It may be the hotel staff that helps you get a cab, the taxi driver, the landlord of the transient house you’re staying in, or the street vendor preparing your food adventure for the day, they always ask the same questions when chatting up a foreigner, or laowai. It’s like the entire country was given a standard questionnaire for laowais that they must all get answers to at every opportunity. If you’re Chinese dating and visiting your special Chinese lady for the first time, or even if you’ve travelled to China before, here are some of the most widely asked questions you should be prepared to answer.
How long have you been here? This question may seem very obvious and is actually something that should be expected. The odd thing is not the question itself, but the fact that random locals may just walk up to you and ask you this. The most common context of the question is your ability to speak some Chinese. Again, it is not so odd until you realize that even if you only know how to say two Chinese phrases, they find it as an impressive feat. In fact, the amount of appreciation they show for your ability to speak their language would be the same regardless of how fluent you are.
Additionally, the Chinese seem to always assume that you only started learning their language and their culture after you arrived. So that when you tell them that you’ve only been in China for a few days, they will be often be amazed at how much you already know or how well you speak their tongue (regardless of how little you actually know). They don’t really consider the possibility that you started studying before you got there.
Where do you come from? This question is then followed by either one of the following or both: Do you like China? Or, China is better or your home country is? You must remember that the person asking is truly interested in hearing about a foreign land where the quality of life is relatively more luxurious, where the pay is higher, and where girls with C cups are the rule and not the exception.
At the same time, the question also hints at the famous national pride that the Chinese have for their country. They ask the follow-up questions because they want to hear a foreigner’s appreciation of their society, culture, and history.
Are you alone? This question is less asked in places where foreign students and professionals are as common as Chinese dumplings. If you’re visiting places that are not popular tourist destinations and you’re on your own, the question implies a curiosity about your marital status. To some, such a question may border on nosiness, but don’t forget that you’re an outsider and the curiosity of locals in certain remote locations often belies a certain level of suspicion.
Are you a student, or working? If you’re a student, they will most likely appreciate the fact that you are interested in Chinese culture, history, and education. If you’re the latter, they are mostly curious about whether you are a successful businessman or some other professional who is looking to take advantage of business/job/earning opportunities that their country has to offer. Some may view your interest in their economic potential with admiration; others may think you are exploiting their country.
Again, if you travel to or study/work in places where foreign presence is strong, you may not encounter these questions often. But when you do, always be polite and patient to the locals. If the special Chinese lady you’re visiting can keep you company, all the better. Just always remember that any pleasant, awkward, or annoying encounter you may have while in China is just another way for you to enrich your Chinese dating experience.
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