January 31, 2008

Expats Anonymous

I have learned and memorized the phrase Wo ting bu dong Hanyu, or, "I don't understand Chinese." This is true. While I feel my vocabulary is crap and my pronunciation is okay, I have such trouble understanding people when they speak to me. Also handy is the phrase "Please speak a little slower," which I can't remember at the moment, but um ... I should :-)

Last night a couple of the expats and I went to the ShanghaiExpat mixer at Malone's in Puxi. We just wanted to see what it was like and what kind of people showed up. We got there around 8:45 and sat at a table talking. Around 9 or 9:15, people started showing up and milling around, but my co-workers and I were just sitting at our table - they were nursing drinks and I was eagerly awaiting my ice cream sundae (yes, the simple pleasures). It was taking awhile, and more people were showing up and talking in small groups, and I just felt stupid sitting there with these people I already know, like, you know, middle-school boys at prom. So I wandered over and started talking to people, pretty randomly, and I'd say that was very worthwhile :-) Definitely far more outgoing than I'd be in America (shit, I almost typed mei guo. It's going to be really hard to go back to thinking & speaking in English all the time in a couple months.)

Let's see: I met two Americans, a handful of British people, one Indian guy, and one Italian girl. Everyone was new to everyone else, so introductions were handled all around. It was pretty interesting talking to everyone about their experiences in Shanghai, why they came here, what they do here, when/if they plan to leave, and so on. Two of the British guys sort of just moved here randomly, one without even finishing high school. He dropped out, bought a one-way ticket to Beijing, stayed there for a week, then made his way down to Shanghai. He was only 18 at the time (he's 19 now) and didn't know anyone here or any Chinese at all. So, I mean, that's pretty impressive. I admire people who have the guts to do things like that. But that line of travel is definitely not for me :-)

Most of these people have been here at least six months: I think the Italian girl has been here the longest, one year in Xi'an and one year in Shanghai. So I think that when I spoke in Chinese to them I sounded like an overeager kindergartener showing off a new toy. (Actually that's how I feel anytime I speak Chinese, haha.) But lucky for me I have no shame, and even though some of the others were giggling, I kept on trying.

I mean, I'm not here to speak English -- not even at an expat gathering. The only way I'll get better is if I practice, and, you know, the whole city gets to be my scratch pad -- whether they are Chinese themselves or not :-) Expats, taxi drivers, waiters, random people on the street (okay, not them) -- I don't care. You're getting an earful of my Chinese, whether you like it or not :-) Especially if you are walking past me on my walk home from the metro, haha. That's when I'm apt to be practicing my tones and pronunciation, lol.

One of the other British guys has been here about a year and professed he cannot speak Chinese at all - he has been focusing on reading. He recently finished the latest Harry Potter book in Chinese, and he said it was extremely difficult. (Really??!)

Around midnight I realized what time it was and since I had to get up at 8 AM for a call from Austin, I decided to 23 skidoo.

(Okay, the only reason I wrote that sentence was so I could include "23 skidoo" in this blog. I need to convince my Chinese co-workers that people in American actually say that, so maybe they'll start including it in emails, hahaha.)

Anyway, so most of the expats were nice, but a couple definitely were jackasses. A microcosm of the universe if I ever saw one :-) I might go back this Wednesday, just because we're out of work and I might be able to enjoy myself more. But who knows.

I'm looking forward to spending a whole week exploring Shanghai and taking tons of pictures!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,this article is great,I found it on google and I love it very much.

[url=http://www.hogansitoufficialeonline.net]hogan donna[/url] on [url=http://www.hogansitoufficialeonline.net]www.hogansitoufficialeonline.net[/url] ---- Very often, Hogan shoes industries will hold many activities to get their Hogan shoes for being well-known to the public. For them, this will be the quickest and the best way to be famous and win an awesome popularity.

[url=http://www.hogancollezione.com]hogan scarpe 2012[/url] on [url=http://www.hogancollezione.com]www.hogancollezione.com[/url] ---- Hogan shoes can be your best choice in this kind of season. They all private unique design and traditional style. Now Hogan shoes like a high reputation and always popular in abroad. In the end, they should become the required equipment in your way of life.

[url=http://www.hogan-scarpe-ufficiale.com]hogan outlet[/url] on [url=http://www.hogan-scarpe-ufficiale.com]www.hogan-outlet-ufficiale.com[/url] ---- On the whole, Hogan shoes are more prepared bring in new ideas and are more willing to challenge. And it was said that they are aiming to invite many electronic business alliances to join in them so that you can enlarge their business.

[url=http://www.sitoufficialehoganscarpe.org]hogan scarpe 2012[/url] on [url=http://www.sitoufficialehoganscarpe.org]www.sitoufficialehoganscarpe.org[/url] ---- Hogan shoes are unique however is not too exaggerated, fashionable however is not too flamboyant, functional and piratical however is not vulgar. They have already been the symbol of luxury and casual lifestyle. Hogan shoes are favored by many people.

[url=http://www.maillotfootonline.com]maillot foot[/url] on [url=http://www.maillotfootonline.com]www.maillotfootonline.com[/url] ---- Enter the entire world of maillot and you may discover a world connected with luxury footwear designed for people fashion. Our shop delivers fashionable, quality and cost reasonable maillot shoes. Purchase maillot Shoes Now!

[url=http://www.calzadoonlineshop.com]Asics zapatos[/url] on [url=http://www.calzadoonlineshop.com]www.calzadoonlineshop.com[/url] ---- Our shoes are terrific and trendy. And we have factories by working together, we can make sure that shoes have got high quality and fashionable shoes. Free shipping!discount!

Anonymous said...

Hi,this article is great,I found it on google and I love it very much.

[url=http://www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org]Hogan Interactive 2012[/url] on [url=http://www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org]www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org[/url] ---- Since the year of 1989 when Hogan is coming into being
[url=http://www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org]hogan outlet[/url] on [url=http://www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org]www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org[/url] ---- Since the year of 1988 when Hogan is coming into being
[url=http://www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org]sito hogan[/url] on [url=http://www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org]www.hoganoutletsitoufficiale.org[/url] ---- Since the year of 1986 when Hogan is coming into being

[url=http://www.woolrichsitoit.com]woolrich outlet online[/url] on [url=http://www.woolrichsitoit.com]www.woolrichsitoit.com[/url] ---- Down coat make the cold winter like warm spring, it brings warmth for people in winter.
[url=http://www.woolrichsitoit.com]moncler piumini[/url] on [url=http://www.woolrichsitoit.com]www.woolrichsitoit.com[/url] ---- Down coat make the cold winter like warm spring, it brings warmth for people in winter.
[url=http://www.woolrichsitoit.com]The North Face 2012[/url] on [url=http://www.woolrichsitoit.com]www.woolrichsitoit.com[/url] ---- Down coat make the cold winter like warm spring, it brings warmth for people in winter.