Chapter 31: An Unintended Splash at the Hangzhou Pool

As a foreigner in China, sometimes you touch people in ways you never realized. Something you say or do in a moment — a small, forgettable thing to you — becomes a lasting impression to someone else.

I never realized that when I spoke Mandarin Chinese at the pool in Hangzhou, I would become a sensation online at Zhejiang University.

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Chapter 29: An Indecent English Teaching Proposal

When you’re a foreigner in China, the most common phrase you might hear is: “Can you teach me English?” My Chinese neighbor wanted me to, even though she never seemed serious about it. But over tea one evening, she embarrassed me about not following through, and left me wondering about her indecent proposal.

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Chapter 28: Of Chinese Medicine and Balance

Chinese traditional medicine can bring your body back into balance. When my health was out of balance, my Chinese boyfriend used the principles and approach of Chinese medicine to help me recover.

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Chapter 27: I Don’t Need Your Mianzi

Giving face — or mianzi — in China can be puzzling. When I tried to give my Chinese neighbors face, by introducing them to my foreign friends, they actually thought it was an opportunity for them to give me face, when I never asked for it.

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Chapter 26: Hello, Foreigner – and Goodbye, Generosity

Sometimes you misunderstand China, or China misunderstands you. When out with an old classmate of my Chinese boyfriend, he misunderstands my response to being singled out as a foreigner, and gives me a less-than-generous lecture.

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Chapter 25: No Chinese, No American, Just Lunch

John, my Chinese boyfriend, wasn’t the only one who could make me feel less foreign in China. My new Chinese friend, Zhang Bin, tells me we should see each other as people, not nationalities.

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Chapter 24: Tied in Chinese Knots over John

When you have a Chinese boyfriend, sometimes cultural dating expectations can tie you up in knots. My perfectionism and tendency to see too far ahead causes me to lose focus on the happiness of now.

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