September 27, 2008

I'm "that" guy, and our trip to the VISA office

Well I was finally “that” guy. With my time here in China and the time I’ve spent overseas I’m always running into Americans who are awesome at whatever the local language is. And whenever I meet these people, I generally find myself saying to them (full of amazement, might I add) “wow, your (fill in with whatever the local language is) is so good. So naturally living in China I’m telling them “wow, your Chinese is so good (and/or amazing)”. Well today I got to be the guy who got the compliment and it happened like this. I walked into McDonald's and immediately noticed a group of foreigners. I could tell they weren’t living here, but that they were tourists… I can’t explain why I knew this, I just got that feeling, and one of the girls had her backpack on in front of her (so that it is harder to steal from, TYPICAL tourist move). Anyways, I get to chatting with them, “what’s your story”, “why are you here”, “where are you from”, and I’m really enjoying the chance to talk with them. As I get to the front of the line I realized that the tour guide with them was speaking Chinese, she asked me where I was from and I said Minnesota. She then told me that she had friends who were in Minnesota or who were from Minnesota (I can’t remember, maybe she said they hated Minnesota) and in Chinese I asked her, “Are you Chinese?”, she said “yes” and then she told me in Chinese that I spoke well (I think….) and asked how long I had been studying, I told her “3 months”. After our little exchange the American next to me told me that he thought my Chinese was good (he was guessing). Either way, it felt good, if even for only a moment, to be the guy who spoke the local language (only a little) and to have someone else who doesn’t speak the local language acknowledge it. Sorry if this was long and boring (more than likely it was both).

Yesterday, we went to the VISA office here to get our tourist VISA’s changed to resident VISA’s. The experience was long and drawn out. You could tell it had been a long day for the people who were working there. It’s nearing the end of the day for them and Sydney is out in the hall with another kid, and they are loud, I mean they are laughing and screaming, but not too obnoxiously. But there came a point when they got really loud, and one of the officers behind the counter reacted like he was thinking “wow, that is really annoying (and/or whose kid is making all that noise)”. Well I wanted to lighten the mood, so in Chinese I said “My daughter is fierce.” I again was proud of myself when I got a handful of Chinese to laugh at my joke, that I told in Chinese. By the way, fierce is a really fun word to use here and for those of you keeping track at home the word for fierce in Chinese is lihai (pronounced- lee high).

with joy,
the petersons