A few months ago BBC made a documentary series on the Chinese ‘expansion’ into Africa and called it ‘the Chinese are coming’. Here I would just like to borrow the title and write a little bit about my experience from travelling in Italy and Spain.
My boyfriend Sam arrived in Milan a few hours earlier than I. He decided to enjoy a real Italian espresso and wait for me in a cafe. Before the trip, he made what he called a ‘cheat-sheet’–Italian phrases marked with pronunciation. Sam was expecting to use it and practise his Italian in the cafe, but fortunately or unfortunately, after trying a few ‘Italian’ words, he found that the shop owner was actually Chinese. So instead of practising Italian, he ended up practising his Chinese.
When we were in Venice, Sam was writing postcards in St Mark’s Square, and I ran to a small pizza shop near the square to buy rolled up pizza. The Asian looking waitress decided to test if I was Chinese by speaking to me in Chinese, and of course, we ended up chatting in Chinese. In Barcelona, my Chinese helped us change a meal deal to black paella instead of just the regular mixed paella without paying extra.
Everywhere we went, we always saw Chinese shop owners, restaurants or huge groups of tourists. We felt like we were in a mini-UN, speaking English, Italian, Spanish, and, Chinese the whole trip! I just hope this surge of overseas Chinese will also bring along with it an increased need of translation and interpreting work!
This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)