Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Up to proof

Nah I'm not faking it. We are actually talking

I’ve been travelling quite a lot lately and yesterday when I came to the immigration desk at the airport the guy behind the counter gave me and my passport a long glance. Suddenly he said (in English):

-So, can you speak Chinese?

-Yes I can,
I quickly replied (in Chinese).

-Where do you study?

-Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University in Suzhou.

-Huh? Never heard of that.

-No, it’s fairly new. I used to be at Suzhou University but I recently swapped to Xi Jiao.

-Oh okay.

He then went on to ask me some detailed questions about where I am living and so on. All in Chinese. He spoke quite fast with no smile on his face.

I answered all his questions without any problems and then, finally he said:

-Yeah, you really can speak Chinese. Good.

….and I was let through.

I wonder if this is a new check-up procedure for people entering China with a student visa? This is the second time I get language “tested” by immigration people. Should I now expect the police to knock on my door to see if I am really at uni during the days?

(However, what I wonder even more is what they do if they bump into a person entering China on a student visa and realize that s/he cannot speak Chinese?) 


Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

I think immigration officials see a lot of forgeign jerks. So they are genuinely surprized and secretly proud when someone who looks like you makes the effort to learn Chinese and then actually pulls it off.

In all my years in China, the kindest people have been immigration officials when I open my mouth and speak chinese. It melts all frosts.

Welcome back from Sweden and the lovely wedding.

WoAi said...

Yes well done I am sure he was very impressed that you were a real student, not someone who turns up for the first 2 classes to get the visa and then goes to party the rest of the year.

I never get quizzed in Chinese because I am not a student and there's no special reason I need to be able to speak Chinese. In fact, they never ask me anything.

马麟 said...

That's one different point of people's habits. They tend to ask you whatever they personally interested. You see in their position, they got right to ask, and you mostly won't say: err, I refuse to answer.
Last time I went back, the entrance lady asked me a bunch of questions, I guess all are her interests. Like: What's Sweden like,is it cold? How many friends have you made? How expensive is the life?...

Jonna Wibelius said...

jeanne-ming -u think so? U think there are so many jerks over here? Well, I sure have met a few during my years in SZ and SH.. hehe. Well let's hope u r right!

Woai -I used to get the same treatment up until maybe 1 year ago when all the questioning started.. maybe I look too old for being a student, haha!

马麟 -oh so u think it was curiosity? Funny, that didn't even cross my mind!

Brad Farless said...

Maybe he thought you looked like a sneaky sort of person? He he he. Just kidding!

I have to agree that they're probably partly filling curiosity and partly finding a way to pass the time through idle gossip.

I used to not get asked many questions, but lately I get asked quite a few questions at immigration. I suppose it's because my passport is quickly filling with stamps. I may have to request additional pages soon.

Anonymous said...

xi'an jiaotong university is a top ten university in China, how can this school use their name? By the way, very good blog, i am chinese man living and working in Sweden, thinking about moving back to China. I miss the food.

Little Tiger said...

New student vetting procedures perhaps?

This reminds me of a story from my family. Back in the 1930s my grand aunt traveled to the port to take the boat from Ireland to emigrate to America. At the emigration office she was unexpectedly asked to recite the alphabet backwards. Of course she failed and was not allowed to board the boat to New York. She still had the boat ticket however (which was due to leave in 3 days) but was refused to emigrate.
So she went back home (in horse and cart) and had her older sister practice saying it solidly for the next three days. So off the sister went in the horse and cart to the port repeating the alphabet backwards over and over again in the hope that she would be able to take her sister's place. Sure enough at the emigration office she was asked to recite the alphabet backwards to which she recited it perfectly and was allowed entry to the USA!

马麟 said...

Yeah, you bet. I still remember the case when I applied my passport. The policewoman wanted my email address, she said her brother might have some career questions to ask--I resigned my job and she probably thought there could be a chance.

Anonymous said...

WOW Jonna, a Chinese shoe maker can speak some English. When I was in China, I can not speak a word of English. I guess that all changed now. Anyway, I was suprised.


Jonna Wibelius said...

Brad -Yeah I bet I looked sneaky where I came... dark circles under my puffy eyes... just like a Swedish spy! :) Well, it surprises me that they are curious considering how many people they meet there every single day. I'd be rather bored.

Anonymous -I think this uni is somewhat related to the uni u r talking about. This is also a top uni, it costs students s***loads to enroll here.

Little Tiger -what a cute story!! Sounds like in a story book for kids. Imagine those immigration guys showing you flash cards and asking you to read characters for them... haha!

马麟 -what?! That sounds rather mad!

Jiang -eh.... who said anything about English. Obviously this shoe maker did not speak a word of English, but I have been learning Chinese now for some years so we had no problem communicating in Chinese. Hm...did you not read what this whole post was about?

Anonymous said...

Ops. I made a mistake. It was at the airport.