I had the incredible pleasure to talk with the couple who runs the Chinese bar Chun Xiang in Wejherowo, Poland. Wang Yanping and Catherine Swist–Wang welcomed me with a hearty smile. Green tea on the table, we set down to talk.
Piotr Chodak: Thank you for talking about what it is like to live in a country so far away from your place of birth, and about what brought you to Poland. The first question could be nothing else. How is it that you came to live in Poland? Did you come here because of education, work or maybe love?
Wang Yanping: I came to work at the restaurant. My friend owns China’s leading employment agency, and offered me the chance to work in Poland. I lived in Beijing in Hebei province. I came to the Gdynia, but also worked in Gdansk. I have also lived in Masuria.
Piotr Chodak: Tell me more about your family. Are they very different from the typical Chinese? Is there a similar relationship between husband and wife in the two countries?
Wang Yanping: In larger cities, the family takes care of children, while the man and woman work. In the countryside a woman takes care of the home and the child and the man is responsible for the money.
Piotr Chodak: Is six years in Poland sufficient time to learn the Polish language? They say that our language is more difficult than the Chinese. Would you agree?
Wang Yanping: When I first arrived, I did not know the language completely. I learned basic phrases, such as “hello,” “thank you,” etc. I have received a lot of help, including from my wife, whom I met while working at a restaurant. The Chinese language itself is difficult due to the number of characters and four tones, which affect the meaning of words.
Piotr Chodak: You cook so you can feed Polish people. Tell us more about it. Is our sense of taste significantly different? Or did you have to leave things off the menu because Poles would not have accepted it?
Wang Yanping: The Pole‘s favourite is sweet and sour dishes. Food in China is different. Often, hot broth is placed on the table, and the different ingredients are dipped immediately before eating. In addition, the Chinese want to try new flavours. They are willing to order different dishes. They have greater curiosity to try new tastes. Poles often have their favourite dishes, although there are exceptions.
Meat is also different. Pole likes prepared meat, usually with sauce. Chinese like to eat meat which is not separated from the bone. Thus it has a different taste, and the pleasure from the food is greater.
In China it is a lot easier to buy fresh meat than frozen. You can often find even live animals, such as chicken and fish, that are killed only for a specific dinner. Thanks to this, the dishes also tastes different.
Piotr Chodak: How does the reality of Poland differ from your image before you moved here? Have you had any surprising situations during your life in this country?
Wang Yanping: I learned about Poland in school, but it was basic knowledge, more geographical. Also, on the TV you could hear some news regarding Polish. I was taught, where the Baltic Sea is, and where Poland is
China is a large country, where people mainly live their own affairs, and there is much less time to devote to other countries.
When I was on my way to Poland, I thought “I’m going to Europe.” I thought there would be a lot of high-rise buildings, large concentrations of people. I was very surprised when the plane landed, and there was not much to see out the window. From the airport, I was driven through the forest, where from time to time there was a house. In China, everybody lives close to each other. Here, it looks different. In Poland, there is obviously a lot that is new to me, including the people on the street.
Many people from my country, including myself, also praise the climate in Poland. A large number of cold days and not a large amount of sun is really an advantage.
Transport is also different. In China, there are wide roads, underground. Very often people have their walkways or tunnels so they don’t have to go directly across the road. In Poland, you often need to stop for someone to cross at intersections and red lights.
Piotr Chodak: How about your family in China?
Wang Yanping: We talk to each other over the internet. There is a seven hour time difference between China and Poland. My parents definitely want to come to Poland but there are a lot of formalities that must be met. I recently managed to get my sister to visit. To visit China, a visa is sufficient, along with information on the purpose of the visit, and how long the stay will be.
To arrive in the Poland, one must first have an invitation from someone in this country. To get a visa, you must say where you are living, the purpose of the visit, show that you have enough money for the visit, and many other things. The number of documents is much greater when one wants to come to Poland. Visiting China is easier.
Piotr Chodak: Do you have Polish citizenship?
Wang Yanping: Not yet, and I don’t know if I’ll try for it.
Piotr Chodak: Do you want to move back to China, or do you see your future here?
Wang Yanping: I do not know where I will spend my life. Time will tell. For now, I will live here. Maybe in my old age, I will go back to China.
Piotr Chodak: Thank you for the interview. It was a really enlightening conversation. I hope that your food will be able to get even more Poles interested in knowing about China.
Yanping and Catherine showed me their wedding photo session. In China, this is different, because that’s where they took their wedding for the groom’s family. There session lasted all day. Many times disguised themselves in different outfits. There were even a couple of imperial. All photos are in an album of glass. With regard to the provisions in Poland concluded a wedding once again in the City with a small ceremony for family of Polish.
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