Mychinaexperience

A few sentences that have shaped my time here…

This January I have been quite busy, preparing pretty anything coming up soon- my HSK test, my mum’s visit, my flight back, my stay in Germany…well, I have tasted a lot of “Beijing life” the last few months, and met a lot of people saying different things. Some of those will stay in my mind forever, and I want to share them with you!
“This weather kills me!”
Normally, this sentence would be meant as a joke- here, it isn’t. It has been all over the news but it is something different to really breathe through a mask for days at a time. Also, the habit of “catching some healthy air” or opening your window to ventilate your room should be dropped for obvious reasons.
“Please let passengers exit first”
…the friendly voice in the subway sadly is ignored by most people. Being in the subway at rush hours actually is as bad as you might imagine considering the vast amount of people using the subway wanting to go to work. Standing in line and watching people throw themselves into the wall of passengers already in the train, while others keep fighting their way out is a situation every foreigner in Beijing will shake their head about(maybe until they have blended in and also discover the force of their elbows.)
“This is how you die laowai!”
I picked up this sentence at a storytelling meet up, a woman told about a scorpion trying to scare her out of her beautiful hutong home. For me, this sentence describes the feeling of impossibility China can give to foreigners. No matter if you are stuck in traffic, trying to find real but affordable coffee or confronted with a waiter unable to understand your Chinese after 4 month of practicing, it is the feeling that you cannot or will not get anywhere anytime soon.  The Chinese solution to that? See the next sentence!
“Let’s see…”
Also this common phrase got a new meaning for me. We all know that we can’t plan everything perfectly, that it is nice to be spontaneous sometimes and that there are some factors that are simply unpredictable. Well, here the term got a new meaning for me- You don’t need to know which island you will go to for vacation, you don’t need to know where you are going when you get in a car and you just stop to care about schedules. It is an attitude that makes life in China a lot easier to deal with. You have to be creative with finding solutions and just trust that one way or another, they are going to be solved.
“You seriously believe bunnies hatch from eggs?”
This sentence by my host dad was one of my best laughs here, and it also triggered off an interesting conversation about cultural traditions. It is great that being an Au-pair means also to be a cultural messenger and it is one of my favorite parts of my work to share what we would consider “common knowledge”.
“Ting bu tong”
…or “I don’t understand” is a sentence you will have to make use of a lot. Often people will just talk to you in Chinese and even though you feel proud of yourself if you slowly start to figure out what they mean, most often you ting but tong and you just have to nod and hope that the waiter understood that you want your noodles”bu la”, not spicy…
“I need my Beijing summer”
This sentence, by a fellow Au-pair who came back to Beijing three times, has become my symbol for Beijing’s irresistible spirit. Summer life is easy, and so is Beijing. It is so easy to meet people from around the world, finding places you love and will always return to, and establishing a life according to your wishes, just because of the huge number of possibilities available.
You learn to open up to those possibilities around you, spotting new paths instead of trying to stick to the main road and discovering new adventures…literally and philosophically.
Yours, Resi
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