Friday’s Foreigner: Agnes
Today is our second post in a series I hope we’ll do every Friday, but I make no promises. I can promise at least some Fridays I’ll post an interview with a foreigner here in Hohhot.
Check back each week to “meet” the other expats!
Today we’ll meet Agnes from Poland.
What’s your name, what brought you to Hohhot and when did you arrive?
Hi, my name is Agnieszka (Agnes) and I moved to Hohhot more than four years ago, in 2011. I came here to continue my education. I started my PhD in grassland science in 2012, preceded with a one-year Chinese language course at Inner Mongolia University. It wasn’t my original intention, but not long after my arrival I started a part-time English teaching job.
Now, I teach much less, still work on my research and most of all I try to focus more on different projects, like helping with a family business or improving my Chinese language skills.
Tell us something about your pre-Hohhot life that most people here don’t know.
Before coming to Inner Mongolia I was working for a EU project at my Alma Mater, after a while I felt like I need a change of scenery and applied for what occurred to be an adventure of a lifetime.
Favorite local food and where you like to get it:
That’s a difficult one! Chinese food is so diverse! But I find myself saying “Let’s go for hot pot” a lot, so I guess that would be my favorite type of food. As a special treat I would choose donkey meat hot pot. There are plenty of restaurants in town, I often refer to Meituan(美团) app to find one with a good deal.
If you could make one city-wide change to Hohhot, what would it be?
My first thought was to plant more trees, but on a more practical level an improvement of traffic and enforcement of traffic rules would do us all a favor. Bike lanes for bikes!
What’s the funniest thing you’ve experienced here?
I think a lot of funny situations may come from a language barrier between you and the locals. When I first came to China, without any Chinese language skills, I took a cab to a place that was 100m away from where I was. I’m not sure who was more dumbfounded me or the taxi driver…
What is the kindest thing a local has ever done for you?
I don’t want to pinpoint any particular situation, cause I believe I wouldn’t have survived one day without the kindness and help of local people, especially at the very beginning. I just admire the patience of the locals, both strangers encountered on a street and friends, have for us foreigners. We can really be a handful!
Where do you go to “escape?”
Living in a Chinese city can be really overwhelming, some quiet time, getting your thoughts together can save you many headaches down the road. I usually choose the coziness of my apartment or a nice café. During longer breaks I simply go abroad to recharge.
When your time here is done and you return home, what do you want to take with you?
My plans are to stay here, or somewhere in Asia for a bit longer. But if I was going home, I would take back a lot of gratitude, good memories and an open mind.