So this is what it feels like to be famous (or just weird-looking)

Before I left, I figured that I would be getting some weird looks from people as a foreigner. Even so, I don’t think I was quite ready for the reception I would get from the good people of Wuxi.

Regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity (there are 56 Chinese minorities outside of the Han), people do double-takes wherever I go in Wuxi. And the kids at the primary school I help out at? They go nuts. If I walk past a group of them, they whisper excitedly, “罗泰岚!, 美国人!“ (My Chinese name; American). I’m told it’s a combination of my dark appearance which apparently looks vaguely Asian (also, my short haircut looks quite similar to that of other Chinese men), and the fact that there are not very many foreigners in Wuxi.

It’s kind of self-inflating, to be honest. But also pretty funny, especially when I pronounce something correctly in Chinese.* Complete and utter shock. It’s great. Anyone in America who feels unappreciated would either feel much better in China or really insecure. As for myself, I’m strangely enjoying the whole thing, though I definitely understand a bit of how exchange students must feel out of place when in America.

*A rare event, to be sure. I asked a worker at the school I work at, in Chinese, how long he’d been studying English, and he answered after some thinking, “Around 10 o’clock”–he thought I was asking when he went to bed.

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7 thoughts on “So this is what it feels like to be famous (or just weird-looking)

  1. I asked a worker at the school I work at, in Chinese, how long he’d been studying English, and he answered after some thinking, “Around 10 o’clock”–he thought I was asking when he went to bed.
    ——————————————————————

    That’s a good one :) Chong

  2. I love your blog and writing style! Hope you don’t mind me vicariously living your adventures in China through your blog! I’m very interested in China and learning more about foreigners travels and experiences in China. Thought I should introduce myself before stalking you though. By the way, I’m on your FB (I linked to your blog from it) and met you in Oregon your Frosh year. I was one of the Asian looking Americans..I haven’t been up there for awhile so if you don’t remember me do not feel bad.

      • Oh what a relief. Thanks for remembering me and letting us read. I’d love to go to China someday! I was in Korea last year and remember similar experiences as a stranger in a foreign land. btw, I’ve heard foreigners can access FB in China if the law in their country does not ban them. However, I also just know of a lot of smart people that have broken firewalls… A woman I met last week said her son’s friend is in charge of networking with expats and foreigners on FB (am I even allowed to type the actual word?) in China. I would be curious to know whether or not this is true!

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