Sunday, December 29, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Last week I said goodbye to this guy.
Phil on his last night in the fanciest hotel lobby in Jilin
That's Phil, and although he's the fourth teacher to leave my school since I started here, he's the first one that I worked with long enough to really get to know. The dynamic of a few English-speakers working together in a foreign city can create a pretty tight-knit group, and he was right in there. He extended his year-long contract with Kenneth's English, staying until just hours before spending Christmas with his family back in Canada. I'm really glad he stayed longer in Jilin, because over the last couple months we were able to spend more time having fun, and I appreciated that opportunity.

That being said, I'm starting to realize the tough aspects that accompany a job with so many temporary elements. Everyone signs a one year contract, which at first may seem kind of long. But with all these teachers coming and going, the discrepant, overlapping terms don't add up to very long. Not only that, I'm also beginning to wonder about what leaving my students after only a year would be like. Can I leave them after only teaching them for a year at most? Will I be ready to stop filling young minds with all my beautiful knowledge?

It's a lot to think about. But while I wrestle with that, I want to wish you all the best back in Canada with whatever you try next, Phil! Take care of yourself, God bless, it was nice working with you. So goodbye Phil..... still not completely sure what your last name was. Those temporary jobs will do that!

Oh and yes, part of this is just an experiment to see if he still reads my blog. All the best!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Making Dumplings

This week we made dumplings at school.

Every once in a while my school puts together an activity or outing to give us experiences with Chinese culture, and probably also to some degree secretly work on team-building, and this week it was making dumplings.
Gene, one of my managers, explains the history of dumplings to some foreigners
We got together at school, and with our team of teachers and staff, assembled over 600 of the little darlings. It just goes to show that great things can be accomplished with an hour and an army of Chinese workers. The Chinese staff was quick to help me out with my beginner dumpling-making status, but I'm afraid I have not mastered this delicate art quite yet. The good news however, was that there was a bevy of people who were WAY better at it to show me the way.
Photo by Noel M.
This was actually not my first time making dumplings, and I didn't see much improvement from the first time. One of the most common criticisms of my dumpling style is that I try to use too much filling. It's a bold move, on a dangerous line, but someone has to walk this soft, thin, floured tightrope and I'm up to the task. The problem is that when I made dumplings before, they all turned out very small... which inspired my Chinese nickname, Xiǎo jiǎo zi ("little dumpling"). So this time I really tried to hone my craft and make some reasonably sized ones. I think 1 in 5 turned out.
Photo by Noel M.
Now although this may not have been my first time making dumplings, it was my first time stuffing myself with more dumplings than I wanted to eat. This time, I wasn't in it for the delicious flavour- I was in it for the cash. You see, someone had secretly slipped coins into a few of the dumplings, and if you bit into a coin, you stood to make win big money! Think of it as a savoury version of Willy Wonka's golden tickets. Every new pan of freshly steamed dumplings brought on an ambush of eager eaters, all wanting to stab that mouthwatering coin.  
Unfortunately, no matter how much I gorged myself, I couldn't find any metal in my food, leaving me with only a fantastic meal to soothe the stomach of a loser. I'll survive. 
Some of the money I'll never get- it's a Chinese tradition!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weddings in Northeast China: A Northeastern Chinese Tradition

This year I went to a Chinese wedding.
Confetti everywhere!
Ok, you caught me- this one happened a couple months ago. But I'm finally posting the video that I made for the bride and groom so you can enjoy it too! Remember that this was for the couple, so I was going for a romantic theme, but I think you can also appreciate all the interesting and unexpected traditions that go along with getting hitched in China. Some of the steps involved in a perfect wedding day are:
- meet at the groom's house at 7:30 AM
- drive to the bride's house in a procession of decorated cars
- the groom had to bang on the his bride's bedroom door and plead to be let inside, and he even had to sing a song to be allowed entry
- the couple fed each other noodles (not an easy task with chopsticks and the fact that noodles all seem 6 feet long in China)
- pour coins on to the bride's dress
- the groom also had to find the bride's shoes which were hidden somewhere in her apartment
- drive back to the groom's house using a different route
- the wedding starts precisely at 10:58 AM

Most of these traditions and protocols are for luck and good fortune, and at the very least the make for a really interesting wedding experience. The biggest thing that I took from this experience is the realization that if I ever get married, there's going to be a bubble machine. Having bubbles pouring everywhere is just beautiful and romantic, and I think every man deserves that on his special day.

