I just got over a cold, and not just a cold but like, a major disgusting, hocking, snotty nose, bleary-eyed flu. When you have a cold in China it’s basically better to keep it to yourself lest ye go mad. Why would you go mad? Because you hear the same few things over and over again and your already sick and cranky it’s easy to lose your temper.
What are some common things you hear when you are sick in china (For those of you in China, your already laughing aren’t you? Because you know exactly what I am going to say.)
“Drink more hot water”
This is the most annoying piece of advice you hear ALL THE TIME when living in China. My friend smashed her elbow, the bone, and went to the hospital. Their recommendation? Drink hot water. (Seriously, the doctors told her that. As if it could heal bone. They didn’t even give her a splint or anything just ‘drink more hot water.’)
I had to cancel 3 classes and many students kindly contacted me to see if I was okay. When I said I had a bad cold, their advice? Drink hot water. When I ran into people outside they took one look at me and said ‘drink more hot water.’ When my co-workers found out they said ‘drink more water.’ (But in an ironic mocking way as they also hate this piece of advice.)
Later in one of my classes I managed to drag myself to, a student admonished me. I had a water bottle filled with ice water and she said cold water was bad for me and I should drink hot water. I told her it soothed my voice which was hot from speaking and then I told her it was “traditional American culture.” (Any sort of different culture thing can be explained away if I say this.)
Just a small smattering of texts I got from students. Notice the water references…
“Wear More Clothes”
I have to remember to take deep breaths when a student says this too me because the first thing I want to shout is, “YOU DON’T THINK I KNOW HOW TO DRESS MYSELF?!” They are just saying it to be caring and considerate, but this one really pisses me off. Xiamen is quite hot. It’s still short-sleeve weather, and I was wearing a long sleeve button-down shirt when I ran into a student who told me to “wear more clothes.” I was sweating, drips of sweat literally running down my face and I said, “Oh really? I should put on more clothes despite the fact I’m sweating so much?!” I know it’s just something to say, like “get more rest,” but as an American it often feels like an insult. As if some 20-year-old punk knows what to do better than me.
“Weather is Changeable”
This is the most common reason I hear of “why” I got sick. It’s fall so “weather is changeable” is a common refrain. Sometimes I just grind my teeth and put on a fake smile but every now and then I lose it and kinda freak out and say, “Changeable weather cannot give me a germ. Students who don’t cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, or pick their noses and then hand me papers are the reason I’m sick! Or the people spitting just a few inches from where I am standing, or the people that shoot snot rockets. Not the goddamn weather!” Seriously, their sense of hygiene is totally wack here.
So I appreciate the sentiment from my students and friends, but next time I get a cold? I’m keeping it to myself.