These are all nationalities I’ve been associated with in Northeast China’s Jilin province. Often, people don’t say it directly, rather they’ll tell their friends: “Look, a German.” I don’t really mind if they say that I’m German, after all, it’s as close as it gets. Even many Chinese who know me think that I’m German. Maybe they mix it up because my mother tongue is German or because Austria is just too small to be remembered as a single country.
But the one I am called the most is definitely Russian. In Shenzhen, most of the time people just call me foreigner or American. In Jilin province though, I hardly ever hear the word foreigner, instead, I’m the Russian. Northeast China is not too far from Russia now, is it? Y says that in Heilongjiang province’s Harbin people should be able to see at a glance that I’m not Russian, since Russians aren’t that much of a rarity in Harbin. I’ll definitely go there sometime to find out for myself.
Sometimes I’ll tell them: “I’m not Canadian/German/American/British/Russian.”
Then they’ll ask: “So where are you from then?”
They: “Oh, Austria.”
And then they’ll say: “But you look so Canadian/German/American/British/Russian!”
Have you ever had a similar experience? I’d love to read your stories.