Here's the video! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

An American Thanksgiving in China

Yesterday I celebrated American Thanksgiving.

Nothing beats the authenticity of going all the way to China for my first real American-style Thanksgiving party, which as it turns out is very similar to a Canadian Thanksgiving party. Several of my fellow foreign teachers are American, so they planned the event and I was excited to be a part of it.

Now of course, being off the beaten path in China means that creating reminders of home or Western experiences is much more difficult. I've used the example before that sometimes I feel like I'm in the Swiss Family Robinson. Not everything I want is readily available, so I plan and search and improvise, and maybe by next summer we can have that treehouse built. But against the odds, this group of foreigners was able to create what I thought was an excellent feast.
You better believe those are Goldfish crackers!
The turkey was ordered in advance online, on Taobao, China's version of eBay on steroids. We had it all: mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, homemade pumpkin pie, pasta salad, chicken nuggets, coleslaw, popcorn, Chinese food... a real who's who of holiday favourites. We even had cranberry sauce, everyone's favourite dish to look at and never actually eat. Since I can't cook well enough for people to eat quite yet, I made some dip, brought more vegetables than you can shake a drumstick at, and a make-your-own-sundae bar. And to answer the question on many people's minds: yes, I ate the meal with chopsticks, and the mashed potatoes were definitely the most challenging part.
Mmmmmm fresh off the Internet and oh so juicy!
It was a great evening with fun people, and I'm really glad I have these folks around. Some people miss home during the holidays, and although we may not be at our original homes with our "real" families, we do a bang-up job of recreating simulations designed to make you feel right at home.
The Kenneth's English School gang
I recently heard that Americans celebrate Christmas as well, and it's coming up. I'm looking forward to that too- it'll be fun to see what an American Christmas is all about!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hand me that baby.

Today I held a Chinese baby.

I don't know if you know this, but Chinese kids are freaking cute. Even though I work with little kids 5 days a week, I still love seeing these little guys outside of school. I mean, I can only teach English to so many kids, so there are probably DOZENS of other kids that I won't meet in class. A good portion of those kids are just too young to learn another language (because they're super busy learning Chinese), and those tiny ones will really melt your heart.

When we went for lunch today there were a couple kids roaming the restaurant, and I couldn't take it anymore- I just had to hold one of these tykes. I figured that strangers have approached me for pictures enough, it's my turn to approach a mother and demand a photo with her child.

It actually worked out really well; I was able to pull it off without speaking any Chinese. I just did the classic approach: walked up slowly, without making sudden movements as to not make the mother skittish. I held out my hands, palms open towards the baby, and mimed holding him. To seal the deal, I said in English, "Give me your baby." It worked. The baby was mine.

Here's the picture we got. Me and the baby, and a second baby that another mother wanted to be in the picture. I don't know why, but more cute babies... so why not?
Photo by Greg W.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What is Ti Jian?

Today I reveal Ti Jian to the world.

Lately I've really been getting into this Chinese activity, and the people who play it down at The Bank have been nice enough to let a white beginner into their games. (If you don't know what The Bank is, find out here.) I'm also the only player under the age of 50, but like I said, they're hospitable.

Be sure to watch this sports promo I made in honour of Ti Jian. I narrated it as well, so hopefully you can really get a feel for my excitement. A quick side note on pronunciation: it looks like "tee jee-ann," but the Northeast accent has a habit of adding a pirate-y "ARRRR" sound on to words that end in -ian. So up here they say "tee jearr". I don't know why. But now you can sound real Northeastern.

I'm going to keep practicing my game, and hopefully one day I can be as good as the upper echelon of Ti Jian players: 60 year old women. Those girls can kick it! Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Out of the Smog

Yesterday I dealt with some smog.

The level of smog that I'm dealing with is one thing that people seem to be curious about since I've come to China. It's true, China has a lot of pollution. There's plenty of factories and tons of cars, and not all of them are spouting water vapour. But thankfully, the majority of this problem is confined to China's largest cities.

