sure they are not fake.

7. Playing games on my phone.

8. Doing shots of beer.

9. Taking my shoes off before entering the house.

10. Being “one of the gang.”

Having recently returned to the States, I can say that I have definitely brought with me habits # 4 and 9. And I remember doing #5 at my parents’ home when I returned after my first year in China, and wilting under my mother’s glare! The others not so much.

I am still not a fan of hot water, or any other hot drinks, for that matter. I don’t enjoy bargaining (although I can do it), nor playing games on my phone. I don’t check my big bank notes to see if they are fake, but I have noticed that the clerks also don’t check, which seems strange to me. As for # 8 and 10, I like neither beer nor crowds!

The post got me to thinking, though, about the habits that I have picked up and brought back to the States with me. Here are five:

1. Offering to pick up the tab when eating out with friends. In China it’s considered rude to split the tab up among the diners. One person pays, presuming that someone else will pick up the tab the next time. In fact, there is usually a fight to see who can have the honor of paying.

2. Untucking sheets and blankets. In China I converted to the local way of sleeping, with a quilt on top of me, not sheets and blankets tucked under the mattress. It’s all about rolling yourself up in a quilt, like a pig in a blanket.  Not only did I bring this habit back to the States with me; I brought back several Chinese cotton quilts. And when I stay in a hotel here, the first thing I do is untuck the sheets and blankets. Like this:

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3. Stomping my feet to turn on a hall light. Most apartment building hallways and stairways have motion censor lights that come on when you clap or stomp your feet. As a result, whenever you step from an apartment into a dark hall, you just start stomping your feet. Last week while leaving a friend’s house, I stepped out onto a dark front porch and found myself stomping my feet without thinking. Of course the person with me thought I had gone stark raving mad.

4. Taking the stairs in a 2 or 3 story building. Older buildings in China that are less than 7 stories typically don’t have elevators, so there is a lot of walking up and down stairs. Now, if I’m going to the 2nd or 3rd floors of a building here, I will naturally head for the stairs.

5. Telling my 86-year old mom to wear more clothes. This annoys her to no end!

What are some habits that you took home with you after a sojourn in China?

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2 thoughts on “Imported Habits

  1. Ummmmm … Stabbing a big tomato with my fork and taking bites out of it as I would do in the land of chopsticks and no dinner knives at the table.

    Putting toilet paper in the wastebasket instead of the toilet (ok–only did that once)

    More, too–but can’t think of them because they are still such a part of me that they don’t feel alien in the US quite yet!

  2. I have occasionally sucked air in through my teeth when someone asks me a difficult question here in the US – and received strange looks. for the unusual noise.