EXPERIENCE--Living La Vida Laowai
By Lisa Davies
Lady Gaga’s got nothing on me!
I walk around Nanhu Primary School to cries of “Liiiiisa! Liiiisa!” from ‘my’ Grade 1 students.
They try to hug me, give me High Fives or show off – either with all the English they know or with their best party trick. It is not uncommon for a Grade 1 girl to lift her leg behind her head just to show she can. No-one tells you this will happen. You are utterly unprepared and caught off guard by the adulation levels you imagine Gaga or the like must receive.
We went to Happy Valley recently – a theme park in OCT. Now, the time where I garnered pleasure from being dangled the wrong way round at a great height passed many moons ago. What I did enjoy was small children regularly asking my name and where I am from then adding “you are beautiful.” Any girl who says they don’t like being called beautiful has a touch of the Pinocchios going on, but I digress.
I posed to have my picture taken several times at Happy Valley and more since. Not because I am particularly beautiful (but obviously not immune to flattery) but because I am a Laowai – a foreigner. I have novelty value. Just like the rest of you who are taking two minutes out of your busy day to read me waffle on...
I have been here four months now. I have friends here who adjusted to Living La Vida Laowai years ago. So this is more for the newbies among you. People will take your picture – whether you want them to or not. The ‘sneaky selfie’ is my personal fave. An over-the-head shot as someone walks in front of you nonchalantly. Taxi drivers often take my picture thinking I don’t notice. As long as they transport me to my destination with the usual low fare – a freebie piccie is the least I can do!
I love my job. I worked in marketing and PR for 14 years and believe me, the “Liiiiiisa, Liiiisa!”routine just didn’t happen. Teaching in China is fun. Challenging. Fulfilling. And being called “beautiful” and photographed is the closest to my “five minutes of fame” that this Laowai will ever be.