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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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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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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The Longjing Tea Village in Hangzhou

The Longjing Tea Village in Hangzhou is a sort of holy land for tea drinkers. Longjing tea is smooth, mellow, and can be ridiculously expensive. If you’d asked me two years ago whether I thought I would become a tea drinker or even care about the subtle differences in types of tea, I would’ve spit black coffee right in your face. Now, after living for a year and a half in the land of tea, I can say I’ve been converted. I’m a tea drinker. And my heartburn’s much better now.

Hangzhou, and the Longjing Tea Village, is only an hour or so away from Shanghai by fast train. It was an energizing, non-jitter inducing day trip.

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Oriental Land: on the far edge of Shanghai

Archway in Oriental Land, Shanghai

Oriental Land is a large park located, ironically, on the far western edge of Shanghai. It’s about a two-hour subway ride from the center of the city, dangling on the shores of Dianshan Lake. The metro station has its own Wikipedia page. Oriental Land is full of obstacle courses and is a prime destination for corporate team building delegations from Shanghai. It also has some jets and a replica of an aircraft carrier.

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Lantau Island: The other side of Hong Kong

Lantau Island is not the Hong Kong you expect. When someone says “Hong Kong” you probably think of glistening skyscrapers stretching towards the heavens, and densely packed urban life. Or, maybe you think of protests. Or maybe even Bruce Lee. I don’t know what goes on in that head of yours.

Lantau Island is Hong Kong, but it’s not that Hong Kong. The airport’s there, and so is Hong Kong Disney Land. But I didn’t go to Disney Land, and I’m not really into hanging out in airports. Instead, we took a taxi to a charming little village by the sea.

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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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