2017 Blogs by Western Women Who Love Chinese Men

New blogs for 2017! Top row (left to right):WWAM BamBunny and PandaLiving In China With Kids. Middle row: The Dutchinese CoupleSecrets of a World TravelerThe Joyful Dumplings. Bottom row: An Oven, a Wok, and a FamilyJoke Tummers; and The Daily Susily.

It’s March and we’re about to celebrate International Women’s Day. That means it’s time to update to my list of blogs by Western women who love Chinese men!

This year, my list includes 53 different blogs! I’ve still grouped the blogs loosely according to their focus, and tagged first timers on this list with *NEW* for your convenience.

Like last year, the same housekeeping rule applies — blogs must have been updated within the past year to make this list.

So, without further ado…(insert drumroll of choice)…here are the blogs!

Authors/Books
Family and Kids
Personal Stories

Authors/Books

Behind the Story. American writer Nicki Chen married her late Chinese husband in 1967, the same year that the US Supreme Court finally made interracial marriages legal in the US. She’s led a fascinating life indeed, so it’s no wonder that her blog has become a repository for many of the real-life stories that inspire her novels, including this post that chronicles her lovely family. Her debut novel Tiger Tail Soup hit the shelves in 2015 and it’s perfect for anyone who loves Pearl Buck’s wartime China stories. Check out my interview with Nicki from September 2014 to learn more about Tiger Tail Soup.

My Half of the Sky. Jana McBurney-Lin, who has a Chinese husband and children, penned the novel My Half of the Sky, which also is the namesake of her writing- and family-focused blog. But as a Tai Chi enthusiast, I loved this older post about trying out this venerable martial art.

Madame Huang’s Kitchen (Formerly Out to Lunch). Carolyn J. Phillips loves to eat, and shares her passion with the world through some of the most authentic and mouth-watering recipes for Chinese food on the web. Don’t read on an empty stomach. She’s also the author of the Chinese cookbooks All Under Heaven and the Dim Sum Field Guide. To learn more about Carolyn and her work, check out my 2012 interview with her.

Susan Blumberg-Kason. Once upon a time, Susan was a yangxifu, spending time in Wuhan with her Chinese husband and first child. She’s since moved back to her Chicago roots, remarried and added two more children to her family, but is forever connected to China. She offers tidbits of everything from Jewish Asia to raising multicultural kids, as well as regular reviews on Hong Kong/Shanghai/China-related books. If you’re living in or near Chicago, or passing through, check out her book, All the Tea in Chicago. Last year she released her long-awaited memoir Good Chinese Wife – if you’re new to the book, check out my interview with her. Susan also contributes to the new group blog WWAM Bam.

Sveta’s Book Review Blog. Sveta still searches for her true Asian love, but currently pours her passion into reading and sharing her latest reads on this blog. She reviews a variety of books, including AMWF reads that might interest followers of this blog, and titles celebrating diversity.

Family and Kids

Celestereille. This blog is another proud example of beautiful Blasian love in China, right down to this gorgeous photo of the author kissing her Chinese beau, and this lovely Valentine to him. She welcomed her lovely baby Connor into the world in 2013 and in 2014 she moved the whole family back with her to the US (but still files the occasional post about China, such as Top 5 Things I Can’t Understand About China). Congrats to her on her new baby girl!

China Elevator Stories. This Austrian graphic designer living in Northeast China has a husband from that region – and, since 2014, a mom. Her blog has become a valuable resource about being pregnant in China. One of her best classic posts is 8 things you should know before marrying into a Chinese family. She’s also one of the contributors to the new group blog WWAM Bam. Don’t miss her 2013 guest post for me on love, fighting and finding harmony in her own marriage.

Diaries of a Yangxifu. UK native Sarah met her husband during a marathon in Birmingham (a how-we-met story she generously shared with us all in her guest post on my site). She’s in China now with her husband and their son, writing about everything from what it’s like being a working mom in China to things she and her husband don’t agree on regarding health and well-being. And did I mention she’s also a vegan, just like me?

The Downtown Diner. American Melanie Gao has no pretensions about herself. Her blog is a homey, welcoming little slice of the yangxifu blogosphere, self-described as “Made famous in Beijing, now operating out of Nashville, Tennessee.” She has spoken out about her divorce from her Chinese ex-husband and will always remain my unofficial twin (we really do look alike). She often writes about her two lovely biracial and bicultural children and filed a fascinating post about her experience at the historic Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017. Thanks for keeping it real, Melanie.

Ember Swift. This Canadian woman is a singer-songwriter, musician, writer and blogger who writes some of the most fascinating and powerful posts on this list about her life (from her marriage to a Chinese guy to raising their kids). Don’t miss the interviews (one and two) with her that I posted up in 2013 just before Chinese New Year. Her blog has become required reading for pregnancy in China as well as navigating the visa issues of having kids with a Chinese national. Congratulations to her for finishing the manuscript for her memoir in 2016 and completing her MFA as well!

Foreign Sanctuary. Constance is a Canadian married to a Taiwanese man who currently calls Taiwan home — and shares gorgeous photos as well as stories from her life. She just gave birth to a baby boy last year, and wrote about her take on the joys of being his mom. Enjoy her guest post on my site about how she believes everything happens for a reason (even how she ended up finding love and a new life in Taiwan).

Hong Kong Kisses. This blog is written Canadian woman with a Hong Kong husband and their toddler living in Canada. She often blogs about her family life, including her daughter – who is now more than 2 years old!

Living A Dream in China. Finnish woman Sara Jaaksola finished her master’s degree in Chinese language education here in China and now teaches foreigners how to speak Chinese from her new office in Guangzhou, China. Also the mom of a toddler, she’s a great example of how you can balance business and family.

*NEW*Living in China With Kids. This blog by American Charlotte Edwards Zhang aims to help expat parents survive and thrive in China. Anyone raising kids in the Middle Kingdom will enjoy her posts including this one on prenatal checkups and this post on embassy regulations for births abroad.

Lost Panda. Anna was born in Russia and raised in Germany, but she ultimately discovered her love and future in China. In 2014 she dazzled us with her personal stories at The Mandarin Duck, and now she’s doing it again with the Lost Panda, a blog especially dedicated to living in rural China. Some of her cool recent posts include The Thing I Wish I Knew Before Marrying into a Chinese Family and “Sheng Da Pang Sunzi 生大胖孙子” The pressure of having a boy in rural China. Her blog is also a wonderful resource for anyone curious about what it’s like to be pregnant and give birth in a more rural Chinese city. Don’t miss her interview on this blog about being an artist and China TV host.

Mandarin Stories. Orange rain’s blog originally had a dramatic backstory — even though she was already married to a Chinese man, her family didn’t know about it. Turns out, when she finally revealed her secret marriage to the family, there wasn’t any drama over it at all (nor much reaction, according to her). In 2015  she and the hubby had their official wedding ceremony in Shanghai (which her two brothers and Aunt even attended, their first-ever trip to China) and she posted her gorgeous pre-wedding photos (including pics in a stunning red dress). Congrats to her on giving birth to a new baby in 2016!

Mighty Maggie. American Maggie lives with her husband Phillip, the Devastatingly Handsome Chinese Man, in Seattle with three kids. She’s a stay-at-home mom who blogs about everything from religious issues to parenting. This is an older post, but she brings up an interesting dilemma when she writes about the problem of sending a child to Chinese language school, when she and her husband don’t speak the language well. Also love this more recent post about how the kids learned Maggie blogged about them, and then wanted to hear the stories themselves!

