As a foreigner living in China and married to a Chinese citizen, it’s a question I’m intimately familiar with, especially from friends and family back home in America. Even I used to think the same thing growing up in the US — that international marriage automatically meant getting another passport. Wouldn’t it make sense that, in the most intimate of all bonds, loved ones could also share their own citizenship?
How I wish it were that easy. That somehow saying “I do” with someone from another country would magically make another passport pop out of thin air, with your name on it.
Invariably, I have to let everyone who asks this question down, dispelling those fantasies with a cold, hard answer: “No, I don’t have Chinese citizenship.” And sometimes, I might strangle any remaining hopes by adding the disappointing details of how it’s very difficult to gain Chinese citizenship, and that China doesn’t even allow dual citizenship, so I would have to renounce my US citizenship (something I would never want to do).
I’m reminded of how, years ago, people in China would ask my husband, after we had just tied the knot, “So, are you an American now?” And then we’d be forced to divulge the far more complicated reality — that first he would have to apply for a green card (which isn’t guaranteed), and then later he would be eligible to apply for US citizenship (which also isn’t a sure thing and requires taking an exam many Americans can’t even pass). And even if he received US citizenship, he would still have to surrender his Chinese citizenship. It’s a strangely dispossessing situation that he has never wanted to face, preferring to remain a citizen of China.
The clunky reality of how citizenship actually works — especially when Chinese and foreigners wed — is nothing like all of those gossamer hopes and dreams you might have had about international marriages. And I haven’t even gotten into the issues involving kids in a Chinese-foreign marriage (which my fellow blogger Susie writes about at WWAM BAM in a post that deals with citizenship issues). And if you really want to make your head spin, read about how kids and citizenship issues and the like left Ember Swift, who was married to a Chinese man, grounded in a Toronto airport.
Some people do get lucky in their international marriages, though. For example, Monica, an American woman married to a Korean man, could actually gain South Korean citizenship and still keep her US citizenship at the same time.
But what I know is this — as much as I would love for things to change, I cannot possibly measure the value of my marriage by whether it grants me an additional passport or dual citizenship. I care far more about the “dual” things that really matter in the passport pages of our life: love, respect and support. Jun and I have all of these and so much more in our marriage, which continues to bring us both boundless happiness. That’s something no passport could ever guarantee.
The other day, a friend told me the idea of marriage was outdated and totally over-commercialized. She said she had absolutely no interest in getting married.
I totally understood where she was coming from – because, after all, there was a moment in my life when I felt exactly the same way.
I’m not sure when it started – probably sometime in high school – but I was ambivalent about marriage and weddings. Whether it was the rising divorce rate, the growing acceptance of cohabitation or the fact that I never met anyone I could even picture myself married to, I can’t really say. I just know I didn’t grow up with dreams of the perfect white dress and honeymoons and the house in the suburbs with that white picket fence.
My mother once told me about the girls she remembered from college, there for the so-called “MRS” degree. I started my freshman year at university with her advice echoing in my mind – how I should just enjoy myself and not get too tied down to anyone. I enjoyed going out with guys during college, but I always intuitively understood that it was never about finding “the one” and more about finding out who I was. Though I never explicitly said so to anyone or even to myself, looking back, I realize I struggled with the idea of being committed to anyone — making thoughts of the greatest commitment of all, marriage, impossible for me.
But all that changed when I went to work in China after graduation, and fell for a Chinese man. It was the first time the M-word – marriage – was a serious possibility.
It wasn’t just that I was deeply in love with him, more than I had ever felt for anyone else in my life up to that point. Nor was it some generalized cultural pressure from family, his or mine.
No, it had to do with something most of us take for granted – the ability to introduce someone to your family and your parents and even your hometown.
At some point in my first year in China, during that time when this guy and I were dating, I imagined what my dad and stepmom might say when they finally shook his hand in their home. Or what my grandma would make for us when we came to visit. Or what he would think after seeing the high school I attended and the library my mother once worked at.
But these thoughts were easily derailed by the harsh reality for Chinese passport holders, who included my boyfriend. After all, he had applied twice for a US visa and was rejected both times. It didn’t matter how much I hoped to take him home to see the family and my hometown, because there was always this huge international bureaucratic hurdle that stood between us.
It’s one thing to ask your parents if it’s OK to bring your steady boyfriend or girlfriend over, not certain how Mom and Dad might respond.