My city, Jilin, boasts only a modest 4 million, so it's actually considered to be quite small by Chinese standards. Therefore, the pollution I've experienced in my almost five months here has been minor and uncommon. On some cloudy days, things seem a little hazy in the distance, and once I saw some low-lying smog from a train ride outside of Jilin. It's been negligible- until yesterday.
Click on these to make them bigger and beautiful-er.
Yesterday I woke up to a fog so dense, you'd think the British were coming. It was in the streets, between packed buildings, and completely obliterated the river; Stephen-King-level thick. I actually heard a couple people got pulled out of supermarkets into The Mist where they were eaten by monsters. Here are some picture I took not long after sunset. The smog was starting to dissipate as the evening got cooler, but you can still see plenty of haze. It's not just bad photography this time!
The silver lining on this gray cloud is that apart from the poor visibility, it was a really nice day. I haven't double-checked the science on this, but I believe that it can't rain when that much pollution is present. Apparently those smog particles are just jerks, they'll take water droplets out behind a cloud and beat the crap out of them.
Today things were right back to normal. Although this next picture wasn't taken today, you get the idea. I swear it looked exactly like this. The smog is gone, it's business as usual, and I can go back to staring across that river I love so much.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Wow That's a Big Mao

Yesterday I saw a statue of Mao that's bigger than the one I usually see.

While on a brief vacation to the city of Shenyang, we stopped by Zhongshan Square (it's on Zhongshan road, you can't miss it) to admire the Mao. I've found that images of Chairman Mao are commonplace in China, and whether in the form of handbags, signs, or giant statues, you'll be seeing a lot of the father of modern China. Hey Dad! What made this statue special is that it was reported to be the largest in China, and according to my extrapolation, the world. After 8 seconds of research, I found out that those reports were wrong.

But still! This was an amazing statue in a beautiful square; Mao was absolutely huge, and surrounded by images of strong Chinese soldiers and workers. It was a really interesting monument to China's history, and its massive size meant you didn't have to squint to appreciate it, which was nice.
Photo by Greg W.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Bank

Tonight I'll tell you about The Bank.

Although I haven't travelled to enough places, I try to play basketball wherever I go. And in China, I think I've found my favorite court. It's a secret spot, but since you know me, I can probably get you in. The Bank is located under the rainbow bridge in the Wanda neighbourhood of Jilin, and it's one of the most perfect spots I've ever played at. The people are friendly, and very willing to let me join games, which is fantastic because I don't own a basketball. There are six full courts, so there's plenty of room if you just want to relax and shoot around, or you can join up and get into some pretty great action!

Check out this tiny video I made to express my love for The Bank.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy Moon Cake Day!

Today I'm celebrating my first Moon Cake Day.

It's part of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and today it's Chinese tradition to think about the people that you miss. This is extremely fitting for me, as I am away from my hometown, family, and friends. When people eat moon cakes (which have been for sale virtually EVERYWHERE for the past couple weeks) they think about friends and family, and those that they miss.
This tradition, as near as I can tell from what Chinese people have told me, came from the story of an ancient hero, which I will now relay to you in perfect detail. Many years ago, there were 10 suns in the sky, which you have to admit is just too many. Seriously, it was so hot that people were dying and everyone was uncomfortable at the very least. So one guy, who happened to be an amazing archer, got sick of it and shot down nine of the suns. He said, "Come on, 10 suns is just overkill. 1... 1 is OK." <roughly translated>

Obviously people were really happy about this. Finally people's ice cream stopped melting so quickly, their lemonade stopped evaporating, and they could go to the beach without spontaneously combusting. So the archer was named a hero, and everyone wanted to hang out with him. And they did! But while he was off eating (probably free) dinners and having people toast his name and skilled archer hands, his wife was at home feeling neglected. As time went on, she even got depressed.

Then one day, I can't remember how, the hero got his hands on a pill that takes you directly to the moon. Someone gave it to him I think. But he didn't want to go to the moon, so he left it at home. He told his wife that it was poison, presumably so she wouldn't take it accidentally with her other, non-poisonous pills. But unfortunately, he didn't realize how depressed his wife was. It's a shame really; many couples have a hard time communicating, even regarding important matters.

His wife ended up taking the pill, hoping for suicide, but instead was whisked immediately to the moon. Her husband was devastated. After that, whenever he looked at the moon, he would think of his wife and how much he missed her. On the moon, she would make moon cakes and send them to him (which probably explains why moon cakes tend to be quite heavy, because they need to survive space travel).
Moon cake!
So today, in the spirit of that hero, I have been eating moon cakes and looking at the beautiful full moon, and thinking of people at home. The idea is that even though we are far apart, we can still look at the same moon and appreciate its beauty together. I think it's a great story, and a sweet, genuine tradition. I really appreciate it, especially in my current position. Happy Moon Cake Day everyone!

