How to Act Like a Laowai 101

My unmistakable East Asianness often helps me escape detection as a laowai. Still, there are a myriad small ways that I give the game away.

  1. Wear unattractive hiking sandals in the dead of subtropical “winter”
  2. Read books in English
  3. Write in a journal in English (this one is a shocker. A guy on the subway almost broke his neck he did a double take so hard at seeing me scrawling in English.)
  4. Be seen in the proximity of white people
  5. Converse with white people
  6.  Speak flawless English
  7. Foolishly attempt to sprint up the nearly vertical hill on the running trail, while all the ayis leisurely stroll up
  8. Work out in T-shirts that say ILLINOIS MARATHON
  9. Say miantiao (noodles) with the wrong tones

Basically, as long as I don’t open my mouth or speak any word in any language ever, I’m good, or so I tell myself.

As always,  my kiddos at work are still the most perplexed at the American accented Asian person. Every new class comes with a chorus of “Ni shi zhonguoren ma?”s, and more recently, “Ni shi inguoren ma?” Which…really? BRITISH?


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