Monkeys and Mooncakes. American Steph (who has a husband from Anhui, China) is a thirty-something mom to three lovely kids and she devotes her blog to helping children love Chinese language and culture at home. Parents will love her posts such as kids books about Chinese food.

Nama Mama. This was one of the most exciting blogs I discovered in 2014 – it’s not often you come across an American woman married to a Tibetan guy living in Xining, Qinghai (with their baby daughter). You’ll find posts on Kimberly’s blog about Tibetan traditions, such as Tibetan New Year, as well as dispatches on cultural differences in her relationship. Kim is also a contributor to the new group blog WWAM Bam. Be sure to read her guest post here about how she met her husband (who seems like a super-sweet and extra-special guy).

Olivia’s Choice. If the community had a magazine, chances are Olivia Lau could easily be the covergirl. This beautiful and stylish woman from Spain was living in Hong Kong, where she met and married a local man and also ran her own online fashion store. They’ve moved back to Barcelona to work in Olivia’s family store, but still make regular trips back to Asia (such as these dispatches from Tokyo and Hong Kong). Her maternity pictures (she just gave birth to their second child in February of this year) are stunning.

*NEW*An Oven, a Wok, and a Family. This blog is truly a family affair, as both Cassie (a white American) and Zhenyang Hua (a Shanghainese) thoughtfully ponder issues that will resonate with any intercultural family making their way abroad. From wondering if their son will eat chicken’s feet in the Chinese tradition to Cassie’s attempts at learning Chinese. On a personal note, nice to see another couple residing in Ohio, my home state in the US.

Shandongxifu. Ericka, who used to live in Qingdao with her Shandong husband, was known by many of us through her posts at the Lost Laowai blog — where she confidently reminded us that Laowai Girls Love Asian Boys. She rocked the blogosphere in 2014 by bravely coming forward with her chilling story of sexual assault in Shenzhen. Now she resides in the US with her husband and their young son. She has recently shared the experience of raising a bilingual baby.

Wo Ai Ni. Rhiannon, an American woman who met and married her Chinese husband in the US, creates a whimsical collage of an intercultural family on her site. It’s a snapshot of daily family life — including two blonde-haired children from a previous marriage, and four young half-Chinese kids.

Personal Stories

1000 Days in China. Ava Ming was born in England to Jamaican parents and is currently living in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China where she writes and teaches English. Some interesting posts of hers cover whether she was brave or stupid to move to China, and her impressions of Chinese food. Ava’s guest post for my site – Larry – a Short Tale of Ignorance or Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding – generated a lot of discussion, so do have a read!

Becky Ances. She teaches English in lovely Xiamen and writes frequently about traveling, her students, and expat life (such as her recent excursion to Shanghai Disney!). But many of you will appreciate her take on dating Chinese men. You can also follow her at her new blog Badminton Becky!

Betty Has a Panda. Betty is an Austrian woman in her 20s in an intercultural relationship with a Hong Konger in Vienna. She shares all of the funny, frustrating, interesting and strange stories on her blog. Betty shared one of the biggest frustrations about her relationship in a guest post for me titled Why We Are Not Married (Yet) – and as it turns out, the Panda proposed to her in late 2015. Congratulations to her for having a banner year in 2016, which included their wedding!

*NEW*Bunny and Panda. A blog by the “Bunny”, a British woman just recently engaged to the Panda (a Hong Konger who proposed to her at the Peak in Hong Kong – how romantic!). They both live in the UK, where they are planning to have their wedding later this year. Wishing them an unforgettable celebration!

China Doll. She’s a Norwegian woman who went to China when she was 13 and later met her Chinese beau CC (with whom she had an LDR for some time). She now resides in Beijing with her husband, and in the past year shared some gorgeous pre-wedding photos.

Our Chinese Wedding. A blog by Laura, a British/German woman who married her Chinese beau in 2015, sharing all of the ups and downs in the process of getting married in China (from the issues with bureaucracy to bridesmaid dress horrors to even setting wedding dates). But she also writes about her post-nuptial family life in China, such as this love letter to her mother-in-law. Laura is one of the founding contributors and editors of the new group blog WWAM Bam. Additionally, don’t miss her guest post for Speaking of China on The F-Word: Body Image in China.

Chocolate Chick in China. This African-American blogger is an English teacher based in  Wuxi, and you’ve got to love a woman who writes this in her About page: “I have  always been fascinated by the 5000 year old culture and also all the handsome single Chinese men that may never find love due to the fact that they overpopulate the women. so off I go to China to find a different way of life and  maybe a husband too.” Wishing her the best in Fuzhou!

*NEW*The Daily Susily. This fledgling blog by Australian Susie Hart, who resides in Beijing with her husband, offers morsels of inspiration (and fun, such as her post titled Donuts are good for your soul). You’ll enjoy her story about her China Love Affair; find more from Susie at the new group blog WWAM Bam.

*NEW*The Dutchinese Couple. Christine is the daughter of Dutch immigrants, Junwen the son of Chinese immigrants. They share their struggles and insights as a “Dutchinese” couple living in Los Angeles in America. My favorite posts include What would attract a White girl to an Asian guy? and this exploration of their own preconceptions and stereotypes.

East West Love Story. Karen is a native Californian who moved to Singapore to marry Jeremy. You’ll find posts about travelliving in Singaporerecipes and even their relationship (such as a wedding anniversary they celebrated last year).

My Hong Kong Husband. Lina, who hails from Poland, currently lives in Ireland with the eponymous husband that inspired her blog — one that has fast become a popular read in the AMWF community. And it’s no wonder, with her funny posts about everything from a survival guide for dealing with mothers-in-law (she calls hers “Momzilla”) to her husband as “pick up artist”. She just announced they’re moving to Hong Kong! Congratulations to them on this new exciting chapter in their lives!

Jess Meider. American Jess Meider is a Beijing-based singer-songwriter who has been named one of China’s best jazz vocalists. She’s also married to composer and bassist Gao Fang. Jess and I were on CCTV; she also did an interview for my blog. You can check out her blog, where she posts about her upcoming gigs, press coverage, and her interest in traditional Chinese medicine.

*NEW*Joke Tummers. She’s a Dutch woman living in Guangzhou with her husband and family, and her China adventure is filled with music. A former member of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, she now teaches musical instruments to young children at her own school and others in the region. She posts about her teaching and family on her blog; you can also learn more about her through this interview posted on my blog last year.

*NEW*The Joyful Dumplings. Britany, an Aussie gal from Brisbane, writes, “If someone had told me four years ago that I would be married and living in China I wouldn’t have believed you.” She now resides in Xi’an, where “an extremely handsome and happy-go-lucky Chinese man called Peter swept me off my feet, using orphans and pandas as his wing-man but that’s a story for another time.” You can read more about her here. Look forward to more from Britany!

Judith in China (in Dutch). This Dutch woman used to live in Beijing with her local boyfriend but has since moved with him to Wuhan. She blogs about life in China, including the things she encounters every day in the country, such as odd things her neighbors do. Her guest post titled “He Feels Horrible About Me Being The Breadwinner” got a lot of you talking.

Lena Around. Lena is a 20-something Danish girl who is currently working on a master’s degree in Communication in Beijing while traveling in Asia and writing about those travels, China (her favorite place) and love. She’s written about everything from traveling in Southwest China to what it’s like being a student in China. Have a look at her guest posts for this blog, How Asian Will My Future Husband Be?I Shouldn’t Be Dating in My Own Country, and When Tradition Gets in the Way of Intercultural Dating.