But it’s another thing entirely to have to ask an entire country for permission to bring this person over in an embassy or consulate, where your love for them and your word no longer matters. Where decisions can sometimes feel arbitrary and capricious in the cold, aseptic visa interview rooms. Where it’s sometimes hard to understand why some people get visas and others don’t.
For me, my decision to marry him wasn’t about pleasing him or pleasing his family and culture either; to be perfectly honest, it was about securing a visa! Anyone who has lived in China without a permanent work visa knows that the Chinese system for foreign visas is an ever-changing nightmare. And, by extension, I admit that I liked being identified as “the one” in his eyes—the one worthy of a life commitment. Are those first reasons selfish reasons to marry? Was I wrong to marry him when it benefitted me and my ego? I’ll concede that I stepped around my previous political views on marriage in order to express my respect for his culture, too, but that’s not exactly a selfless act of love; it’s more about mutual human respect.
While of course she loved Guo Jian, the added benefit of gaining a visa to stay in China was among the reasons she wanted to marry him.
What I’ve learned over the years is that debates about the “usefulness of marriage” or whether “marriage is outdated” or even whether “marriage is too commercialized and therefore pointless” are a luxury not everyone has.
You don’t have this option to talk about whether marriage matters when you’re a Westerner in love with a foreigner who isn’t given a visa on arrival for your country. Or when you’re a foreigner loving someone in his or her country, where securing a visa through marriage could ensure the two of you remain together. Being subject to the heartless bureaucracies that go hand in hand with immigration rules and residency gives you an entirely new perspective on the value of marriage.
At the same time, I’m not advocating for sham marriages that exist only for the sole purpose of gaining a visa or residency in a specific country.
But the fact of the matter is, nothing is perfect. Not marriage or weddings or, especially, the immigration rules that can potentially wreck the best of plans between a young international couple genuinely in love with one another. Sometimes we do the best we can with what we have.
And sometimes, marriage matters simply because it could mean the chance to take your loved one abroad and finally see him shake hands with your father in your hometown, just as you always dreamed of.
The other night, I received a frantic message from one of my closest friends back home. “I’m getting divorced,” she typed to me in an online chat.
It was the culmination of years of troubles brewing between her and her husband. They had fought over their beliefs. She was fed up with how almost all the domestic and child-rearing responsibilities were on her shoulders, despite the fact that she too had a full-time job. She also had it with her husband, who was turning out to be another child to manage instead of a source of support. Therapy had failed to resolve a single thing.
Did I mention she and her soon-to-be-ex-husband are both white Americans, with similar cultural backgrounds?
I wasn’t surprised she filed for divorce. So many of our recent conversations had revolved around the growing rift between her and her husband. There was always a tension lurking in the background, the feeling that things were slowly unraveling between the two of them with every confession of how he just didn’t get it…and probably never would.
So much is written about the vulnerability of intercultural and international couples, that we’re supposedly more likely to divorce. While new studies suggest this just isn’t true, a lot of people still believe you’re better off marrying someone from your own culture/country.
Or rather, that marrying someone from your culture/country will guarantee happiness and stability.
My friend’s story, however, doesn’t fit that narrative.
I wrote last week about how marriage changes you – especially when you’re in an international or cross-cultural relationship — and shared 4 habits I’ve learned from my Chinese husband. But I’m not the only one who has picked up a few new habits from my foreign spouse.
What has my husband learned from his white American wife after over 10 years of marriage? Here are 5 examples of his new habits (my personal favorites!):
In the first month or so when I was dating John, I totally stressed over a small – but to me, not unimportant – thing. Here was this guy who had moved in with me and taken care of me in so many ways, far beyond anyone else I had ever met. And yet, he hadn’t really told me those three simple words: “I love you”.
Eventually, he did say it to me when we were standing on a mountaintop (and I was in ridiculous tears about it all). He really seemed to understand, beyond all of my expectations. He even told me it wasn’t silly at all for me to ask him if he could tell me I loved him (which is how it all started).
Anyhow, that was the first time when he learned just how much those three little words meant to me. So much that I showered him with “I love you” in all the usual ways couples in America do. At the end of phone conversations and e-mails, in text messages, when I kissed him and told him good night. Gradually, the idea that his girlfriend, and later, wife, liked hearing it turned “I love you” into a regular and frequent thing from John’s lips.
“You’ve never had chocolate before?” It was early in my relationship with John when I learned the shocking truth. He had never tasted this most ambrosial of all sweets.
So before Christmas, I bought a generous package of Dove dark chocolates and stuffed them into a stocking I prepared for John. Never did I realize that the moment he popped one of them in his mouth, he had found his second true love in life (the first, of course, being me!).
