Marriage, China Residency Permit, Family visit and Learning the Language. Busy in Changchun.
There are many things to share and bring everyone up to date. Over the winter, I experience cold like I never had before and for a time shut down with
providing updates. I was asked when does the seasons start here? Here is what I’ve discovered,
Spring begins on February 3rd, Summer starts May 5th, Autumn (Fall) starts August 7th and Winter begins on November 7th. I don’t if we are just going through a short period of it being a little cooler or if we are approaching the beginning of Autumn. for the last few days it has been feeling more like October here. However, during the first few months of this year several noteworthy things happened for me and Tai. In March, I got my final approval on my residency permit to live in China. This was a tedious process we began in February. We initially visited the Public Security Entry and Exit. This is where
they handle passports and visas for foreigners and Chinese citizens. A list of what was needed:
- Proof of my registration at the police station upon my arrival in China
- 2 passport type photos
- Documentation of marriage
- Completed application form
- My passport with Chinese visa
- Results of mandatory physical
- Pay the required Application fee
There was only one hiccup in the process. As we were in the waiting period to go back and pick up my passport with the addition of the resident permit, Tai got a call from the Public Security telling her my registration with the police had expired. So we had to go down to the police station and complete a new registration.
For those of you who do not know, Tai and I are married. We got married on November 3rd 2016 which was an unique experience for me in China. Getting
married, I will say is different in China. There is no requirement to have any sort of ceremony in a church, with a minister, or by the justice of the peace so to speak. All formalities, that are normally followed in America after getting your marriage license. Here you register to be married. And by that I mean you register yourself (as a couple) as being married. There are no ceremonies or vows. The day you register you are married in China. Yes there can be a marriage ceremony at a later time but it is for appearances only. The date of marriage is the day you went to the marriage registration office and your marriage registration was approved. Cost is about 250 RMB ($35). While I knew we were going to get married, I just did not know it would be in this manner. I thought registration was like getting a marriage license. Tai even talked about getting married in a church if I wanted to. But it had no significance at
that point. We would have been already married. It actually took me a couple of days to realize we were married. Tai wanted to wear red because in China the color red represented good luck. Back in November because of the language barrier our communication created some interesting moments for us. It is something I can look back on and chuckle a bit now because of discovering cultural differences has never been boring. Confusing at times but never boring. Today nine months later we are very happy as a married couple.
Getting a physical here is nothing like going to the doctor back home. The physical was set up as an assembly line process where I went room to room for each section of the physical. One room to get my height and weight measured. One room for taking my blood pressure, another room to get an EKG, another to check my eyesight, and to another room to be looked over physically for any appearance of physical abnormalities, and back to the first floor to another room to have blood taken. It went quickly
and without issue. The cost of the physical was 350 RMB which is about $50. The cost for applying for the residency permit was 800 RMB ($112) In total the cost was a little over 1200 RMB for everything which is equal to about $175. My residency permit is good for two years the maximum allowed. After 2 years I would need to submit a new application. Currently, I can legally stay in China through February 28, 2019. I will renew again at that time. We are here until Tai retires from the hospital. Which right now is about 4 years from now when she turns 55.
During March and April Tai’s nephew stayed with us for 2-3 weeks off and on as he looked for a job. He is 27 years old and has been living well out of the city limits where job opportunities are not forthcoming.
In April we had another visitor, Tai’s mother. She stay with us for two weeks. If was a bit frustrating for Tai. Her mother has some heart issues. She is 78 years old and Tai argued with her mom constantly about taking her medicine and eating meals. At times they sounded like New Yorkers speaking Chinese. Always bickering. Tai loves her mom and they both can be stubborn. Even though Tai’s mom and I could not converse with each other, we still enjoyed our time together. Her mother probably thinks I am (or Americans) are crazy. I would go up to her mom and take her hands and start dancing and singing to her. She just laughed so much and said things I did not understand. But I knew she liked me. And that is all I wanted was for Tai’s mom to like me. She was also impressed that everyday I would mop the floors and dust. She would tell Tai I was a good man. I got the impression Chinese men did not do much or any household chores. Cleaning is part of Tai’s and my routine after breakfast each morning. Tai’s mom grew weary of being in the city and was anxious to get back to the country where see felt more at ease. She was not crazy about city life. City life I guess was too busy for her.
I must confess my broken English is improving. We have sometimes seen in movies and other places how Chinese people when speaking English, it tends to be broken up or kind of choppy. As I learn Chinese, I understand why it is this way. Sentence structure is very different in China and Chinese logic on this structure is interesting. Plus they do not use many of the simpler words or expressions that we use when we peak. Take a simple question as “What do you want to do this weekend?” In Chinese the structure would be (Nǐzhège zhōumò xiǎng zuò shénme?) “You this weekend want to do what?” The what comes last because that is how the answer will be.. answering the what. “I want to watch a movie.”Or we ask, “Are you free this Saturday at 2 pm?” Chinese would ask it this way, (Nǐ zhège xīngqíliù xiàwǔ 2 diǎn yǒu kòng?) “You this Saturday afternoon 2 o’clock have free time?” Or this one, Saturday I’m studying with Tai at the library. (Wǒ zhège xīngqíliù xiàwǔ 1 diǎn zài túshū guǎn yǔ tài yánjiū.) “I this Saturday in afternoon at 1 pm in library with Tai study.” Now when I hear these sentences, in my mind I have to rearrange them so I can comprehend what is being said or asked. Or if I want to ask Tai how do you say watermelon in Chinese I would for example ask (Xīguā yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?) “Watermelon, using Chinese language how to say?” Chinese is a wonderful language but one that presents significant challenges. I can read pinyin pretty well. Pinyin is the way Chinese words are spelled using the letters of the alphabet and those words are then converted into Chinese characters based on the spelling and placement of the tone marks. Not sure why Chinese use characters as their words when using pinyin to me makes more sense and easier to decipher, see, and pronounce. A couple cultural sayings that differ would be, Tai would use the phrase “wash your teeth” as oppose to “brush your teeth” we say here. Or she would say open or close where we say on and off. if we want to turn something on or off.
Tai loves reading the news, primarily Chinese news. Her knowledge is limited on American news and society. We were going through some of my old pictures recently and there was a picture of my son sitting on Santa Clause’s lap. I asked her if she knew who that was and she was completely clueless of Santa Clause. As I have learned over the months there are so many things we know from many cultures around the world because of movies, television shows, documentaries, magazines, etc. When learn because we have been exposed to many lifestyles around the globe and also in the United States we have such a vase diversity of cultures (immigrants) are represented. We see it through work, social connections, and media regularly. In China, at least in Tai’s case she is limited to seeing and learning about other cultures. The countries China partners with the most get the most exposure, like Russia and Africa and some South American Countries. The diversity of foods in America is plentiful, in China it it hard to find other ethnic foods. Maybe in Tier one cities like Beijing. Changchun is a Tier two city. Which is still significant. Every day is a learning experience for me. New and different cultural lifestyles. Here, I kind of need to reprogram myself and slow down and be more simplistic in my thinking and perception of things.
I need to be less creative and analytical in my thinking. Chinese do not try to make life complex. They are not necessarily occupied with what others are doing. They tend to focus on their selves and there is a good lesson in that. I am a people watcher. I love observing others and seeing their lives play out as they go about moments in their day. Tai, she is oblivious to what is around her. It drives me crazy sometimes because I feel she is missing so much life that is around her. People are extraordinary and each person is a story being acted out on this live stage called Earth. I am so glad I can be a spectator and sometimes a participating actor in this unique Chinese culture. Gānbēi!! (Cheers!!)