In our third meeting, we took a deeper dive into conversational German/Chinese. The content of our last two meetings was more about getting to know the culture. Now, I got to know the Chinese way of speaking by first learning the proper pronunciation of certain letters (phonetic symbols instead of Chinese characters). Afterwards, they taught me common phrases like “hello” or “how are you?”. I thought it was particularly interesting that you can also say “have you eaten?” for “how are you” in China and that the shape of Chinese characters originates from drawing the actual thing it means. The character for “fire” was in former times a drawing of an actual flame and over time it has changed a little to the Chinese characters we know today – you can even see in how far the characters have changed and you can depict a flame in today’s character as well (火). Afterwards, they taught me about Chinese beauty standards that basically consists of clear skin, big eyes, being thin and an innocent smile. Then, I taught them about German common phrases and especially the difficulty about the pronunciation of the different ch -, sch- or st- sounds. One tip I included was that in Germany we pronounce each letter unlike in e.g. English. I also included a short smalltalk section in which my two group members could introduce themselves. Referring to the “German” beauty standards, I think there is no actual German beauty standard. Instead, I taught them about the “Western” beauty standards (being tall, muscular, having a tan …) and the most common plastic surgeries in Germany. Since we realized that both languages rely heavily on pronunciation, we decided that we will send each other memos about the pronunciation of the words we learned today to enhance our learning outcomes.
The idea to educate each other about festivals and traditions came from the fact that the Chinese New Year’s Festival and the German Karneval had just passed. Therefore, we created small presentations about both national and religious festivals we grew up with in our home country. My Chinese group members taught me about of course the Chinese New Year’s festival, the dragon boat festival, the Chinese traditional version of Valentine’s day and the mid-autumn/moon festival and each one’s story. We could even find some similarities between the “western” New Year’s eve and the Chinese New Year’s festival. There, both use fireworks and colorful objects to scare away monsters, ghosts, etc. I also feel like I’ve been a little better regarding the pronunciation of the festivals’ names. In exchange, I taught my Chinese group members about the German Oktoberfest, Karneval, the way we celebrate christmas and the “Tag der deutschen Einheit” (Day of German Unity) to ensure a good and interesting mix of religious festivals and festivals you mostly engage in for the sake of celebrating itself. We unexpectatly found out that people in China / Germany celebrate the 1 May as the labor day as well. We three of us thought that it would be a national holiday rather than something that other nations celebrate too. While teaching the names of cities where particular festivals are celebrated (München or Köln) I taught them the pronunciation of the letters ä, ö, ü and ß. I think we achieved the overall goal of teaching each other the culture rather than the plane language itself. However, for the next time we decided to teach each other common phrases like “hello, how are you?”, “thank you” or “Can you help me?” to actually get to know the language a little better. Moreover, we decided to talk about different beauty standards in Germany and China since one of my Chinese group members thought that western beauty standards that are portrayed on e.g. Instagram differ heavily from the ones she is exposed to in China. I am really looking forward to our next meeting about common phrases and beauty standards.
In our first proper teaching/learning session me and my two Chinese group members taught each other about german/chinese food, traditional dishes and table manners. They started by showing me how to cook “Luoshifen”- a traditional chinese dish consisting of rice noodles and bamboo. It was especially interesting to see that these noodles need to be cooked twice and that all further ingredients come perfectly portioned in small bags. Something really unusual for the German kitchen as I experienced it. They continued to teach me about traditional Chinese dishes and their proper Chinese pronunciation. Therefore, they taught me 4 different kinds of phonetic symbols ( /, \, -, v) that help pronuncing certain words (but it was still very difficult). The dishes included e.g. Kung Pao Chicken, Zhajianmian or”Hot Pot” which is close to the in Germany well known “Raclette”. Afterwards, they taught me Chinese table manners. I knew that especially older people have a high status in China and certain strict rules need to be followed to be respectful. However, I did not know how strict they are and that they even manifest themselves in the positioning at the table, the order in which someone raises a toast or the placement of one’s glass at the other person’s glass when bumping them together. Also, apparently, one is not allowed to point at others with chopsticks or to put them into a bowl of rice.
Then, I taught them about the German food culture, especailly about the huge variety of breads, sausages and beers. Moreover, I thought it was interesting to teach them about the fish dishes that are very popular in the north of Germany because I think that not that many people know about that. In the course of teaching them the “food culture” I taught them the pronunciation of certain dishes like Brezel, Brot or Brötchen. I used “Brötchen” to explain the concept of a “Diminutiv” (a smaller/ cuter version of something) and the sounds of ä, ö and ü. Finally, I taught them how to make “Frikadellen” via live-cooking on zoom.
