A Travellerspoint blog

Working in China

When most students graduate college, their biggest hope is mainly to avoid moving back home with the parents. Any job will do just as long as they can establish financial solvency (more or less) and start building a life for themselves.

If you've ever met me you know I don't do anything by halves. I decided I needed to start my adult life on the other side of the globe from my family and most of my friends. I knew when I left China last summer that I wanted to move back after graduation and find a job. The actual realization of this goal has been interesting to say the least.

I got a job offer for a legitimate English teaching company in May with a contract to start teaching in August. The timing could not have worked out more perfectly! My summer scholarship program would be over at the beginning of August, I could do a quick touch-back to renew my visa in Hong Kong, go to Beijing for teacher training, then move to Zhuhai for a year of teaching eager, America bound High school students English.

Except nothing in China is ever simple. I needed to change my general business visa into a tourist visa in HK so that the company could get me a work visa. That didn't happen. I was told this would cause problems. I assured them it wouldn't. And it didn't. I was told training would last for 2 weeks. Then it extended to a month. Then I was told I was going to Zhengzhou instead of Zhuhai. Teaching SAT instead of AP. Told I wouldn't get my full salary until I moved to Zhengzhou (because I wasn't fulfilling all the terms of my contract by staying in Beijing, even though the Zhengzhou program wasn't open yet). After 2 months in Beijing, plenty of frustration, but also plenty of having a good time, I've finally moved to Zhengzhou.

Now that I'm here, there are plenty of frustrating days. Still no actual classes or students. I'm out selling our program to parents with more money than God and to students who, if given the choice, wouldn't be there in the first place. Thinking of my second demo class, given to an auditorium of 120 high school students who could do nothing but alternate between staring blankly at me and attempt to furiously scribble down the few words they could understand still sends shivers down my spine. Not to mention the poor student who, after finishing a mock TOEFL test, dejectedly announced in English "I want to die." (note: She wasn't being literal, Chinese also has the saying 我快要死了, which is the equivalent of English "Just shoot me already." I'm sure most of you know that feeling).

So what are the problems here?

There is a problem with bureaucratic mess in the office, sure. Communication sucks. Foreigners are mostly left in the dark about what is going on (though this is getting much better; props to the guys in Beijing if you're reading this). But despite all the issues I listed above, a good attitude and a basic understanding of Chinese culture make those situations a lot easier. The trick is to be nice, which I'm surprised other foreigners haven't picked up on already, especially if they have been here for a while. Go along with it. If you're speaking in English be indirect. Say "I think, maybe, that it could be" a lot. Don't say you can't do something straight to someone's face. Say you will do your best and then get someone else to solve the problem. Whatever happens, don't get mad. Don't yell. Don't lose your temper. Respect is lost (on both sides), when this happens and communication deteriorates further.

Now some may say "But in China, playing nice and playing by their rules means you're going to get taken advantage of." Well. Yes and no. If you're a foreigner who can only speak English. Sorry, you're probably going to get screwed, especially if you're super nice. Even if you can speak Chinese, you're still going to get screwed over on stuff. Something to keep in mind is that this happens to the Chinese staff as well. No matter how badly you think you're being treated, remember that you're probably being paid 10x what they are getting paid to do half the work they do. So chill. If you show that you are willing to play by their rules (that is, occasionally get screwed over on the small stuff and suck it up like an adult), you will have more bargain room later on for the big stuff.

Example? My salary. I had been told that I would start receiving a full teacher salary once I moved to Zhengzhou. That there were classes ready to be taught here and that the program was ready to go. Result: I get here the day before the office officially opens for business and there are no students enrolled in classes. I'm told that since I'm not actually teaching, I won't be getting the full salary after all, even though they sent me here with no one to teach. A few strongly (but still mostly polite) worded emails later, I'm expecting a fat paycheck at the end of the month.

I hadn't pulled my "serious Savannah" card before, and when I did, the Beijing office knew I meant business. The issue was resolved within a day, an astounding speed to say the least, and I sent a somewhat contrite follow up email thanking everyone involved and assuring that the Zhengzhou venture would, through my never ceasing hard work, absolutely be a success.

