My name is Maria Malakhova, I am from Siberia, Russia. I have been in Xiamen for almost 8 years.
我叫 Maria Malakhova，我来自俄罗斯西伯利亚，在厦门已经待了将近 8 年。
It was random how I learned about Xiamen. About 10 years ago my mom met a lady on a plane, they had a chat and it happened so that her daughter was studying in Xiamen University at the time. 2 years later I myself was on a plane headed to Xiamen to study Chinese in Xiamen University.
一次偶然的机会，我知道了厦门这座城市。那是大约 10 年前，我妈妈在飞机上遇到一位女士，聊天时得知她女儿当时在厦门大学读书。两年后，我自己也搭上了飞往厦门的航班，在厦门大学学习中文。
Xiamen is very different from my hometown. In my hometown half of the year is winter, In Xiamen half of the year is summer.
When I first arrived I felt like I’d melt. Now, after almost 8 years, I can wear jeans and a long sleeve when it’s +30, haha.
初到厦门的时候，我感觉自己快化了。如今已经待了 8 年，30 多度的天气我仍穿牛仔裤和长袖，哈哈哈。
In the very beginning it felt like another planet. I remember the shock that I was given chopsticks to eat soup. Soup! With chopsticks! 疯狂了。Also, very quickly I realized that the Chinese food I tried at home was not Chinese at all. Supermarkets were full of strange stuff that I’d never seen before and I was on a constant hunt for salty bread and any kind of cheese. Speaking of Chinese cuisine, there is one thing I regret deeply. In the very first year somebody invited me to a small hotpot place. That was the first time I tried hotpot, probably was Sichuan style because it was CRAZY spicy – my tongue went numb instantly and I cried my eyes out. So, naturally, I swore off ever, ever, ever having it again. It wasn’t until 6 years later that I tried it again when a friend had a birthday party at Hai Di Lao, and I couldn’t believe I was missing out on that goodness for so long!
Learning Chinese was a pickle too. I’d feel like I’ve learned already some basics and can communicate the simplest things, but more often than not communication wouldn’t go smooth. Once my flip flop broke right on the street, luckily I quickly spotted a street vendor that was selling shoes. So I hopped over there, pointed to my flip flops and said I wanted to buy 拖鞋. Well, evidently I didn’t say 拖鞋, because the lady looked back at me puzzled asking “鸵谢? 没有啦! ” My jaw dropped – there was a dozen of 拖鞋 right in front of me! I repeated “我要拓写” She goes again “没有” I looked at her in utter disbelief, having no clue what was happening, then at 拖鞋 right next to us, and used my both hands to point at them while practically screaming out of desperation “有! 有妥歇! 拖鞋!” Suddenly, her eyes widen, she nods her head, “啊啊啊, 拖鞋, 拖鞋 有”.
I didn’t even notice how Xiamen became my home. One time I went to my hometown and surprisingly soon felt like I wanted to go “home”, to Xiamen. Everything that once was so strange and exotic became so familiar and even routine that nothing can surprise me anymore. So I like to remind myself “Hey, you live in China!” and then I go out pretending to be a tourist, taking photos of everything I see and trying new food.
I know so many people that came for one year or two, and stayed for 10 and more. Xiamen can be really captivating. I believe it has to do with the incredible local community and lush green nature. It’s a rather small island, so it may seem like you know almost everyone and everything, yet there is always something else to discover, amazing spots and people.
My life pretty much can be divided into two parts – Before and After Xiamen. The After Xiamen part is far more adventurous and fulfilling and I feel so blessed for this experience.
My hometown is called Krasnoyarsk. It’s a city in Siberia that was built near the river and is surrounded by mountains and forests. There is an amazing national park on the city outskirts, with a beautiful forest and unusual rock formations that look magical in winter. It’s a rather cold place, in winter the temperature can drop to -40 degree Celsius. Contrary to what many believe, there is summer, but it’s definitely short though, like 2 months of good weather. As a kid I loved winter, because there was always lots of snow and we could do a lot of fun stuff like sliding down the hill or digging a tunnel in the snowdrifts.
我的故乡叫克拉斯诺亚尔斯克，位于西伯利亚，依山傍水，森林环绕。市郊坐落着一座美轮美奂的国家公园，森林茂盛峻美，岩层非同一般，冬天看起来非常奇特。这是一个严寒之地，冬天气温可达零下 40 摄氏度。许多人觉得我们这里没有夏天，但实际上是有的，不过非常短暂，只有两个月舒适的气候。小时候我喜欢冬天，因为冬天会下大雪，我们可以尽情玩耍，比如从小山上滑下来，在雪堆里挖隧道。