Monday, September 16, 2013

4 Things I Appreciate More about Winnipeg

Well I've been in China for over three months now, and I feel that's long enough to qualify me to discuss things I miss about my hometown. Here's an unranked list of things that I'll definitely appreciate more when I go back to Winnipeg...

1. Chocolate
Honestly, I didn't think I could appreciate chocolate any more than I already do, but when I get home I'll find a way. The chocolate selection here is extremely limited, and the good stuff that's available is pretty expensive. The only chocolate bars that have made it in China are Dove and Snickers, and chocolate chips (possibly my favourite food) may as well be non-existent. China is torture. Thankfully they have Oreos over here though, so I've gotten into them in a big way.
I wanna dive into this picture and eat my way out of that alternate reality. 
2. Multiculturalism
A very cool aspect of Winnipeg, and Canada in general, that I didn't consider much before is how prevalent other cultures are. I'm not talking about bottled up, specific evenings like Folklorama that brag about here or there once a year; I mean the wide array of choices that are available to you on a daily basis. If you want to get a Greek gyro, drink a bunch of bubble tea, do whatever French people do, and hang out with a busty gal from Trinidad and Tobago all in the same day, you're free to do so. You have those opportunities!

3. A Clothes Dryer
If you read my blog, you know that I'm an outspoken supporter of clothing dryers. Here in China I have a spin dryer, and it's just not the same. I spin my wardrobe like a breakdancer testing out a new cardboard sheet, then I still have to hang it all up to finish the job, like a breakdancer that can't afford a clothes dryer. All that is actually fine, but the finished product is stiff and scratchy, which I imagine is how clothing felt a hundred years ago. Who am I, Tom Sawyer? Also, without that hot dryer keeping things tight, all my t-shirts are slowly getting bigger. Necklines are plunging further and further, and in a few more washes that white v-neck is going to get downright revealing.

4. Clean Air
It's pretty amazing because I'm not even in a large city by Chinese standards (Jilin only has around four million people) so I should count my blessings, but the air just ain't as good as it could be. Now I actually look forward to some rain here and there, welcoming the refreshing, crisp air that follows it. I think of wide open, green spaces just minutes from my home in Winnipeg, and miss the clean air that goes along with it.
I'm told this is Winnipeg. Look at all that clean air!
Of course there's a few other things that I miss while I'm out here... specific foods like spinach (for spinach salads), and dairy products like cheese (for spinach salads with cheese on them), and specific activities like training jiu-jitsu, and going to movies and concerts. But I won't bore you with discussing all of them. The point is that yes Mom, I miss home, and yes I'll come back sometime.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vacation to Dalian

A couple weeks ago I went to Dalian.

On my summer vacation, a couple teachers and I travelled south to the province of Liaoning to visit Dalian. Check out the video I made about the trip; I basically tried to give you a feel for the whole thing. Now you don't have to go through all the work of going to Dalian yourself! This video has it all: penguins, parks, and even some puppies. So if you like any of those things and more, enjoy!

Unfortunately, I was unable to get footage during two of my trip's biggest highlights. So in lieu of moving pictures, let me attempt to paint a video with my words. The first highlight was racing unlicensed motorcycle taxis through the streets of Dalian at night.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Serving at an International Level

This week I was a Chinese waiter. 

If there's one thing people absolutely love, it's a brand-new waiter that doesn't speak the right language. He can't get you anything, he can't read the menu, and he doesn't know where anything is. It's a good thing no one in China works for tips, because I wouldn't make any. I was actually working in exchange for the restaurant owner's secret recipe miân tao (might not be spelled right), which is basically China's take on mini-doughnuts. 
I'll still need practice. 
It started as a joke. Despite a sizeable language barrier, I've become pretty good friends with the owner of my favourite restaurant. I call him Quing-ge, which as far as I can tell, means some portion of his name, and "older brother" as a sign of respect. So while I was hanging out there, enjoying a plate of miân tao (Wow you are learning so much Chinese!) one evening, he said he could teach me how to cook Chinese food. That sounded great to me, and I mimed being a waiter, saying I could pay him back by becoming an employee. We all had a nice laugh. But then I actually showed up.