Linda Goes East (formerly Linda Living in China). Originally from Germany, Linda followed her heart and passion all the way to China, never expecting that along the way she would end up falling in love with a man from Korea. Now based in Korea, she blogs about everything from life in Korea to AMWF. Don’t miss her guest post for this blog about four things that helped her adapt to life in South Korea.

Life Behind the Wall. The first blog on this list by an African-American woman with a Chinese beau. Jo Gan isn’t your usual expat teaching English in China. An entrepreneur and dreamer, she has become a partner in a bar, started her own band, dated some fascinating fellows (before meeting her sweetheart Jet Liu), and has decided to start her own fashion company. Impressive! Check out her interview for this blog, where she talks about some of her entrepreneurial endeavors.

Marta lives in China. She’s a Spaniard who met her Chinese boyfriend in Suzhou, where she used to work for a manufacturer in the city and now she freelances from the comfort of her home. You’ll love her post on how she met her sweetheart C as well as her many humorous posts (such as this one on How to Survive the Winter in Suzhou). You can also follow her en espaňol on her Spanish-language blog Infinity Plus One.

Mingbai. A Dutch woman with a Chinese husband runs a China consulting and travel business, and maintains a blog written in Dutch mainly about travel destinations in this great country.

Ni Hao Cassandra (in Spanish). Cassandra is a 24-year-old Chilean who studied for a year Mandarin Chinese in Kaifeng, Henan, China. She has long been passionate about Chinese culture, and also has a Chinese boyfriend (who she posts about on the blog). Check out this post on customs regarding couples and love in China.

People Mountain, People Sea. Ashley is not your average American teaching English in Taiwan, thanks to her marriage to a Taiwanese guy (which included a period of time when she lived in the family home). You’ll find her posts on relationships and dating interesting, including this post on what it takes to make a cross-cultural relationship work. Congrats to her on going freelance!

The Ruby Ronin. American Mary (who has a white dad and an Asian mom) has long had a love affair with Asia, spending two years in Japan (and learning Japanese), and then four years in China. She’s now living in California, going to graduate school, and still dating her Chinese boyfriend. Interesting recent posts on the blog include 3 Reasons Chinese People Like Trump and Finding Inspiring, Powerful Female Leads In Asian Media.

*NEW*Secrets of a World Traveler. You’re sure to get wanderlust reading this blog, written by seasoned world travelers Chloe (from the Netherlands) and her Chinese American husband Zeyu. Readers of this blog will enjoy their dispatches on China and Asia, such as 12 Tips for Traveling within China.

Selly’s Little World. Sarah Heintze is a German gal residing in Wuhan, China who describes herself as a “Music lover with a weakness for 王力宏 Wang Leehom. Quirky. Cheeky. A butterfly flitting between ideas. In love with exercising, 小笼包 (xiaolongbao) & 热干面 (hot dry noodles)。” She posts on what’s on her mind and what she’s doing. Any expat can relate to her post on the perpetual confusion she feels about where she truly belongs in the world.

Sincerely, Shalom (Formerly Jew Knew). Eileen’s blog is so lovely and touching, like her pictures of smiling, long-haired women in dazzling rainbow colors. She is married to a man from Taiwan and after living with him in Shanghai and Taiwan, they’re back in the US. Her posts are often quirky and fun, such as this A to Z list of things she loves (A is for “amazing tofu”!).

Talking of Chinese. Chi, an Australian woman who has a Chinese fiancee, blogs about the process of learning Mandarin Chinese (How Can One Word Have So Many Meanings?) as well as lovely posts about her relationship (such as her meditation on what it means to place your partner in a long-distance relationship). She also authored a powerful guest post for this blog titled Odd Questions I’ve Heard About My Interracial Love. As a side note, I’m touched that her blog’s name was inspired by Speaking of China!

When West Dates East. Autumn — who lives in LA with her Chinese American boyfriend – writes: “Some swear it’s a myth:  ‘You’ll find a unicorn before you find a white chick who dates Asian dudes.’ Welcome to my blog on unicorns.” She offers a funny and self-deprecating look into her relationship with posts such as Doggone In-laws and Cuppa Trouble: In-laws Visit Part 3. Don’t miss her guest post for this site titled A “Little” Something Red for My Chinese-American Groom.

*NEW*WWAM Bam (Western Women & Asian Men, Breaking All Molds). The new group blog for AMWF (or WWAM) couples, exploring everything from cultural differences in relationships to stereotypes/racism and beyond. Popular posts include Is Wearing a Cheongsam Cultural Appropriation?, How 5 Chinese men show love to their Western women, and Dear Ms Wai – How Can I Meet Foreign Girls? I’m proud to be a contributor – and you’re welcome to join us by e-mailing the blog at contact(at)wwambam.com.

Xi’ananigans. Marissa, an American woman from New Jersey, met her hubby ZJ while teaching English in Xi’an (she married him in China in the most brilliant red gown I’ve ever seen) and in 2014 moved with him back to the States. They’ve navigated the challenges of building a new life for themselves in the US (which has its pluses too) and now are based in North Dakota, where Marissa works for a local paper. She’s expecting a baby this year – congrats to her – and also contributes to the new group blog WWAM Bam. Don’t miss her guest post on my site all about how she met and fell in love with ZJ, or the Q&A I did for her blog.

What do you think? What blogs did I miss?

Join the New Group Blog for Western Women Who Love Asian Men

%e5%b1%8f%e5%b9%95%e5%bf%ab%e7%85%a7-2017-01-02-%e4%b8%8b%e5%8d%884-11-21We’re starting off 2017 with a bam. Or, more specifically, a WWAM Bam!

WWAM BamWestern Women & Asian Men, Breaking All Molds — is a new group blog for Western women who love Asian men. I’m a part of it, along with a number of writers and bloggers you may already know including Susan Blumberg-Kason (author of Good Chinese Wife),  Laura of Our Chinese Wedding, Becky of BeckyAnces.net, Kimberly of Nama Mama, and Susie of the Daily Susily.

Here’s an excerpt from the About Us page:

We are a group of women from a Western background who are dating or married to men from an Asian culture. AMWF (Asian Male Western Female) couples, or WWAMs (Western Women Asian Men) as we prefer to call them, have in the past been few and far between but in this increasingly globalized world are becoming more common every day. Still, there are cultural differences that such couples will face and our site is here to help you navigate them. At the same time, we make it our mission to weed through the racism and stereotypes about Asian men and culture out there. We all know the truth is never just black and white (or yellow for that matter).

Aside from gripping personal experiences of relationships with Asian men and their families, and of raising AMWF children, this site takes a look at the portrayal of Asian men in Western media and reviews AMWF related productions. We furthermore will spotlight the amazing women out there who have made Asia their family; past and present.

If you are interested in contributing or have any questions, send an email to [email protected]

We’re on the lookout for Western women who love Asian men and writing. You could be a regular contributor or even just a one-time guest poster. If you’d like to be a part of our new group blog, email us at [email protected]

And to my fans here at Speaking of China, yes, I’ll continue to blog here at Speaking of China twice every week.

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2017!

Guest Post: 5 Reasons You Might Not Find Your Mr. Right in Asia

I met and married the love of my life here in Asia.

So did Anne Moss, who shared her own unique how-we-met story last fall in a guest post titled How an American Woman Exchanged Rings, Bows and Hearts with Her Amazing Taiwanese Husband.

But as we all know, AMWF couples are much rarer around the world, including in Asia.

