One question I sometimes get asked by the townspeople is, “How did you learn Chinese?” or “Where did you learn Chinese?” It is hard to sum this up in only a sentence or two, but usually I tell them 到处都学 (dao4 chu4 dou1 xue2): I learn everywhere. Many of them may be expecting an answer like, at Bejing Language College or Shanghai Foreign Language University. I tell them that I learned most of it from my friends and colleagues and practice it on everyone I meet. Which is true, though some of my friends have definitely taken on a teacher role for a month or year at a time and that is how I really learned. I have also taken a few classes at language training centers these last couple years, some proving more beneficial than others.
I spent Christmas and New Year in Hong Kong and Zhongshan respectively. Christmas in Hong Kong was relaxing with my aunt, uncle, cousins, and brother. We were able to spend a lot of time together enjoying western food cooked by my aunt, whose food easily ranks among world-class chefs’. Our uncle takes great pictures and so we talked with him about how he gets his photographs. He said he spends a lot of time at it. One could definitely learn a thing or two from him about this. My cousins were home from college so it was great to hang out with them and catch up.
This is a list of my top ten favorite things to do in Zhongshan. As I find is true of most places, it’s mainly the people make that place, so be sure to make an effort to meet some locals, many can speak English, and even if they cannot you can still make friends. My favorite place to meet people is walking through the malls around Walking Street. It’s very easy to strike up a conversation with the shop owners here.
European Architecture In Jiaxing
I once argued that Zhongshan was changing fast in a documentary I made on the topic three years ago, and it seems Jiaxing too is changing fast with tales of shacks to superstructures galore in a mere couple of years. This is the story all over China though. In the city of Jiaxing there are more new businesses and building projects on my block in a month than there is in my hometown in an entire year. Easily the best building projects in Jiaxing however, are the apartment complexes of Paris, Rome, and Venice.
Zhejiang to Guangdong
Zhejiang (Juh Gee-ang) 浙江 Province where I am living currently is a cold forty-something degrees Fahrenheit when I wake up in the mornings, but a thousand kilometers to the south, where I spent last weekend, it is a comfortable eighty degrees. It took twelve hours in total transit time but it was worth it to have some late night dinner outdoors with my old friends and enjoy the tropical Zhongshan evening.
Last weekend some friends and I rented a car again and drove to a kayaking club called Coastlines Kayaking.The kayaking club is located on an island south of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province and one of China’s biggest cities. The island is on the Fuchun River and belongs to Fuyang city which is under Hangzhou jurisdiction.
I am sometimes surprised at the comments, though happy too of course, I get from people about how they admire that I am living and working in China. The comments usually come from people who have not lived abroad for an extended period of time but admire people who do and have. It reinforces the decision I made upon graduation as a good choice: to not begin working in corporate America like most of my classmates and instead do something I had wanted to do: travel and teach in Asia. I am grateful for my parents who taught me to do what I love and supported me. I also enjoy it when people ask me why on earth would I move to China, and do I live in a cave here. I like these comments because they make me grateful that I come from an open-minded family and these commentators were probably not as fortunate. Continue reading
Last weekend I rented a car at the local 一嗨(yi1 hai3) or “One Hey” Rent-A-Car. I am now aware they have offices all over China. When I went to rent the car on Saturday I was told all the cars were gone so I booked a car for Sunday. When I arrived Sunday morning with my friend all the cars were again booked. Business is good. It was a mere 200 RMB ($30) to rent the car for 24 hours. Gas is about the same price as it is in the states. The only things needed to rent a car were my passport, a 3,000 RMB deposit, and a Chinese driver’s license. I am told it is not possible to rent a car in China without a Chinese driver’s license.
In my time in China I have taught English in one college, two primary schools, one middle school, two training centers, and one company and noticed many differences between them, but the two I want to compare here are college and company.
At my current job in a company, I teach one hour every morning Monday through Thursday to two different classes of around a dozen students each, every other morning. Sometimes they are gone for personal reasons just like at college and other times they are gone because they are too busy with work. This second one usually doesn’t happen in college since students’ primary task at school is studying, whereas students’ primary task at work is working.