Posted in Random

Fresh from China — Living Vicariously Through Others

This past Wednesday I met up with one of my friends to catch up with her.  She had just arrived back from a two week trip to China, so of course she had plenty of stories to share.

This trip was through some program for high school students (I can’t remember the name specifically) in order to let them experience Chinese language and culture.  My friend, who’s going to be a high school senior this coming fall, found out she was going this spring.  Her sister, who happened to be my roommate, told me about it, and I offered to help her out with the very basics of the language before she left, since I’d taken several years of Mandarin classes.

We met several times, and I gave her some online resources and some of my study materials in order to help her understand the basics.  I figured that understanding pinyin and the differences between the tones, as well as some simple vocabulary, would be a huge help once she got over there and was immersed.

Even though we only met a couple of times, she said I helped a lot, which made me feel happy/useful.  She even brought me back a gift: a beautiful hand-painted scroll that she picked up at a Chinese market.

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One interesting thing she mentioned was that some of the natives she encountered, even total strangers, would take pictures of her and her fellow tripmates.  Some would be polite and actually ask to take a picture, while others would just blatantly stick a phone in her face and snap a pic or two.  I guess being non-Asian turns you into a sort of celebrity.

Overall, she had a great time and wants to go back next year, if possible.  For me, listening to her talk about her trip made me think about next year, when I plan to study abroad in Korea.  That trip would be six weeks, which is 3 times as long as her trip was, and I’m a tad nervous about getting homesick or not liking the food selection (I’m pretty picky).  But I’m hoping that, just like my friend, I’ll have amazing experiences and make great friends.

More than anything, it made me more determined to study Korean diligently.  I want to be as capable as possible by the time I head over there in 11 months.


5 thoughts on “Fresh from China — Living Vicariously Through Others

  1. I wonder how many photo collections she’s now a part of 😀

    Once on a vacation to Italy many years ago, some Asian tourists snuck up on my mum to take pictures next to her – presumably because she’s 182 cm tall. She was waiting for the rest of the family by a fountain while we had quickly returned to our hotel to pick up something. She only noticed the steady line of people shuffling back and forth to stand next to her and pose when the rest of us approached and started laughing. The poor guy standing next to her looked like he was about to have a heart attack.

    Happy studies! having a specific trip to prepare for is great motivation 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny! I’ve sneakily taken photos a few times, but I can’t imagine how embarrassing it would be to get caught.
      According to the internet, the average height of the South Korean female is 5’4″/162cm. I’m 5’8″/172cm — I wonder if that will make me photo-worthy?
      My friend also said that a few times (to the people who would just stick a phone in her face and take pictures) she would then stick her phone in their faces and do the same. It really caught them off guard haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh wow then I’m pretty standard height if comparing to the Korean average (I’m 161.5 cm), while I’m pretty short by Danish standards. When I was younger that was a serious source of anxiety for me. E.g. my father is 179 (though he claims to be taller haha), my brother is 185, my sister is 176 and her husband 195!

        I guess you will find out if 172 cm is enough to put you into K-model territory 😀 I don’t know how much of a difference it makes if you’re blonde, but in that case you might have your photo taken “in spite” of your height 😉

        Haha that’s just precious! That’s definitely one way to “deal with” people taking photos of you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m on the tall side for American females, I suppose, but my roommate is 178 cm, so I guess I got used to feeling “short” compared to her. On the flip side, when I was in high school, most of my Korean/Asian friends were extremely short, so when I walked around with them I was basically a head taller than all of them.
        I’m not blonde, which I’m kind of glad about. I don’t want to completely stand out as a foreigner, although I probably will anyways. Hopefully my brown hair will blend in a little better with the natives, although I have some natural golden/reddish highlights, so who knows. I wonder how many Koreans dye their hair…?


      3. That probably makes it a bit easier. I don’t know how many dye their hair, but I’m under the impression that those who do usually opt for various shades of brown. I guess I would have no way to hide since my hair is naturally golden-blonde, although the exact shade depends on the light.

        But it’s really exciting that you get to go for a few weeks! I would love to 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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