Maaike - La femme qui rêvasse (silentreverie) wrote,
Maaike - La femme qui rêvasse
silentreverie

The staring

(Just posted on www.rapturina.com)

There is one thing I was rather apprehensive about before coming to China to live in a city where a foreigner is still an anomaly: the staring. When I was in India last year the amount of people staring at me drove me crazy, so I was worried it’d be the same here in China (I could obviously never be a celebrity!).

People in Yantai have seen foreigners before, but it’s not like this is Beijing or Shanghai, where foreigners have become more or less part of daily life (or so I’ve heard). I suppose here in Yantai it’s still kind of special to see a foreigner on the streets, so people do stare a bit sometimes. I don’t find it as annoying as I was expecting though, so that’s a relief! People don’t really do anything but staring. Some of them might do a double take as I walk by, and some might yell “hello!”, but that happens maybe once every two weeks. Not *all* the time, like they did in India, and they don’t want to constantly take pictures of me either or try to sell me stuff, so it’s not a problem at all.

Mind you, the staring is actually a lot worse when I’m out and about with my fellow teacher Simone, who has dark skin and dreadlocks. She’s much more of an event than I am, I’m just a boring white person, which suits me fine. :D

Having said that, being a boring white person is one thing, a running white person is apparently a lot more exciting. Yesterday morning I went for a short run along the beach and some cars would actually slow down beside me to have a good look at the running foreigner, which I thought was rather funny. I was too out of breath to really care anyway! A word of warning to my former colleagues in Tilburg though: I was wearing my Tilburg University hoody, so you will have to mentally prepare yourselves for a big inflow of students from the general Yantai area next year!
Tags: china
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  • 6 comments
at least they are JUST staring, because i guess they have some decency Asians... but well, i can relate to the sticking out like a black sheet (well rather white) very much!!
and well, you both are sure exotic!
Yeah, I'm very happy they only stare! When I was in India people were constantly talking to me and it really drove me insane. I can't imagine living somewhere where that happens all the time, though I suppose if you stay in one place people will get used to you after a while. :D
Just to let you know that you showed up in my dream a few days ago. Unfortunately, I bumped into you with my car, you ended up with a massively bruised arm, and the rest of the encounter was spent looking for a hospital, not in the best of terms. Sorry about that, I'll try and drive more carefully in my dreams from now on :-)
I hope you continue to enjoy China (knowing you, I should think so)!
Well, as long as you promise to drive more carefully next time, I will forgive you. :D I do hope it's not one of those dreams predicting my future, though with the driving style of people here it's really only a matter of time before something happens.... :D
Can't help but smile at this :) Years ago we went on vacation in China, and the Chinese tourists at some of the sights wanted to take pictures of themselves with us. That felt very weird, I mean, it's not like we are celebrities :) There was one guy in the group we travelled with who was young, tall and blonde - EVERYONE was staring at him and wanted to take his picture. Crazy. I mean, when you go to a touristic place and someone is waving with a camera, you expect them to want you to take a picture of them with their friends, not that they want their friend to take a picture of them with YOU :)

/Anna
*friend of Mély*
Nice to meet you! I saw on your LJ info page that you like Darren Hayes! I was so surprised that I added you as a friend. I don't come across many people who say that anymore. And I like making new friends. :D

Anyway, the thing with China is, the touristic places are the only places where regular Chinese people will be able to see foreigners. There are plenty of smaller cities & towns where foreigners hardly ever venture, so seeing a foreigner is still a big thing for many Chinese people. Where I was living they were quite used to seeing foreigners, but there were still quite a lot of people who'd be very intrigued whenever I walked past. People wanting to take my picture only really happened at touristic places though. :D I always imagine that in Chinese travel guides it will mention where you can see foreigners, like "at the Great Wall you can see many beautiful views, and lots of foreigners", and they might specifically go to these places to take pictures of foreigners. :D

I find it really hard to imagine how cut off from the rest of the world the Chinese are, it's really something. Here in Europe we're used to people looking different because of their backgrounds, but China is completely different. There aren't that many foreigners to start with, and the ones that are there are all temporary. I had a hard time explaining the concept of a non-white person being Dutch to my Chinese students, as China just doesn't have an immigration history like we do in Europe. To the Chinese, if you look Chinese, you are Chinese. If you don't look Chinese, you're not Chinese. It's very simple. They are also completely mystified by people of Chinese descent who are born in Europe or the US and don't speak any Chinese. It's fascinating!

Sorry, I got carried away a bit in my comment back to you. I just find it all very interesting!