Studying Chinese in China

You would think that after two years of living in China and studying Chinese almost every day, I’d be pretty good by now. I’m not. I can order food and get the gist of some of the simpler Peppa Pig episodes. But I still can’t understand what my elderly neighbors are shouting at me as I walk into the elevator.

In the hopes that one day I might understand their warnings that the elevator is broken and avoid a fall to my death, I’ve been spending my free time in China taking Chinese classes.

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Art in Shanghai: The Power Station of Art and TeamLab:Borderless

The Power Station of Art and TeamLab:Borderless are conveniently located next to each other on the banks of the Huangpu River. Shanghai is famous for many things, but modern art isn’t really one of them. Modern architecture, sure. Maybe even modern shipping? It is the world’s largest container port, after all.

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Loneliness, Holidays and Living Overseas

I think that I would like everyone who reads this blog to think that my life is a non-stop roller-coaster of eating delicious food and trekking through forests to see cool animals. Most of the time, yeah, things are pretty great. Overall, I’m very lucky.

Sometimes, though. Sometimes life is still a black pit of despair and loneliness. A black pit that’s made worse during the holidays.

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Chinese Wedding: Food, Drinks and Red Envelopes

A few weeks ago, I went to a Chinese wedding. Different cultures usually deal with big life events differently. Weddings are a big life event. So, I was excited to not only see my coworker get married but also potentially use the wedding to gain some insight into Chinese culture.

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Renting an Apartment in Shanghai

Renting an apartment in Shanghai is an adventure. Maybe it isn’t a very fun adventure. Maybe it’s a bit of an annoying, stressful adventure. But, nevertheless, it’s still an adventure. And hey, isn’t adventure what moving halfway around the world’s all about?

How Renting an Apartment Works in China

Apartment rentals, like many things in China, don’t work the same as in the U.S. I was used to renting apartments in quaint mid-western cities; where the women are robust, the men are pink-cheeked and the children are pink-cheeked and robust. Where landlords own the building and the plot of land the building is on. They rent the apartments themselves and take a week to fix the damn toilet.

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Rosetta Stone sucks for learning Chinese

On paper, Rosetta Stone seems like the perfect app for learning Chinese. It creates an immersive environment and stimulates how we naturally acquire languages. There is no translation, so you learn the word more deeply. Also, it’s very very expensive, so it must be good right?

Well, unfortunately, maybe not so much.

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You Can Pet the Elephants at the Samui Elephant Haven

Okay, so even though it wasn’t quite as magical as seeing elephants in the wild, seeing elephants at the Samui Elephant Haven was still pretty magical. We were able to get up close and personal with these weird, giant animals. We got to feed the elephants. Elephants have thick, rubbery skin, covered with stiff bristly hair. I know because I got to pet them, too.

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The Best Chinese Food You’ve Never Heard of

Chinese food in China is nothing like Chinese food in America. In America, the best Chinese food is a little takeout joint that serves paper boxes full of cream cheese wontons and sweet and sour chicken. You try and fumble with some wooden chopsticks and you get a little fortune cookie at the end.

As with most things, Chinese food in China is way different than our Americanized expectations. There are no cute little paper take-out boxes, cream cheese wontons, or fortune cookies. In fact, fortune cookies first came to America from Japan.

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The Most Annoying Things About Living in China

Today I’m writing a list of the most annoying things about living in China. Generally, I’ve tried to keep this blog mostly positive. It’s pretty easy to read plenty of negative things about China these days. It’s harder to find people saying genuinely nice things.

But the weather’s been grey and cloudy for the last few weeks. Work’s been busy and stressful. I’m in a bad mood. I’m gonna just dive in and get negative. Here is my list of the most annoying things about living in China.

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A quiet afternoon at a Chinese hospital

Our visit to a Chinese hospital was a bit of a culture shock, even after living here for a year and a half. It was not the way I’d have chosen to spend an afternoon, though I’ll admit, I’ve been curious about China’s healthcare system ever since I got here.

Needless to say, Chinese hospitals are quite a bit different from American hospitals. Despite the differences, it really wasn’t so bad. Most importantly, nobody is seriously hurt or sick. All parties concerned are lying in bed recovering.

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