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“I’ll only marry if I meet the right guy”

In September 2013, I visit Q in her hometown in a remote valley in Western Yunnan. One day, she says: “I’ll only marry if I meet the right guy.” She has a boyfriend, but she doesn’t want to marry him. A…

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“I don’t want to keep the baby”

Breaking up One day in the fall of 2013, a 27-year-old Chinese friend sends me a message on QQ telling me that she broke up with her boyfriend. She doesn’t seem too sad about it: “He didn’t really seem to…

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“He had to suffer discrimination in North Korea”

My father-in-law tells me about one of his former co-workers. He says: “He’s from the northern part of North Korea. At first he didn’t understand anything we said. He would always stare at us without saying anything. At that time,…

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“Pregnant women can’t eat Chinese hawthorn”

It’s April 2013. My husband and I go to the fruit shop. The combination of pregnancy and a recent rise in temperatures in Shenzhen brings about hot flashes for me. I’ve been craving melons for the last 2 weeks. We choose a melon, put it…

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Chinese Ghost Festival

Ghost Festival (鬼节 guǐjié) falls on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. It is said that on this day, the doors between the human and the spirit world are wide open. Chinese folklore, Taoism, Buddhism, even…

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A not-so-safe drive to the airport

At the beginning of October 2013, I am in Kunming. It’s the last day of my travels and visiting friends in Yunnan and I have a flight later that day. M, a friend of the friend I’m staying with offers to…

letting good wishes fly at my Chinese husband's and my wedding

5 cultural differences connected to water

When my husband and I first got together, there were a few things we did differently and which may have been influenced by our different cultural upbringings. A lot of them are somehow connected to water. 1. Washing your face My…

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Getting rid of ghosts

I’ve learned that in China I shouldn’t put an open umbrella on our apartment floor to dry because that would mean inviting ghosts in. So what can you do if you’ve invited ghosts into your home? According to some old tales,…

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Cool Stuff China: Express Mail Boxes

One morning, Y and I go to the hallway leading to the security guards’ office on the first floor of our building. We stop in front of a series of mail boxes. The mail boxes are different from those you’ll find…

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“Why are you going to the 12th floor?”

I enter the elevator and press the button for the 12th floor. On the 8th floor, a four-year old girl and her grandmother enter the elevator. They press the button for the 23rd floor. The little girl looks at me…

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“You’re going to have a boy!”

One day, a co-worker says to my husband: “It seems that your wife only eats sour dishes. You’re going to have a boy!*” *Chinese gender prediction says that if you’re craving sour dishes during pregnancy, your baby is a boy. Craving spicy dishes would…

inviting ghosts into our home

Inviting ghosts into our home

Starting from today, posts on China Elevator Stories will be published on Mondays and Thursdays instead of Tuesdays and Saturdays. Make sure to come back and check out new posts on these days! At the end of March 2014, the Guangdong region…

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My family of five

One day in December 2013 I go to pick up pictures at a small Kodak shop near my place in Shenzhen. I want to put some pictures on the wall to make our flat look more comfy. When I enter…

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“You have to be nice to your mama”

One of my co-workers who has just recently given birth herself sees me sitting in front of my desk. Like out of the nowhere she appears in front of me, starts stroking my belly and talking to the baby: “Hey…

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Guest post: Taking care of pets – cultural differences

In today’s guest post I’d like to introduce you to Richelle Gamlam. Richelle is an International Affairs major who has spent two semesters studying in Beijing and Xi’an. She is currently teaching English in Wuxiang town in Zhejiang, where she’s the only…

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365 days ago, I was really nervous

365 days ago, I was really nervous. I was nervous the whole morning. At 11 am, two swing doors opened, music started to play and I started to cry. I cried through Yumeji’s Theme and I cried through You’re The One….

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China Elevator Stories has a new design

Update: The blog move is done! I hope you’ll enjoy the new design just as much as I do. Please let me know if you experience any problems with the subscription to my blog or other related issues. I’m currently in…

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The MSG wars

For Christmas Eve 2013, I prepare a simple Austrian Christmas dish – sausages with sauerkraut and potatoes. While I’m in the kitchen looking for the right spices, I find pure MSG hidden behind other spices. I show it to my…

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Mold, mold, mold (and preventative measures)

I’ll exchange the humid climate of coastal Guangdong for the dry climate of Central Europe tomorrow, but don’t worry – I’ve prepared lots of China-related posts to keep you entertained until I’m back in a few months’ time small talking with locals in China. It’s…

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“You should have a baby boy”

In February 2014, one of my former co-workers who just had a baby girl stops me in my tracks: “Let me see your belly.” After looking at it, she concludes: “It’s really big. You’re wearing quite sexy clothes. You should…

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“I’m thinking of breaking up”

One of my husband’s friends is working as a trainer at a gym. It’s the trainers job to find people they can train. The competition is fierce and more often than not, he doesn’t have anyone to train. If he…

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“I went to kindergarten for 7 years”

One day in the fall of 2013, I listen to two co-workers talking. One is a guy from Northeast China who’s 24, the other one is a woman in her mid-30s who has a 3-year-old child. She tells us how…

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“Americans like to fight”

One day in the summer of 2013, I go to the hairdresser. The guy who washes my hair asks: “Are you from the US?” I: “No, I’m from Europe.” He: “I see. Americans like to fight. They like to go…

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“You can take apples right out of these boxes”

One day in November 2013, I’m at the supermarket buying fruit. I go to a square counter that is filled with apples. It’s accessible from all four sides. On the opposite side of the counter, a supermarket employee who’s busy unpacking…

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1980 or The year that my in-laws tied the knot

One Sunday afternoon in February, 2014, my husband and I sit in our living room drinking tea and chatting. My in-laws have gone to the market and we enjoy some alone time. When they come back, we are still sitting…

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Top 10 posts on China Elevator Stories, post 101-150

In celebration of publishing the 150th blog post on China Elevator Stories today, I’ll take a look at the top 10 posts, posts 101-150: 10. Guest post: “My wife thinks I have a lover” A repair guy talks about his relationship…

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Cool Stuff China: Internet shopping on Taobao

Today, I’m introducing a new category to my blog. It’s called Cool Stuff China and in it I will describe some of the things or services you can get here that are either special to China or very popular here…

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“My friends are eager to meet you”

In the summer of 2012 I visit my friend in her hometown Changsha. She had told me before that everyone is eager to meet me. Her grandparents (especially her grandfather who had helped me find my Chinese name according to…

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“How come your belly is that big?”

One day in December 2013 I’m at work. One of my female coworker points at my belly and asks: “How many months are you pregnant?” I: “2.” She (seemingly shocked): “How come your belly is already that big with only…