My heart melted at that first sight of his big sesame-oil brown eyes.And I as I came to know him better, he didn't disappoint me.He always opened doors for me and wouldn't leave my side until he escorted me all the way to the entrance to my apartment.

"I'll just stare at them for hours, as if I was Chinese and had never seen a foreign man before in my life."At least that woman wasn't as blunt as another colleague, who used to bicycle with me through the streets of Zhengzhou.

As we stopped on the corner of a side street and watched the mostly-male populous pedaling past us through the intersection, she grimaced.

How could these women just write off all Chinese men as undateable?

When I came down with the flu, he accompanied me to my therapy at the clinic and read to me from When I thought about my burgeoning crush for Tian, I figured it was no different from that college semester when I studied in Spain.

All the American girls I knew liked flirting with the local Spaniards, and why not?

The experience of being in a foreign country and culture somehow liberated us from our usual American expectations for men and dating itself. We could even reinvent ourselves and what it meant to be in love with someone.

It seemed natural and normal to do the same in China.

I didn't know much about China back then -- a time when I could only communicate in Mandarin with a dictionary and lots of patience, and where my entire cultural knowledge was amassed from the library books on China I borrowed during the summer.

But I figured surely I wasn't alone in my feelings.

Surely the other female foreign teachers at my college had secret crushes of their own.

"Whenever I arrive at the airport in America, the first thing I notice is our men, how handsome and how tall they are," one of my white female colleagues mentioned over lunch.