In that moment, a chocoholic was born. (It’s ironic that it happened with a guy who recalls eating carrots as a child to satisfy his sweet tooth).
My parents, of course, only indulged the habit when we moved to America, plying my husband with the stuff at pretty much every holiday.
So you can guess what was under our tree this past Christmas – and whose eyes sparkled the brightest when that dark, delicious goodness was unwrapped from its foil. Mmmm.
3. Drinking coffee
It all started when John and I were living with my parents after moving to America. John is the kind of guy who needs hefty servings of caffeine to get through the day. In China, he always got his fix from black teas or oolong teas (the nice loose leaf varieties that he introduced to me). But my parents don’t do loose leaf tea and, as you can imagine, he never particularly liked anything that came in a teabag.
What my parents did have, however, was coffee. Lots of coffee. They had a brand-new coffeemaker, their own coffee bean grinder, and a tantalizing selection of fine blends, from Sumatran to Italian Roast. “Hey, do you want to try some coffee, John?” my dad asked him one day. So when in America, John figured, do as the Americans (or in this case, his wife’s American parents) do.
He took that first tentative sip, followed by a contented “Ahhhhh!” Not long after, the caffeine kicked in (strong!) and he knew he had solved his caffeine problem in America for good.
He’s been a pretty steady coffee drinker ever since and, after discovering the bold and rich flavor of Starbucks’ Sumatran brand, still swears by Starbucks coffee (and savors the occasional soy latte from our local branch).
Sometimes I can’t believe how much coffee – or, for that matter, caffeine – my husband drinks! He may be shorter than me, but he stands head and shoulders above me when it comes to his caffeine tolerance.
4. Silly dancing in the privacy of our home
The other day, I was playing some upbeat tunes on my phone – you know, the kind of music that’s so fun you can’t help but swing your hips to it. All of a sudden, my husband got up out of his chair, started mimicking the tune (off-key!) and then turned around to shake his butt. He laughed (because he knows how hilarious he looks when he does this) and I couldn’t help but return the laughter…all the while knowing that I had a hand in much of this.
John didn’t grow up spontaneously jumping up and dancing to a great tune. And I’ve spent enough time in his family home to know that his parents and relatives don’t really do this either. But it’s the kind of thing I do all the time when I’m inspired to move by a great tune.
I can’t remember exactly when I first did this in front of him, but I’m certain he was the one laughing at me (and perhaps wondering what in the heck I was doing). But after years of being together – and even watching all of those American movies where other people would bop to a beat at the spur of the moment – he realized it was a part of who I was. And learned that it could be fun too.
So every time he shakes his butt to a tune (and giggles about it), I can’t help but giggle along with him, knowing that he’s embraced something that’s a part of me.
5. Using a heated mattress pad to stay warm in bed
The first time I ever stayed at John’s family home years ago, his mother handed me only one thick comforter to make it through the winter’s night in their drafty, unheated house. Being used to lots of covers on my bed and a warm heating vent somewhere near the floor, it was such a shock to my body that I caught quite the cold before leaving.
At the time, John, my then boyfriend and now husband, was stunned. I can’t remember his exact words, but they went something along the lines of, “You weren’t warm enough?”
Growing up, he and his family never used more than a comforter on their beds to sleep through the winter. And of course, they never, ever thought of using things like a heated electric mattress pad to stay warm and cozy.
You can imagine, then, that John and I struggled for a period of time when it came to sharing a bed together – with me trying to pile on the covers (and anything else to help stay warm) and him complaining he felt too hot.
Well, we eventually moved to America for a time and during our first Christmas there, my parents gave us an electric blanket. When we brought the electric blanket home, John surprised me by letting me plug it in for the night. And then he further surprised me when, after crawling into bed (a nice, toasty warm bed like nothing before), he couldn’t stop smiling and telling me how great it was.
The last thing I ever expected was for the one-comforter guy to suddenly love electric blankets.
We’ve since owned electric blankets and electric mattress pads, and he’s become a huge fan. How huge? Whenever he slides under the covers of our own bed – heated by a electric mattress pad – he always laughs with delight over how nice it is to have a “snug bed.”
Over the years, I’ve noticed a certain e-mail finds its way into my Ask the Yangxifu inbox. The story usually goes like this: Chinese boy who was born and raised in China meets Western girl, they fall crazy in love and the future seems ripe with possibilities for the two of them…until reality hits in the form of a few simple questions. What about our careers? Where will we live?
