In my first three weeks here, I have felt very welcome. Our neighborhood has almost no foreigners. In fact we have only seen one other foreigner within several blocks of our apartment in the time we have been here. And while yes, there are a certain number of open-mouthed stares at the crazy tall white guy with the strange beard, for the most part people have been very nice.
So far I have had around a dozen requests to take my picture. And while it would be easy to feel like a circus freak in that scenario, it hasn’t felt that way at all. Inevitably I am posing next to each member of a group in turn, so they can all get a picture of themselves standing next to The Bearded Giant. Having experienced this two years ago in Southern China I knew what to expect, but the experience has been very pleasant, if occasionally distracting.
Dongbei (Northeastern China) people in general have a friendly and welcoming reputation. I imagine some of that is colored by having arrived in May, when the weather is delightful. Perhaps they would be grumpier in the middle of winter when the temperature stays below freezing for 90 days in a row. But during the warm spring and summer days, they are as friendly as can be.
Even the graffiti is welcoming. Three weeks into my stay here, this is the only piece of graffiti I have seen anywhere, and it says, appropriately enough “Hello Changchun!”