Little Humans of China


I have been teaching English to little Chinese children for almost a year now. I have seen them progressing and evolving, opening their little hearts to me and it’s one of the most rewarding life experiences.

Witnessing their evolution and being part of their lives have brought me so much joy and motivation every day. I call them my kids, they hug me when they walk in the classroom and the smile on their faces would enlighten the darkest places in the world. They are all rays of sunshine and they warm my heart with their adorable faces, their intelligence and their incredible sense of humor.

I have decided to portray a group of them. This core group of students is very special to me because there were my first pupils when I started to teach. In a few months, we have built a connection that has beautifully evolved. I have seen them growing up, becoming more confident, happier and getting better at learning English.

This is a tribute to my lovely students.




This is Winnie. He is 4 and he is the youngest of my students. He is also the cutest and my favourite. I know that, as a teacher, I am not supposed to have a favorite but it would be a lie to say that no teacher has a special student they’re deeply fond of.

I remember how shy and lonely Winnie was during the first classes. He would not say a word to anyone and was expressing his anxiety by going to the toilets every 5 minutes. It took me a long time to make him feel comfortable and finally see a big smile on his cute little round face.

After 9 months of English class, Winnie can introduce himself and recite all the words he’s been taught. He sings, performs and does the warm-up exercises even if he’s a bit lazy sometimes. He plays with his little friends and shows a real happiness that melts my heart every time I watch him. He is the mascot of the class, everyone loves Winnie, he is the most adorable tiny human on earth. He is also very smart and has an incredible sense of humour. His answers are always hilarious and unexpected. I asked him one day why he did not do his homework and he said that his dad told him not to!

Winnie’s characteristics:

* He always wears pants with a hole instead of a fly so he can pee more easily

* He is very stylish whatever he wears

* He is the biggest fan of Pepper Pig




This is Nico. She is 6 and from the very beginning, she has been the one who has shown the most excitement and interest for our English classes. What I love about Nico is that she is always happy. I have rarely seen her grumpy or reluctant to do anything. She is so consistent with her positive attitude and her love for learning! It is a true joy to have her as a pupil.

She’s also very warm and affectionate. She’s opened up to me very quickly and she gives me a hug, shouting my name, every time she walks in the class.

One day at school, she saw me from far away at the other side of a long corridor. She shouted my name, we both ran to each other and she jumped on me to give me the biggest hug ever. How can you not melt in front of so much love?

Nico’s characteristics:

* She has a big crush on Yance, my teacher colleague who is also my best friend

* She makes really funny faces

* She is the best performer of the class



This is Sunny. She is 7 and she is very smart. She is a talented student and she is very hardworking. She loves learning English and her skills are really impressive. I can sense in her a strong desire for perfection. She has ambition. She is very studious and she is pushing herself a lot which sometimes makes her a bit nervous when she has to perform in public.

Every time we have to show an example to the students, we ask Sunny because we know she is going to do great. She is a good role model just like her little friend Nico. She is reliable and mature for her young age. It’s definitely awesome to have a leader like her in the class.

She takes the class so seriously that she gets annoyed when others students disturb the class. She tells off the naughty ones and it’s hilarious to watch! Don’t mess up with Sunny!

Sunny’s characteristics:

* She loves cats, wears cat outfits and meows like a cat

* She is always part of the best students of the week

* She loves doing her homework and can’t stop practicing!



Sunny and Nico are very good friends and it’s heartwarming to see the love these two have for each other.  






This is Tobby. He is 5 and at the very beginning, he could not stop moving and running around the class. It was hard to catch his attention and keep him still. He was obsessed with getting the chairs in order and could not stop moving them around! After a couple of weeks, he started to settle and feel more comfortable. He just needed time to get used to a new environment.

Tobby is a good student and has progressed so much! He’s always enthusiastic and curious about everything. He always asks questions, he is very alert and needs to understand how things work. He has his head in the clouds and is a bit shy when he has to perform. I have noticed he’s really shy when we ask him to team up with a girl! He starts to blush and I can barely hear him enunciate the words. It’s actually really sweet.