I'm guessing office/workplace politics are the same no matter where you go. But because this is China, some people are so quick to blame "China" and the "Chinese way" of doing things. Yeah, sometimes things suck and are done differently from the way we do things. Not to play the game of cultural relativity here, however, excepting cases of fraud and corruption, is there anything morally wrong about what they're doing? At the very core I expect the same mixture of bureaucratic mess, lack of communication compounded with inefficient leadership is found in probably 90% of companies all over the globe, manifesting itself in slightly different, culturally unique forms. It's not just a "China" problem. It's not just the "Chinese" way of doing things. Since people are so far removed from their home countries and previous offices, many tend to forget that the problems and frustrations they face here have an equivalent back home.

That's my two cents at least. It's just a new way of looking at the phrase "Same shit different day," however in this case it would probably be appropriate to sum it up as "Same shit different country."

A final note. I actually enjoy the frustrations. It makes life interesting and fun. I don't do anything the easy way and I expect if I had found a normal job back home I would be bored out of my mind. Facing these kinds of challenges with an open mind and the right kind of attitude makes for a more well rounded experience (not to mention maintaining mental sanity).

For some reason, the mere explanation of life in China tends to come off as bitter and negative, especially to those who don't/have never lived here. The reason for this would probably be because life is hard in China, I guess specifically in comparison to life in America. This is something I hadn't really thought about before I had a talk with a CLS classmate about staying in China long term. This is a topic for a different post that I've recently realized I need to write, and the realization of this fact one of the reasons I haven't been keeping a blog recently; I've wanted to avoid coming off as the thing I hate the most--A bitter expat.

But the blogs should (note: Should...) be coming more frequently now. I know I've made that promise before. We'll see how good I am at doing it this time.

Posted by SavCamp 05:17 Archived in China Tagged china zhengzhou working_in_china Comments (1)

A Huge Step Forward

Critical Language Recipient for Summer 2012

So, just in the interests of keeping everyone (and this blog) up to date, I would like to make a wonderful announcement. I have been accepted into the State Department's Critical Language Program in Advanced Chinese for the summer of 2012!!! This is a huge accomplishment for me and it still hasn't quite sunk in yet that I pulled this off. I feel like I need to thank those Professors who recommended me for this award (Camilla Hsieh and Yvonne Chang), because aside from the essays, the professor recommendations are the most important part of the application. This is the second time Professor Hsieh has written me a recommendation letter for a program I thought I had no chance in (the first was my CET application), and I'm noticing a very strong positive trend here.


Receiving this award is the first step forward for my future professional and academic goals. It may sound lofty, but I really would like to be a diplomat (or even Ambassador to China) one day. With the accomplishment of this goal, I'm beginning to realize that these things I plan for myself are in fact attainable goals and not merely the daydreams of a naive undergraduate student.

After completing the CLS summer program (which will place me either in Beijing, Xi'An, or Shanghai, I'm hoping for the last!!), I plan on teaching English for a year and volunteering with an NGO in my free time. This way I can pay off a good chunk of my student loans and gain valuable work experience before applying for graduate school. After that, it's up in the air. I would still like to complete at least a Master's Certificate at the Hopkins-Nanjing center in Nanjing, which would focus on international affairs. After that, I plan on returning to the U.S. to complete my graduate education in Foreign Services or Public Affairs (either with an emphasis on International Relations, and the schools I'm looking at offer concentrations or a dual Master's in Asian Studies, woo!!). I'm already looking at graduate schools I'd like to attend, and I'm basically stuck between Georgetown and the LBJ school here at UT. Of course, I'm also seriously considering getting my graduate degree solely in Asian Studies, which is what I really love (obviously).

Of course, all that is still two years down the road. The main reason I share this is because I feel like if I have set concrete goals and the path I intend to take in order to accomplish them, it makes everything I want to do more real in a way. It also makes everything seem more realistic.

My blog will start up full force again in June! Stay tuned, my travels are no where near being over with!!

Posted by SavCamp 21:06 Archived in USA Tagged chinese cls critical_language_scholarship state_department grad_school Comments (0)


It's all about perspective


This is a blog post that I've been mulling over for several months now. Ever since I got home I've been trying to process (and relive) my experience, trying to figure out how it has changed me as a person and what that means for my future.

The biggest hurdle for me still is an overwhelming feeling of reverse culture shock. It goes something like this. I spent a year of my life trying, in an ultimately futile fashion, to integrate myself into a society that doesn't easily accept outsiders. This can somewhat be traced back to the Confucian relations for "insiders" and "outsiders". If you're in the out crowd (originally non-Confucian men) you're in the out crowd and there's nothing to change that. Pile on top of that generations of isolationist policies and you have a society that is only very recently warming up to the idea of accepting foreigners (this includes Chinese ethnic minorities, to a certain extent).