In her latest guest post for this blog, Anne offers five reasons why it might be harder for Western women to meet that Mr. Right in Asia.

Do you have a compelling post or story you’d love to see featured on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn more about how to have your words published here.
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While I have happily met and married my Asian Mr. Right, I have found my case to be rather rare. Excluding some typical cultural factors you might think of as a hindrance to finding your love across the world, I’ve listed my top 5 reasons why a western woman living abroad might not ever end up meeting her Mr. Right in Asia:

(photo by Mario Izquierdo via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Mario Izquierdo via Flickr.com)

#1: Unflattering stereotypes about Western women, thanks to Hollywood

Western media has done us ladies no favors – specifically towards attitudes about sexuality and relationships. I’ve found that men living in Asia have been heavily influenced to believe all us western women will end up sleeping with anyone who decides to smile in our direction. We are often portrayed as easy, with little family regard and would never turn someone down if they are willing to offer us some attention. Many times, the woman is never seen as someone to consider as material for a real relationship. I’ve experienced this myself, and my friends and husband definitely agree it’s an issue for Western women in Asia.

(Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões)
(Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões via Flickr.com)

#2: Different communication styles (indirect versus direct)

In my own household, I was repeatedly taught to speak to the point and ask for what I want or need, and learned that I shouldn’t make someone guess. That’s not necessarily the case here in Asia, where I’ve found that people tend to communicate more indirectly. And when you have different communication styles, it can create challenges in a relationship.

For example, if a problem arises in your relationship, sometimes the two of you might respond in completely different (and contradictory) ways. I’ve been in relationships with men in Asia where he may want to ignore the problem and not talk about it, while I would totally want to talk about it and find a solution.

I’ve also had challenges communicating with parents over here. I’ve found that sometimes trying to “talk” about an issue with an Asian parent basically means listening without your input. To do otherwise would be considered ungrateful and cause loss of face.

These differences can put a lot of stress on both of you when working through disagreements. Sometimes, when trying to help guys over here understand my ideas, feelings and concerns, I’ve felt as if I were continually running up against a brick wall. Sigh.

(Photo by Emily Gould via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Emily Gould via Flickr.com)

#3: Differences in how you express yourselves and your love

Unless the guy you’re dating speaks your native language well – or you’re fluent in his language — I’ve found that having deeper conversations in your relationship might take some time. It means that when you ask a guy a question like, “How was your day?” he might not always go into the kind of detail you might expect.

Also, how your partner chooses to show his love might be different from you. Is it with actual language? Even within the same cultural group knowing your love language is a skill learned and discovered with time. What is happening when you feel love from your partner? Love languages can include: physical touch, quality time, gifts, verbal confirmation or acts of appreciation. Just because you give love in one way doesn’t mean your partner will receive it in the light it may be given. Do you want love with quality time with your partner but he gives you physical gifts? Getting this far also takes a certain amount of self (emotional) knowledge (and effort to get there) of knowing and understanding yourself and your outlook.

(Photo by Jason D' Great via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Jason D’ Great via Flickr.com)

#4: Family expectations for Asian men

Family ties and expectations run deep in Asia. It’s not uncommon for men to live with their family before and even after marriage – which might be a deal-breaker for some Western women.

I’ve also found that children in Asia (especially the men) are often expected to provide financial support to their parents, regardless of whether they live with the parents and if there’s a real need for that money. I was surprised to discover this, and I’m sure this would challenge a lot of Western women, who usually aren’t used to giving their parents money like that.

(Photo by jorge larios via Flickr.com)
(Photo by jorge larios via Flickr.com)

#5: Becoming invisible (if you’re not fluent in the local language)

For personal reasons I am monolingual – I can only speak English. Yet I live in Asia, where English is not the native language for the overwhelming majority of people and countries. This reality has been a hard blow for me. I was taught to be independent, stand up for myself and be in charge when needed. Yet I’ve left behind the America I grew up in for Asia, and it has meant giving up a huge chunk of my own independence. I’ve been forced to depend on my husband for a lot of things and sometimes I feel like I’ve become invisible. I’ve been at restaurants where the staff focused only on my husband, handing him the menus and directing all the questions at him. On many occasions when I’ve visited shops or banks together with him, no one would even make eye contact with me. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve faced in our relationship.

Anne Elizabeth Moss has spent the last 5 years in Asia and currently lives with her Taiwanese husband in Singapore. She teaches Bellyfit®, Bellydance and Yoga classes and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/riksardance.
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: I Shouldn’t Be Dating in My Own Country

Going abroad can change you a lot — sometimes, enough to realize you were never meant to date your own countrymen.

That’s the conclusion Lena, the blogger behind Lena Around, has come to, who believes the cultural differences between her and the local Danes are too great for her to go out with them. Read on for her story!

Do you have a surprising story to share or other guest post you’d like to see featured on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your words published here.
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12471704_445388395651061_2637610516889358724_oI’ve been at home for a few months now. 2015 was a crazy year. I started out with a broken heart and a lost soul. But there wasn’t much time to think about it because I was going to Australia and then moving onto China. My heart was growing back together during the month in the beautiful nature of Australia, and when I came to China I was getting stronger again. I started to believe a little bit in love or I thought so.

I met a great guy in Beijing and I was determined to move on from past experiences and be happy with this person. He was a great match for me and he loved me just like I am. I should have been happy and I tried. I fought for him for a long time while I kept wishing my heart would open up, but I was afraid. I wasn’t ready to open up yet so I had to move on again.

I travelled through China, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Laos, Hong Kong and Taiwan, I met loads of amazing new friends and hot fellas I could fall for, but I didn’t. I was just having fun. I told myself it was okay to still be nervous about the pain another person could cause you, so I let it go and travelled on my own discovering, exploring, thinking, learning and growing.

Coming back to Denmark, I was tired. I was just exhausted after 10 months on the road. I’d seen so many things and now it was time to sit down, relax and reflect. But it didn’t take long before my wanderlust came back with even bigger power than before. I felt the need to do something, so I quit my little vacation at my parents’ house and moved back to my university town. I thought to myself that now everything would be nice and I could be happy with friends around.

The problem is just that when you come back from such a long trip, not many people are around anymore. Or if they are, they are doing tons of other things. So I sat there in my new apartment thinking, Why not try Tinder? I’d tried before and it was a fun way to meet nice boys. I’ve got to be honest and say that I was pretty bored, which was probably the reason why I turned to Tinder.

886940_444090602447507_3285781544130795302_oAfter a few days, I had a match. You see the problem here is that I just do like the Asian look. I’m not saying that I only date Asian guys but I am just quite fond of them. So if I see an Asian-looking guy, I’m just more curious than a blue-eyed, blond-haired tall Dane. But anyway, the match was with a Vietnamese-Chinese guy born and raised in Denmark. I know from experience that this doesn’t mean they have any interest in Asia but I always hope a little bit anyway.

We started talking and the conversation quickly turned to the topic of Asia. I said that I’d been around. I didn’t want to mention all the places because I wouldn’t want to sound like a show-off, but he insisted on me telling. I told him about my last trip and he asked me if I spoke Mandarin. I said yes. He himself had only been to Beijing and Hong Kong for a week like most other tourists and I felt a little disappointed deep inside.

I knew I was comparing him to my first and only great love. He had the same background as this guy. But instead of not giving a s… about China, he was totally in love with China, just like me.

