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    Social anxiety in China

    I have a confession to make. One of the main reasons I have never made the decision to live in China is I often feel very anxious when talking to strangers here. This is despite the fact that I speak fluent Mandarin and work as a translator in Melbourne, and have a pretty large group of Chinese friends who I feel comfortable talking with in both English and Chinese.

     

    I'm in China at the moment on one of my many short-term trips. I usually travel with a friend, but this time my friend has gone back to Australia early so I've been left to my own devices in Xi'an. I have some local friends here which is good but they are at work during the day, during which time I feel very anxious going outside my hotel room and interacting with locals.

     

    Basically, whenever I'm in China I only ever strike up a conversation with locals as a last resort. I find their staring and confused facial expressions quite intimidating. It's something that I've never quite gotten used to. And even when I can understand everything they say, and can express what I want to say in fluent Chinese, my heart races thinking about what they must be thinking of me. I always feel just a little bit out of place, like I don't belong. Again, I don't have this problem with people I've already met and become familiar with.

     

    The consequence of this anxiety is that I often end up avoiding experiences with locals that might actually be beneficial to me.

     

    So my question to everyone here is what advice (tips or strategies) would you recommend to a laowai living or travelling in China to deal with that kind of "out-of-place" anxiety? And for those who have lived in China for some time, have you ever experienced it before, and if so how did you deal with it?

     

    Disclaimer: I am quite an anxious over-thinker by nature, so it's no surprise that I might suffer from this. But I feel that the anxiety I get in China is pretty irrational, so I'd like to find a way to get over it somehow.

    1 year agoin Culture-Guangzhou
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