From Inner Mongolia to Wuhan

“Oh, before I forget, I want to ask what your living situation in Wuhan is like, as you’re a student in this city.”

“Oh, yeah. I live in a dorm with three other girls. We live in the student living area, which is about a 15-minute walk from the West Campus. Next time, you should come visit my dorm!”

What is your family like?:

“We’re a nuclear family.” She says assuredly. 

I blink my eyes, confused. “Um, what exactly do you mean by a nuclear family?” I ask. 

“Well, my family only consists of my parents and myself. There are no other family members, like grandparents. That is what we call a ‘nuclear family’ (核心家庭, hexin jiating) in Chinese. Do you not use this phrase in English?”

I chuckle at this difference. “No, we don’t--at least not that I’ve heard of. ‘Nuclear’ is usually associated with bombs or explosives. Because I had this connotation of the word, I thought your relationship with your parents was very explosive, or that you fought a lot.”

This time, Tanila chuckles, too. “Oh, no. My relationship with my parents is very good!”

How do you get around?:

“I usually just walk places,” Tanila says with a shrug.

What types of clothing do you like to wear?:

“I prefer to wear casual clothes,” Tanila says, gesturing to her outfit of a plain white t-shirt and jeans. “I usually wear a t-shirt and pants, like I am today.”

What do you like to do in your free time?:

“Most of the time I like to read.” Tanila responds, flipping her hair again.  

“Me, too!” I exclaim. “What types of books do you like to read?”

“I mostly like to read foreign literature.