征文23 ▏Katherine: My China story in numbers!

家外之家 2021
征文23 ▏Katherine: My China story in numbers!


Name : Katherine or Katya


Country of Origin : USA


Occupation : Educator


Years in China : 11

在华居住时间:11 年


How did your journey in China begin?


That is not as easy a question as it seems.


* Was it every time I visited a new big city as a child and declared I’d live there someday?

— In hindsight, “big” is a relative term, since we considered them big, but most of them had a population smaller than Xiamen does now. Still, I was always drawn to cities.

* 小时候是不是每次去一个新的大城市,都会说总有一天我会住在那里?


* Was it my first time in Chinatown in New York City? Where I bought a black qipao and a Canto-pop album by Leslie Cheung (张国荣)?

— I had no clue at the time, wearing it for choir & band performances, as well as in my senior pictures, that I’d end up here. And the album? Didn’t know what language it was until years later, but I still hear songs from it in restaurants from time to time.

* 是我第一次去纽约唐人街的时候吗?黑色的旗袍和张国荣的粤语专辑是在哪里买的?


My senior picture (18 years old), with trombone & qipao

* Was it when I first studied Mandarin?

— That was at the University of Hull in the UK during my undergraduate degree. They offered Passport Languages, where you had a once-a-week evening class. Only 4 of the 20+ people who started the class finished the year: Me, a French-Born Chinese guy, and 2 British sisters (who spoke Cantonese as a heritage language, and wanted to learn Mandarin, plus reading & writing). I still try to find that teacher online to thank her and tell her where I ended up.

* 是我第一次学普通话的时候吗?

——那时。我正在英国赫尔大学读本科。学校有开“语言通关”课,一周一次,都在晚间上课。刚开始有 20 多人上这门课,最后只有 4 人坚持到期末:我,一个在法国出生的中国人,还有两个英国姐妹(她们会说粤语,想学习普通话,以及阅读和写作)。我仍在尝试从网上搜寻当年的老师,感谢她,告诉她我来中国了。

* Was it when I knew for certain I would be coming to China and started preparing?

— First, investigating the cities I could find schools in and settling on Xiamen. How? Through unscientific polling of every Chinese acquaintance I had in the USA. Every time Xiamen was mentioned, I’d hear: Oh, what a lovely city.” Second, practicing Mandarin again with a language partner, after 8 years of doing nothing but write 谢谢 from time to time.

* 是在我确定我会来中国并开始准备的时候吗?

——首先,我筛选出了有大学的城市,最终确定厦门。我是怎么做的?我收集了认识的每一位美国华人的意见。每次提到厦门,我都会听到:“哇,多么有活力的城市啊。”其次,我要和语伴再次练习普通话,因为这 8 年来我啥也没做,只是时不时练习写汉字“谢谢”。

* Was it the first day I stepped foot in China?

— That was Shanghai, August 1, 2010. I went to the Shanghai Museum that afternoon, loved it, although was convinced the nice young man following me around to “practice English” was actually doing a tea scam. He wasn’t, he truly just wanted to practice and discovered people were less likely to run away in museums. The second day, I spent at the World Expo, almost fainting in the queue, helping many students with their summer English homework, and gaining one brilliant pen pal.

* 是我踏上中国大地的第一天吗?

——2010 年 8 月 1 日,那时我在上海。那天下午我去了上海博物馆,我很喜欢这个博物馆。我遇到了一个年轻人,一直跟着我,说是要“练习英语”,但我觉得他是茶馆派来的“茶托儿”。实际上他并不是“茶托儿”,他真的只是想练习英语,他还发现人们在博物馆里跑不了(所以我不得不跟他对话)。第二天,我在世博会,排队的时候差点晕过去,我还帮很多学生完成暑期英语作业,结识了一位才华横溢的笔友。

Me in 2010 outside of the China Pavilion (which I didn’t get to enter until 2018)

* Was it when I arrived in Xiamen, my home ever since?

— August 5, 2010. It was originally a temporary commitment, in case I hadn’t liked China. Here I am writing this, more than a decade later, from the same city. Clearly, I liked it.

* 是在我到达厦门并且把厦门当成家的时候吗?

— 2010 年 8 月 5 日,我本来只是临时租住在厦门,因为我担心不喜欢中国。十多年后,我在同一个城市写下这篇文章。显然,我爱中国。

* Was it when I made the decision to extend the temporary stay to a long-term one?
— If you’d asked me in the first year or two, I’d have said I’d move on in 2-3 years. But here I am…

* 是我决定将长期居住在厦门的时候吗?


So, maybe the answer is in the numbers?

— 2 jobs – or –2 local cats rescued – or – 2 surgeries – or – 2 passports

— 5 years of calligraphy lessons

— 8 apartments

— 16 email newsletters (in those early years)

— 23 provincial and provincial administrative regions visited

— 37 entry stamps

— 42, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything (if only we knew the question)

— Dozens of tourist sites hiked/photographed/toured

— 100s of cities visited

— 300-something photos of pandas taken


——换了 2 份工作,救了 2 只当地的猫,做了 2 次手术,持有 2 本护照

——上了 5年书法课

——住了 8 间公寓

——写了 16 份电子邮件通讯(头几年)

——走访 23 个省、省级行政区

——盖了 37 个入境印章



——访问了 100 多座城市

——拍摄了 300 多张熊猫照片

So, I don’t really know when or how it began, exactly, or when it will end. But it has been a wonderful journey, and very different than where I grew up. As I tell my students (and the occasional inquisitive taxi driver): Iowa (my home state) is roughly the same size as Fujian. But the entire state has a population less than Xiamen (although when I moved here years ago, the populations were about the same). Which of my numbers will keep going up?


作者:凯瑟琳 翻译:潘泽彬

If you would like to contribute your story, feel free to contact us.

Email: luz@mts-tech.com