12/28/10

Where Are My Friends?

I hate being an exchange student. Friends come and go way too soon. Most of the people I hang out with only stay here for few months and after that I maybe never hear from them again. I have had amazing time but it have been different for me and them. They are experiencing this exiting time in China, which is like a once in a lifetime opportunity. But for me this is just the beginning of my life in China. I have time to see and go, make and lose friends.

There are people that I have known the whole time I have been here, which is almost a year. But soon they will be gone too, the last ones after the summer. And isn’t a year just a short time in a lifetime? I have a friend I’ve known for 15 years, but because of the thousands of kilometers, we rarely talk or write nowadays. Luckily we still can meet about once a year in Finland.

But where are the friends that will stay? Next Autumn I will start in Sun Yat Sen University, if everything goes according to plan, and should stay there  3 years. Will I make a lot of new friends there? Can I enjoy their company the whole time I’m studying there? What about after that?

I know I should write more. Write emails, letters and text messages to the people I call my friends. So we could know what is happening to each others lives and would keep in touch. But why it sometimes seems to hard? I feel like I am missing a lot when I hear that my old high school friends had a nice time together, but I couldn’t participate. I miss high school when I lived in a kind of boarding school together with my friends. I could always go to knock on someone’s door and ask her to spend time with me.

Don’t understand me wrong. I love my friends. The people I have known since primary school, the lovely girls I met in high school and the newer ones I found from work or from university campus. And those who have been here in Guangzhou and those who are still here. But, everyone is going. And I can’t blame anyone, because I did the same thing when I came to China.

Friends. I miss you.

12/16/10

What Is The Truth In China?

Photo by Life is a wonder

Those of you who like to complain as much as we Finnish people do, here’s a interesting story for you. It happened last Tuesday when a two exchange students, a married couple, were leaving the dorm and heading to the railway station.

When they first arrived to Guangzhou and to that dorm for foreign students, they paid a deposit of 1000 yuan. They also paid for their stay until 20th because the ladies in the dorm office refused to let them pay only until 14th which was the day of their leaving. First the office ladies didn’t want to give back the deposit money and my friends had to make a call to the university office and Teacher X answered the phone. Few phone calls later dorm ladies accepted to give back the money. But that was only the beginning.

Then the couple wanted to get back the extra 1030 yuan they have paid for their rooms. Teacher X had promised them face to face that their rent is 30 yuan per room per day. That would make the total of 5520 yuan in 3 months when they had two rooms. But for some reason the university had sent the dorm a document that said the students should pay 6550 yuan in total.

Soon all of us, the couple and we friends helping them, found out that spoken words don’t matter at all in China. The only truth is what is written on a paper with a stamp on it! Of course my friends didn’t approve it because they were promised a smaller rent by Teacher X. So they called her again and in the phone she promised to tell the dorm office ladies to give back the money. But while handing the phone to the ladies Teacher X hung up! This happened few times and we were all screaming to the dorm ladies, to each other and wishing that Teacher X would run as far as she could, because she really wouldn’t want to meet us.

After few calls we found out that Teacher X had to ask a permission from the Dean of university. My friends got really worried because they were already supposed to be on their way to the railway station. But how could they just forget more than 100 euros?

Lots of swear words were used in every language we knew. We understood that it wasn’t the dorm office ladies fault but their attitude wasn’t helping the situation at all. Their faces told it all: We don’t give a **** what happens to you. Everyone was just sifting the responsibility to someone else.

After almost two hours later Teacher X finally told the dorm office to give the money back. The lady already had the money in her hands but she was hesitating. At least four of us were telling her that just give the money right now. Finally she did so and the couple hurried to the taxi waiting for them and are now happily back to Finland.

Is there any way to stay calm in that kind of situation? Because in my experience if you play nice, you get nothing here in China. If you believe what people are saying to you, you always pay too much for cheap stuff, you can’t send Christmas gifts to Finland or you lose money. I don’t like losing my temper and many times I regret it afterwards. But sometimes there just isn’t any other way to do it if you’re not ready to lose a lot of money.