In the end, this guy left me hanging. Twenty minutes before meeting up, he told me he was going to play football instead. I was furious. I told him what an ass he was and deleted his number. Even though he chose to screw things up, I think it was for the best anyway. I should not date around here. My China stories can be pretty overwhelming. I don’t know why this guy didn’t want to meet. Was it because of my greater knowledge of Asia or did he really just want to play football? Who knows?

Now I know that I shouldn’t try to find a guy in this town. With a big population of pale people and no Asian studies at the university, I don’t think there’s much for me here. Also, I’m planning on moving back to Beijing immediately after graduation so why start a relationship here, right? I think it would be better to just deal with the boredom myself, become stronger, and not think too much about boys right now. I’ll just have to wait for my prince charming, who’s probably sitting on a subway in Beijing hoping for my arrival.

Lena is a 20-something Danish girl who is currently working on a master’s degree in Beijing and writing about her travels, China (her favorite place) and love. You can follow her at lenaaround.com.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: 4 Things That Helped Me Adapt to South Korea

Linda Dunsmore, who blogs at Linda Goes East, never expected to end up in South Korea with a Korean fiancé. She told us all about it in her previous guest post, “Am I in the ‘Wrong’ AMWF Relationship?” How a Woman Who Loved China Fell for a Korean man.

But it’s not always easy to transition to a new country. After all, as Linda writes, “Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food.” I asked Linda to share some of her tips for a smooth transition to life in South Korea – read on!

Do you have some advice, a story or other guest post you’d like to see featured on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn more about what I like to publish and then submit yours today.

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habok33I’ve always been interested in Asia and its different cultures and nations. China had especially caught my eye and I decided to study Mandarin and even move to China – which I did and it was awesome. Then, I went to California to get my bachelor’s degree, with a plan in mind to move back to China – maybe even for good.

However, something, and I like to argue it were higher powers, had completely changed my path. Actually it wasn’t something but much rather someone. While studying in San Diego, I met a handsome Korean exchange student who instantly caught my eye. We quickly started dating and he is now my fiancé.

After graduating, I did, in fact, move back to China, were I stayed for a year in Hunan’s capital of Changsha. I got to travel the country and experience the local culture to a great extent. However, I wasn’t fully happy there. Being in a long distance relationship was hard and after 1 year in China, I decided to make the big move to South Korea.

Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food. However, all of this quickly changed and is now a big part of my life. I would like to share some of the strategies that helped ease my transition into living in South Korea.

#1: Learn the Language

Soon after I met Jeongsu, I started learning Korean. I’m by far not fluent but the basics help me fit in the daily life here and make it a lot easier to live here. I signed up at the local YMCA and took a Korean course with other foreigners. The good thing was that I met other foreigners – some of which also have Korean partners.

#2: Eat local food

Food is a key part of every culture. It seems like Korea even takes it to a new level, having a certain set of side dishes for every meal. I remember the first time I saw “kimchi” (the most popular Korean side dish) in Jeongsu’s fridge back in San Diego. “I’m never going to eat that!” I screamed because of the foul smell. Now, I love it and eat it with almost every meal.

12417911_1203788122969275_6374892348853201382_n#3: Do as the Koreans Do

Koreans work a lot, but also take their free time seriously and love hanging out with friends. Drinking, karaoke or even Korean traditional sauna include only few of the dozens of things Korean take on in their free time. You should also be aware of the strict hierarchy here in Korea. When you treat people older than you in a polite way, you’re going to be much more successful living here.

#4: Make local Friends

Obviously, the reason why I moved to Korea was to be with Jeongsu. Having him here helps me a lot since he can support me when I have problems of communication and he explains cultural differences to me. However, even if you move to Korea alone, you should definitely make Korean friends. You’re Korea experience is going to be so much deeper when you have a chance to see how locals really live.

What are you waiting for?

If you are thinking about moving to South Korea, don’t hesitate too long! It’s a wonderful country to fall in love with. I didn’t know a lot about Korea before moving here but now I am astounded by the country’s vast history and culture. Korean BBQ, KPOP, awesome skincare products and loads of themed cafes are waiting for you here!

NEU8Linda writes about life in Korea, her AMWF relationship with a Korean man, traveling around Asia and studying Asian languages at www.lindagoeseast.com . She is also very active on social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Larry – a Short Tale of Ignorance or Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding

Ava Ming

Cross-cultural misunderstandings are a huge pitfall in dating abroad, including here in China.

Just imagine what it must have felt like for Ava Ming, the English blogger behind My Oriental Life, when she heard these words from her date for the evening, a Chinese guy she met in Shenzhen: “I really want to kiss you, Ava, but I’m scared that I might get AIDS because all Africans have AIDS.”

Whoa!

Read on to learn the whole story of how things fell apart between her and Larry.

Do you have a shocking tale of cross-cultural misunderstandings or other guest post you’d like to see featured here on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn more about becoming a guest poster for this blog.
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Shenzhen, China (photo by Ramon Boersbroek via Flickr.com)
Shenzhen, China (photo by Ramon Boersbroek via Flickr.com)

I’ve often considered telling the story of my first Chinese date. But usually I’ve declined, thinking it was too personal, perhaps too upsetting and might also give the impression that I dislike Chinese men, which is really not the case at all.

But the event occurred a while ago now back in 2013. After reading about others who’ve braved their souls on Jocelyn Eikenburg’s fabulous blog, I’ve decided to share. Besides, who knows, maybe someone else could have or has had a similar experience?

I met Larry at the terminal subway station. There were very few commuters around. I was curious as to why he came so close, sitting right next to me on an empty train, leaving a small space between us.

I noticed his glances in my direction, wondering if he was trying to work up the courage to ask if he could practice his English with me. Pretty soon he introduced himself and asked me where I was from, which led to a conversation.

He told me that he was a professional who’d travelled to various European cities but never England. He was 37, unmarried and feeling the pressure from his parents to change his single status. I enjoyed our talk during the long ride but initially didn’t read anything into it. Around that time I seemed to be making a lot of new Chinese friends while on various subway rides. I guess I must have exuded an approachable air!

As we approached his stop he told me that he thought I was pretty. He couldn’t believe no other Chinese guy had made me his girlfriend. Then he asked for my number and if we could go to dinner.

Have to admit I was pretty surprised. Until then I’d been under the impression that Chinese guys would never be so forward due to a natural or cultural shyness. I said I wasn’t sure about a date but we could talk from time to time.

Over the next fortnight he sent regular messages via text and email usually beginning with ‘hello, my angel.’ Yes, Larry was a charmer but the messages did make me smile.

Eventually we set up a date and met on a hot and sticky Friday evening. By now I knew that I wasn’t romantically attracted to him, but I did like his personality and I was interested in meeting more people and expanding my circle of Chinese friends. I also assumed that he didn’t have intentions of getting serious with me either. His parents probably weren’t expecting him to marry a foreign girl.

The date was nothing special. The best word to describe it would probably be ‘nice,’ well up to a point anyway. We ate rice in a Japanese restaurant and then went for a walk in the park. He kept guiding me towards secluded places, which I thought was a bit strange. But then he’d comment on the sculpture, or lotus flower pond, or round leafy bush we’d stumbled upon.

I still wasn’t feeling any chemistry towards him. But he had a gentle humour and I thought perhaps we could be friends in the future.

Ava Ming
Ava Ming

Approaching 10pm I wanted to leave, having made plans to go dancing, but Larry wasn’t ready. He insisted on ‘just ten more minutes’ and took me to a bench by the side of the river, again another secluded place. When we sat down he made a confession.

