So I have been here for about 3 months now and am only beginning to understand the way of life out here. I had a little realization about a month ago. It is kind of amazing how old China and its culture runs. This country has been living within itself for over 2000 years while America is just getting started (maybe 200?). The people have been following certain traditions for longer than we can imagine in the US. On top of that it isn’t a melting pot like America or Europe. This country has 4 times the people in America but no where near the cultural diversity we have learned to live with. Being a foreignor here really makes me understand the meaning of foreignor. Now, I have travelled to many places in Europe but it is not the same feeling I get when I walk around China. Starting simply, I look different. Just walking down the street I am bound to turn heads. This can be a double edged sword depending on my mood. Sometimes I just wanna be by myself while other days I fully embrace it. I have fun conversating with the locals, practicing my chinese and making a fool out of myself. The point is there is always a good laugh involved. My Chinese has slowly improved. I have started by learning how to say the things that are important to my survival. Foods I like, exercise vocab, manners, basic(very basic) conversation especially important for my students, and maybe a few cuss words for when I am frusterated. All in all I am having a pretty good time however every once and awile I do feel the need to get my foreignor fix. It is tough to fully communicate when no one speaks your language. Exercise and skyping my loved ones has definitely helped keep me sane.
Hong Kong. A totally Rad place. Although on the border of China it is a completely westernized city. Very modern and diverse population of people. It almost weirded me out a bit. I found my culture shock when I went out to the bars a couple of nights. I forgot about the whole dynamic of partying and being young in the west was like. Definitely a weird feeling seeing all white people getting wasted and belligerent together. I had been on mainland for about two months and I was already getting used to be one of the only foreignors around. I was thinking about this earlier. There is a certain type of person that decides to travel and live abroad. I think we are all a little crazy in the same way! Another intersting aspect of Hong Kong was the language. Cantonese is the primary language, followed by English and last being Mandarin. Cantonese is a bizzare language. It sounds like a Kung Fu fight whenever they speak to each other. I cant even imagine what kinds of sounds they make in bed. Haha!! (sorry kids) All in all I was glad to have experienced Hong Kong. I am actually going back this week for business. Apparently there is one of our students who is part of a wine appliances (???) company and needs a white person next to him to make the company look good. I don’t really know the details but I am supposed to smile and eat free food so I am not arguing!! =p
A couple weeks ago I travelled to Shanghai. This place is awesome, magnificent even. Check out some pictures if you havnt seen it already. Look up the “bund” or “Pudong.”
I stayed right in the heart of the city at People’s Square/Nanjing Road. Psyching!!!! A truly modern and diverse city. I stayed with a buddy I made while in Paris three months ago(French dude), 2 Americans, a Belgian, and a German. It was an international mix up to say the least! We had some Italian friends that joined us several nights as well. One of the most interesting parts of this was watching how English created the common ground. Everyone had their respective mother tongues, but to have a good time and communicate English was the language of choice. It has been a trip going from Chinese dominated habitats to English ones. In Shanghai they speak more of a traditional mandarin (as opposed to Guangdong/Guangzhou/Hong Kong where Cantonese in dominant). It was real nice for me because my horrible Chinese was actually understood by a good part of the Chinese people I encountered. I had a great time there. I visited the World Expo and saw several exhibits. The Expo is what has brought so many foreignors to Shanghai. They really have cleaned up the city. I was thoroughly impressed with how clean everything was. It made Guangzhou look like a pig sty. Other sights were the Yuyuan Gardens and the Bund (see above).
School. School is still very interesting from day to day. This summer was a true test of my endurance. For a few weeks I was teaching 6-7 hours a day. That is a whole lot to be teaching, not to mention every class being a different level. I would start with kindergardeners, move up to 7-9 year olds, then 10-13 y/o, to 14-16 and end with a 2 hour one on one with a girl preparing for the Chinese version of the SATs for English. I was pooped to say the least. I have learned a lot about myself in this time. I can’t always expect lessons to go as I’ve planned. I can’t always expect students to behave a certain way. After all we are all different and some days are better than others. Classroom management and finding a balance between fun and learning have been my main focus. It is not always easy to find this middle ground. I guess I am happy if they are. Lately I have been preparing to teach Business English classes. I am a little apprehensive about this because I really don’t know much about business. I think my psychology education helps a lot but I don’t exactly have a business person personality. I don’t like to act like something I’m not. Ahh well, c’est la vie…
Anyways, life has been interesting. I look forward to the Asian Games starting here in Guangzhou in November. Should be interesting.