So when I receive these questions — which are invariably confidential — it either happens that 1) the couple can’t decide where to live (often China versus her Western country) because each country somehow handicaps one person career-wise, or 2) the relationship ended because one or both of them gave up.
Whenever people talk about Chinese-Western international marriages, you would think that language or culture pose the greatest barriers. But when it comes to Chinese men and Western women in love, this “love, location, career” dilemma more often threatens an otherwise outstanding relationship. Career options aren’t always the same for both people in his home country (China or another Asian country) versus hers. Sometimes, when a couple can’t reach an agreement, they sadly break up — just as my Chinese ex and I did years ago.
At the time, he had moved from China to a European country for university and hoped I would follow him and, in his words, “be his wife.” It sounded glorious at first when he whispered this to in my arms…but not when I discovered the unappealing possibilities for a US national in this European country (not to mention all of the visa headaches for me). It didn’t help that his phone calls, e-mails and other communications dwindled over time, until an entire month passed without a single e-mail from him. So on top of the whole “where to live/work” issue, I also started doubting our very relationship — the foundation of everything we had together. In the end, I had to say, “Enough!” I couldn’t justify all of the headaches of moving to this country when he couldn’t make the time to even write me a simple e-mail or call me.
My face was glazed with tears the day that I called him and said I couldn’t move there. I knew our relationship would collapse and sure enough, we broke things off officially in the weeks that followed. But looking back, I also realize that — in a sense — he determined our fate the moment he put down a deposit for that European university. He was fluent in English and could easily have chosen to study abroad in the US, my home country…but he didn’t, citing a personal distaste for America.
Hence I learned my first lesson in cross-cultural relationships: love isn’t always enough. When you add into the mix each person’s careers and dreams (often linked with a specific country or place in the world, especially if a person only speaks one language) it complicates things in a way that couples from the same country would hardly understand.
I think about my stepsister, for example, who is happily married to her college sweetheart. They both were born and raised in the Cleveland, Ohio region in the US and, naturally, always wanted to settle and build their careers up there as well. There was never any question about what country might offer the two of them the most opportunities and most benefits, no tug-of-war about living here versus there or somewhere else.
Nothing like what I experienced with my ex-boyfriend in China. It was his lifelong dream to reside in this European country, so naturally he wanted to study abroad there. But his dreams clashed completely with mine. Granted, I was still trying to find my way in the world at the time. But the longer I pondered moving there with him, the more I intuitively realized I just didn’t belong in that country — that following him would be a colossal mistake.
With my husband John, though, the choices were a lot easier and, in the end, much more obvious. John had always envisioned getting educated in the US and then bringing his talents back to China to start a business. We had discussed this years before when we started dating, developing a long-term plan together to help him achieve his dreams. But it’s not as if I was putting his needs before mine. In fact, China made sense for me personally and professionally for a variety of reasons…not to mention that I’m fluent in Mandarin Chinese, absolutely love this place, and find endless inspiration here for my writing.
Unfortunately, decisions don’t always come so easy.
For example, I’ve heard from couples where she wants to settle in her home country in the West for career reasons, but he doesn’t for reasons of his own (he can’t speak the language, he has better opportunities in China). I’ve also met couples who decided to live in her country, only to realize even more problems with his career — for example, people don’t value his degree from China. Even gaining an education in her country offers no guarantees of employment, as prospective employers may discriminate against him.
Then there’s the flip side — he says, “Let’s live in China,” and she’s not sure. Maybe she struggles with Mandarin Chinese or can’t even say a word. Or she spent years studying in a certain field — which offers few or no opportunities in China — and doesn’t want to abandon her chosen career.
How should Chinese men and Western women handle a “love, location, career” dilemma? Here are some of my thoughts:
Support, support, support. He’s into pharmacy, she dreams of being a physical therapist. Whatever your partner’s work dreams are, you should say, “More power to you!” In other words, support them.
Think about both of your respective careers first and foremost. Don’t get caught up in finding the ideal for your own career — instead, the question you should be asking is, “What’s good for both of us?”
Don’t fall into the “sacrifice your job for my sake” trap either. I’ve heard of couples, where one person expects the other to quit their careers or jobs for all sorts of reasons — but that should honestly be your last resort, if at all. It breeds resentment (i.e., “How come I have to make the sacrifice and he/she doesn’t?”), and resentment is not a good bedfellow in any relationship.