“I really want to kiss you, Ava, but I’m scared that I might get AIDS because all Africans have AIDS.”

I was literally struck dumb at his ignorance. Then I became so angry I actually felt tears welling up. Angry tears have a whole different feeling to ones of sadness or joy.

We’d already discussed my family history, him being impressed that my parents were from Jamaica and that I was born in England. But regardless of place of birth, how could he be so naive? In addition, was there no filter in his brain to tell him exactly when to shut-up?

I told him that AIDS didn’t originate from Africa, but was initially a disease among gay white men in New York. I pointed out that he should really think before he speaks and that he shouldn’t believe so strongly in stereotypes. On top of this, why on earth had he asked me out if he’d thought I was ‘unclean?’

Seeing my distress he insisted that I’d misunderstood when we both knew that I hadn’t. To make matters worse, he then pulled me close and tried to kiss me! Saying; “look, see, I know you don’t really have AIDS!”

I wanted to storm off in a huff, but it’s kind of difficult when you don’t know where you are, so we caught the bus back together. He begged me not to tell anyone because he didn’t want to lose face. I made no such promise. If he’d just ended the date at 10pm before his confession maybe we would have become friends, although then I would never have known what he was really thinking.

For a long time I dismissed the idea of dating another Chinese guy. If this was the common school of thought then what would be the point?

A short while later I discussed his theory with my Chinese friends, many of whom also believed that AIDS originated in Africa, but none of whom believed that all Africans have it.

As for Larry, he called and emailed several times to apologise for upsetting me. I accepted his apology but declined his offers to go for a drink. Making someone cry on a first date, even if they were tears of frustration, is really not an auspicious beginning!

As I mentioned this was a while ago and I have since relaxed my guard, becoming more open to Chinese men who just want to talk. But as for dating? Not sure. For that I think I’ll need a little more time.

I’m Ava Ming, born in England to Jamaican parents and currently living in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China where I write and teach English.
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Learn Mandarin Chinese – What to Call Chinese Family for Western Women Married to Chinese Men

A few years back, I wrote an article titled The Chinese Relatives Name Game, reflecting on the challenges of trying to remember all of the names for relatives here in China. It’s funny that I’ve been married to my husband for over 10 years and I still can’t keep them straight! (In the post, I even wondered if it might take me a lifetime to get the names right… 😉 )

Of course, with Chinese New Year coming up, it’s as if I’m facing the yearly final exam on this subject – one that I’m not entirely sure I’m going to pass. (Ah well, at least my blunders might provide a bit of comic relief during the holidays?)

That’s why I’m grateful Yiwen Yang has graciously provided this article. It’s an introduction to some of the basics every Western woman who marries a Chinese man should know when it comes to what to call your Chinese family members.

Do you have a guest post that you think ought to be featured on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn more about writing for this blog.
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What to Call Chinese Family Members for Western Women Married to Chinese MenThe other day we were reading Jocelyn’s article The Chinese Relatives Name Game again, and thought about how confusing understanding all about Chinese family members can be!

Whilst we’re sure it’s not a new topic for many foreigners who are learning Mandarin Chinese, it’s definitely still a big challenge—especially if you are new to your Chinese family, and them to you.

As Chinese New Year is once again looming, why not refresh some of your Chinese language skills in advance so that you can impress your Chinese family—or maybe give them surprise at how fluent you have become in the language.

So, today, we are going to help you out!

As many of you know, Chinese family trees can be talked about forever. To actually remember the names and titles of people in Chinese family trees takes time; indeed, it’s also challenging for many native Chinese.

As Jocelyn from Speaking of China is more focused on AMWF (Asian male/Western female) love, let’s get started by looking at terms for Western women married to Chinese men.

Here’s an easy one if you are married to a Chinese man:

Husband: 老公,丈夫,先生 (lǎogōng, zhàngfu, xiānsheng)

What will your husband call you? (wife): 老婆,妻子,夫人 (lǎopó, qīzi, fūrén)

Note: 老公 (lǎogōng)/老婆 (lǎopó) are the most popular names which you can use in basically every situation, whilst 丈夫 (zhàngfu)/妻子 (qīzi),先生 (xiānsheng)/夫人 (fūrén) are a bit more formal and used to introduce a couple to other people.

For example, 这是我的先生 (Zhè shì wǒ de xiānsheng):This is my husband

In-laws:

Father in-law (your husband’s father): 公公 (gōnggong)

Mother in-law (your husband’s mother): 婆婆 (pópo)

公公 (gōnggong) and 婆婆 (pópo) are the most common words in use although, in many cases, people just use the same words as their husband use, which are father(爸,bà)or mother(妈,mā).

Also, when you have a child, some people will follow the words the child speaks, namely: grandfather(爷爷,yéye),grandmother (奶奶,nǎinai) 。

So what will your in-laws call you? 媳妇 (xífù)/儿媳 (érxí):(daughter in-law)

Note: in many cases, if they are talking to you, they will just say your name naturally.

Other useful names you might use:

Your husband’s older brother: 大伯(dàbó)
Your husband’s older sister: 大姑子(dàgūzi)
Your husband’s younger brother: 小叔子(xiǎoshūzi)
Your husband’s younger sister: 小姑子(xiǎogūzi)

Sounds complicated already?

Well, here are some great tips for you to follow:

  1. For the older generation/seniors, if you forget the correct way to speak to them, just to follow your husband is fine. (Eg. it’s okay to call your parents in-law just “father” or “mother”.)
  2. For the younger generation/seniors, you can either follow your husband or just say their name directly. (Eg. Your husband’s younger sister. If her name is 筱钧(xiǎojūn),you can just say her name directly.)

You may not need to use all of the above every day but, don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to the best/correct ways of addressing family members.

Actually, on our site Learn Mandarin Now, we recently published two Podcasts about Chinese family members:

  • direct family members: http://www.learnmandarinnow.com/podcast13
  • extended family members: http://www.learnmandarinnow.com/podcast19

We are now publishing our exciting Podcasts every day from Monday-Friday, covering a variety of interesting topics to help you learn Mandarin Chinese more effectively. They are totally free for everyone to view and listen to but, if you can kindly leave your honest opinion and ratings in i-Tunes or just simply tell us what kind of topics you like us to talk about in the near future, we’d greatly appreciate this. In any event, we’d love hear from you.

Wish everyone a great Chinese New Year ahead!
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

AMWF TEDx Talk on Why Asian Male/Western Female Couples Are Rare

Wang Jia, who blogs about culture, race and relationships at WhyAMWF.wordpress.com, has just uploaded his TEDx Erasmus talk titled “Western Women, Eastern Men” online and asked me to share it with you. Here’s the scoop:

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Originally from Beijing, Wang Jia has lived in The Netherlands and Germany for 15 years. He always wondered why it is rare to see AMWF couples. Only a year ago, he started to look into this topic seriously. He holds a Ph.D in chemical engineering from TU Delft, the Netherlands. (That probably helped him in structuring his thoughts and research.) As he has a passion for public speaking and communicating ideas that will influence people’s lives, becoming a TEDx speaker became one of his dreams. [FYI for people new to TEDx:]

What is TEDx?

The TEDx Program is designed to help communities, organizations and individuals to spark conversation and connection through local TED-like experiences.

At TEDx events, a screening of TED Talks videos — or a combination of live presenters and TED Talks videos — sparks deep conversation and connections at the local level. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, under a free license granted by TED.

