My hands trembled as I cracked open my first ever fortune cookie. The shadow of a Chinese dragon fleeted across the room as I expectantly gazed inside and – nothing! It was empty!
I called the waiter to ask for another one, but – unlike the expensive bill – it never arrived. “What if this is a sign of things to come?” I pondered. “Nothing but disappointment and emptiness.” I normally don’t believe in fate, but this was an authentic Chinese prophecy. Who was I to doubt it? I didn’t sleep a wink that night as I thought about the lama who discovered the truth about my future while meditating at the foot of the Himalayas.
Having spent a week in China, I have found a very different truth. The fortune cookie was invented in the USA by a Japanese man and everyone in China finds it extremely silly.
My knowledge of Chinese culture was a little bit like that fortune cookie – an empty shell of preconceived notions fed to me by Western outlets. When I applied for the Study China Programme last fall in hopes of exploring the country, I pictured myself astonishing the local youth with tales of Facebook and pizza over a cup of Longjing green tea.
After a week in Beijing, I’ve realised that the Chinese know a lot more about us than we do about them – I’ve had my fair share of tea, but somehow I am always the one left dumbstruck. Seriously, if fortune cookies aren’t Chinese, how many other lies have we all been told about this big mysterious land? Hopefully this video of my day with a Chinese family will answer some of your questions. Don’t forget to click “read more” to check out my photos!