Reviewed: No Chopsticks Required

No Chopsticks RequiredNo Chopsticks Required by Katrina Beikoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book completely surprised me and left me a bit shocked. It is the account of the authors year in Shanghai and what she experienced.

I thought it was a great read to get an idea on life in China has a foreigner and the roadblocks that can get in the way. It made me really a bit scared of ever gong or living there. Everything is so strict and children appear to be treated like robots.

One disappointment was the author, I got more and more frustrated that she lived there a year and didn’t appear to try and pick up the language. Her kids (2 and 4) were needed to translate for her! I just feel like if you’re going to live in a country where you don’t speak the language you need to actually give it a try instead of complaining about the language barrier every 5 pages.

It could have been more interesting and I think it might have been if they were able to integrate with the locals more but overall it was quite an enjoyable read.

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4 responses to “Reviewed: No Chopsticks Required”

  1. I know! It is such a shame when people who lived in a country for a few years don’t learn the native language. I knew a girl who lived in Greece for four years and doesn’t know a word of Greek. And then I decided to speak to hear as little as possible.

    China seems like such a paradox to me. How can children be treated like robots, and there not really be a drinking age in China? The whole country gives the impression of a terrifying place for that alone.

  2. Ugh, that really bothers me when people don’t bother to learn the language of wherever they’re living. It’s so disrespectful, especially when they get upset at the locals for not having patience with them or misunderstanding.

    Well, China’s not exactly on my list of places to visit, but the culture is interesting. It just seems…I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because they’re Communists. :/

  3. Thanks for the tip on reading this book, I’m going to hunt it down as soon as I’m home. I’m actually living in Shanghai teaching English and by the end of my contract will have been here for a year. It will be really interesting reading this author’s take of Shanghai having lived here myself.

    Life in China as a foreignor can be tricky, but honestly, in Shanghai, it’s easy. There are so many expats living here, and many people speak English, so it’s easy enough to go about your daily life. It’s actually an incredibly safe city to live in and I have no qualms of travelling alone even though I don’t speak the language. Don’t let one book put you off from thinking of visiting here: people in general are courteous and eager to help, and China has some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. You just have to get away from the cities to see them.

    I can also comment on the language: very difficult to learn, for me at least! Sometimes I wish I had gone to a more rural location in China where I would’ve been forced to learn the language. But in Shanghai so many people speak English, even a few words, that you can get by with only a few words. I agree with you though, that if she hasn’t even attempted to learn the language then she has no right to complain. If you live in a foreign-speaking country you put in the effort to learn, simple enough. That’s why I’ve got a 1:2:1 tutor: sadly it seems to go in one ear and out the other =/

  4. Saw an interview on the writers festival and was completely unimpressed. Why would you read I book by someone who seemingly cannot get out of her comfort zone and lived in Shanghai, the most western Chinese city, for only 1 year! It’s not like Shanghai’s a “hardship posting” anymore.

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