Expats, stop saying ‘they’

By Leila Hashemi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/12 17:16:23

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


Recently, I have been growing more and more aware of an ugly trend in my expat friend groups. It seems innocent, but my body tenses and my hands get clammy when such conversations begin.

"Ugh, they always do that."

"I hate how they stare at me."

"Oh, of course, that's how they are; welcome to China."

Whether out to brunch, in line for a ticket or just walking the streets of the hutong, I can almost guarantee that there is a foreigner complaining out loud about something they don't like in China.

Here's my advice - Stop! Not only is it rude, but it is also extremely racist. The funny thing to me is that some expats just go spouting their hate or discontent about certain things in China loud and clear for all to hear.

Now, that is what I call a real expat bubble.

I wish just once, a Chinese passerby would "pop the bubble" and say something along the lines of, "You know a lot of Chinese can speak English, so maybe keep your opinions to yourself."

Before coming to China, I did a lot of research, and one of the main pieces of advice I found was not to try to compare another culture to your home culture because it will not be the same and you will stress yourself out trying to think it ever will be.

Imagine if you were in your home country and you heard a group of foreigners complaining about your culture and way of life?

I don't how many times I have shushed a friend or cringed while dining out and someone starts to rant.

I always think to myself, "If you hate it so much, why don't you just leave?"

Don't get me wrong. I have done my fair share of venting to expat friends and coworkers about things that stress me out when I am having what I call a "bad China day." But, this kind of bad day could happen in my home country as well.

So, next time you find yourself saying "they," try to remember that it is the actions of one person. Instead of saying "they always do that," you can vent by saying "this guy was so rude to me today." One person is not a representation of an entire race, region or country.

I know there are plenty of people from the US that I don't want representing me.

If you are like me, and you have friends that constantly complain or make rude comments out loud in public, try to jokingly say, "Woah! What if someone can understand you?" This way you don't come off mean or embarrass them in the moment, and it reminds them that they are in fact not in a personal bubble. Then later, you can let them know that it bothers you when they constantly complain and remind them of all the positives that come from living in such a culture-rich country full of new experiences.

Don't let a few differences turn you into a mean, old cynic. No one likes a negative Nancy anyways!

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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