Tobby’s characteristics:

* He is our best helper, he always helps us out after the class to tidy up and clean up the classroom!

* He wants to become a policeman when he is a grown-up (which matches his obsession with order!)

* He is a fan of Mickey Mouse





These children make my day every day. They are a true source of joy. They remind me why I am a teacher and how wonderful and rewarding it is to see the progress of a student.

As a teacher, my mission is to teach the children the love of learning and to help them to feel confident and great about themselves. Because that’s what children are. Awesome.


10 Random facts about China

After 10 months of observation and getting more acquainted with my Chinese life, I have to say that the customs and habits in China are pretty fascinating. Especially the behaviour towards the digital world.

Here’s a list of 10 random facts about China that strike me the most.


In China, you can order EVERYTHING online and get it delivered to you. I insist on the word “everything”. It literally is. Food, clothes, furniture, groceries, plants, anything you can possibly imagine. My friend even bought some tropical fish that arrived two days later in a special container! The best part is that it gets delivered to your door or left in those electronic mailboxes each building has. 

Digital life

Chinese people always have their heads down looking at their phones. It’s very common to see motorbike riders typing on their phone while driving!




Cash is pretty much dead in China as the country is living the future with mobile payments.

Chinese people don’t use cash or coins anymore to buy things. They use their mobile phones. They have a digital wallet with money and all you have to do when you purchase something is scan a barcode and type in the amount. The first time I saw Yance paying the taxi driver this way, I watched it with my mouth wide open. I thought it was the coolest way to pay for stuff. It actually made me want to buy something just to try it out.

The online payment technology is incredibly advanced. No wonder why China’s economy is one of the world’s fastest-growing in the worldThe Chinese mobile payment volume more than doubled to $5 trillion in 2016*.


The two most popular online payment apps are WeChat and AliPay. They are the major players in China.


In many ways, using digital money makes your everyday life easier. It’s just more convenient and faster. There’s no need to carry cash or a credit card. You only need your phone.

I like the “transfer” function. If you owe money to a friend, you can just look for his/her contact in WeChat and transfer the amount. It’s so much faster than getting their bank account details! I was a bit concerned regarding the safety, but my digital wallet is locked up with a passcode that I have to type in every time I make a payment.

The only crucial thing is not to lose your phone! You can’t live in China without a phone!

*Source: Analysis data cited by Hillhouse Capital. 



WeChat is a magical app that makes the impossible possible. It has been called China’s “App for Everything” because of its many functions and platforms. It is one of the world’s most powerful apps.

If China lives in a digital world it’s mainly due to this kind of multi-purpose social media mobile app. It has such a huge social impact on Chinese behaviour. With WeChat you can order, pay, book and pretty much do everything. It’s crazy to think that an app has replaced real life and physical actions like going to the supermarket or getting cash out at the ATM. It fascinates and scares me at the same time.




With the rise of the Internet in China in 1994, the country has struggled to strike a balance between “opening up” to the Western world and keeping its people away from the Western ideology. The Great Firewall of China, formally known as the Golden Shield Project, is the Chinese government’s internet censorship and surveillance project developed in 2000.

FIrewall China

This Golden Shield Project caught my attention as I think it reflects pretty well the position of China towards Western countries. I believe it poses one of the most interesting dilemmas in modern history.

On one hand, the Chinese government wants to use the information technology that comes with the Internet to build its blooming economy and make it thrive. On the other, the Internet inherently encourages diversity of ideas and represents a tool for democratising society. While the Internet is important to China’s economy, its very existence also undermines the political stability of the country. China is constantly seeking to strike balance between these two ends.

With the firewall, much to my desperation, I must say, many popular websites are banned in China. You can say goodbye to search engines like Google, Yahoo, but also media (Youtube, The New York Times, Financial Times, The Economist, Le Monde – Yes, even French media!). Social media are of course the focal point and are completely banned (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and more).

You can check out the list of banned websites here.

