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. […]

“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. […]

Guest post: Unconventional ways of learning Chinese

Today I’m featuring a guest post by Sarah, fellow Shenzhen-expat and the face behind the blog Reclaim Your Fearlessnesss that gives tips on how to live the life you want to live and not let others dictate it. I love her blog and have nominated her for the Liebster Award last month (see her answers here). Sarah has grown up […]

“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 […]

“He’s not your husband yet”

If you drink Chinese medicine, at the beginning of the treatment your TCM doctor will usually require you to go see him/her every 3-4 days. The formula of the herbs will be adjusted every few days and while the basic ingredients might stay the same, the doctor might delete some of the herbs while at […]

“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. […]

“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 […]

“You can live with me and my wife.”

I have just arrived at Chongqing airport on this Friday in early June 2012 and am taking a cab to my hostel. After the usual small talk the cab driver points at my jeans and asks: “Foreigners really like wearing jeans, don’t they?” I: “We do. Don’t Chinese people like wearing jeans too?” He: “Chinese […]

“Are you married?”

As I walk down the street looking for the entrance to the supermarket, a guy in his 70s comes up to me. Chinese grandpa: “Excuse me, I’m looking for Sunshine Western Restaurant, do you know where it is?” I: “I’m sorry, I don’t. I’m not familiar with this area. Cg: “Where are you from?” I: […]

If you could choose a city, which one would it be?

I took a cab to get to my new flat the other day. Cab driver: “Where are you from?” I: “Austria, and you?” Cd: “I’m Chinese!” I: “But where are you from in China?” Cd: “Hubei. How old are you? Twenty-something?” I: “Yes, I’m 25. How about you?” Cd: “I’m 32.” I: “You look younger […]