Up to the mountains and down to the countryside – my mother-in-law, the educated youth

July 1975, my mother-in-law is sent to the countryside in what is called the “Up to the mountains and down to the countryside” movement during the Cultural Revolution. She is one of many young adults who are referred to as educated youth (知识青年 zhīshì qīngnián). She didn’t go to university, but it doesn’t take more […]

Russian in Northeast China, American in the Southeast

“Canadian.” “German.” “American.” “British.” 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 […]

“We don’t really have a dialect”

Many of my friends from Northeast China tell me: “We don’t really have a dialect, we do speak a very intelligible Mandarin. Maybe there are some words that are different, but that’s about it.” Oh, the beloved “er” Northerners use in any possible way one can imagine! Having learned Chinese in Austria and in Kunming […]

My in-laws’ old house

Four years ago, my in-laws bought an apartment in their hometown Siping in Northeast China’s Jilin province. Two years ago, they should have been able to move into their new apartment. But the apartment had not been finished at that time. It’s still not finished now, two years later. When my husband and I walk […]

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. […]