Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Everyone smiles in the same language" - Anonymous

How true is that? Its really interesting to consider the little things that tie us all together.. although our cultures are different, or we speak different languages, there are basic gestures, like a smile, and basic emotions, like love, that transcend these differences and reveal one solid fact that we most definitely have in common - we are all human, and mostly, when it comes down to it, we all want the same things - family, love, health, happiness, etc. I remember sitting on the subway (okay, who sits on the subway in China?! I was standing), watching some local girls interact with each other and I forget exactly what it was, but I remember commenting to my husband that all over the world, girls are girls - we are all the same! Hopefully you guys have observed that and someone out there knows what I am trying to say. It was like watching me and my own girl friends. We are all just girls (unless you're not... lol! I know I have a few male readers;))

Which brings me back to the reason for this post - how wonderful a smile can make you feel, and how something like a smile transcends cultural differences and language barriers, connecting people. Last week, a complete stranger gave me the biggest, most genuine smile ever and it completely made my day. From what I've noticed and as my teachers have told me, the Chinese culture isn't really one that smiles randomly at complete strangers. If you make eye contact with someone in the subway or are standing in the same elevator, even - no smiles are exchanged, most of the time, no greetings at all, no acknowledgment.

I got off the subway and was going up the escalator along with the rest of the crowd, when I saw a flash of white... could it be? Really? Is that what I think it is?! A little old Chinese man stood next to the escalator collecting old newspapers people were discarding. He looked right at me and gave me the biggest smile! I barely recognized it for what it was - a smile! From a complete stranger. In Beijing!! I was shocked! It completely turned my day around. My husband was laughing at our exchange of smiles because we both had no idea why he was smiling so big for me.. this cute, little old Chinese man.

The funny thing is - this man is there, in the same spot, every day at the time I get off my subway on the way to class. Because there are so many people, my husband and I sometimes get separated, and he was able to see the man catch a glance of me, and a huge slow smile spread across his face. Its one of the nicest, most genuine smiles I have ever seen and makes me feel like I am welcome in his country.

Everyday I look forward to seeing his warm smile and indication of friendship and welcome. We now exchange smiles and 你好 Ni Haos and 早安 Zaoans (Hello, & good morning!) I don't know what it is about me that makes him smile but he makes ME smile every time I see him!

so, go out and smile at a stranger today! It could make their day (or they might think you are a total weirdo, but take that chance mmkay? ;)) Has anyone ever smiled at you and it completely turned your day around?

We have some really great travel plans coming up! A peak at our travel itineraries:

June: touring the North East of China
July: going to Inner Mongolia & Mongolia - supposed to be one of the best trips you can take!
August: taking a very long, very far train ride to Xinjiang - this is going to be one amazing trip!

The second week of July we are camping overnight at an unrestored (non-touristy) part of the Great Wall.

I'm so excited! As it is right now, we have at least a 10 day trip planned for every month we are here in China. I am going to be exhausted by the time this year is up!

And a few recent pictures to balance out the crazy amount of text... yes I just found "effects."


  1. That was a really nice post! And the pics look very artistic, good job on figuring out effects

  2. Thanks for the wonderful pics!

  3. Wow what a great day! I smile seriously can touch someone's heart. I love smiling! I also love that anonymous quote. What a fun next 3 months you and your hubby have!! I love reading about your adventures in China! <333

  4. Oh my goodness, what a sweet little man! I definitely agree- I try to be warm and friendly to everyone I come across, because you never know if it could possibly make their bad day just a little better!

  5. You are so right! A smile can change your whole day :)

  6. smiling strangers are great :D sometimes I'm smiling on the others without reason, too! :)

  7. Amazing! I love the enthusiasm in your writing - it just made me smile:) Have a wonderful day!

  8. nice post!
    I smile at random strangers just happens spontanious lol

  9. Smile can really transcend any boundaries... I always give my genuine smile to strangers. It feels so good to smile and receive a smile in return.

    Camping in the Great Wall is awesome... love the images above. Have fun in China. Don't forget to fly over to Manila sometime. xoxo

  10. Your post just made me smile :) Even here in America, people just aren't as friendly as they used to be. It sure is nice to see a friendly face!

    (The Pretty Pauper)

  11. awww, i like the quote. :)

  12. Hi! I randomly came across your site today and I find it very refreshing! My husband and I moved to Peru about 6 months ago and as I am reading you blog, I notice we have had a lot of the "same" experiences or thought processes about a lot of the changes :) It's nice to know there is someone out there who is doing something they want/love by traveling to an unknown territory, stepping out of their comfort zone, learning a new language, trying new foods...the entire process is just fabulous, isn't it?!?! Looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

    -Amanda (La Blondie Peruana- The Peruvian Blondie) :)

  13. Thanks for all the comments everyone!! It is true a smile can light up someone's day! I am so glad you all can relate!

    Amanda, I stopped by your blog and look forward to reading more about your adventures in Peru!!

  14. Yea..We had a Chihuahua and a poodle before we came to Peru and they were our children. But we couldn't bring them with us, and knew we might stay here longer than a year, so we had to find them new homes. SERIOUSLY one of the hardest things we have EVER been through. However, we have been blessed with our new little guy and love him sooooo much! He has really filled a hole in our hearts, even though there will always be that special place for our boys.

    Also looking forward to getting to know you and reading more :) Have fun at class! We have class in the morning!

  15. aww I am glad you have him! so lucky! At least I get to skype with my pup - hes with my mom. lol!

  16. Ha! I'm glad for the novel :) I always feel silly for writing so much to people!

    In regards to your question: I am insecure about a LOT of things: Spanish is still new to me. I took classes in High School but don't remember any of it, so we are taking classes together here. The good thing is that we are on the same level, so we can learn together...But my husband goes out and applies what he learns the day of, and makes so many mistakes because he doesn't care. I, on the other hand, prefer to perfect what I learn before trying to use it. I am SO scared to make a mistake and HATE getting that "Blank stare". It took me forever to start going to the store by myself for fear that someone would say something to me and I wouldn't understand or know how to respond. When I get nervous I get all hot and I cant think straight and I absolutely HATE that feeling!

    For the most part, I think I've gotten used to sticking out like a sore thumb. I rarely feel the stares or hear the whistles anymore, but every now and then I remember how much my blonde hair, white skin and blue eyes are so obvious and different!

    I also get nervous over silly stuff, like what I wear. I know that is so shallow, but the style here is so different and I dont want to be a fashion faux pa (spelling?!). I get nervous when I try to pull of something different. (even something as small as scarves) Ive always lived in Texas and never worn scarves, but here they are popular with EVERYTHING. I always thought they were to help keep you warm, but they are actually an accessory here and I WANT to do it, but get nervous that I wont pull it off well..

    Anyways, I obviously need to work on my confidence!

    Haha! Sorry for the novel back!

  17. A warm smile can do wonders in a foreign land where you don't quite feel you belong. Bless that little old man :)


  18. Awww, that is so sweet! I am always surprised (and sometimes even freaked out) at the kindness of strangers. Whenever I'm out in public and hear someone sneeze, I make a point of saying 'bless you'. Someone did it for me once, and I was so surprised and pleased at the simple act, I decided to continue to pass it forward.

    Your trips sound really exciting - it's wonderful that you are going to get to see so much of the country!

    Chic on the Cheap