Word of the week, lǎo wài
lǎo wài (老外) is used by Chinese to refer to non-Chinese, in particular those who are not of Asian descent. It is rarely, if ever, used to refer to Japanese or Koreans.
As a “foreigner” in China you will hear lǎo wài a lot, along with the more formal wài guó rén (literally meaning “outside country person”)
The character 老 means “old”, however it is also used as a prefix to indicate respect. Other words with this prefix include lǎo shī (teacher) lǎo pó (wife) lǎo gōng (husband) and lǎo bīng (veteran), to name a few. 外 means “outside”, and is shortened from the word for foreigner, wài guó rén.