We did the cooking lesson as planned; that was great and there will be more to come. But I don't think anyone expected me to actually stick around and do something! I pushed through the early doubts, and in no time fell back into my old serving habits acquired from 3 years' experience in Canada: sitting down at guests' tables, balancing plates, and flirting with the waitresses.
They thought they looked too tiny in the standing up picture. Photo by Andy.
So once everyone figured out that there was really little I could actually do, I just relegated myself to busboy and got busy with quiet tasks like clearing tables and sweeping up. It become abundantly clear that I was incompetent when a guest asked for toothpicks and I couldn't get it. Seriously? When someone says and mimes a toothpicking action and you don't pick up on it, it's time to hang up your apron.

I put in a full shift... in Western terms. I was at the restaurant for over 8 hours, but that doesn't constitute a full Chinese shift. A Chinese shift is approximately the entire day. To illustrate, those aforementioned waitresses were pretty excited to work with me. But I think they were pretty easily excited, because for a month they were living in the back of the restaurant and working from 9 AM to around midnight. And that was how they spent their vacation from university! So sure, if a white guy stumbles up and wants to be a bad waiter, it's fun to look at.
My friend and restaurant regular, Andy. We throw up a lot of peace signs.
That whole shift, I was just hoping I wouldn't hear "FÚ WÙ YUÁN!!" yelled at me. It means 'waiter' and guests just yell it out around here... the easiest pronunciation I can describe for it is "foo," and then saying "You are" really quickly. "Foo Ya'arr!" Please not me please not me not me not me not me....
If I could read the name I'd tell you it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

謝謝, xièxiè!

"In life there are both good and bad people; choose your friends based on the heart."
It can be difficult for some people to function in a foreign country, and it only gets worse if you feel lonely as well. That's why in my experience so far, I've found that nothing is more valuable than my Chinese friends. Time after time I have been absolutely blown away by their generosity and support; they are extremely helpful and I honestly couldn't get by without them. 

Today has me thinking about this because my friends spent hours helping me and some other teachers. They took us to the train station to purchase tickets, to the bank to change our accounts, and helped us book a hotel on a Chinese website. Between the complicated procedures and the language barrier, I know we wouldn't have achieved any of these goals without their help.

I've figured out the ubiquitous nature of Chinese generosity, and it's reached the point where I need to be careful expressing interest in anything. If I admit to liking something, and a Chinese person has one, knows someone who has one, or knows where to get one, there's a good chance it'll be offered to me. And so far, it's been VERY hard to say no to my Chinese friends. This has already led to free cookies, ice cream, taxi rides, dinners, karaoke, beautiful Chinese calligraphy, cooking lessons, and one badass samurai-styled umbrella. 

Believe me, I have been and will continue attempting to politely refuse these offers. But until I figure out how a foreigner gets away with it, how do you boldly sing "I can't live without you" in Chinese? 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Since this month has been so busy with camp, I've been spending more of my free time relaxing around my apartment, so it’s fitting that I tell you a little bit about where I’m actually living in Jilin. It’s a perfect neighborhood; everything I need is within walking distance. In fact, the furthest thing I need to walk to is work, which takes about 25 minutes when clocking a manly pace.

My apartment itself is a two-bedroom dream nestled at the top of a six-floor walk-up, made entirely of concrete so everything is very quiet. I've heard my neighbour's washing machine once during my time here, other than that I pretty much just assume they exist. Here are some pictures of my place (but keep in mind that I took these as soon as I moved in… now there aren't suitcases lying around and there are more things on the shelves, and those ‘things’ are mostly Oreo cookies).
Here’s the living room: spacious although seldom used. I haven’t turned on the TV yet, and the couch is a… different… design, but I appreciate the light and breezes provided by the giant window. Also, it’s possible that I hang laundry to dry on the overhead light fixture.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Flickering Lights

Last week I went to the River Lantern Festival.

My friend Anastasia and I went to check it out, and the festival makes for a simple and beautiful night. I made a video of it that hopefully captures that vibe. You get to see the poor YouTube quality version! Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rumble in Chinatown

A few weeks ago I joined a Sanda kickboxing gym.
Right down the hall from my school!
In an effort to widen my fighting skills and get some extra authentic Chinese experience, I've started classes at a gym. That's pretty much all i know. I don't know what the gym is called, I don't know the instructor's name, and i can't talk to any of my fellow students, because I can't speak or read Chinese!

My shir-foo (master) can speak a few key English words like "have a rest," "Bruce Lee," "very good," and "POWER!" but other than that it's a system built on a lot of demonstration and observation. It's a pretty cool way to learn; everyone is really nice and willing to help me out.