Overall, our first meeting was very nice and informative. Moreover, we managed to teach each other everything we planned to teach. Only the pronunciation of Chinese words by me could’ve been better, but I guess it will come with time.
Since the previous meeting was a representation of Bulgarian food we decided this time it was time to try some Chinese food. The girls had prepared amazing, delightful, mouthwatering hot pot with different types of meat and veggies. Chinese cuisine is very spicy so I told them beforehand to be careful with how much spices to put in it since I don’t like spicy food. We kept this meeting chill and discussed the differences and similarities between the cuisines in the two countries.
This time we met at Espresso house in Stockmann to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in a cozy atmosphere and lovely chat.
Since it was at the end of the semester we quickly changed the topic to exams, courses and expectations. After a while we decided that was enough time inside and went for a walk. We dropped by a shoe store and after that we decided to check out the newly open Christmas market. It brought nice holiday spirit and enjoyable time with my new friends.
After a few unsuccessful attempts to organize a second meeting we finally saw each other in the sushi restaurant where Siping works. We chose this place because we could combine the useful with the pleasant.
This time we were more relaxed since we already know each other. We talked more about ourselves, our hobbies, families, plans for the future and so on. We moved on then to learning more simple expressions.
After a while when we decided that was enough education for that day we tried so many different types of sushi that it would last us a lifetime. We all agreed that the banana-sprinkles one was the tastiest. We enjoyed that place and the company that we spend more than 4 hours there.
For the first meeting we decidedto play it safe and meet in the cozy library in TAMK. Being very excited about our first encounter with each other we were very nervous but ready to make new friends and learn about culture way different from our own.
I made it to the library in the late afternoon to find two sweet Chinese girls waiting for me there. It appeared that they had a long day of lectures and despite being very tired and hungry they waited for me. We quickly introduced ourselves and started talking about the course and what amazing experience it will be. It turned out that even though Siping and Gourong come from different districts in China and I, coming from the other side of the world- Bulgaria, have a lot of in common.
We kept that quite formal with mainly talking about our native languages. We learned how to say simple things like Hello, How are you?, My name is…, etc. in Bulgarian and Chinese which turned out to be easier than expected. But then I was explained that there are different dialects and ways to speak Chinese and the “easy” language suddenly turned into a complicated science.
However, I thought them some Cyrillic letters, which we use in Bulgaria, and they thought me how so write some Chinese characters.
We kept the meeting relatively short since it was getting very late already.
We decided to take a relaxed stroll and go to see the Christmas Market for our last meeting. It was full of Finnish products and handicrafts, which was very nice and also a deep dive into Finnish handiwork culture. I bought beautiful red earrings made from birch tree for Christmas. We had fun seeing all the Christmas decorations and got a little bit into Christmas spirit since neither of us had decorated for Christmas.
I’m feeling a bit sad that this was our last meeting since we have had some very interesting conversations and learned a lot from each other. Of course, last mandatory meeting doesn’t mean we cannot see anymore but our lives are very busy. I’m happy I took this course and I have found it eye opening at it’s best. Happy new year!
This time we decided to meet at school and get busy with the three triggers. Checking out the introduction video was very helpful but we still had some hard time to choose fitting triggers for us. This is going to be the last time we meet studying, next meeting will be at pre-Christmas party next week. I think this course has been very interesting and I do recommend it to anyone interested in other cultures and languages. For us this has been more of a cultural learning than lingual one, but we have gotten along well and found interesting new things. Trigger-wise we found out most of the “easiest” level triggers were from topics we had already discussed without any planning, which was fun. Getting a new friend and sharing every-day life topics is always an adventure.
This time we went out to enjoy some Chinese food (and also food from other countries around Asia) at Luckiefun’s that Lu picked out for us. It was a great choice, the place was very beautiful and the food delicious. So delicious we pretty much had to roll out from there.
Even though we have some age difference it’s always interesting to found out our lives and the way we grew up is not so different after all. We spend quite a lot time discussing about social politics in here and in China, which was very intriguing.
We were supposed to take photos, but we were too busy chatting away and enjoying the food, that we kind of forgot. I guess that tells how much fun we had!