“You’d better make sure you’re coming back. Remember, our apartment has a functioning MoccaMaster.”
“Chicken feet will be heaven on earth! Did you buy the gas mask already?”
“You can tell them you’re an albino Chinese! And mute.”
“If you’re going to marry a Chinese man, he’d better be a millionaire. I don’t care how short he is!”
“Don’t the students there get caffeine drips straight into their arms? They’ll soon have a Finn (pimple) among the blackheads!”
“If I know you, you will spend your time pwning people in Mandarin, eating crickets, and getting in trouble for asking people if they like Falun Gong.”
— friends and family reacting to my departure
It hasn’t really hit home yet. In no time, I’ll be far from home in a country where you need a musician’s brain to talk and an artist’s eye to read. Nevertheless, the adventure has already started. I started learning Mandarin in the summer, with the aim of 30% literacy on arrival. (If you want to read more facts, the DIY page is the place to go.) Right now my sign memory base is at about 700-800. During the last year or so there’s been a strange sense of connection between some events which ultimately propelled my departure. You can evaluate for yourselves:
- I’m about to participate in a brain experiment. It’s October 2015. The experimenter is late, and there’s a Chinese girl there with me. We start talking and end up having a five-hour conversation over tea and washing machines at a café in Töölö. She’s going to fly back to China the next day. She becomes one of my homes and gives me her address and a small bookmark as a memory of her saying, “When you come to China, let me know.” I reply laughing that I have no idea when, if ever, I’ll be coming there. She looks at me as if she knows something I don’t. We depart and I’m not going to see her again for a long time.
- It’s February 2016. I get mail from the university saying there are dispersed places left for university students who want to go in exchange to Middle Eastern and Asian countries. There are two places left in Shanghai and one in Wuhan. Without thinking, I reply that I can go. The Shanghai places are taken. I receive a confirmation letter from the international affairs office. I’m going to Wuhan University. I call my friends and family. “Hey! I’m going to go and live in China!” The first reactions are silence, and then my brain is flooded with questions, shocked laughter and “WHAT! WHEN! HOW!”.
- It’s July 2016. Dad has been to China for months on a work trip, and comes back with 71 470 hours of Chinese music on a USB stick for me. He tells me “You won’t believe what happened. I made some friends whose families are living in Wuhan, and I just happened to tell them my daughter is coming to China next year. They told me they will host you and that you are welcome to step into the New Year of the Rooster with them. They live near Nanchang. They asked me to give this music to you.” I don’t know what to say.
Feel free to leave comments and questions in the box, eg. if you want to know about specifics such as travel preparations, language studies, etc.
我们开始吧! Here we go!