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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You should be way more upset about Trump’s WeChat and TikTok ban

Trump’s WeChat and TikTok ban is dumb. It’s the latest of many dumb things done by a dumb president. As an American, I can freely say that online. If my fellow Americans continue their collective shoulder-shrug about Trump’s WeChat and TikTok ban, I might not be able to for much longer.

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Adventures teaching English in China

It was the end of another long day teaching English in China. I’d spent the last five hours trying to help a group of ten-year-olds decipher some American common core 6th grade reading and science textbooks. At this point, they didn’t want to learn, and I didn’t want to teach. So, I did what any good teacher would do: I organized a paper airplane throwing contest.

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Is Winnie the Pooh Illegal in China?

Is Winnie the Pooh illegal in China? Well, that depends on what you mean by “illegal.” It also depends on what you mean by “in China.” Or what you mean by “pooh.”

The story goes that Chinese President Xi got upset at comparisons made between himself and a certain lovable, yellow bear. Soon, Winnie the Pooh became a symbol of resistance against government repression. The government scrubbed all references to Pooh from China and even banned the new Christopher Robin movie. Western media ranging from South Park to more reputable news agencies have repeated the sad tale of authoritarian paranoia so much it’s become common knowledge.

Except it isn’t exactly true.

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Inside a Chinese Wet Market

Chinese wet market in Shanghai

Chinese wet markets are large open markets where vendors sell fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, unpackaged and unprocessed. Ever since the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was identified as an early source of the COVID-19 coronavirus, they’ve been vilified in the Western media. Numerous U.S. politicians and officials are calling for wet markets to be shut down. They’re portrayed as grimy, vile, places full of viruses and disease; seedy dens packed with suffering doe-eyed animals waiting to be slaughtered.

So, of course, I wanted to go see for myself.

Spoiler alert: it was great.

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Black Power in Red China

Black power in Red China

I’ve been spending the last week sitting in my apartment in Shanghai watching yet another explosion of anger against racism in American society. This time the epicenter was less than a ten-minute walk from where I used to live. I’ve got a whole mess of emotions about everything that I’m not going to write about here. Instead, let’s learn a little bit about the interesting history of the movement for Black power and China.

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How is China reopening after the Coronavirus?

two men on scooters wear masks, How is China Reopening?

When the Covid-19 virus first hit, we had friends and relatives telling us to come back to the U.S. To be honest, I thought about it quite seriously. But we took a gamble, and we stayed in China. Now, the numbers are slowing to a trickle in China while rising to crazy levels in the U.S. Yet, despite the numbers, both countries are now reopening. From what I’ve been reading, the U.S. approach seems to be to just open the doors and letting what happens happen. So, how is China reopening?

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