I had been teaching Chinese at the university for 20 years, and had been considered to be a good teacher. But then my husband, also a Sinologist, was sent to work in China, at the Russian embassy. In one of the first days I got into a taxi and found out that the taxi driver did not understand me, moreover, I did not understand him as well. This revelation strike me! At the same time, it was a good lesson: one should study a foreign language not for 5 years at the institute, but during the WHOLE LIFE!
My husband and I lived for 16 years in China: 15 years - in Beijing and 1 year - in Shanghai. I can say that it is in China where I became a spontaneous scientist. Taking advantage of the fact that I had the opportunity to travel to different cities where I studied everything: traditions, history, folklore, classical literature, arts. I even went to the countryside and lived there for several days to see how simple peasants celebrate the new year.
In China, I never left the house without a notebook where I wrote down everything new that I learned. If we went to a restaurant with Chinese friends, first of all I would take out my notebook and pen from the bag, and the Chinese friends immediately became frustrated: "Mila will not allow us to enjoy food, again she will ask so many questions!"
My study of Chinese culture and my research resulted in writing of books. While living in China, I published three books, and after returning to Russia I continued to write new ones.
Since in China I realized that my vocation was research work, when I returned to Moscow, I went to work at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where I am a senior research fellow by now.