Make sure you learn important words, like "bathroom."

by Jessica

I went on a student trip to China while I was in college. I didn't know very much Chinese at the time, and relied a lot on my more fluent friends to communicate.

While shopping in downtown Xi'an, one of my companions decided he needed to visit the bathroom. Three of us went into the nearest shopping mall, thinking it wouldn't be any big deal to find a lavatory.

However, when we went to ask someone, we realized no one knew the word for "rest room." We wandered around the mall for perhaps 20 minutes without seeing an appropriate sign, before trying to ask employees. My Chinese-speaking friends tried everything they could think of to communicate their needs to no avail.

What finally got the message across was drawing a picture of the stick man and woman that usually accompanied the sign for a toilet. "WC?" the associate asked, meaning the abbreviation for "water closet." Success!

What should have taken perhaps 5 minutes took well over a half hour. Be sure to learn this important word before you go!!

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