My girlfriend Mila is Polish.
Though I knew that she has learned Chinese for four years, because I was not sure what her level is, at the beginning we were using only English. And so passed two months. One day, when we went to a restaurant, I told waitress: “Two bak-kut-teh soup, please". Mila was very surprised, so I asked her did something happen? She told me it’s the first time she hears me speaking Chinese, it’s something very new for her. She thinks that when I speak Chinese, it sounds so much better than English, and that’s why from that day on, I started to speak Chinese and she speaks English.
This situation continued for next three months. One day while walking down the street, I curiously suggested that maybe we can try to chat in Chinese? “No problem", she replied. This time it was me who was surprised. I told her it’s also the first time I hear her speaking Chinese. We both agreed that it sounds much better when we chat in Chinese, thus from that day on, we started using only this language.
At the end of 2014, I flew to Poland to visit Mila’s family.
I have this impression, that when someone meets his/her girl/boyfriend’s parents, it should be done in a very formal way. Everyone sits around the table, drinks tea and has a conversation on some serious topics or try to find out about other person’s family property. Everything in a very solemn atmosphere.
I was very afraid that this kind of scenario, so often seen in my home country, will happen for real. Beside this, I was also worried about language problems. Because our mother tongues are different, I may not be able to communicate with them actively. Few days before setting of, I attempted to do some last-minute Polish learning. When we met, I said out all Polish phrases that I learned and still had in my head.
“Hello, my name is Shikai, nice to meet you. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…" I was so nervous, that I even started to recite the numbers. Even if I was speaking with a scattered voice, everyone burst into laughter and the awkward atmosphere fizzled out completely.
Though Mila’s relatives and I couldn’t chat freely on every topic, I was still doing my best to keep the conversation going. Even if I had to gesticulate lively all the time, we still had a very pleasant time together. What made me even more happy, was the fact that Mila’s family attaches more importance to personal qualities, than to economic conditions. It was all like making new friends. From that moment on, I understood. The value much more important than language itself, is in fact the heart that shows care for each others.