I love this Chinese language app

nihaomamma

Chungaboo

I just got an app called Chungaboo which offers simple and pleasant vocab lessons and games in Chinese (and other languages). I like two things in particular about this app. 1) The voice is a woman who sounds like a person. So often the voices on apps sound computer generated (and they are!) but this voice is pleasant and the tones are easy to hear. 2) The artwork is simple and attractive. Unlike the multitude of language apps that are flashy or have cheap looking cartoons (with annoying music that give the feeling of being stuck in a video game) this app feels more wholeistic and fresh. My kids enjoy it but of course they want to skip past the “learn” component and jump right to the “game”.  A little guided attention is all that’s needed.

http://www.chungaboo.com/preschool-language-learner

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My favourite Chinese Rom-coms:

This might be a totally cliche post, but I’ve been watching quite a lot of these lately, so it’s relevant. I’m normally more of a drama lover, but rom-coms have their nights too, so I thought I would narrow it down to 5 that I love! This was surprisingly difficult because normally my favourite movies coincide with my favourite movie stars, but these (for the most part) didn’t! Anyway, let’s proceed with the awards, shall we?

Number 5: 全球热恋 “Love in Space” (2011)

Starring Aaron Kwok, Eason Chan, Rene Liu, Gwei Lunmei, Angela Baby Jing Boran

This film is about a widow and her three daughters searching for happiness in their love lives. The widow (played by XuFan) found love after returning to China from abroad when taking cooking lessons from a driver named “Uncle Hua”. The eldest daughter Rose (Rene Liu) lived every girl’s worst nightmare: working with her ex. Rose and her ex are both astronauts; the perfect setting to fall back into love (or hate!?).

The next oldest sister Lily (Gwei Lun-mei) lives in Sydney, Australia and suffers from Mysophobia (fear of germs) and not only has the disease affected her daily life, but also kept her from finding love-until she meets Jonny (Eason Chan)! But will things change when Lily finds out that he’s a garbage truck driver?

Peony (Angela Baby), the youngest sister is a famous BAD actress who decides to give up her fame in order to live a more ‘normal’ life and decides to start by working at a cafe, where of course she falls in love with a poor guy (Jing Boran). But is love enough to help them overcome their differences in background?

Watch the movie to find out! You can find the trailer here.

Number 4: 爱 “Love” (2012)

Starring:  Zhao Wei, Shu Qi, Mark Chao, Ethan Juan, Eddie Peng, Amber Kuo, Ivy Chen.

This movie is very similar to the British rom-com “Love Actually” which I loved as well, so it’s no surprise that this movie made the cut! If you haven’t seen it, it’s a more complex plot filled with characters that are actually related to one another in the end, but you only really learn that about them as you watch the movie. It’s one of those films where you can’t go to the bathroom while you leave the movie playing and expect to understand it when you come back to the couch. I liked this film a lot because of the variety of different characters, although a little hard to follow. Another film that I liked even more when I watched it the second time. For fear that I will give anything away, I won’t go into detail about the film!

Watch the trailer here!

Number 3: 一夜惊喜 “One Night Surprise” (2013)

Starring Fan Bingbing, Aarif Rahman, Pace Wu, Jiang Jinfu and Daniel Henney

This one almost made my no. 2! My most recent watch, “One Night Surprise” is about 米雪, a successful woman who works at a marketing firm had her life all planned out: work hard in her twenties, become an executive, get married by 30, have children by 35 and quit her high paying job to open an art shop in her 40s. Until her 30th birthday bash! She blacks out and 40 days later finds out that she’s pregnant. She takes us on a wild and hilarious adventure to finding happiness in a difficult situation and who’s the real father of her child? Watch the movie!

The trailer!

Number 2: 我愿意 “I Do” (2012)

Starring Sun Honglei and Li Bingbing

This film, as I mentioned above, was almost beat by 一夜惊喜,but I think I can relate to this character more. The plot follows a young lady names Tang Weiwei who resumes dating for the first time after being with a man for 7 years who left her with no trace. As she begins her quest for a lasting and stable relationship, he returns! Duh duh duh duuuuuh! So Weiwei is torn between her old love and her new. Who will she choose?

Watch this trailer! Although, I think this trailer is a bit of a spoiler, despite not having subtitles. 

Number 1: 非常完美 “Sophie’s Revenge” (2009)

Starring Zhang Ziyi, So Ji-sub, Fan Bingbing, Ruby Lin,Peter Ho, and Yao Chen

This film has literally retained the no. 1 spot, no question, since I saw it the first time. Enters Sophie (Zhang Ziyi) : a comic book artist who was recently dumped by her boyfriend Jeff for movie star Joanna. The plot follows Sophie as she devises to get Jeff back when she meets another man- Joanna’s ex Gordon- and falls in love without realizing it. This movie gave me a ton of laughs, and I really like this role for Zhang Ziyi!

“I’m the trailer. Watch me here.

Honourable mention: 我知女人心 “What Women Want”

Starring Gong Li and Andy Lau

This film is a remake of the American film also titled “What Women Want”.  In general I love Gong Li, and in general I also hate remakes, especially cross-cultural remakes, but this movie is awesome!

