Today is China Raaage!
Without getting into specifics, the following formula can pretty much sum up the stages of life in China for an expat:
Honeymoon Period (1-2 months after arrival) -> Occasional Bad China Day (~2-10 months) -> Bad China Day Syndrome (~1-2 years) -> China Rage (2+ years).
The last is akin to having Bad China Hours instead of Days and effectively sees you going postal on somebody at least once a day.
Fortunately, there are some basic precautionary measures and preemptive steps you can take to help avoid you reaching China Rage levels.
Tip # 1
Don’t learn Chinese:
Upon meeting new expats who just got off the boat, we often get asked the question What’s the best way to learn Chinese?
Our answer: Don’t.
The first rule for learning Chinese is ‘You don’t want to learn Chinese.’ The second rule for learning Chinese is ‘You really don’t want to learn Chinese.’
Not unless you want to suffer listening to comments like Do foreigners and Chinese go to the same heaven?? Or Look, a foreigner! Xiao Wei, you speak English, speak to it! Come on! Speak to it!
Tip # 2
Stop it. Just. Stop.
Schedule at least one trip outside China per year:
We all know the daily sh!t we see that have people shaking heads and mouthing What the F$CK? Dads holding adolescent sons buttcheecks as they take a dump on the street. Staring. People shooting snot rockets.
Open-mouthed, slack-jawed staring. Dumbass fashion trends (hello, Sprouts) that impel people to take selfies every five f&cking minutes. Open-mouthed, slack-jawed staring while moving in an orbit around you. This crap builds up, no matter how inconsequential it seems and no matter how much you tell yourself you’re used to it.
Getting out is the only way to fully decompress.
Tip # 3
Find a quiet drinking spot in the streets:
Ok, quiet is a relative term in a Chinese city where a small square still contains enough people to invade Panama. Locate a spot on the edge of a square, find a drinking partner, then pick up a couple tallboys from Lawsons and just drink them while people-watching.
It’s amazing how well this simple routine keeps you adjusted to Chinese culture without sacrificing your sanity. Just beware sociopathic homeless people and overzealous grannies targeting you for your beer cans.
Tip # 4
Robert Kirkman’s inspiration for The Walking Dead
Avoid travelling during Chinese holidays:
Unless of course you’re leaving China. If not, stock up on beer, porn, and video games.
Note: be careful when travelling to SE Asian countries, as Chinese tourists invade these nations too. You know that kid who points at you and screams Wai guo ren! and takes a dump in your xiao qu every day? Yeah, five will get you ten that you’ll see him in Thailand or Philippines too… and we haven’t even gotten to the airplane and airports.
Tip # 5
Scope out a smoking hot Chinese girl:
…and then tail her for a good hour or two. No, seriously. There’s nothing – we mean, NOTHING – that can transition your day from Holy hell, I’m gonna blow my brains out to Oh my god, this is the best day of my life! like a legit Chinese mei nv can. And it happens in a nanosecond.
When you find that girl on the street, abandon your current flight plan and follow her for as long as it takes for you to vent your China Rage. Even if it takes you from city center to bumf&ck village. You NEED this.
(oh, and uhmmm…if you’re a foreign woman, sorry, all hope is lost for you)
Tip # 6
Do workouts 4x a week….at home:
Cuz the ‘experts’ say lifting weights and doing exercises helps release stress. Unless you go to a Chinese gym. Dudes admiring themselves in the mirrors….smoking in the locker rooms….leaving weights on the machines…sweating all over the equipment and machines…spitting loogers everywhere…blow drying their pubes…Yeah, these are just some of the reasons why going to a gym in China will not have the desired effect.
Buy a kettlebell and a mat and stay home, people.
Tip # 7
Don’t drive in China:
Like, ever. Scooter, car, 面包车 (mian bao che, those box-looking vans)…whatever you’ve got available, keep the key for it in your candy jar. Chinese drivers have a special aversion to the most basic traffic rules.
Right of way? Ha…that’s obviously thinking too much.
Merging? Oh yeah, that’s that maneuver where you force cars off the road. And obviously the car horn is this magical compulsion device that announces I’m here assholes! and uses supernatural powers to move people out of the way.
Tip # 8
Find a quiet, nondescript foreign bar:
Tip 3 works, but sometimes it isn’t enough. You need an actual escape hole. A place that has the familiarity and taste of home…or at the very least, a place that doesn’t have Huang Shang shows on the tube and actually offers beer that doesn’t have formaldehyde.
Just be careful in choosing your foreign bar, as expat crowds can get ridiculous too. Imagine an amalgamation of high school clique, drunk chick bellowing Don’t Stop Believing, and popped-collar Jewish fraternity douche wearing flip-flops and cargo shorts.
Tip # 9
Change cities every 2-4 years:
Obviously this one applies to those who plan to be in China for the long haul. Once you find a good city, you’re still on a ticking clock. Even if tips 1 to 8 are working wonders and keeping your China Rage at bay, every Chinese city still has unique triggers and ways of poking your pressure points.
You’ll still subconsciously build up some rage and will ultimately reach that point where you’re tossing lit cigarette butts at people’s heads, flipping off children every day, and destroying elevator cameras.
Tip # 10
Become a housewife/househusband in a Tier 1 city not named Chengdu:
Tier 1 cities (e.g. Shanghai, Beijing) are cool because generally you can walk the streets of them without too much hassle and exposure to the ridiculous Chinese sh!t you see elsewhere. There’s an expectation by everyone for some level of civility.
The only constant between Tier 1 cities and everywhere else is an annoying work environment. Passive-aggressive coworkers, unscrupulous bosses indifferent to your concerns…that does NOT stop, sadly. So move to Shanghai, then find a sugar daddy/mommy and live at home on a marriage visa. Just stay away from Chengdu (or its bigger neighbor Chongqing…they’re both just supersized hamlets).
Tip # 11
Possible places of origin for foreigners, according to Chinese scientists
Give up on applying logic or reason to anything:
You are the 洋鬼子, the foreign devil, and if you’re not that, you’re at best a barbarian from a primitive culture. You live on a separate, lower plane of existence.
Reason and logic cannot possibly be gifted by such a creature. That’s why any effort to inform Chinese that they’re annoying you, or to explain an idea, or to offer an opinion, or to be human…is futile. As a friend once said, imagine if you went to a zoo and an ape said Hey! F&ck you buddy! Your mother’s a whore! Stop starting at me! Would you respond appropriately? No, of course not…you’d exclaim Oh wow! The ape is talking to me! It can speak!
Alas, we are the ape in the zoo.
– Mike’s Guide to China