Adventures in Cross Cultural Living

This morning, I had quite an adventure in cross cultural living that I wanted to quickly share with everyone.

It started last night at 11:00 PM when a neighbor knocked on our door. I opened the door to find a women who said that our a/c unit was dripping water down on their A/C unit and causing a lot of noise and distraction. (As someone who hates repetitive noise, I totally understand the annoyance that a constant drip, drip, drip would cause). I said “ok, we’ll fix it.” I turned to Beth, explained the situation and said “let’s figure it out in the morning.”

And we did figure it out in the morning, or rather, my Chinese neighbors figured it out for me!

I was getting out of the shower when I heard the doorbell followed by knocking. I quickly put on clothes and answered the door to find two of my male neighbors talking to me. They started speaking Cantonese, but of course all I understood was “seui” (meaning water) and “drip, drip, drip.” Since another neighbor had already pointed out the issue, I knew that there was a problem. After talking and hand motions and me going into their apartment to see the water falling from the A/C unit, they called a friend to translate who told me that they could also fix it now. So, even though I needed to go to the office soon, I said “umm ya I guess.”

So for the next hour or so,these neighbors unscrewed my window, took off the catch to the bottom of the AC unit, replaced the hose and reconnected it to the spot where the water should have been draining to begin with. All of this happening in a language that I don’t understand because unfortunately, my 10 session Cantonese class did not teach me words like “PCP piping or screwdriver or broken/fix.” But with hand motions, we all go through it.

Overall, I am incredibly grateful that they fixed this problem for Beth and myself. We probably could have figured it out after much more sweating, swearing and calling a friend who knows more about home repairs then the two of us but it was also kind of embarrassing because the apartment was messy, I wasn’t dressed really, and I don’t even know their names. Definitely a moment of trust and gratitude and a story to share with everyone!


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