But don’t panic if you’re planning to go to China. There’s a way to bypass this firewall (otherwise you would not be reading this post!) and still get access to your favourite websites. You will need to download a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Any mobile app store will have VPNs. On my end, after trying at least 3 different ones, I have purchased Star VPN which works pretty well and costs me $3 a month.

You just have to be aware that there’s no perfect VPN and sometimes the connection can be slow or not functional. All you need is a lot of patience!



But only if you have a trained eye! The first time I saw a shiny 90 sign, it really enticed the western shopper in me. I thought “Wow! 90% off?! That’s the best sale ever!” However, I was just a fool. 90 isn’t as great as it seems.

I found out that Chinese discounts work in a completely opposite way to western discounts. While a western shopper sees 90% off, a Chinese shopper sees that you pay 90 percent of the price. That means 90 is actually only 10% off!


But generally speaking, there are always ways to get cheaper things in China. They have insane discounts and special deals that defy the rules of competition. Especially when it comes to food. Let’s say you order online and reach a certain amount, you can sometimes get 30  50% off. It’s also very common to see sales guys from restaurants giving away vouchers in shopping malls to get 50  100 RMB off your meal.

Online prices are cheaper than retail stores. My friend Yance buys all his clothes online and I have started to do this as well. In case we’re not happy with our purchases, we just call the courier who comes to our place to pick up the items and we get a refund straight away online!



A red packet is a monetary gift in a little red envelope which, in the Chinese tradition, is offered during holiday seasons or for special occasions (weddings, graduations, births etc).


But there’s also a digital version of the red packet that blew my mind the other day. After working hard for Thanksgiving at the school where I work, our managers, as a reward, sent to our WeChat group a rain of red packets! The concept is simple: someone sends in a group a red packet with a defined amount of money and chooses how many people he/she wants to share the amount with. The first person to click on the red packet earns a random amount of money.

For instance, I can send to the group a red packet of 100 RMB and choose to share the amount between 5 people. Once the red packet appears in the group conversation, its members have to quickly click on it to see how much they’ve earned. That’s when it gets funny and exciting because the whole concept of the red packet is based on luck. The first 5 people who’ve clicked earn a random amount. One can get 30 RMB, another one can get 2 RMB and so on until it reaches 100 RMB. The amount of money you earn goes automatically into your WeChat wallet!


For Chinese NYE, people send big rains of red packets and the amount can go up to hundreds of RMB! It’s probably the easiest way to make money just by clicking some links on your phone. There’s no doubt, Chinese people love playing with money! No wonder why they love gambling so much.



In China, the tap water’s not clean and you’re better off not drinking it. The first day I got here it was so hot that I poured a big glass of tap water and started drinking it.

“What are you doing?! yelled Yance laughing at me. Don’t drink tap water in China, you’re going to be sick!” I emptied my glass and I suddenly missed the clean and fresh water of New Zealand.


Chinese people drink hot water (even under 30 degrees) and it took me quite some time to get used to it. It’s not even tea, just boiling water. When I ask a Chinese person why they drink hot water, the answer is usually “it’s better for your health”. I did not really get it at the beginning. Apart from burning my throat, I could not see the benefits. Now that I’ve reviewed my habits, hot water has become my new tap water.

But to be honest, hot or cold, water is water and both are fine to drink! It’s just a question of beliefs and habits.



Hot pot! Each region of China has its own food specialty. In Fuzhou, you will find many hot pot restaurants. Hot pot is a soup with a variety of East Asian foodstuffs and ingredients, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and cooked at the table.

Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leaf, vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, tofu, and seafood. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce.

It’s the perfect dish to share with family and friends as it’s very convivial and can last hours! I absolutely love it, it’s delicious!



I wrote about the nightlife in Fuzhou in a previous post. I am still amazed by the Chinese hospitality when it comes to party or going out. The nightclubs are insane and they really make an effort to put on a big show. People in nightclubs talk to you and naturally buy you drinks. They don’t expect anything from you except having fun.




China never sleeps. It’s constantly developing and expanding. Buildings, skyscrapers, and massive shopping malls are popping up like flowers. Towers appear in little to no time and in a couple of months, a new suburb is born. China is like a giant tree whose branches keep growing.