How China changed me forever

We’ve been back in Canada for a few months now after three years in East Asia (one in Taiwan, two on the Mainland). Three years is not very long when you’re talking about cross-cultural adaptation, especially between vastly different cultural and linguistic contexts like China and North America. But it’s long enough to get your feet wet in a new language and culture, and to make you feel weird when you go back “home.”

We’ve pretty much re-acclimatized to North American life, meaning that we feel naturally, effortlessly comfortable in this cultural context again (though we didn’t feel this way at first) — except for one thing, for which I suspect China has ruined me forever.

Every time I open the fridge to get a drink, or even some fruit, I instinctively want to leave it on the counter for a while to warm up. I cringe inside at the thought of how cold the juice is in the pitcher. Really cold drinks hurt my throat now, and I can’t drink them as fast when I’m really thirsty. I never cared before. Now I can’t help it. China has ruined my relationship with refrigerators, probably forever.

Ok, China. I admit it. You were right on this one. Cold drinks are bad. Warm drinks are better. I’ve tried it both ways, and I’ve been converted. I’m scared to think what might be next: Beijing Opera? Walking backwards through the park? Rolling my undershirt up to my armpits in the summer? You never can tell what too much time overseas will do to a guy.

(P.S. – I hope you weren’t expecting something profound here. We’re busy with the new baby and getting our lives in order to move back to Tianjin!)

4 thoughts on “How China changed me forever”

  1. I guess it doesn’t hit everyone the same – A liter of ice-cold milk is still my favorite summer drink. Winter too…hmmm… maybe it’s just me.

    Oh, and my grandmothers were both advised to stay in bed for a month after giving birth – that was the medical thinking back in the 1930’s and 40’s.

  2. Love your post!!! I have to admit, after 6 long years in Taiwan, I also developped an aversion to anything really cold, even ice cream. It tends to make me cough and hurt my teacher throat!! Koreans don’t have this thing about cold and even on days when it’s – 10 C, you’ll find plenty of girls stuffing their face with ice cream at Basking Robbins!
    I’m looking forward to living in ‘real’ China sometime in the future, my fiance is from Shandong and China is the country of my heart!!! Korea is for financial reasons (plus the lifestyle here is great!)
    China does change us, but in a good way I think!
    Glad I found your website, I’ll put it in my blogroll!

  3. Your fiance is from Shandong? They say that’s where China’s real manly men come from. Uh, congratulations!

    The winter time eating ice cream outside thing I don’t understand. They do that in Tianjin, too, outside McDonalds. Won’t drink water with ice cubes, but ice cream when it’s below freezing outside? No problem.

    I still remember the looks on the parents’ faces during our first week full-time at a Taiwan buxiban, when I served them refrigerated water while they had a meeting with our boss. It was summer and super hot and humid, but they had this little shock of surprise when they touched the paper cup. They didn’t drink it. I also remember being served hot water on a hot day and thinking, “What the heck?”

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