A Chinese in Vienna

During some meeting of some committee of some sub-organization at the United Nations in Vienna, I got to know a young lady from China.

Qian was doing an internship as a simultaneous interpreter for Mandarin and English. Simultaneous interpreters are those super-brains who listen to several participants in a discussion about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and at the same time (!) interpret all speeches, questions, answers, interruptions and arguments into Chinese. Then, in the afternoon, they do the same about fishing policy or an agreement on tariffs and trade.

She suggested that we should meet for dinner or something like that.

Because Qian had mentioned that she had only arrived in Vienna a few days earlier and because I wasn’t quick enough to think of anything smarter, I asked if she already knew her way around the city.

“Of course, it’s a really small town.”

There are around 2 million people living in Vienna.

“Ehm, it’s the largest city in the country,” I replied, not really trying to correct, but to understand her.

“Oh yes, you are right,” she said with a smile, “I am sorry, I still have to get used to that.” The look on her face was like that of a titan who had come to a country full of mini-dwarfs, accidentally stepping on some of them, and fretting about it terribly.

She was from Qingdao, a name which didn’t ring any bell, until Qian patiently explained that this was Tsingtao, the capital of the former German colony of Kiautschou, and that they still had the best beer in China. More than 8 million people live in Qingdao.

There are hundreds of cities in China larger than Vienna. I could name only two or three of them, which shows that despite all my travels, there are still very large white spots on my map of the world. And Hainan province alone, one of the smallest provinces in China, has as many people as Austria.

China map population

Links:

  • In this article, you can find out how I ended up in Vienna in the first place.
  • And if I ever go to China, it will definitely be by train. I already have a savings piggy for the train tickets, but any support for this blog would be of great help.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Austria, China, Language, Statistics, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Chinese in Vienna

  1. I think we Westerners forget how HUGE Asia is and how much history China has. It’s arrogant, part of how we’re taught in school. China would be a fabulous place to explore. It would take months and months.

    • Or, at my pace, years.
      But then, China is also not exactly very open. At least in some parts, foreigners are watched quite carefully, of which I am not sure if I would appreciate it.
      And then there is the language, which does really pose a huge hurdle.
      Still, I would love to try it, and I expect the learning curve to be really steep.

    • And your comment about history reminds me of an encounter with a young Chinese man in Canada, thanks!
      I shall write about that, too, in what seems to become a series “Learning about China without having been there”.

    • Looking forward to it.

    • Uff, always that pressure from readers. ;-)
      Just kidding, I am so happy to hear from readers! After all, I am not even sure the 1.3 billion people in China can access my blog.

  2. “The look on her face was like that of a titan who had come to a country full of mini-dwarfs, accidentally stepping on some of them, and fretting about it terribly.”

    Hahaha loved it! But it was so short! Where’s the rest of it? I want to read more!!

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