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Name: Michael Chen
Languages Spoken: English
"You shouldn't criticise China for being different as an outsider, but instead try and understand the reasons why."
Q. Why are you learning Chinese?
A. Having a number of family members with a Chinese-speaking background, I think it is important I learn their language to be able to communicate with them better and respect their roots rather than expect them to always use English. I also think Chinese is the language of the future and a valuable asset.
Q. How are you finding your studies in China and what do you think about Mandarin House?
A. I think that Mandarin House is a great and innovative company with great customer service. Before coming, I couldn't put together even a basic sentence in Chinese and now, I can respond to questions and express myself well. Mandarin House is a great facilitator to learn Mandarin faster and everyone is so good to me. I think I'm Mandarin House's favourite student (laughs).
Q. What is your most memorable experience in China?
A. My heritage is Chinese and so sometimes I can blend in quite well as a local. Once I went to a restaurant with a friend from Australia and later that week came again but alone. A waitress recognised me and asked in Chinese, "Where is your laowai friend?" assuming I myself was not a laowai! Also, I come from Yao Ming's hometown in the US (Houston) and so I always have a great conversation starter with the local Shanghainese.
Q. What tips would you give to students who are planning to study in China?
A. Come with an open mind. You have to get used of local food as you won't want to live off hamburgers everyday. Also, you shouldn't criticise China for being different as an outsider, but instead try and understand the reasons why. A 5,000 year old culture has lasted this long so why does it need to change?
Q. How difficult/easy was it to adjust to life in China?
A. I think the most difficult thing for me has been not driving a car like I would in the United States!