China Culture Shock: Conversations with a local

Two conversations I had with a local Chinese.

Yesterday our agent came to pick up our passports for registering us with the police department. I still hadn’t gotten a local cell phone yet, so she offered to take me and translate. woo hoo!
I grabbed shoes, and a jacket. It’s cold here already…

As I’m walking out the door.

(E is looking at me with this blank look.) “It’s raining.”

“oh, ok” (I grab an umbrella.)

“We’ll walk. It’s not far.”

(Oh, good. Not far is good. It looks cold out.)

We walk outside… it’s pouring down rain and freezing cold for my SC bones!
“Don’t worry. It is not far. Maybe only a 20 or 25 minute walk.”

“oh ok…. “
…WAIT. how far???
A 20 minute walk does NOT equal “not far” in my book. That’s like… how far you walk for “exercise”. In America, walking from a parking spot in the end row at Wal-Mart is considered a far walk. Not 3 km in the RAIN!

A rainy day in Shenyang

Conversation #2: As we’re walking in the freezing cold rain…

“This big city stuff is very different for me. So many cars and people everywhere.
My home town has maybe 2,000 people.”

(Shenyang is about the same size as NY City. It’s not even in the top 10 in China.)

“Oh, you lived in “toan”

(staring blankly) “huh?”

Toan… A “TOAN”

(still staring blankly)

“T… O… W… N…”

(another 5 second pause while I figure out what that spells.)
“oooohhhh, a T-oowww-n.” (Drawn out in my best Southern accent.)

“Yes… I am from small town too. Has maybe 100,000 people. ”

(ummm. yeah. 2,000. 100,000. That’s almost the same.)

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3 thoughts on “China Culture Shock: Conversations with a local

  1. Do you ever get the feeling that you’re the topic of conversation at the dinner table for them as they try to understand the crazy Americans?

    Or maybe your agent has her own blog where she shares with her friends trying to figure it all out.

    Hmmmm. makes me wonder.