So, to put it shortly, no matter how well I speak the language, no matter how well I understand and appreciate the culture, I am always going to be an outsider. And I'm always going to be an American and very proud of that fact. I ultimately learned by the end that I have to be who I am and find people who will accept me on certain levels. Only once you get really close with someone will they stop only looking at the fact you're an American and take time out of the conversation to explain the historical background of that obscure chengyu they just used instead of blowing it off by saying "Well, You're an American, you can't understand and you don't really need to". I'm fine with this idea, or became more ok with it as the summer progressed and I spent time with the people close to me who really mattered.

Now flash forward a couple of months. Being back home still feels like being in a foreign country sometimes. I spent all that time and effort learning a new culture, only to come back to the US and feel completely out of place and uninterested in relearning my own culture. So I'm essentially blocked from one culture's "in" group and alienated from the other. Can you see how confusing and frustrating this is?

Not only am I out of touch with the general things that go on around me, but this causes me to feel like I'm out of touch with people as well. I try not to be the pretentious one who can only talk about "China this", "while I was abroad that", but the fact remains that my life up until very recently has only been about one thing. This is the thing that has helped shaped not only my personality, but shaped my goals and future career plans as well. No wonder I'm so fixated! It's like I'm still stuck in a time rift. Everything else kept moving forward while I was gone, and I was expecting to play some serious catch up once I got back, like hitting the fast forward button three times in a row. But it's like I can only hit the rewind button and think about everything that happened in the past year. The only time I look forward is when I'm planning and doing things that will get me back to China.

I am trying to remain positive and keep moving forward though. I'm applying for the Critical Language Scholarship, which would put me in either Xi'An or Shanghai for 8 weeks in an intensive language program very similar to CET. I'm also applying for the Master's program at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to study China-US relations. Moving forward for me seems to mean moving closer to when I go back, and that's just the reality of the situation.

I'm still pondering over the question of where "home" is. In our society when you move out of your parent's home you move on to make a new one for yourself. I still haven't gotten to that point yet for obvious reasons, mainly being I can't stay in one place long enough. However, I feel like being in China was very much a combination of being in the right place at the right time with an added dose of serendipity. There's something so magnetic for me about the country that is constantly pulling me back. Maybe it's the feeling of unfinished business and my desire to become as fluent as possible in the language. Maybe it has something to do with my obsession with the history and culture. Maybe all these things combine to form a certain irresistible pull. In the end it's all about perspective, and for me I guess home is where my Mao cap is.

Posted by SavCamp 15:33 Archived in USA Tagged home culture travel returning shock reverse Comments (0)

On Teaching English and Other Pastimes

sunny 30 °C

I have been a busy bee since I've been back. Not having internet in my apartment means I actually tend to get things done. Well things aside from studying. Then again after an entire year of nothing but studying the language, I'm pretty much on auto control now. I never actually thought my Chinese would reach the point where I could have a conversation with just about anyone one pretty much anything and be fine. I keep a notebook for words I need to look up and on the rare occasion that I have internet access I look them up, that mode of "studying" has suited me well. More than that has been finding out what words I don't understand mean through the context in which they are used in day to day speech. This extends to even words I learned my in my first semester of Chinese. I feel like this is a much better and more natural way to approach the language, and is possible since I have an actual base to build upon. I still learn something new every day, so I feel like not actually studying my textbooks is ok.

I finally have internet in my apartment! It was mainly a problem of finding the landlord and asking her what the password was, and then having her get very touchy with me, saying if I wanted to use the internet I would have to pay. I'm MORE than fine with that. 100 kuai for a month of internet in the apartment is far cheaper than all the diet cokes I order in cafe's in order to use their internet.

