Expat Life: Lost In Translation
And here I am again, feeling a little lost in translation.
As soon as I think I’m comfortable, something always happens. This time, not so bad… just shocked me a little.
A friend of a friend surprisingly pinged me on a chat. I have met her only once in a group setting and she added me on a Chinese chat app after we met. Today she wrote and talked about how she is old and that’s why she’s tired all the time, taking care of her daughter. I then asked her how old she is and she replied “What a direct question”. Whoa, I felt so stupid… I wasn’t asking to be rude but since she was complaining about how old she is, I asked! She then replied that she’s older than I am and I said… well, I’m turning 33 soon and I don’t think that’s old. Guess what? She’s also 33. LOL
 I forgot to write, immediately after I told her my age. She asked me if I want kids. Flat out asked me when I’m thinking about having children or if I want any. Then I told her, of course I do… we hope to have them soon. She replies, you better hurry. LOL Like I’m going to tell her my fertility problems. Sigh. So I find it funny that asking her age (when she kept talking about being old) is considered rude but asking me about when and if I want children, isn’t. Lost in translation.
Another instance is misunderstandings. I was confiding in Alina a lot about some of the stresses I’ve been going through, what’s going on in my life and so forth. Pretty much the same things I blog about, so it’s not secret that I’m seeing a fertility specialist – nor am I embarrassed about it. I realize because my Chinese isn’t that good and her English isn’t that great… things get lost in translation. Either we nod (even though we don’t understand) or we try to fill in the blanks of what we think the other meant. I used to think she understood me clearly but I am wrong after talking to her husband. He speaks English (fluently) and I found myself having to retell what I told Alina. Which is completely fine, it’s just funny how difficult it is to communicate without a common language.
Tomorrow I’m meeting a friend at her art gallery. She’s Korean but also speaks English and Mandarin fluently. I’ve only met her once for lunch when we first moved here but I’m thinking it’s going to go well. We can speak Korean together if I can’t find a way to communicate what I am saying. That is already easier. Then later in the evening the hubs and I are meeting a friend of a friend for dinner, she happens to work in Shanghai and is from America. It’ll be so nice to speak English without having to worry about wondering if the person fully understands.
Then it made me think back to America and how easy it was for me to talk. Talking to the BFF was easy… usually English and Korean, a mix. Sometimes there are things we want to say but can only be said in Korean. So it’s nice that we have that. NCMC has always been our close friends and there are some in the group that I’m closer to than others but overall they are all easy to talk to and very understanding. My SIL was there for many of my breakdowns and gave me brownies and many hugs. And of course all my other friends who are amazing as well!
Makes me really appreciate the gift of language, until you’re thrown in a new country… you don’t know what it’s like, not being fully understood. But I’m not discouraged, it’s more of an observation and experience for me. After coming back to Shanghai from NY, I feel even more motivated to learn Mandarin. So let’s hope that these miscommunications can push me to learn more Chinese.
Go tell your friends that you love them because they can understand what you’re saying. I’m completely serious.
And eww. My birthday’s in 10 days and I have no plans. The hubs has to work on that day but I’m thinking about doing something nice for myself. Maybe go to the spa? Actually, I wonder if I’ll have my surgery during that time. Wouldn’t that suck? Maybe suck is the wrong word… maybe it would actually be the best birthday gift ever. Hopefully after that surgery, I’ll be able to get pregnant and that would be the greatest gift of all for us.