征文15 ▏Umberto: Ex-Waimai Guy, future journalist

家外之家 2021
征文15 ▏Umberto: Ex-Waimai Guy, future journalist


Name : Umberto


Country of Origin : Italy


Occupation : Student


Years in China : 3 years



The first time I had a Chinese friend was at the age of 6. I had two Chinese classmates who could barely speak Italian, but at that time language wasn’t as important as it is now.

我在 6 岁时交到了第一个中国朋友。那时候班上有两个几乎不会说意大利语的中国同学,不过那时候语言也没现在这么重要。

During my high school period around 16 years old, I started to work in a Chinese restaurant in the heart of Genova (my hometown) as a delivery guy, and that was funny because most of my friends were doing the same job but delivering pizza, when I was delivering fresh sushi, so I was the “Special” one.

在我读高中的时候,大约 16 岁,我为热那亚市中心(我的家乡)的一家中国餐馆送货。说起来好笑,那时候我大部分朋友也送餐,只不过他们都是送披萨,只有我是送寿司。我反而是最特殊的那一个。

2012 was when “Sushi fever” hit Italy and many Chinese restaurants (mostly people from Wenzhou) started to offer “all-you-can-eat” sushi, but that’s another story. Working with Chinese people taught me how to effectively manage my time, and also, the value of money as that was my first job.


After graduating high school, I decided to study Chinese language at university and in the final year, I worked as a salesman in a Sunglasses shop in Venice. That was a turning point in my life and a key passage that brought me to Xiamen.


Umberto with a friend’s child in China

Once, a rich couple from Taiwan walked into our Shop in Venice and we started to have a conversation in Chinese. In some way we ended up talking about Chinese traditional culture while I convinced them to buy 9 pairs of branded glasses. Later this lovely couple invited me out for a dinner where they offered me a job, in Xiamen, as an interpreter, for the 98 洽谈会 (the Xiamen Exposition). That was just a dream for me, because I was already thinking about coming in China to study, and for an extreme coincidence I had already applied for Xiamen University!

有一次,一对来自台湾的富有夫妇走进我们在威尼斯的商店,我们用中文愉快地交流。我们甚至还聊到了中国传统文化,最后他们一口气买了九副品牌眼镜。之后,这对夫妇邀请我共进晚餐,并且给我介绍了一份在中国国际投资贸易洽谈会(简称 98 洽谈会)做翻译的工作。一切对我来说都像梦一样,因为当时我就打算来中国进修。而且更巧的是,我已经申请了厦门大学!

I remember when I first got here was no doubt the most exciting time of my life. I traveled from hotel to hotel in Fujian visiting many companies improving my Chinese bringing it from book level to conversation level.


Umberto translating for an Italian company in Xiamen (trying to explain who is Lu Ban)

Now I’m studying Journalism at Xiamen University and sometimes it is quite hard, but I’m living with Chinese people, sharing their passion and their stories, I start to believe in this country and I’ll be part of it in some way.


A little background on his hometown:

介绍一下 Umberto 的家乡

My hometown is Genova (Genoa), situated in the north-west of Italian peninsula, facing the Mediterranean Sea. It is said to be the home of famous people such as Columbus, Paganini and more.


作者:孔若水 翻译:余欣阳

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