So I've recently found out that teaching can be a little fun sometimes. If I'm having a bad day being around my students actually makes me feel better. Of course sometimes they also give me migraines, but I guess you take the good with the bad. I have a new student now, a one on one, and good lord. Is this situation interesting. Her parents want her to test into the Harrow International School of Beijing, Beijing's best international school. She's taken the test once and failed it. When I heard that I thought it was going to be bad enough, but I couldn't have dreamed of what I was getting myself into. I love this little girl. She's energetic, has a ton of personality, would rather be playing sports or outside than in a classroom (much less learning English, in which she has NO interest), and her happy personality is infectious. However. I was given one month to get her English up to par in order for her to test into this school. How hard could that be? Well, when she doesn't have any grammar (sorry, the small grammar she does have is all wrong), and nearly no vocabulary, I'd say it's pretty hard. That and since her desire to learn English is pretty much non-existent, her ability to remember what it is I've just told her repeatedly for 3 hours is also pretty low. That's the other thing. I teach her for 3 hours straight every day Monday through Friday. With one of my bosses sitting in on the class the entire time. This means after every class, one of my bosses is there to tell me what I did wrong, what I need to change for next class, and various other critiques on the lesson. Let's ignore the fact that they gave me this student without giving me any sort of materials or lesson plans or anything to go off of. Let's also ignore the fact that they don't even know what they are talking about (One of my bosses said "Teach her phonics so she can sight read better. When I said "That is not linguistically sound. In order for phonics to work in English you have to already know how the word is pronounced...English doesn't have nice patterns like Chinese" I was met with the response "Well, just teach her phonics. She'll sight read better"). This goal is somewhat impossible.

The first week I was pretty stressed about the class, worried about whether or not I could be successful. Now I'm just having fun with it and doing what I can, and she's actually doing much better for it. Things I didn't think she was remembering she's now easily recalling, which makes the classes easier and less frustrating on my end. Though when I spend 2 hours trying to explain what the difference between the past tense and present tense is only using English and she still doesn't get it, I do get a bit frustrated. I'm more frustrated with myself (and my bosses than anything). Another downfall of them sitting in on my classes is that I can't use any Chinese at all to help this poor girl. I can tell when I'm explaining things and they are just going right over her head, she gets this glazed, far off look in her eye and tunes me out. Sometimes if my boss leaves to answer a phone call or get food or something I'll explain the harder concepts in Chinese, which she immediately understands. I can obviously understand them wanting her to have an immersive environment. At the same time, I'm not a teacher, so sometimes the way I explain things is not how someone who actually teaches the language would explain them, but rather how someone who studies the language explains them. There is a huge difference, especially when talking to a 9 year old. But like I said, it's not nearly as bad as it was when I started, and I look forward to the class every day (just not the getting up early to be there part).

If no one had told me that Monday was July 4th I would have never known. I stayed in the whole day (my student cancelled class), and was going to go to sleep when suddenly Jesse called me and was like "Hey, we're all meeting up for Independence Day Chuanr. You should come!". Talk about being a bad American, or just really unaware of what is going on. So my July 4th passed in probably the best way possible, which was doing absolutely nothing all day long and then going out for the Chinese equivalent of BBQ and drinking beer with good friends. Nothing to complain about there.

I read the other day that 28 people were injured and one killed after the escalator (elevator?) malfunctioned at the Zoo subway stop. That was interesting to read. After moving away from that neighborhood I've only been back once to have dinner with everyone, but I still think of it as my "home" in Beijing. To think that this happened in the subway stop that I used pretty much every day for ~9months is a little mind boggling, though not at all surprising.

My time here is drawing to a close. I need to motivate myself to do some more stuff around Beijing. To just go out to random subway stops and walk around, get to really know and see the city. Part of me is already satisfied with what I've done here, and the other part of me is self scorning for being so lazy. I was looking through pictures of the fall semester earlier today and realized how many more pictures I took, how much more enthusiastic I was about being here at the time, and in general how much more happy I looked in all those pictures. It makes me kind of sad to realize that. I feel like I maybe kind of wasted this semester a bit wallowing in a set routine and not seeking to break out of it. There's still stuff to be found and do here in the city. I still have two weeks. I'll see if I can find a last little spark to make myself go out and find some excitement before I leave. I don't want to go home feeling unfulfilled in anyway.

Posted by SavCamp 09:40 Archived in China Tagged beijing language teaching internet exploring july_4 Comments (1)

全家福 保平安登华山

Fortune for the whole family, Preserve peace, ascend HuaShan (also other things I forgot to write about before regarding my time in ShanXi)

So when LeiLei's family said "We are going to go climb HuaShan tomorrow", I was under the impression we would be doing actual mountain climbing. This expectation was exacerbated by the fact her parents kept going on and on about how dangerous it was, how steep it was, and how long it would take. One year in China and I still haven't figured it out. Every time someone says "climb" something, it's really just a euphemism for climbing a whole lot of stairs.

