06/23/10

5 Reasons To Hate China


During my time in Guangzhou I’ve met people with different stages of culture shock, sometimes it seems that they really hate China. 

Here are some of the ugly comments I’ve heard from others:

1. It’s dirty. People drink their coke and dump the bottle in the ground. When closing their shop for the night they take the garbage and throw them outside on the street.

2. They are disgusting. They spit, burp and fart right in front of you. The lady selling you vegetables uses to pick her nose by her fingers.

3. Traffic will kill you. They don’t care about any kind of rules. Red light is not red if there isn’t a police officer reminding it. They speed and overtake you like they’re in F1.

4. Food is inedible. You can have all sorts of disgusting creatures on your plate even you didn’t order them. They eat steak with a rice. And when it’s the hottest day of the summer they don’t have any water in the restaurant but they’ll ask if you would like a cup of tea.

5. They are stupid. They can’t solve any problem that requires creative thinking. They sit on the aisle side of the seat in the bus even the window seat is free. They keep the door open when they have air conditioner on. There’s so many reasons to hate Chinese people.

China is everything. It can be like this if you are only concentrating in the negative things. But is that really the way to see another culture?

I think complaining about everything is NOT the way to live in a new culture so head over to 5 reasons to love China!

06/21/10

Chinese food I enjoyed during my 5 week trip in China

Still an adventure. In my first week in Beijing I thought

that 20元 (20CNY is about 2,3 euros) is an extremely

good price for a meal.

Soon I found out that I can get a simple meal for 5元.

That’s only 60 cents.

The best food is usually found where there’s no

English menu. Just step off from the main street

and head to where locals eat. If you’re lucky they have

pictures and you can point. If not, then look what they are

eating around you. One dish is around 20元.

If you have a bunch of friends look for a hot potplace.

At best it is messy, loud and delicious.

Be careful if you order the spicy soup in Sichuan!

In China I have eaten the best and the worst food.

My mom should be proud because all those strange green

things have been coming to my bowl!

I have also eaten calamari, pig’s stomach and dog.

06/19/10

Are They Looking At Me?

I am so average in Finland. But when I landed in China suddenly all those people were interested who I was and what I was doing. Chinese people took my photos in almost every city I visited on my trip, sometimes asking permission and sometimes not.

In five months I have posed in pictures with numerous girls, boys, women and men. In the Forbidden City one man took almost twenty photos of me wearing those unflattering travel clothes I have on the picture as well. And in the beach of Haikou several people manage to take a photo of me in my swimming suit.

I am not exaggerating when I say that one men forgot to finish his sentence when he saw me in Xi’an. But how does it feel like to be watched? First you think you must have some ice cream on your cheek. Or you forgot to wear your trousers. You feel insecure because if you make a mistake everyone will notice.

I met an American couple at the railway station in Xi’an. The girl went to the ladies room where there was no doors and the wall separating the holes where only up to her waist. She told me that the other women were shamelessly looking at her while doing her business.

And it is not only the looks. You also hear waiguoren and laowai (foreigner in Chinese) almost everywhere you go. My friend calls this the stating of the obvious. Even everyone can see that I am a foreigner they like to say it aloud. I don’t consider it rude, just little bit funny.

In Guilin I was strolling the main walking street and stopped to take a closer look of one booth. One meter from me was two Chinese guys in their 20’s. One of them noticed me, turned to his friend saying waiguoren and just three seconds later the other one also looked back. That never happens back home.

Here at the university island I have experienced the huge curiosity that Chinese students have towards us foreign students. I use to visit the English club every now and then to meet new friends. Every time there are new people that want to ask the same questions. Where are you from? What is your major? What sports do you like? Do you like Chinese food?

And it is not only asking questions, they are also eager to become your friends. They ask my QQ number (Chinese equivalent of Messenger) and mobile number. I am happy to meet new people and make friends, but unfortunately I can’t be friend to everyone I meet. There is just too many people adding me to their QQ friend that I don’t have the time to talk with them all.

I also meet two kinds of people. First type of people are interested in you because you’re a foreigner and they want to practice their English. They want to have a foreigners number in their mobile. The second type of people become truly interested in you and want to build up a true friendship. Then it’s not just small talk anymore. I have had amazing conversations with the second type of people who are now my friends and I have learned a lot from them.

So how to deal with all this publicity? I try to be as friendly and nice a possible. I tend to agree when people ask to take a photo with me. I also share my QQ number to almost everyone that asks for it. But I also say no. I didn’t give my contact details to that guy in the metro who started talking to me when he heard me using Chinese on the phone. I don’t go to English club every week because sometimes I just want to do nothing.

Because I don’t look like a Chinese I will always be a waiguoren and people will always look at me if I decide to stay in China. Will I ever get fully used to that? I would love to hear experiences from other foreigners in China.

06/19/10

Sara Jaaksola in China: The reason why I decided to live in China

[Updated 2013.7.7]

Coming to China had been my dream as long as I could remember.

In primary school grade 6 we were asked to make presentations of countries to our notebooks. I chose China because my parents had lived there before I was born and I could add some photos to my work.

When I went to middle school I wanted to study Chinese language but didn’t really have the possibility for that. Instead I just carried my father’s old Berlitz phrasebook with me.

During high school dad bought me a Chinese learning textbook and I practiced with a little girl from the local Chinese restaurant. At that time I also chose my Chinese name 雪芳 Xuefang and one teacher gave me the surname 亚 Ya.

When I finally get in to The University of Tampere I started my Chinese classes. After two beginners classes I switched to summer university in order not to have a break in my studies during summer vacation.

Last Autumn came with big changes and I decided to go to China. The whole February I travelled in China before coming to The University of Guangzhou where I studied for three semesters. In September 2011 I started my bachelor degree in Chinese as a Second Language at Sun Yat-Sen University. I will be graduating in December 2013.

People ask me frequently why I came to China and why I’m so interested about it. My best answer is this. My mother was expecting me when she was still in Beijing so maybe at that time something went wrong and caused this illness that I’m happy to suffer long term.