I hope that I didn’t spoil anything for you guys. These are just my favourites, I would love for you guys to share yours! Which are your favourites Chinese Romantic Comedies? Chinese movies? Why?

I will likely do a separate post on my favourite Chinese movies later, I just thought that Rom-coms deserved their very own category (a lot of girls probably agree with me)! Thanks for reading!

谢谢大家!
可爱老外 爱琳

Learning Chinese: How do you do it?

I’ve been studying Chinese for 3.5 years (as you might already know from my previous posts), but 50 minutes 3X a week is never enough. I’ve enlisted the help of Pleco, NCIKU, kuaile hanyu and more. I’ve gone way out of my way to make Chinese friends, but even that’s difficult in the middle-of-nowhere Canada (and most of the young Chinese people at this university are here to study English, so ‘language exchange’ usually consists of English practice). I watch Chinese movies and download podcasts. I wouldn’t say that my Chinese is bad, but practice is different than theory. I often have trouble understanding accents that aren’t Beijinghua or 标准的普通话. I also, like anybody, hate tedious methods: theoretical grammar, painful character practice (although my Characters are alright). I will eventually move to China and get all of my practice there, but for now I’m stuck here studying in Canada. For all of you who study Chinese, how do you do it? There are definitely a lot of interesting methods out there. How do you exercise your spoken Chinese if you don’t live in China (aside from having a Chinese significant other!)? Very interested to hear your ideas!

Thanks for reading!

爱琳,the 可爱的老外

On Staring and Standard of Beauty in China

I miss the hot summer nights in Hangzhou with my friends, drinking qingdao beer atop the local canteen at our school. Before I left last year, a lot of people asked me, “If you’ve never been to China, how do you know you will like it?” Which is a completely valid question. I had studied Chinese for a few years already before visiting, and of course things are not always as they seem in your mind. But, as it turns out, I have a pretty accurate imagination andI loved China exactly the way I thought I would. I can say that I miss almost everything about China. Everything but the staring.

I prepared myself for everything except for that. Everywhere I went people stared. Not so much in Shanghai, which has so many laowai it feels like New York. In Hangzhou-even the tourist areas- I was an absolute freak. My friends and I would occasionally go to bars and we would instantly get VIP status. I would walk down the street and people would tell me “你的皮肤好白” or “你的眼睛好大”. And I noticed that a lot of the advertisements were filled with white women. It’s bizarre to me, they paradigm that is the Chinese standard of beauty. In China, women strive to be really really thin. I however, am not any culture’s definition of thin. I’m average, about 62 kilos, and curvy all over. So in order to clarify, I of course asked a Chinese friend: “Why in a culture that so strongly feels thin is beautiful, am I still beautiful?
He said, “Chinese men care about three things. One: you have a beautiful face, two: you have white skin, and three: you are thin. Two out of three is not bad!” 

I didn’t know whether to laugh or be offended by this. While I’m still perplexed by the Chinese standard of beauty, I’m lucky enough to have found a guy who doesn’t really care about what I look like on the outside, and loves me for who I am. I don’t really care that China thinks I’m a size XXL, and neither does he!

While we’re on this topic, in Suzhou I had visited a temple with a Chinese friend and we stopped on the way out to buy a bottle of water. A woman walked up and asked in broken English if she could take a picture with me, so I smiled and replied in Chinese, “of course!”(at this point I had been in China for a month already, so I was used to the picture taking). So we posed, took two pictures, at which time 2 other women asked if they could take pictures, I complied. After those, a woman asked if I could take a picture with her baby, and in 10 minutes there was a hoard of 50 people posing or passing their babies to me! It was one of the most bizarre experiences of my entire life. I felt just like Angelina Jolie (who my Chinese friend insists I look like, and I really really don’t at all). Some of my CBC (Canadian Born Chinese) friends had also come on the trip and I completely envied their camouflage. But I’ll save some of those hilarious stories for another post! Do you have any strange stories like this in China? Feel free to share in the comments.

谢谢大家,

可爱的老外,爱琳

大家好!

大家好!我叫爱琳,我是加拿大人。 I’m ailing, and I’m from Canada. I’ve been studying Chinese for 3.5 years and will (officially) move to China next year, and I thought it might be interesting to document everything! 

A lot of people ask me when and why my obsession with Asian culture began, and honestly, I have no idea. There was a halloween when my mother dressed up as a geisha, I might have been 5 or 6 and I thought she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. Maybe it was then, maybe it was later. Anyway, now I’m here, almost upon the crossroad. 

And I can’t wait. I know, it’s a long way away from my family, my culture, my language and my heritage. But I’m not running away from Canada. I love being Canadian, and I’ll be back, but there’s something (and someone) that is waiting for me there. I think a lot of expats might agree with me: sometimes there’s just some reason for it that one can’t explain. 

I do have at least one reason that I can explain. It might even be the most obvious reason that someone might travel halfway around the world, and the craziest. I met a guy on the internet and we fell madly in love. I know what you’re thinking. I’m nuts. That’s dangerous! But we live in this age of technology that’s amazing. We’ve video chatted everyday for almost a year, in July we’ll finally meet face-to-face, and I’m going to share it all with you people via this blog!

I’m not a world class writer, or an experienced blogger. I don’t even write that many emails- but I’d like to share my story anyway. So I will keep you posted!

谢谢大家!