“You have to stay strong and hold on to your marriage”

One day we’re treated to dinner by a couple in their 40s. Their family friends – a few other couples around the same age, are also invited. We have dinner at a restaurant and they all congratulate Y and me to our wedding. When we’re in the car with our two hosts, a married couple […]

“Did you have to use guns frequently?”

One day in the summer of 2012 I’m in Shangri-la at a restaurant with two acquaintances. My friend has to work and has asked them to take me around town. They have both worked as police officers in the past. Now, they are working as personal secretaries for a government official. I: “Did you have […]

Guest post for Behind the Story: Apartment Hunting in Shenzhen

Since I’m in need of new guest posts again, I’m publishing a guest post I’ve written for Behind the Story. The face behind Behind the Story is Nicki Chen, an American writer who has been living in the Philippines for 15 years with her Chinese husband and their children. Click here if you haven’t yet […]

“There’s not much I and my husband talk about anymore”

My new coworker and I have lunch together. She is a woman in her mid-to-late 30s and has a two-year-old child. After she asks me about marrying Y, it’s my turn to ask her. I: “You’re married, aren’t you?” She: “I am.” I: “Have you two been together for quite a while?” She: “We have. […]

“Who takes care of the kids?”

I have lunch with my new coworker, a woman in her mid-to-late 30s who has a 2-year-old son. She asks me: “Who takes care of young kids in Austria? In China, it’s often the grandparents who look after the kids, but what is it like in Austria, with people all working?” I: “It’s often the […]

1st anniversary of China Elevator Stories

I started writing this blog one year ago. In celebration of China Elevator Stories’ first anniversary and for all of you who haven’t been following this blog right from the beginning, I’d like to share five early conversations with you: “Are you Chinese?”: The very first post on China Elevator Stories and the conversation that […]

Hiding our love and a romantic morning walk

Shortly before spring festival 2012 my company goes to the countryside. We visit Cengcheng, a small village not far from Shenzhen. Y and I have avoided being seen together too often by our co-workers except for lunch which we usually have together. On the bus that takes us to Cengcheng, we sit right next to […]

“How much does it cost to have a second child in Shenzhen?”

Me and my coworkers take a cab. One of them recently became a father for a second time. The driver asks him: “How much does it cost to have a second child in Shenzhen?” Coworker: “220,000 Chinese Yuan (around 27,000 EUR or 40,000 USD).” Driver: “Wow, that’s a considerable sum for a hukou*. We registered […]

The hardest part of learning Chinese

What’s the toughest part of learning Chinese for someone with a mother tongue like German (it probably also applies to people with other mother tongues)? After having studied Mandarin Chinese at university for 4 years and after having lived in China for 2 years, I consider myself to be kind of fluent in Mandarin Chinese. […]