08/23/10

Why The Shop Assistant Keeps Telling Me The Dress Is Too Small?

It’s personal. But still they talk about your weight, salary and eating habits. I just ran into an old post in China Hope Live and it explains very well what is this guanxin talk:

“–, 关心 talk, which is intended to express care, concern, or interest on the part of the speaker; it’s a relational gesture. However, many Chinese typically express care, concern, and interest by asking about or publically commenting on things that North Americans consider private, personal, and none-of-your-business”

I have had my part on this guanxin too. One early morning I received a text message from my Chinese friend. He wrote that it is cold outside so I should put on warm clothes. That would have been perfectly fine advice, but he wasn’t my mother or my boyfriend. An other friend likes to remind me when to open my umbrella. I like to remind him that I am not a child anymore.

But this scene in KFC have been ultimately the best one so far. I was meeting with my tutor who used to help me with my Chinese studies. I was little bit hungry so I bought french fries and chicken wings. After I started eating my tutor said that I shouldn’t eat that kind of food because it is not good for me. I took a deep breath and told him that he wasn’t my mother. I also added that as a grown up I can eat what I want, even unhealthy stuff.

All these three times they have been right. It’s good to wear more clothes, use the umbrella and eat healtier. So what is the matter? I am not, as most other Westerners too, used to hearing these things from people that aren’t part of my family. I feel that those things are private and I felt little bit insulted at the KFC.

I try to remind my self that this is the way they do in China and it isn’t meant to be rude. They just want to show their care. But I also think that Chinese people should be aware that when dealing with foreigners some things are better not to be said. Some people might not be as understanding as I am.

But even I try to be as judicious as possible I still almost pushed my boyfriend down the stairs when he was kind enough to inform me that I have a big bottom. Luckily I managed to count to ten.

Photo by Luke Wisley

08/17/10

Why Am I Leaving The Best Country In The World?

(Prizes my younger little brother have won from ice hockey and football)

 

I knew it. According to Newsweek Finland is the best country in the world. China is on the 59th place. Let’s do little bit comparing between the two homes of mine. Finland’s overall score is 89,31 and China’s 62,10. The best score Finland got from education because the literacy rate is 100%. Also according to PISA the Finnish education is the best in the world.

In China the economic dynamism got good scores but political environment was ranked to be one of the worst. Also the education was only on the 61th place but that seems to be understandable when I remember some complaints of  Chinese university students. One of them said directly that politic lessons are completely waste of time.

It may seem to be crazy to leave the best country in the world but being a foreigner in China is not the same than being a Chinese in China. I can’t fully explain my interest towards China but it definitely is a adventure. I want to see if I can understand and survive it. I have no need to change China even I would definitely want to see some things change. I am there to observe and learn why they do things the way they do.

Hopefully someday I see a new China that is better than today. But I think that will not happen before some changes take place in the governance.

Photo by lago Laz.

08/12/10

Will I Be A White Guangzhounese?

It feels so odd. To tell people that I live in China, that my hometown is now Guangzhou. It feels like I am joking and it really isn’t true. I used to dream many years about visiting China but I didn’t knew that I would live there for many years or even longer.

The red door in the picture leads to the staircase and the uglier one is the door to my place. There  are numberless different views to China but mine is to a common neighbourhood and I only have a glimpse of a skyscraper in the horizon.

No matter how long I will stay I will always be a foreigner and an outsider. Later on I will find out if that is a feeling I can bear long term. Right now I am just curious to get into my Chinese lifestyle in my totally Chinese apartment. When I get back to Guangzhou I still have to find out where to wash my laundry and is my squat toilet able to flush paper (My guess is no).

This is a big step from safe life in the dorm to a village where I am probably the only foreigner there. The first five months seemed to be just a trial period and now I put myself into a real test. Can I handle my dream? Is it possible to become a white Guangzhounese? At least I can start by writing Guangzhou in the hometown box.