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Home Living in China Foreigners in China Foreigners in China A Dialogue Between A Chinese Girl And A French Guy
A Dialogue Between A Chinese Girl And A French Guy
Foreigners in China
Written by Cool Han

Michael Corcia, a twenty-year-old boy from France,
an exchange student in

China Foreign Affairs University from Marseilles is now on his way to discovering China and identifying himself.

"I love my Chinese name”

Michael has a unique Chinese name, Kou Lexia, given by his Chinese teacher in France. He explained to me confidently that “Le” means happy or music while “Xia” means knight. When I told him that according to my understanding “Lexia” together had deeper meaning, he opened his mouth in surprise and stared at me. I told him that his name brought me a picture of an ancient knight-errant man, who has a strong sense of integrity and honesty, magic powers or fantastic magic art skills to protect and safeguard the people in need and chastise the rogue gangs. He smiled and nodded while listening: “That’s fantastic! I love my Chinese name!”

Why China?

Actually, before coming into college, Michael had started to learn Chinese. “At that time, I made the decision to come to China and then started to learn Chinese by myself.” He said this was related to his dream of becoming a businessman. I am curious about his drive of becoming a businessman, though I know his major is Economics: how come a businessman has something to do with learning Chinese?

He pondered for a few seconds and answered my question seriously. “In my school, everyone is doing and talking about the same thing, politics. But I want to be different. Imagine, if I can speak fluent Chinese, it will be much easier and helpful for me to do business with Chinese entrepreneurs and build up my career here in future. In addition, even when I return to France and start to hunt for jobs, good command of Chinese will make me more competitive.”

I think I got his point. By learning Chinese, Michael got the access to a new world in which he can identify himself differently.


China Spotlight

It is Michael’s first experience living and studying abroad by himself, and his first time coming to China. Like many expats in China, he quickly found his favorite Chinese food and made himself fully involved in life here. He is urgent to tell me how he likes Sichuan food: “Huoguo Haochi!” He has made lots of Chinese friends when playing badmintons. While practicing Chinese with his two language partners in his university frequently, he also teaches a Chinese girl French as a part-time job.

It seems that he lives a pretty intensive life now, for besides all these social activities, he has Chinese courses everyday for a whole semester. “I have Chinese every day, almost 20 hours a day. That is headache.” But his diligence proved to be effective: When I met him, he introduced himself clearly and told me briefly about his educational background all in Chinese. If it was not under my request, I guess he will prefer to talk with me in Chinese rather than English!

"Cute Bad Girl”

Most of the Chinese he met, Michael said, are very sincere and kind-hearted. But there is a shadow in his mind casted by “a cute Chinese girl”, who impressed Michael in a totally different way. When telling the story, he seems to hesitate for a moment and frowned subconsciously.

It was the fourth day after his arrival in China. Curious about everything new to him, he just liked talking with anyone he met in Chinese. In the Bank of China in Xidan, he met a Chinese girl who said hello to him and began to talk with him in English. In Michael’s description, it was “quite a cute girl”, and he felt extremely happy and regarded her as a friend without a second thought. Then the girl suggested that they go for a cup of tea. “Don’t worry about the bill, we are friends now, we can go Dutch.”

He followed the girl’s suggestion and then went into a teahouse which was on the top floor of a splendid building. The girl seemed quite familiar with the environment. Michael doubted a little about the so-called “Teahouse” because it looked nothing traditional, just modern and luxurious. But it was not the most luxurious one-when he took a look at the menu- the cheapest tea on the list cost RMB350. The girl said again that both of them would go Dutch and ordered many chocolates and other snack foods. Then they just talked to each other like friends. When it was time to pay the bill, he found it was a total of RMB840. But the girl changed into another tone by saying that in Chinese, it was usually the boy who should pay the bill.

At that moment, Michael suddenly realized that he was cheated by the girl. He got quite angry about Chinese people and couldn’t make it out how they could treat their friends in this way.

After coming home, he felt terrible and couldn’t help writing a long letter to his teacher about this bad experience. “My teacher comforted me and told me something else, which made me feel better. He said that some foreigners here in China even were cheated into giving their credit cards to those cute bad girls! Compared with them, I was pretty lucky.” He could make fun of himself now but I can still sense the unhappiness in his voice- It is easy to understand, being cheated by friends is definitely a bad memory . Nevertheless, he learned a lesson from this.

