Adapting to one’s environment is as old as evolution. What makes it interesting in another country is how readily you brag about “adapting” (i.e. “I work well in ‘multicultural’ environments”) or actually admitting to having gone “local.” In other words, there are a few things foreigners do around here that are clear indications they’ve taken the go big or go home approach. A local magazine recently came up with a list, but I think they’ve soft-peddled the “gone native” behavior. Missing from their list includes:
1. You start dating the first woman who pays you any amount of attention—regardless of the reason—and propose to her one month later.
2. When driving a motorbike (read: “scooter,” my friend; they’re all scooters), you call it a “motorcycle,” daub silver paint on it and call it “chrome,” and trick it out with ape-hanger handle bars and a chopped muffler for a more authentic bad ass look and sound. Which kinda doesn’t jive with the matching cartoon pink pig helmets your girlfriend insists the two of you wear.
3. You’ve embraced mixing psychedelic patterns with colours not found in nature, otherwise you’d have to turn up at work naked because a) you only shop off the rack and b) the one white “work” shirt you came with went grey after the first wash.
4. While you claim to “love” Vietnamese food you haven’t actually consumed any since about three months after you arrived. Delivery for Willy Woo’s Chicken and Waffles is on your speed dial.
5. And speaking of which (and not really a sign of going native, but) you still don’t know how to hold or use chopsticks and it’s embarrassing watching grown adults put a stick in each hand and attempt to eat by stabbing their food. Which leads to…
6. You prefer to let your girlfriend feed you. In public. (For women see point #4.)
Hence the video below. It’s for the folks who haven’t adapted, but protest otherwise.
Shit Expats in Hanoi Say: A Parody by Ashley and Anemi
Uh, this video is pretty bang on. (Guilty, guilty, guilty for “backpackers” and “Lonely Planet” snorts of derision.) However, Ashley and Anemi’s account of life is way too clean. Down here in Saigon we’d have a far dirtier and potty-mouthed version of self-denial. Note the scarves and boots the expat Hanoians all favour. We’d start by mocking that first.
Anyway, enjoy. We sure did. And then—of course—we ordered pizza.