He wanted more people be aware of the AMWF topic through the TEDx speech. On 24th Oct 2015 he realized this dream, delivering a speech titled “Western Women, Eastern Men” for TEDx Erasmus University (you can also view the talk on Youku). Do you think this speech can make a high impact?

Those 11 minutes were a fantastic experience for Wang Jia. He never felt so good under the spotlight.

TEDx speakers 2

In the speech, Wang Jia drew on his personal experience to explain the reasons behind the West-East relationship imbalance. It’s a lighthearted speech that will leave you with a smile. For anyone who is struggling with the West-East relationship barriers, don’t miss it.

So what happened with Wang‘s dating life? It’s a surprise and not a disappointment.

Wang couple 2

Wang Jia finally formed his own AMWF relationship and still lives in the Netherlands. If you’d like to learn more about his insights into culture, race and relationships, visit his blog: whyamwf.wordpress.com

Guest Post: “Chun Was Someone I Never Thought I Would Meet”

Unless you’re like my husband (who lucked out and ended up marrying his one and only girlfriend), chances are you’ve had your share of relationships or crushes that didn’t work out — perhaps even ones you might regret. I know I have.

Which is why, when Holly of From My World To Your World decided to share the tale of what happened between her and Chun, I was nodding my head the entire time I read it…and thinking of that one guy I never should have fell for, but did.

Do you have a story about love gone wrong or other guest post you’d like to see featured here on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn how to get your work published on this blog.
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(Photo via http://ent.cnwest.com)
(Photo via http://ent.cnwest.com)

It is really hard for me to write about this only because this is something that happened recently with someone I thought was going to be a big part of my life. But, he stopped contact with me. A small part of me wanted to know why he decided to stop talking and the other part just doesn’t care anymore. For this, it’s almost a long story, which goes back last year.

I’ll start in the beginning on how we met.

Chun was someone I never thought I would meet. I always believed people were destined to meet and I thought this was the right moment. But once again, I was wrong. Last year we met at a time in my life when I still was a very emotional person and still searching for a relationship. I really thought everything was perfect when I met him.

Late September, last year

It was a good Monday evening when I was asked by a friend if I wanted to go eat dinner. Let’s call her Ying. So when I arrived to the restaurant, Ying introduced me to the other two guys that were sitting and eating dinner with us. The three of them are Chinese and were speaking Chinese. I could understand as much as I could at the time. But, there was something about Chun that I was attracted to. He was tall, had a broad chest, black hair, funny, and just kind of my type… a bad boy. And I was really physically attracted to him.

Chun was the type of guy who didn’t finish high school. He dropped out of school and never even bothered getting his GED. He and his parents worked at a Chinese buffet or restaurant somewhere in my city.

After dinner, Chun said he almost forgot it was his birthday the next day. So we decided to all go for hookah that night. On the way there, Ying and I were in her car. I asked her if he was single. She said she thinks he might be. That night I got to know him a little bit more, still very much curious about this guy.

The following day he wanted to go bowling, but no one wanted to go. At the last minute I decided to go. He picked me up at my house since at this time, I didn’t know how to drive. When we were bowling, we had this deep discussion about life, love, happiness and more. There were some things I told him that I thought I wouldn’t tell anyone. We talked about the tattoos on his body, the scars he received on his arm, why school wasn’t for him. I was nothing but comfortable with him since meeting him even though he had this bad boy mentality.

October, last year

Just that coming weekend, it was my birthday. In fact it was my twenty-first birthday. The day after, on Saturday, he took me out downtown to a bar and bought me a few drinks. I had gotten a little drunk, but I remember most of that night. I remember dancing with him and then him telling me he doesn’t like to dance. I remember gulping down three or four glasses of water before walking downtown and then discussing a potential relationship.

I told him I was starting to fall for him a bit and that I liked him. He replied that he liked me too, but wanted to get to know me more before pursuing a relationship with me. At the time, I thought this was the right moment to tell him my deepest secret: being autistic. When I told him, his arm was still around me, holding me as we walked. He said to me, “Don’t worry, everyone is different.”

After he dropped me off home late that night, I had liquid courage. I reached up and kissed him. It wasn’t a deep kiss. Mostly it was light kissing. I said bye to him and parted ways.

Who would’ve thought that after that night that everything would go downhill?

A few days later I met with Ying and told her what happened. She told me she talked to him and asked if we had fun that night. His excuse was, “I don’t remember much.”

My heart sank. Was this really true? Did he not remember? How could he not? He barely drank that night, or at least I thought.

The week after my birthday, I invited a lot of my friends out since I had to work on my twenty-first. I invited him out as well. He came a little later and immediately headed to the bar. I went up to him and asked him if he remembered what happened. He said he didn’t remember at all. This made me angry. Just after he had a few drinks, he suggested we all go to a different bar. We agreed to try to bar hop some. I still was upset with him and slowly that night I became devastated. How could he be so cold and barely talk to me that night?

After my party I tried to message him a few times, but he wouldn’t reply as much.

Every time I saw Ying, I felt so bad because all I would do is talk about him.

November came and I saw continued sadness in my life, I was so upset that he wasn’t replying when I tried to contact him. December came quicker than I expected. This was when I decided to call him and ask why he stopped talking to me. But, I was going to have to wait until after finals.

When finals were done, I decided that it was time to call him.

No answer.

I left a voicemail, even though I knew he wouldn’t listen. After this voicemail, I messaged him on WeChat. I said to him, “I called because I wanted to ask you something. But I guess it is pointless now. I tried hard enough. And you haven’t bothered replying. I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now, but you’re ignoring me for some reason…it hurts me. It’s been a long time since we last talked.”

Finally after a few months of no responses, I got a reply. He told me that he didn’t want to talk to anyone because he was planning on moving to a different State. I decided that this was it, which I didn’t care anymore…or at least I thought. Deep down I still cared.

The next day while driving with Ying to go downtown to bar hop, we were talking about something and brought up Chun. This was when she told me something I never knew.

She said to me, “He’s so stupid, I didn’t tell you this because I didn’t want to make things worse. But I wanted to tell you that he had this girlfriend.”

I looked at her, so confused, “What do you mean?”

She replied, “This girl, I know her, she is kind of crazy, She’s a Chinese girl. She doesn’t really care much about anything. They were on and off dating, just kind of like friends with benefits, but whatever.”

I wondered if this is what stopped him from talking to me?

“When did he meet this girl? Was it around the same time I met him?”

“Yeah, I believe so, but they were just friends before it happened. Sorry I didn’t tell you before.”

I stopped for a moment, letting this sink in. It made sense…another girl was in his life so that’s why he probably stopped talking to me.

I told Ying I was grateful and smiled, realizing that Chun was not supposed to be in my life…or so I thought.

About 7 months later, late July, this year

Out of the blue, I received a message from him on WeChat. I never bothered to really remove him from my life anyway so I decided to just keep him on social media. Just a few months before I saw that he was back in my city for the summer. Chun asked me what’s up. I told him that I was going to the mall. He said that he could meet me there. This was strange since I barely talked to him since December. And I was wondering if I was prepared to meet with him.

I told him what time I would be there and he met me. The entire time I barely wanted to look at him, still remembering about what happened in the past. My main destination was Victoria’s Secret. He followed me into that store. The entire time I felt like I was teasing him. We got into a small argument what my actual bra size is. I told him teasingly, “Why? Do you want to see me in these bras then?”

His response, “Yes, I actually do.”

Throughout that day at the mall and spending time with him, I never thought I would get some closure. He offered to drive me home. On the way I was talking about how we first met. I unexpectedly got an answer I was looking for.

