I say if you want really want to learn a culture and a language, you can’t just sit around watching Entourage and picking your nose like you’re mining gold, you gotta go out and immerse yourself in that bitch. Usually that means meeting native speakers and conversing with them more often than not. But really, who wants to do that? You just end up having the same boring conversations ad nauseum. A better way of doing this it is to make some real friends who speak the language and bingo you’ll get it faster than a std in a bathhouse. However, as I shall explain to you dear readers, meeting authentic and decent Chinese friends in China is ironically more difficult than meeting them in oh..say…Stockholm.
Now take a deep breath, close your eyes, and jump into this mess.
This doesn’t apply to all foreigners in China, just… most of them. Imagine yourself in your native country, and a huge ship pulls into the port. It docks and fresh off the boat comes a whole whack of awkward foreigners who are interested in “experiencing” your land’s culture and learning the language so that they can somehow exploit it for financial purposes and/or to get laid. Some of these arrogant dinks want to become friends with you. I don’t know about you but to me that sounds about as comfortable as having a pine cone shoved up the ass.
Secondly and somewhat related to the first reason, most “cool” individuals already have friends, hence why they’re “cool” to begin with. This links in with another block in the great wall of friendship. The people who are in fact soliciting to be your “friend” probably aren’t the people you want as friends. Those try hard English addicts are no different from the fresh off the boat dinks, you must try to avoid them, unless, they are genuinely interesting people. However I can assure you, that’s about as likely as befriending a unicorn and then having to kill it because hobos are the new unicorns, so nothing to worry about there.
There are two prime places where you meet friends. School and work. Most foreigners here work as English teachers thus befriending other foreigners OR they go to school and study Mandarin. It’s not like Chinese people need to study their own damned language, and if they do, they’re studying some off the hook classical shit that would make the hamster running on the little wheel inside my head’s brain leak out its furry little ears.
Factor in the obvious deterrents, like the initial language barrier (why would a native Chinese speaker want to waste his time talking to someone who sounds like a retarded monkey?), cultural differences (“here try some fish flavored yogurt drinks, they’re hao!”) and lack of common interests (“in my spare time I like to study inorganic chemistry and watch period dramas! What about you?”). Apply these to your search and you’ve whittled away most of the potential friends in this place of a billion people down to two department store mannequins and an old poster of Chow Yun-Fat.
This is all part of my hypothesis for why foreigners have such a difficult time meeting Chinese people and then actively hanging out with them. Instead they form their own little enclaves and whine about China on their blogs. Ha.
So what’s a lonely laowai to do when you’re looking to break out of that xenophobic cultural womb? Here’s what I can think of, although I’ve practically run out of things to say at this point and am now winging this:
Finally there’s one more option for “friendship” in this country of so many, but so few. You can always acquire a significant other. From my own top-secret scientific research, this seems to be the most common friendship between foreigners and Han Chinese. But it’s a whole nother can of rotten flesh eating worms that I’m gonna save for dinner some other time.
Filed under: dragons