"I don’t love France, but I love my family”

When I asked Michael how often he called back home, I didn’t expect what he responded: “Every day”, since in my opinion, young people from western world are always seeking for independence and are reluctant to stay with their parents. They have their own dream and way of life, don’ they? “Yes, we are independent in that we make our own decisions about future, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t miss my family when I live abroad.”

Michael told me that for him family is always in the first place. Most of his friends chose to stay with their family after 18. If it were not the long distance between his home and university, he would definitely make the same choice as his friends rather than renting an apartment. “A friend of mine told me that he decided to leave his family when he was 18. But now over 21, he still lives with his family happily. When you are 18, you know nothing about life. The life is too complicated…” He saw the doubt in my eyes and confirmed his belief again: “I will put it in this way. If people ask me ‘my wife or my country’, I will choose my wife. I love my family.”

Michael said that when he lived in China, he found most Chinese people were patriotic. “I love my family, but I don’t love my country, I just like it.” “What is the difference between love and like?” “The country is just the place where you were born but when you grow up you can go out to any other place as you like. I feel lucky because I was born in France, but by chance I probably would be born in Germany or other European countries. It is just a place. Of course if there is a war, I will definitely fight for France. But during peace, I see too many problems in the society. I often criticize it seriously. Believe it or not, I don’t have a national flag in my home.”

Reflection

To me, Michael is more like a global citizen who shapes his identity in the global village. During our two hours’ talk, he was frank and very responsive to my questions. He brought me fresh ideas and creative insights. I believe he is on his way to discovering China and pursuing his own dream with a brave heart. Wish him good luck.




一个法国男孩和一个中国女孩的对话

    麦克是一个来自法国马赛的20岁男孩,作为交换生来到中国外交学院学习。在发现中国、寻找自我的路上,他正不断前行。

“我喜欢我的中国名字”

    麦克有一个很特别的中文名字,“寇乐侠”,这个名字是他在法国的中文老师给他起的。他自信地向我解释,“乐”就是高兴或者音乐的意思,“侠”就是侠客。当我告诉他,根据我自己的理解,“乐侠”连在一起还有更深层的含义时,他惊讶地张大了嘴,瞪着眼看我。我告诉他,他的名字让我想到了中国古代那种古道热肠的侠客,他们刚毅正直,身怀绝技,保护弱者,铲除恶霸。他听了,边笑边点头:“听起来真棒,我喜欢我的中国名字。”

为什么选择中国?

    事实上,还没上大学以前,麦克已经开始学习中文了。“那时候我就已经决心要来中国,然后就开始自学中文了。”他说这和他想成为一名商人的梦想有关。尽管我知道他学的专业是经济,但我还是对他想成为商人的动机感到好奇:进入商界和学习中文有什么关系吗?

    他沉思了几秒钟,认真地回答说;“在我的大学里,每个人都在讨论同样的事:政治。但是我想与众不同。设想一下,如果我能讲流利的中文,当我和中国商人做生意的时候就会很方便,将来开创自己事业的时候,这对我也很有帮助。而且,就算我回到法国工作的时候,出色的中文也会让我很有竞争力。”

    我想我明白他的意思。学习中文给麦克打开了一扇门,带他走入了一个全新的世界,在这里,他能寻找到非凡的自我。

中国特写

    对于麦克来说,这是他第一次独自在国外学习和生活,也是他第一次到中国。像许多在华的外国人一样,他很快找到了自己爱吃的中国菜,完全融入了这里的生活。他迫不及待地要告诉我他对川菜有多着迷;“火锅好吃!”在打羽毛球的时候,他也结识了不少中国朋友。他在大学里找了两个语言伙伴练习中文,同时还教一个中国女孩子学法文。

    看来麦克的生活很是紧凑,因为除了这些社会活动以外,他整个学期每天都有中文课。“我每天都要学中文,几乎20个小时,真有点头疼。“但事实证明,是他的勤奋是有很有效果的。当我见到他的时候,他用中文清晰明了地向我做了自我介绍,并简单地介绍了一下他的教育背景。如果不是我要求,我估计他可能更倾向用中文而不是英文接受采访。