“How come you don’t remember that time we went bowling?”

“Well, to be honest, I was high a lot. I was smoking weed before I saw you or anyone else. That, or drunk. Or both.”

I was a little relieved in some way. Because telling him I was autistic was one of my biggest worries and I was so scared that this is what made him stop talking to me.

“I also heard you were with this girl too?”

“Yeah, that’s true as well, but she was crazy. And she lied to me. I felt badly about it later. But I took her virginity. She never told me before. I thought she wasn’t a virgin and was angry she didn’t tell me.”

I really didn’t care about that. I just finally was able to know some of the truth.

“You really upset me at the time. I hate to blame, but a part of the reason I am like this is because of you.”

I think these words did make him see that he truly screwed up. And I luckily got an apology.

When we sat in the driveway for a few moments, he asked if I wanted to go somewhere else with him. I agreed and then we were off to play mini-golf and ride go-karts. Next thing I knew, it was around nine at night.

“It’s getting late and I’m kind of hungry.”

“What do you want to eat?” he asked.

“Uhm, I’m not sure, I’m not picky.”

Chun decided that we could just go to the grocery store and then cook back at his place. I said sure. But, I didn’t realize his place was farther from mine, about a twenty minute drive or so. When we got to his place, he told me his situation. Chun was living in the living room since there were only two bedrooms and his parents have a friend staying with them. So his parents and little brother occupied one room while their friend had the other. I told him not to worry. Ten minutes later, his family arrived. His parents mainly ignored him the entire time I was there.

Time was going by slow and it was already ten-thirty at night when we started to eat dinner. He suggested that I just stay the night. I asked if that was okay with his parents and he said they didn’t care.

So I spent the night. And things happened.

At the time I was so happy. Everything was perfect. We talked a lot that night. I told him that I am happy how things worked out this way. Mentioning of course that I don’t want a relationship at all.

He said he was happy too and that he wanted me in the same way I wanted him. We talked almost that entire night. About how he was in trouble with the law and how his parents didn’t recognize him as their son now because he said he has disappointed them. Part of me was feeling really bad for him.

But after that night I didn’t see him for a while. He got busy with work and so did I.

A few weeks after seeing him, I managed to convince him to come over. However, he messaged me and told me not to think anything of us and that we are just paoyou (炮友), or friends with benefits. Why would you send that when we already defined the relationship between us two? I snuck him into my house that night, but my brother came home to sleep that night. My older brother was barely home at this time as well. So, overall the mood was ruined.

This was when I asked him quietly, “Why did you have to remind me that we’re just paoyou?”

Chun wasn’t happy I brought it up, “Because I wanted to remind you.”

“No, seriously, please tell me why.”

He paused for a few seconds, totally not expecting this response.

“I feel like I’m not good enough for you.”

I looked at him, “Why do you think this?”

“When I see you, I see myself. I see how I used to be and I how much I changed. You deserve better. Now, enough of that. But promise me something.”

“Hmm?” I inquired.

“If I disappear from your life again, don’t get sad.”

Still a little confused, “Why do you say that? I already had you gone from my life once, I’m sure I can get through it again.”

I snuck him back out after this big conversation of ours. That last kiss, that last hug…I never thought it would’ve been the last of it all.

Early September, this year

School started for me and I was really happy to be back at school. One day after I was finished with classes for the week, I texted him. The message wasn’t sending on WeChat and it was saying I had to add him as a friend. Confused, I looked him up on Facebook. Chun also removed me from there as well.

I was furious. So I messaged him on Facebook telling him, “We’re better than this. I don’t know what’s going on but it would be nice for you to talk to me instead of just removing me from your life. Please call me when you get the chance.”

No phone call.

No response.

No text messages.

Silence.

I talked to Ying just a few weeks after it happened. She told me that one of her friends went to hang with him and they got stuck on the highway. This friend of hers said that Chun was agitated because this one girl wouldn’t stop talking to him. And also that he didn’t really want to talk with her a lot and it was becoming annoying.

Immediately I knew that was me. I wasn’t really talking to him every day, I made sure of it. But, when I heard all this, I sighed some relief.

I began to not care about this situation because this wasn’t my problem. Deep down I knew that this was possibly going to happen again. I knew that he was going to stop contact with me again.

Somedays I have some regrets about letting him back into my life. I wish I had been wiser about things. But we learn from our mistakes and learn to accept them. This is just another life lesson that was learned the hard way. I’ve accepted what happened and even though I want to regret, I cannot. This situation shaped me into who I am today and helped make me stronger.

Holly resides in Michigan, where she writes about her novel, Destiny Across a Thousand Miles, and her life at http://frommyworldtoyourworld.wordpress.com.
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The Love Stories of East German Women and North Korean Men in New German Documentary “Loved, Engaged, Lost”

Loved Engaged Lost German DocumentaryWhen North Korea sent some 357 men over to the former East Germany in the 1950s to train them, the two countries also unexpectedly set in motion some of the most dramatic and bittersweet stories of forbidden love that I’ve ever encountered.

For example, consider the case of Renata Hong, who waited for 47 years before reuniting with her husband in North Korea:

Renate returned to Germany on Tuesday after a 12-day reunion with her long-lost husband in North Korea – a highly unusual episode given the Communist government’s policy of keeping most of its people without mail or telephone links to the rest of the world, not to mention the Internet.

Traveling with Renate were their two sons. Peter Hyon Zol was 10 months old, and Renate was pregnant with Uwe, when the family broke up in the vortex of the Cold War.

Renate Kleinle and Hong Ok Geun met in 1955, when they attended the same freshman chemistry class at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, East Germany. Hong was a humorous exchange student from North Korea, then East Germany’s Communist ally.

They fell in love. Because both governments frowned on marriages between North Korean students and East Germans, the couple married in 1960 in a rural town where the local authorities were unaware of the national government’s policy. There were no guests.

The couple’s happy time lasted only one year, however. In 1961, the Pyongyang government recalled all 350 of its students in East Germany, a measure believed prompted by a few North Korean students’ defections to the West. Hong was given 48 hours to pack.

Holding 10-month-old Peter, Renate bid a tearful farewell to Hong at the Jena train station.

I’m tearing up just imagining that scene for myself.

Well, German filmmaker Sung-Hyung Cho stumbled upon Renate’s love story and it inspired her to discover more of these couples, ultimately leading to a new documentary film released in June 2015 titled “Verliebt, Verlobt, Verloren” (“Loved, Engaged, Lost”). Here’s the trailer on Youtube for the documentary film, presented in German (folks in China, you’ll need a VPN to view it):

I’ve also discovered an excellent interview with Sung-Hyung Cho about the film. Here’s a snippet:

DW: What was the idea behind the film?

Sung-Hyung Cho: The story of Renate Hong was very popular in South Korea. In 2006, her story became the talk of the town after a South Korean historian – who had conducted some research in Jena about the relationship between North Korea and East Germany – met Renate Hong by chance.

She narrated her story, and he propagated it on the Internet. The response was overwhelming. The Koreans were blown away by the sad but beautiful love story.

Most Koreans, myself included, know the story. Moreover, I was greatly interested in knowing and better understanding former East Germany. I also wanted to know more about North Korea, even if only indirectly.

Have you ever heard about this fascinating chapter of AMWF history between Germany and North Korea? And, for those of you who have seen the film, what did you think of it?

P.S.: Thanks to Ruth of the wonderful blog China Elevator Stories for tipping me off to this!