Compromises sometimes have to be made — but if so, give it an expiration date. For example, my husband washed dishes in a restaurant in the US, but we both agreed he would only do this for half a year. I also know of an American woman considering teaching English in China for a year, which would give her the chance to remain closer to her fiancee while they apply for his US green card from China.
Never choose places over him/her. Preferences and prejudices about where to live and work can sometimes wreck an otherwise awesome international relationship. For example, my Chinese ex could have chosen to go to the US; maybe that wasn’t his dream location, but he would have had no problem finding endless universities with his field of study (a very popular one) and I would have had no problems finding a job. Instead, he prioritized geography over me — and contributed to our eventual breakup.
If you and your partner both agree on where to live (like John and me) you’re fortunate! If not, look for locations that benefit both of you career-wise. It could be your home countries or even a third country or region. For example, one American woman married to a fellow from Northeast China agreed to try living in the US first, with Hong Kong and Singapore as backup options.
Back to school. Sometimes all you or your partner needs is a little education — whether graduate school or business school — and suddenly you end up with a great location for everyone in the relationship. I know several couples of American women and Chinese men who are moving to the US, where both husband and wife will enroll in graduate school. Studying Mandarin Chinese at one of China’s many universities (like Sara Jaaksola) can offer foreign women a wealth of career opportunities in China.
It’s the relationship, stupid. Still butting heads over London versus Shanghai? Sometimes that’s just a symptom and the real issue is your relationship. Look at my Chinese ex — he didn’t e-mail me for an entire month, proving that we had bigger issues going on in our relationship.
If you have a relationship problem and both of you feel motivated to work on it, consider relationship counseling.
What do you think? What advice do you have for couples struggling over where to work and live?
It’s always a thrill to hear from yangxifu around the world, especially countries outside the usual Anglosphere (Australia, North America, the UK). So when Sabine, a woman from Tunisia, sent me a lovely photo of her with her Shanghainese husband, I leapt at the opportunity to share the story of how they met in Tunisia, married, and moved to Dubai.
Wishing this beautiful couple success in the year of the horse!
I am a Tunisian woman. Seven months ago, I married a man from Shanghai.
The first time we met was in 2012. He came to Tunisia for a business meeting. At that time I was a student and the company that happened to host him was also training me.
While he was visiting the company, we had some conversations. He said he wanted to know more about Tunisia and visit our tourist attractions. We exchanged e-mails. Then we met up a couple of times, where we had coffee together and enjoyed a nice Tunisian lunch. Before he left Tunisia he gave me his phone number in Dubai and his Facebook ID so we could keep in touch.
Within three months, our relationship evolved from normal friends to “shy lovers”. I became so attached to him and found myself falling in love with him. He is always nice, tender, understanding and wise. These qualities are very hard to find nowadays in Tunisian men.
Eventually we decided to get engaged after my graduation. Initially, my family was very surprised with my choice. After they met him, they liked his personality and realized that his values were the same as ours.
We married in Spring 2013. His family couldn’t attend the wedding because of distance and the cost of airplane tickets, but they offered us their blessings. His best friend, however, was able to partake in the celebrations. One month after our wedding, I followed him to Dubai, where we now live together. Next year we hope to visit his family in China.
I would like to encourage single women out there to give Chinese men a chance. While I’ve only dated a few men, I never met a man as honest, committed and affectionate as my husband.
Sabine and her husband are enjoying their happily ever after together in Dubai.
Canadian Alex calls it destiny. She went to China in June 2010 as an exchange student, never realizing she would leave her heart in Qingdao — and end up becoming a wedding planner together with her husband, Fei.
Our hometowns share an ocean, but are on different continents. We both celebrate a new year, but at a different time. We both have parents, but only one of us has siblings.
I can tell the story of how Fei and I met in two languages. This type of meeting is called 缘分 (yuanfen) which depicts that by fate or destiny two people come together.
Like most foreigners here I began my journey as an exchange student in June 2010. At the same time Fei agreed to help his friend by teaching a class on Business in China. Fei studied and lived in Dublin, Ireland for nine years. When we met it was not in Canada, it was not in Ireland, nor was it in Fei’s hometown Qingdao (青岛). We met in a small suburb outside the city, in an old classroom on the 6th floor.
In class we exchanged cards and arranged to meet later on. We went with several friends for a dinner of roast duck, which led to night market shopping, and further an intimate pot of blue mountain coffee shared between the two of us. After coffee I followed like a puppy to watch a football match in a pub even though I had never been a fan.
