Mandarin Experience: No, I’m Not Chinese…

Even before I decided to go to China, I learned some basic Mandarin for fun but mostly because I got confused too many times as a Chinese person by Chinese international students. They would just go off in rapid fire Chinese on me and I would stare at them blankly and sometimes they’d get mad/frustrated until I explained that I was actually Korean. Sorry guys?-

One time, I was walking to class and a Chinese woman latched onto my arm and starting speaking Mandarin in a panicked voice. This was one incident when I felt bad for not knowing Mandarin because she seemed like she really needed help but only spoke Mandarin… All these incidents cumulatively pushed me to decide to try to learn Mandarin. And yes, I wrote try to learn intentionally because it is hard to learn the language. I want to one day master it, but now my Mandarin is limited to saying the following (somewhat?) phrases:

  • hello
  • my name is
  • good morning/afternoon/night
  • i don’t understand
  • i don’t know
  • i’m Korean (<SUPER IMPORTANT and honestly gets me out of a lot of situations)
  • today/tomorrow/yesterday
  • little brother
  • see you later!/bye

…yeah. I could have gotten a lot more done, but already I’ve had some interesting experiences with just the limited phrases above.

One day while I was waiting for my friends in Place d’Armes, the metro station by Chinatown, a Chinese woman singled me out and started peppering me with questions in rapid-fire Mandarin. And thing is, I was also with my Korean friend and half-Japanese friend, but she chose me. Jeepers…Anyhow, I stopped her flow by saying “Wo bu minghao” (I don’t understand) and at her look of confusion I added “Wo shi hanguoren” (I’m Korean). Then she slowed down and in awkward English asked how to get to Chinatown.

Yesterday, I got really excited while exciting the Guy-Concordia station because there was a middle-aged Asian man playing the accordion and let’s be real here, it’s not a common thing to see someone playing the accordion. I ran over and gave him some change and he looked up with the sweetest smile and said “Nihao!” I replied with my own “Nihao” but then of course that was his cue that I was Chinese and fluent in Mandarin. He continued in Mandarin but I stuttered out a “Wo shi hanguoren” and his eyes lit up. “Hanguoren!” he exclaimed happily then started playing “Arirang” on his accordion. That was really sweet and I stood them beaming at him for a while before I headed out of the station to meet my friend. This was by far the best Mandarin experience I’ve had~

And just today, I was actually with my Chinese friend but out of us two, again, a lost Chinese woman called me over in panicked Mandarin. Now that I think of it though, I’m pretty sure that she asked me first because I’m taller than my friend and she saw me first…anyhow. This time, I didn’t even react and actually forgot that my Chinese friend was with me. I was a bit tired so I just stared at her like, nope, you’re getting no Mandarin out of me today when thank goodness, my friend stepped in with an eager “Wait, I’m Chinese!”

Bless you, Nicole. XD

Thing is, though, when I go to Beijing (IN FIVE DAYS WAIT WHAT SINCE WHEN?!) this will become a lot more common for me simply because well there will be a lot more Chinese people (obviously). I’m slightly scared at this concept, but excited at the same time because I know that this will do wonders for my Mandarin, mostly because I will have to speak it to communicate. I mean, yes, I know that they also speak English there too but I want to make the most of my time there.

Real talk here: actually, one big goal for learning Mandarin is so I can one day troll someone. I want to be fluent and one day meet some Chinese people and speak only in Mandarin to them. Apparently I already look the part, so most likely they’ll buy into it but then as I walk away, I’ll say casually

WO SHI HANGUOREN

DAS RIGHT

DAS

RIGHT

WHAT NOWWWWW

*drops mic*

Okay, maybe not exactly but yeah. I think that’ll be a great moment in my life, a proof that I truly have mastered the language. And with that note, I shall end this post. I still have some more phrases to learn, especially bargaining ones…

When I’m in China, I won’t be able to post because of the great fire-wall, but I will be writing still. When I get back, I’m going to post them all up in chronological order so please look forward to that! I’m excited to see what I’ll write about~

As always, thanks for reading! Zaijian!

~ajc

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6 thoughts on “Mandarin Experience: No, I’m Not Chinese…

  1. As your short Chinese friend here, Ashley, ILYSM 🙂 Best of luck in Beijing, don’t hesitate to ask me anything!

    (Actually I have decided to start an art blog on wordpress inspired by you 😀 I’m actually on your blog to find out, out of curiosity, how you wrote your first entry lol )

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