Hua Shan is an important mountain in the Chinese Daoist tradition, with a history spanning hundreds of years. Previously it was so secluded and hard to climb that only those who had attained the highest level of hermit (ie highest level of daoism) went there on pilgrimage. In modern times it has been made more easily accessible, with more stairs carved to the summits (instead of wooden planks along the face of the cliff, now a tourist attraction), and rails to hold onto. That being said, I can easily see why this mountain was the prime place to found a Daoist temple. Luckily we went on an off day, so we weren't surrounded by hundreds of other tourists the entire time. The ascent up to the mountain is next to a river, then climbing up the mountain itself are series of increasingly steeper stairs, in some places handholds carved into the rock going straight up (with complimentary chains hanging down as a means of additional handholds if you need them).

One really wouldn't expect after climbing a mountain to be met with farmable land. If I hadn't just spent 6 hours climbing the darned thing I would have easily thought we were on ground level. In between each of the peaks is land suitable for farming, with a forest growing all around. The sense of seclusion and peacefulness was a nice break from life in Beijing, and if I ever do decide to become a Daoist, you'll probably be able to find me there. There are temples on all the peaks, the highest one being 天门 or "Gate of Heaven". The view was astounding, and since not many people were around, I could just stand there and take in the quiet, a sensation that is hard to come by in this country.

Honestly, this place was so beautiful that words will never do it justice. I was awestruck the entire time I was climbing. Both by how quiet it was and the overwhelming sense of peace I got from the experience. The latter is probably wholly to do with a good dose of sunshine and exercise, something I severely lack in my day to day life here in Beijing. As we were ascending, I couldn't help but stop every so often just to look. Being surrounded by mountains, rivers, and trees is much more preferable in my opinion to being surrounded by people on most occasions. I wish we would have camped the night on top and gone down in the morning, it would have been amazing to actually be able to see the stars in China, let alone from a mountain top. Alas we we were all exhausted and ended up taking the cable cars down the mountain and heading back home the same day.


Now for more things that I forgot to write about before (bear with me, the experience was a lot to take in, and there is still a lot of stuff I'm still mulling over in my mind).

-Apparently girls don't just go off and do things by themselves. Granted they probably could. But in Chinese culture guys stick with guys and girls stick with girls, and one is very rarely by ones' self. While there is this aspect to it, there was also the whole "You're the only foreigner in the city" angle to be considered, which meant every time I needed to go to, let's say the bathroom, I was accompanied by another female in our party for both cultural and safety reasons. Now I'm toilet shy to begin with, but using a "Chinese style Socialist toilet" with a well meaning companion squatting next to me (and attempting to chat with me all the while) made it next to impossible for me to complete normal bodily functions without some frustration and embarrassment on my end. To make matters worse, each time I asked if they could just step outside and wait instead of standing right there after they finished their own business, I was always asked "哦你要大的吗" (I'm pretty sure that doesn't need translation). To which I could only shamefully respond "No, I'm just shy and I can't go with you standing right there". Though it was embarrassing at the time, now it's pretty darned funny. It's one of those things that has to be put into perspective after the fact I guess. Us girls are pretty lucky, no matter when we go to the bathroom we get relative privacy. This is just another example of how the last shreds of my concept of "personal space and privacy" have been shattered while abroad.

-Picture the worst toilet you have ever deigned to use in your life (those of you who have lived in China are exempt from this). Now picture if you will, a head height cement wall. Behind that wall is a cement slab on the ground with two holes in it, the dirt ground underneath the hole is slightly angled down and channelling down into the Yellow River. This is a "Chinese Style Socialist Toilet" in case you were wondering.

-In an attempt to assuage any of the bigger elements of culture shock she thought I may have been feeling, my friend took to describing everything as "New Chinese Socialist" "this" and "that". Though I wasn't really experiencing any sort of negative reactions from being away from urbanized Beijing, her jokes were more than welcome. A child walking barefoot in the fields was a "New Chinese Socialist Child". People threshing hay and drying it in the middle of 4 lane highway were "New Chinese Socialist Farmers". And the crowning glory, while we were eating in a restaurant with no electricity (save for in the kitchen...I hope?), was the "New Chinese Socialist Cola". Off brand cola is nothing surprising in and of itself, especially not in China, however it was just so bad and trying so hard to be real Coke that the name fit very well (by the way, it was called "非常可乐", which they mistranslated to "Futuristic Cola" instead of something like "Great Cola" or "Uncommon Cola"...that's socialism for you).

