«Expat the Unexpected» chronicles the academic year and life of three teachers, David, from the US; and his two co-workers, Marie, from France and Mike, from the UK.
The strip is set in Xi’an, an ancient and modern city of northwest China, where Mike has been living for a year already, giving him a “not-always-accurate” insight of living in China but a necessary guidance role for the two other characters who just arrive in the city to become teachers when the story starts.
Common themes in the strip include cultural shock and misunderstandings, such as quiproquos and misinterpretations due to the language barrier, which lead to comic situations.
The comic-strip’s focus is mostly on the interactions among the three teachers and Chinese people in their daily lives, but recurring minor characters appear as well, such as David and Marie’s dean at the university they work for, Zhu LaoShi, or their sometimes charismatic students or foreign friends they met along the way.
Originally created with the intentions to make people laugh (hopefully!), it is also a comic-strip that has a deeper intention: bringing Chinese and foreigners together by acknowledging and understanding our differences while embracing them. Some people will find it educational, for its cultural aspect but and also for its Chinese content, at times translated for the readers.
ETU is a home-grown comic-strip and the ETU team is always looking for new contributors and artists out there who can bring fresh ideas!
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVID JULIAN, 26 years old
Also referred to as: Dave, Julian, 大卫 (Dàwèi) or 大卫老师 (Dàwèi lăoshī)
David is an easy-going, friendly and out-going guy. He is curious and likes to discover new things, which can lead to awkward moments…for everyone to enjoy but also to Marie’s despair!
Background: David has graduated from an engineering school and, not knowing what he wanted to do with his life after working and feeling bored, decides to live in China. He wants to learn Chinese and make friends with Chinese people and discover all he can find out about them. He gets the job as an English university teacher in Xi’an, having no prior teaching experience.
MARIE DELASONGÉ, 28 years old
Also referred to as: 美丽 (Měilì) or美丽老师 (Měilì lăoshī)
Marie is French…and that makes her the classy one…unless she finds herself in crazy situations…Which, oddly enough, happens more often then she would like! She acts like David’s mom and is Mike’s punching ball, but she is sure glad she is part of the gang!
Background: Marie has graduated from a Parisian business school and, after working for big corporations for over four years and feeling she needed to find herself, decides to leave for China. She wants to learn Chinese and make friends with Chinese people. She gets the job along with David as a Business university teacher in Xi’an, having never taught before. She doesn’t know how long she wants to stay in China…
MIKE THORMAN, 30 years old
Also referred to as: 麦克 (Màikè) or麦克老师 (Màikè lăoshī)
Appears for the first time in episode 2
Mike is the kind of guy everybody wants to hang out with. He has a cool demeanour but knows how to goof around! Mike will incontestably be David and Marie’s mentor in this new adventure! Even though some situations get out of hand…
Background: Mike has always been a teacher and is passionate about his job. He decided to leave for China to pursue his career and see what Asia had to offer him. He is learning Chinese (still basic level…) and has made Chinese friends and knows many foreigners in Xi’an after having spent a year there already. He does not know how long he will stay in China, but is definitely enjoying himself! He works alongside his new friends, David and Marie, at the same university.