Shanghigh although miscommunication


Here I am in Antwerp as a German, enjoying the Belgium lifestyle of eating tasty waffles and crunchy fries. I have chosen to study China-Europe Business at AMS to set the first steps of my future career. Even though China is undoubtly seen by many as tomorrow’s economic superpower and, therefore, as an interesting business opportunity, this is not the main reason why I have chosen this program.

Then Why China!? I got the “yellow-fever” when I was young. My grandfather had come back from one of his exciting world trips. He showed me photographs of all the popular sights like the Great Wall and the Terracotta army. To be honest, at that time, I was mainly interested in the panda bears, though.

Not expecting the challenges of language barriers throughout the following years, I swore to myself: “One day, I will go to China and learn Chinese!” – and here I am!

Exactly one year ago, I finally went to Shanghai with nothing more than a big suitcase, my monkey cuddly toy and a lot of expectations for culture shock.

I was arriving on Halloween 2014, and my adventure in China started with a bang. After an 18 hour-flight with no sleep, I immediately headed to a party. I probably looked creepy without wearing any custome, but I came prepared with a cat women mask hiding the dark circles under my eyes.

As many stories can be found regarding language barriers encounters in China, also I felt the complexity of the Chinese language, which has put me into various awkward situations.

One example would be when I started working for a Shanghai-based exhibition and event company. I entered a room and confidently greeted everybody with a nice “Good Morning” in Chinese, which later turned out to mean the F*** word, because of my wrong intonation – Fail. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to communicate just enough to survive.

Having encountered these problems myself, I invested in Chinese language courses, and this has proven to be one of the most valuable investments for me; not only personally, but also professionally.

However, I have to say that attending the many business dinners – thereby practicing the Chinese language – has contributed a lot. While speaking about business dinners, I can tell that these dinners are not lightweight. The tipsier I got, the better my Chinese became.

To get to the point, I will stop here and finish my thought. I just fell in love with this Shanghai, the people, the culture and, of course, the food. Although I was struggling sometimes, I was happy that I chose to spend my future in this amazing and incredibly vibrant city.

I got the so-called “Shang-high”! That’s the reason why I decided to go back. In the future I hopefully can participate as a small cog in the big Chinese machine to strengthen the relations between China and Europe!

I look forward to my next adventures in Asia!