This isn't goodbye... 我不会说再见!

There are three very special people (excluding my family) I frequently mention on this blog; I probably mention them so much that there's a high possibility you're quite sick of reading about them. If not, I'm baking you a bunch of Christmas cookies (if you contribute the coffee that is).

I'm sure I don't actually need to remind you who those three very special people are but I will anyway. So in no particular order...

1) Wang Leehom (王力宏). You all know I love the man. I love his music and his talent, the fact that he keeps me motivated when I'm learning Chinese and a couple of other things I can't quite put my finger on. Never mind the fact that he's utterly handsome.

2) My other half, my boyfriend a.k.a. the fish (小鱼). Today however he's not the centre of attention in this blog post, so swiftly moving on...

3) Last but not least: my Chinese teacher a.k.a. 三姨 (Cantonese pronunciation, please!) - saam1 ji4

Today's blog post is all about her. 

Yes, I know I only talked about her in August when I praised her teaching skills but this time I have a special (but somewhat sad) reason to dedicate an entire blog post to one super awesome woman. 

So. Just. Roll. With. It.


三姨, sometimes a card just isn't enough.

You see, my Chinese teacher and awesome friend is leaving Ireland pretty soon. I've fruitlessly tried to stop her but I failed.

I tried just about everything. I cooked, got her presents, pleaded, tried to convince her how I awesome I am, and even offered to marry her (I sure hope I was drunk when I made that proposal, though I have the nagging feeling that this wasn't the case). I think the only thing I haven't tried yet is handcuffing her, although I did manage to land us both and another friend in the back of a Garda car (for legit reasons although I just know you're not going to believe me).

On second thought, tying her up isn't actually such a bad idea. I'll put her somewhere near the radiator so the poor thing won't freeze to death. I'm not a mean kidnapper. She'll even get some dumplings and I'll occasionally take her for a walk.

Tonight I just want to talk about a great friend who has turned my life upside down in the best way possible.

Let me take you back in time...

Last summer, while I was in the midst of preparing to take the HSK exam (汉语水平考试) my Chinese teacher suddenly announced that she wanted to return to Beijing to her husband and her family. She assured me that I was well prepared to take the exam and that we could keep in touch (we're very good friends now, actually she's family) and I could ask her whenever I had a questions or doubts. I studied with her and without her as much as I possibly could but the second we finished our last class and I left for home I went into full panic mode.

I wanted to pull out of the test, but I had already applied for a space and paid the fee. Also I had bragged on Twitter and Facebook about planning to take the test and a couple of awesome Chinese learners were nothing short but awesome in terms of offering support and study material.

Pulling out of the exam just wasn't an option.

Instead I continued to freak out and desperately tried to find a Chinese teacher to fill the void and hold my hand until exam day. With every teacher who didn't reply to my email as to whether they were available to teach, I got more and more depressed.

Then, suddenly a light at the end of the tunnel. 三姨 replied to one of my messages and I knew she was the one. We exchanged a couple of mails and agreed to meet up so I could show her what I had learned so far and show her the HSK exam requirements.

Fast forward to our first meeting, a McDonalds somewhere in the heart of Dublin. We went over my study material, talked about the exam and generally just tried to get to know each other a little.

I had a pretty good feeling about my new teacher, to me she was the one. Professional, engaged, interested, sweet, funny and pretty darn cool.

Yes, 三姨, I knew back then!

My pretty good feeling lasted up until 三姨 decided to speak Chinese with me...

Let's speak Chinese!

What? I went into freak mode, fervently trying to figure out what I'd just heard.

Is that really Chinese? What a weird accent! This sounds nothing like my previous Chinese teacher. Damn it, I don't understand her. What do I do? What do I say? I'm sure she's going to start laughing any second now. She's going to tell me that I'm no good at this and Chinese isn't...

Did you understand?

She interrupted my train of thought with another question and I freaked a little (or a lot) more. On the outside I was calm and collected, if a little nervous, but on the inside I was biting my nails and searching for the nearest emergency exit. 

Do you speak Chinese?

She tried a different approach and convinced that I had heard something about speaking and Chinese I confidently replied.