I don't have any previous striking experience but we've already started some light sparring and I'm really enjoying it! If you're unfamiliar with Sanda (which literally translates to "free fighting") check out this video. It's pretty much one of the scariest things I've ever seen; it mainly features people getting their heads kicked off. Hopefully with some more practice I'll be the one doing the kicking.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Songhua Lake Trip

Last week I went to Songhua Lake.

We took a relaxing overnight trip and it was really nice to get out and breathe some fresh air! Here's a video I made about the trip. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just Getting Started

This week I became a teacher.

It’s been quite an interesting couple of weeks here in China, with both good and bad experiences. I had my first visit to a Chinese hospital and my first trip out to the lake in the same week, but the big takeaway here is that this past Saturday I started taking over classes, which means that my teaching career has officially begun.

For those that don’t know, I’m teaching English in Jilin, China, at a training center called Kenneth’s English School. The “training center” part means that our students come to us after school hours to learn even more, hopefully putting them at an advantage within China’s competitive scholastic landscape. Kids here are under a lot of pressure; the norm is to be working constantly. Even after a full day of school, it seems most are on their way to other classes, whether it be learning an instrument or another language.  Even when I see children rollerblading, they aren’t just doing it for fun. They’re in Rollerblading Class, and that instructor is telling them to SLALOM THOSE CONES!

So far my classes are going really well. The kids are energetic and eager, and that enthusiasm fuels me and makes class much more enjoyable. The programs at Kenneth’s are high-energy and hands-on, and give me a lot of room to incorporate my own ideas. It’s more like camp than class in some ways, with lots of games and plenty of children yelling. Happy yelling. Happily yelling vocabulary.

I've picked up 3 classes so far, with more on the way. The kids are grouped according to their level of proficiency; my kids are at Level 1 and are around 6-9 years old. Also, they are at Stage 38 cuteness, which is quite high for their age bracket; I can’t even look at some of them without my heart quietly breaking inside. This school offers training up to IELTS classes, which prepares students to take an internationally-recognized English test, so I’ll have opportunities to teach English at all levels.
Photo by Greg W.
I’m looking forward to these challenges. Whether it’s becoming an efficient lesson planner, getting more comfortable in front of a classroom, or making sure the kids are learning a lot in an enjoyable environment, I have a lot to learn but I’m excited about the prospect of becoming an awesome teacher. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

See Spot Served in Soup.

This week I ate a dog.

Ok I don't think there was actually enough meat on the table to make up an entire dog, but this week my co-workers and I went out to sample the local dog offerings. I know some people are already white-knuckle-reading this tensely so I won't get too far into detail. There were three dishes: one big pot of soup that reminded me of chicken noodle soup, one small broiled dish with some fattier pieces and vegetables, and a salty, cold dish served with greens.

But don't worry! Overall it definitely was not my favourite meal or meat, and I won't be going around looking for it during my time here in China. It was sometimes salty, and usually stringy and chewy. With all the amazing food I've already had here, there's tons of animals I'd prefer to eat. I mean... I had silkworms on my first day, and I'd WAY rather go for those again. Dang those are tasty, crunchy little devils!
Goodbye Scout. Thanks for the dining experience, couldn't have done it without you. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The 5 Biggest Things to Get Used to in Jilin

  I've officially been living in China for a week now, and I feel I'm more than qualified to hold a lengthy discussion about any aspect of Chinese history, culture, and the general nuances of being Chinese. The food is amazing, you can`t drink the water, the smoking is out of control, and I can't tell how old any of the women are, but all those don't compare with these: the 5 biggest things for me to get used to here. These are daily details that are at the very least interesting to experience, and can even be daunting at times. But don’t worry, I’ll guide you through- remember, I’m a Chinese expert.

1.   The Chinese Language
  Ok this one is sort of obvious, but seriously- EVERYTHING is in Chinese over here! The language barrier has been severe so far, leaving me pointing at restaurants and markets, ordering food like a spoiled monkey. The people are very kind about me butchering their language like a spicy duck neck, but getting around is difficult, and conversations are impossible. In addition to this, the written language is extremely hard to decipher and remember, which means I don’t know what any building is without actually going inside, and navigational landmarks are much harder to come by, as every sign just looks like colourful neon to me.
Here's where I live. Now try and find it in the dark, when these guys and their birdcages aren't there.