The next day I left to Xi’an. It was painful leaving but the Terracotta warriors, Yangzte River, and Wuhan Dam all distracted me for a little while. As I traveled throughout China we kept in contact every day via text message. Through these short but meaningful first messages we subtly developed our relationship.
We met in a classroom, bonded over coffee, and spent only one week together in Qingdao, China before I had to fly home to Canada. Over the distance our relationship grew closer and commitment solidified.
Today we work side-by-side creating weddings and events here in Qingdao. Everyday we share a cup of coffee together, we make jokes and laugh in both languages, and when I am not at home working we are often crazily texting each other about some little wedding detail or color combination.
It feels surreal to think that my small exchange student opportunity has opened up this entire new world. I am fluent in Chinese, married to a wonderful husband, and we are both building our careers and future together everyday.
It’s quite complicated how we came to be in the wedding industry. After we were engaged we of course began to think about how to arrange and coordinate an international wedding party. We also went to check out a few of the local wedding planners (婚庆公司). At first I saw their weddings and just didn’t really understand how there was such a huge T-shaped stage, many different colored lights, and aisle decorations that were nearly touching the ceiling? I thought to myself this isn’t the wedding that I imagined and just doesn’t feel right.
So after some trials and tribulations and meeting the right people, in May 2011 we had our first wedding client (a friend of a friend of course). Our first wedding was an amazing (and frustrating) learning experience about the different between Western and Chinese style weddings. I learned very quickly that creating hand-made seating arrangements for 300+ people just do not work!
One year later I had the chance to design and create our own wedding. I wanted to give my Chinese family and friends the experience of what a western style wedding is like. We were married by the sea, in the yard of a 100 year old building, we ate delicious steak and drank wine, we danced, we ate cake, and we drank some more. It was the best day of my life and Fei agrees it was his too.
Our company is growing, we are learning so much everyday and being challenged in every way possible. I feel honored that I can help other brides and grooms create the same wonderful memories that we had after our wedding day.
The thought crossed my mind as I scrolled through the photos of John and me in the US. In one, I crouched before the cream-colored house in the suburbs we once called home. In another, he posed like a triumphant warrior before the rolling hills of Ohio we hiked every evening.
Some two weeks ago, I slept under the roof of that cream-colored house in Ohio and meandered through the trails in those hills. But now that I sleep under the roof of a white-washed home in rural Zhejiang and hike through mountains filled with bamboo and pines, my former life in the US feels like a fantasy — as if someone photoshopped me and John into those photos.
And oddly enough, it’s not the first time I felt this way. Whenever I’ve traveled between China and the US, my life in the country I left behind always seemed more like a long, extended dream to me. Not even artifacts of that previous life — such as those photos — could completely dispel this feeling that it was all just a hallucination.
Maybe that’s what happens when you’re in an international, cross-cultural relationship — where you straddle two different worlds. It’s not just geography that separates China and the US; different cultures and languages only serve to reinforce the separation. Meanwhile, I’m surrounded by people here in China who couldn’t really understand what it was like for John and me to live in the US — while in the US, most people I know don’t understand life in China. Sometimes, I feel as if these two separate worlds of mine will always remain strangers in a sense — where never the two shall meet.
Perhaps that’s also the power of living in foreign countries. Suddenly, you realize that the reality you knew growing up isn’t universal…that reality changes when you cross borders and oceans.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying my new reality in China. And someday, when I return to the US for a visit, perhaps this will all feel like a dream all over again.
It was a frigid March evening when John and I went to a local bar downtown to meet up with his professor. The professor invited all of the students taking his course that semester — and their spouses, companions or friends — for a few brews that night. Normally, the freezing temperatures would have easily deterred John and me from venturing out — but it was a sort of “class outing” and the professor, who we had run into on occasion, seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Or so I thought.
But that changed after we walked in and sat down. It wasn’t just that the space reminded me of a bad 1970s basement playroom — from the kelly green walls and tired pool tables to the beat up chairs and couches that looked like someone salvaged them from a garbage bin. It was the conversation that, in its own way, told John and me we weren’t really invited to this party. Continue reading “On Cross-Cultural Relationships & Pop Culture References”
Laura Banks just successfully defended her dissertation a few weeks ago and sent me a copy. I’m excerpting the abstract and quoting some of her findings, which you can scroll down to read.
In addition, some of you who participated asked Laura for a copy of the dissertation. I’ll be glad to send a copy to anyone who e-mails me (jocelyn (at) speakingofchina.com), with the understanding that the dissertation is meant for your personal use only and not to be posted publicly online.
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