I got an encouraging smile and decided right there to throw caution into the wind. I mustered up all my courage and tried my best to speak Chinese. I stumbled over every second word, got flustered and apologised profusely for my bad Chinese.

All I got in response was a smile and sweet compliment.

I like your Beijing accent.

Fast forward two months and my Beijing accent went right out of the window, replaced by a weird Southern Chinese accent which was quickly replaced by a weird Beijing/Southern Chinese/Taiwanese mash-up accent. I got given out to and I'm pretty sure that's the real reason why 三姨 spend a century and a half on trying to fix my rotten Chinese pronunciations and remind me that Mandarin has four tones and that it would be very nice if I could occasionally acknowledge their presence.

I have no idea what accent I have now but I've probably picked up on my other half's accent though I try my best to speak standard Mandarin, my version of standard Mandarin anyway.

I really miss your Beijing accent, it was kinda cute.

I remember 三姨 telling me this in a casual conversation some time ago and I tried really hard to speak clear Mandarin. The things you do for a friend.

Ours was never a normal teacher/student relationship. I'm sure we were destined to be friends, but from the get go up until know I have the greatest respect for my friend. I'm not quite sure I'll know what to do with myself once she's moved to Italy to be with her beau (whom I have repeatedly reminded to be on his best behaviour if he doesn't want to feel my wrath).

I wish my 三姨 all the best for her future but it's damn hard to say goodbye to a good friend so I'm simply going to refuse to say goodbye. This isn't goodbye, plain and simple. I will not say goodbye to someone who's become a rock amidst the rough sea of life. Someone who miraculously knows how to make me smile when I forgot how to. Someone whom I don't have to tell what food I want when I'm in a bad mood.

Leann Rimes once said, "all you need is a good friend and a glass of wine".

I don't agree.

All you need is a good friend and a couple of dumplings.

I think I'm going to feel a bit lost, while my super-awesome friend is living it up in Italy. Not only am I going to be super jealous of the warmth and sunshine she get's to enjoy while being with her Italian beau, but I'm also going to miss all the fun times we've had and all the things we haven't done yet.

三姨 made my holiday in Hong Kong unforgettable.

She's that kind of person, the big sister I never had. Mind you, I do have a big sister but 三姨's the kind of big sister I repeatedly begged my parents for but year in year out my wish always went unheard. Someone must've heard me though because my wish came true after all. 三姨 isn't just a friend, she's family.

She's someone who perpetually worries that I can't keep up in a Chinese conversation even though she knows my level of Chinese better than anyone. She's the one who got me to finally talk Chinese and she probably regrets it now because she can't get me to shut up anymore. On the other hand though, she's actually is pretty much the only one who gets me to shut up when she says "shut up", it's like she knocks all the wind out of me and I know I've said all I should have said.

Somewhere along the way a great student and teacher relationship turned into a great friendship. My friend decided to make a semi-decent Chinese housewife with Western and Hong Kong characteristics out of me. All in the hope that I don't entirely embarrass myself in front of my Chinese family in law.

It's truly amazing what you can get out of simply deciding to learn a new language.

A brand new, exciting world opened up to me in the past two years. I'm learning all about a new culture, new customs and an seemingly endless array of new, tasty food. I met a bunch of super cool people, I found my future husband, learned who my real friends are and found one gal who cheekily calls my dad Papa (much to his delight!) and spends way too much time worrying about me.

I would willingly give up everything but I'd never ever give up my friends.

Friendship... is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything. ~Muhammad Ali

There's a million more things I could say, but I'm going to say the last bit in Chinese.

三姨, 別罵我,我特別喜歡叫你這個名字,好像你就是我的家人。







  1. 很感人的一篇文章! 而且我喜歡你說的這句話:'All you need is a good friend and a couple of dumplings.'XD 雖然三姨要離開了,但妳們還是可以做一輩子的好朋友啊,距離不是問題:) 對了,我有點好奇小魚是哪裡人,他有南方還是北方口音呢?

    1. 我覺得小魚有南方也有武漢的口音。哈哈!


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