“Will your mother come here when you give birth?”

I’m at the grocery store. When I’m done with choosing the groceries I want to buy, I find a corner with massage chairs where I can sit down and wait for my husband (he went to another store and is the one carrying the backpack to store our groceries in). After a short while, an […]

Top 10 posts on China Elevator Stories, post 101-150

In celebration of publishing the 150th blog post on China Elevator Stories today, I’ll take a look at the top 10 posts, posts 101-150: 10. Guest post: “My wife thinks I have a lover” A repair guy talks about his relationship problems with guest poster Marta’s boyfriend. 9. “Are you pregnant?” One of my co-workers asked […]

“In Europe, every family owns at least two cars”

One evening in September 2013, I take a motorcycle cab back to my place. The driver asks me where I need to go. I tell him the name of the closest bus stop (which is also what I would usually tell cab drivers) and get on the motorcycle. While driving, he asks: “What’s the name […]

“Sharing the same room”

After seeing the results of the pregnancy test and telling me that we need to monitor the progress, the doctor tells me: “There are three things you need to avoid: ‘Lifting heavy things, falling down and sharing the same room’*.” I: “I’m sorry?” She: “You can’t sleep with your husband. You might have different ideas […]

“Your breasts are almost non-existent”

This is part 2 of 2 of a conversation with L, a woman in her mid-twenties working at a massage parlor. Click here for part 1 (“Can pregnant women have massages?”). This post is about women’s issues and might not be to everyone’s taste – I’ve warned you. The whole-body massage includes back, arms, legs, stomach […]

“Can pregnant women have massages?”

This is part 1 of 2 of a conversation with L, a woman in her mid-twenties working at a massage parlour. I have talked to her before, click here if you’ve missed the last conversation with her. Stay tuned for part 2 of the conversation (“Your breasts are almost non-existent”). L loves to tell me […]

“Before marriage, you’ll have a lot of pressure”

In August 2013 I start going to the gym. When I have my first training, my trainer, a guy probably not much older than me, asks me: “Are you married?” He’s fast to go on: “In your culture that question would probably be inappropriate for me to ask, wouldn’t it?” I: “Well, depending on the […]

Top 10 posts on China Elevator Stories, post 51-100

In celebration of publishing the 100th blog post on China Elevator Stories today, I’ll take a look at the top 10 posts of posts 51-100: 10. “What are you doing to get pregnant?” My co-workers share tips on how to get pregnant one day at dinner. 9. Guest Post: Be Careful What You Teach Your […]

“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 […]

“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 difference in salaries is out of proportion”

One day in May 2013, I’m at a Lanzhou noodle restaurant near my apartment. While I’m waiting for the food, I send my then-fiancé now-husband a voice message. When the guy sitting across the table from me hears that I can speak Chinese, he starts chatting with me. After talking about where I’m from and […]

“In a country really close to South Korea, there’s a guy who’s always making threats”

Y, his 9-year-old niece, her mother and I eat dinner together. Y’s niece has just asked me about the positive aspects of having a different citizenship. We start talking about something else. She says: “I’ve read in the news that in a country really close to South Korea there’s a guy who’s always making threats. […]

Is your wife from Russia?

In January 2013, my then fiancé (now husband) and I take a cab. The cab driver starts a conversation with my fiancé, not knowing that I understand everything they say. Cab driver (pointing at the pineapple in my fiancé’s hand): “I love eating these too.” Y: “It’s probably not the right season for it.” CD: […]

“Are there any positive aspects of having a different citizenship?”

One day in July 2013, Y and I visit his 9-year-old niece in Changchun. At dinner, she asks me: “Are there any positive aspects of having a different citizenship?” I: “There are. If you hold a Chinese citizenship it’s not very easy to go abroad. You’ll need a visa for almost every country. If you’re […]

“Once you’re married, you’ll have kids”

One morning in March 2013 I buy congee at my favorite congee place near the subway stop. The lovely woman selling the congee says: “You know, you and your boyfriend can be lucky that you can be together like this and aren’t married yet. Once you’re married, you’ll have kids and then you’re not free […]

Guest post: “I like men”

Today I’m featuring a story from Laura. Laura is a fellow-expat and blogger who is currently living and working in Shanghai. She blogs at Pausa Monk and will marry her Chinese fiancé at the beginning of October. Congrats! When I take the elevator the other day, one of my neighbours starts talking with me. He: “Hello, […]

Visiting gugu in Northeast China’s countryside

One day in late June 2013 my husband and I visit gugu. Gugu is my father-in-law’s older sister and I like her immediately. She is an elderly woman in her late 70s who lives with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, her grandson and a few chicken and geese in the countryside of Northeast China’s Jilin province. […]

“Is your hair dyed or is this your real color?”

Starting from today I will publish posts three times weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Guest posts will be published every second Saturday. Make sure to pay China Elevator Stories a visit on these days! This is the last part of a conversation with a 17-year old girl working at the hairdresser’s doing massages. Click […]

“Do you have brothers and sisters?”

Starting from today, I will publish on a more regular basis. Posts will be published three times weekly – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and on Saturdays. If you don’t want to miss a post, you can also subscribe to my blog via e-mail (see right navigation bar). I also plan to publish guest posts that are […]

“10 years ago you could buy a North Korean woman for 2000 Chinese Yuan”

At the beginning of July 2013, Y and I spend a day in Yanji. Yanji is a city not too far from the North Korean border and is the capital of the Korean autonomous prefecture in Jilin province. Street signs, advertisements and the like are all written in Chinese as well as Korean. Both Chinese […]

“It must be really dangerous working here”

One day after work, Y, another colleague and I go to have dinner at a nearby street side restaurant. The road leading there is surrounded by trees – mainly mango trees and durian trees. On our way to the restaurant, three guys cross our way, each one of them carrying a really huge durian fruit. […]

“You can’t like her too much”

This is part two of a conversation my fiancé and I had with a Chinese doctor. If you’ve missed part one, here’s the link: “I’d like to find my son a foreign wife” When the doctor is done with feeling my pulse, looking at my tongue and asking me some questions about the symptoms, she […]

“I’d like to find my son a foreign wife”

One day in March 2013 my fiancé and I go to the hospital to see a Chinese doctor. We sit down to tell her my ailments and while she feels my pulse my fiancé starts chatting with her. Y: “Are you from Henan? The way you speak sounds like Henan-dialect.” Doctor: “I am. I have […]

“Do you speak foreignish?”

I’m at the supermarket. A little girl who’s probably not older than 5 is playing with the cup you usually use for putting rice into a plastic bag. I ask her: “Can I borrow this for a moment?” She says: “Sure.” And then, after looking into my face: “Wow. Are you a foreigner?” I: “I […]

“This is the only thing we can do for a living”

The first time I go to a blind massage place in China in 2013 reminds me of all the reasons why I hadn’t been to one of these places for a few months: It hurts like hell and is not remotely connected to what comes to most people’s minds upon hearing the word massage. (If […]