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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.”


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.

























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