Falling in love over potato soup

One day in early December 2012 I invite Y and two friends to come to my place and eat homemade potato soup. It is the first weekend after I have started working in a Chinese advertising agency in Shenzhen and…

“Next time you have to sit on my bike”

At the exit of the subway stop near my place there are usually half a dozen people with motorcycles waiting for passengers. I’m passing by this place every time I get off the subway on my way back home from…

The last days of fall, the beginning of winter

It was in the last days of fall and at the beginning of winter. I had just started working in an advertising company in Shenzhen and was seated next to Y. From the first day, I loved working in that…

“Are foreigners and Chinese the same?”

A four-year old girl is sitting right next to me on the subway. She looks at me and asks her mother: “Mum, are foreigners and Chinese the same?” I answer her instead: “Almost.” She looks at me surprised, and asks…

Guilin, Guangxi: “Where are you going?”

As I enter the long-distance bus station in Guilin, a guy in his 30s asks me: “Where are you going?” Thinking that he wants to sell me a black-market ticket, I say: “I’m buying the ticket at the booth, thanks.”…

The torture that is called massage

One evening in Shenzhen when my neck had hurt like hell the whole day and I am not able to turn my head to the left, I decide to get a massage. I find a blind-person massage place nearby and…

“Do you teach English here?”

A guy enters the elevator right after me. I just came back home from Ikea, carrying a heavy bag and a suitcase. As he sees this, he says: “Wow, you’re amazing. Do you teach English here?” I: “No, I’m working…

new, clean apartment in China

A hurt toe and a new home

I have moved to a new apartment for at least 15 times in my life, but never has looking for a flat been as enthralling as this one time in November 2012. One morning my company called to tell me…

“Does it taste good?”

I am sitting in a Lanzhou-style noodle restaurant across the street from my apartment, head bent over a bowl of daoxiaomian. I can feel that somebody is watching me and look up. On the table opposite of mine a guy…

“You can live with me and my wife.”

I have just arrived at Chongqing airport on this Friday in early June 2012 and am taking a cab to my hostel. After the usual small talk the cab driver points at my jeans and asks: “Foreigners really like wearing…

wedding ring

“Are you married?”

As I walk down the street looking for the entrance to the supermarket, a guy in his 70s comes up to me. Chinese grandpa: “Excuse me, I’m looking for Sunshine Western Restaurant, do you know where it is?” I: “I’m…

Chongqing: City in the mist

It had been two years since I had left the southwestern city of Kunming – the beautiful city of spring that had become my new home for one year of studying abroad. When I came back to China in the…

“Mum, she’s a foreigner.”

A young woman and her little three-year old daughter enter the elevator right after me. I press the button for the 18th floor, the little girl stands tiptoe to press the button for the 15th floor. The girl asks her…

“What is this?”

I’m at Ikea buying stuff for my apartment. An elderly woman comes up to me, looking curiously at the things in my shopping cart. She points her finger at one thing and asks: “What is this?” I: “That’s a chair.”…

Beijing: Lost in translation

My first trip to China was to Beijing in September 2005. I couldn’t speak a word of Chinese at that time, but I had already made up my mind to study this beautiful language. So far, my paths have led…

Wohnungssuche in China

Einen Tag lang zu dritt am Moped durch die Stadt von Wohnung zu Wohnung gondeln. Sich durch ein riesengroßes Menschen- und Autolabyrinth durchwühlen. Welch Spaß! Blauer Himmel und Sonnenschein (aber keine 29° mehr). What are your experiences looking for a…

“Are you Chinese?”

A woman in her 40s starts talking to me in the elevator. Woman: “Your facial features are beautiful.” I: “Thanks.” W: “Are you Chinese?” I: “No, I’m Austrian.” W: “How come you speak Chinese fluently then?” Has anyone ever mistaken…