-Traffic. If you think traffic where you live is bad think again. I thought traffic in Beijing was a nightmare, but this was a completely new experience. Sharing the road with stray dogs and children, farmers herding animals and carting produce through the streets on barely legal vehicles of varying sizes, and that's besides the normal amount of pedestrians, bikes, motor bikes, and other obstacles (cars parked in the middle of the street for example). The first time I rode in a taxi in Beijing I thought I saw my life flash before my eyes. Oh how naive I was. Traffic laws are merely a suggestion in China to begin with. Add in a fair amount of chaos and complete disregard for any sort of motorized vehicle and you get what being in a rural city is like. You know that yellow line down the middle of the road that usually means you are legally not allowed to cross into the other lane, you know, the oncoming traffic lane? Well when farmers are threshing hay in the middle of the highway and you want to get around someone who thought it would be a good idea to ride dutch on a motorbike (think less powerful vespa, or a pedal bike with a motor attached), your only choice is to go into oncoming traffic. And then proceed to travel down the wrong side of the road for the next 5 minutes because hey, it doesn't matter! Don't get me started on traffic lights. If there aren't actually policemen in the middle of the intersection directing traffic then no one knows what they are supposed to be doing and actually listening to the traffic signals will in fact probably get you killed. I actually had more driving experience than most of the people my age that I hung around while in Yuncheng, but every time they asked me if I wanted to drive when we went out, I replied with a firm "Hell no". I am far too ADD to deal with all the things one has to pay attention to while driving in China. It's like a 3D version of frogger with more obstacles and instead of crossing the road you are driving down it. It's as exhilarating as it is frightening, and I should have worn a hole in the floor from all the pressing I did on my imaginary brake. Another thing that puts modernization into perspective. When you just give a whole bunch of cars to people who have no idea how to use them or without instilling in them that following traffic laws are essential for the safety of society, you get chaos. And not even nice pretty controlled chaos. Just unfettered chaos playing out in the streets of countless Chinese towns and cities every day. And it's not just in China either, all developing countries with motorized transportation have met with this sort of problem. It's interesting to watch to an extent (though the constant fear of head on collisions is a bit sobering and outweighs the interest at most points), but there are deeper societal implications that should be analyzed and addressed.

-I've now seen the parts of China I thought today only existed in pictures. Winding, weaving rice fields on the banks of the Yellow river that stretch further than the eye can see. Old men bent down in those fields with their bike parked a few rows over. Huddled one room shacks built right in the middle of those fields with laundry fluttering on lines outside. A village tucked away in the shadow of a mountain, no cars in sight, old men and women shouldering bales of hay on the walk down the dirt road back home. Barefoot children pulling buckets up the side of a stone embankment with rope. Looking up the mountain and seeing a monastery sleepily watching over the village. A farmer herding sheep down the road, stopping all traffic (which only consisted of our one car). Unfortunately the day we went to the Yellow River my camera was out of batteries, something I did not realize until we were on the banks of the river itself. While not being able to capture and share this experience will be something I regret for the rest of my life, I will not forget soon what I saw that day. I saw the part of China that outwardly has not been touched by the rapid modernization the rest of the country has experienced, and it was a humbling experience to say the least. Honestly if I had my camera I'm not sure it would have felt right to take pictures. I feel a little like that would have reduced these people's lives to somewhat of a spectacle, something else in the country for foreigners to come and gawk at, not even attempting to understand or appreciate the history and culture that lay beneath. These memories will be safely guarded treasures for me, and if I never have a chance to take pictures of something like that again, I'm fine with it.

So that was my adventure in a nutshell. Much more interesting than any trip I took with CET for many reasons. One of them being I wasn't surrounded by other laowai the entire time, the other one being I feel like through this experience I got to know and understand a lot more of the "daily" Chinese culture if you will. There's things about the culture in general I may have understood, but actually living through it and seeing it in context is something else entirely. Though no matter how long I'm in China or where I go, I will always be treated like a guest just because I am not Chinese, I can at least take away the knowledge at the end of the day, the more I understand of their real culture, the more I will be respected in this society and in my own.

Posted by SavCamp 08:41 Archived in China Tagged mountain china shanxi daoism dao huashan Comments (0)

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