一次不愉快的经历

    麦克说,他遇到的大多数中国人都很善良,对他坦诚相待。但是,有一个长得很可爱的中国女孩子却在他心里头下了阴影,给他留下了很差的印象。给我讲这段经历的时候,他似乎犹豫了一会,下意识地皱了皱眉头。

    那是他到中国来的第四天。他对他所不熟悉的一切东西都感到很好奇,特别想找人拿汉语聊天。在西单的一家中国银行里,他遇到一个主动向她打招呼的女孩子。她开始用英语和她聊天。麦克形容她是个“非常可爱的女孩儿”,他兴奋无比,立刻把她看成是自己的朋友了。这个女孩建议他们一起去喝杯茶。“别担心钱的事,我们现在是朋友了,我们可以分摊的。”

    他同意了,然后他们进了一家“茶馆”,在装潢极佳的一栋大厦的顶层。麦克有点疑惑,因为这家所谓的“茶馆”看起来一点也不传统,而是现代又奢华。但是这还不是最奢华的——当麦克看到菜单的时候,他发现最便宜的茶饮标价350块钱。这个女孩子又重申他们会分摊饭钱。她点了很多巧克力和其他零食,然后他们就真像朋友一样聊起天来。到了结帐的时候,费用一共是840块钱。但是女孩这回换了另外一种论调,她说,中国的习惯是,通常由男孩子付钱。

    在那一刻,麦克突然意识到他被这个女孩子骗了。他很生中国人的气,也想不明白他们怎么能用这种方法对待自己的朋友。

    回家以后,他心情沮丧,忍不住给他的老师写了一封信,告诉他自己的遭遇。“老师安慰了我,还告诉我说,有许多在中国的外国人都有受骗的经历,有的人甚至把自己的信用卡给了这些看起来很可爱但实际上很可恶的女孩子。听了这些,我才感觉好了一点。比起他们,我算是幸运的了。”现在他已经能够开自己的玩笑了,但我还是从他的声音里听出了不愉快。这很容易理解,被朋友欺骗显然不是愉快的回忆。但无论如何,从这件事中,他还是得到了教训。

“我不爱法国,但我爱自己的家人”

    当我问麦克他多久打电话回家的时候,我没有料到他会告诉我每天都打,因为在我看来,西方的年轻人总是在寻求自由,不愿和家人带在呆在一起。他们有自己的梦想和生活方式,不是吗?“没错,我们是很独立,自己决定自己的未来,但这并不意味着当我生活在国外的时候不想家啊。”

    麦克告诉我,在他心里,家人永远是第一位的。他有很多朋友都选择在18岁成人后和父母住在一起。要不是因为学校离家太远了,他肯定也会像朋友们一样住在家里,而不是出去租房。“一个朋友跟我说他打算18岁后就离开家,但是现在呢,他都过21了,还是很高兴地和家人住在一起。当你18岁的时候,你对生活一无所知。生活太复杂了啊……”他看出了我眼中流露的疑惑,于是再次强调,“这么说吧,如果别人要我选择是要我的家庭和妻子还是要我的国家,我会选择妻子和家庭。我深爱我的家人。”

    麦克说,在中国生活,他发现中国人普遍都很爱国。“我爱我的家人,但我并不爱我的国家,”我只是喜欢它。“那么喜欢和爱有什么区别呢?”“祖国就是你出生的地方,但是当你长大成人了,你可以离开它到其他任何你喜欢的地方。生在法国,我感到幸运,但是我也可能生在德国或者其它欧洲国家里。国家只是一片土地。当然,如果有战争,我会还不犹豫地为法国而战,但是在和平年代里,我目睹了太多社会问题。我经常会言词激烈地批评法国。信不信由你,在我家里没有法国国旗。”

采访印象

    对我而言,麦克更像是一个世界公民,在“地球村”里形成对自我的认同。在两个小时的谈话里,他坦诚直率,积极回应我提出的问题。他带给我很多新鲜的想法和颇富创造性的见解。我相信他正在发现中国,追寻梦想的旅途中勇往直前,也希望他一路顺利。



 

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