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Archive for March, 2006

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Teaching combat

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

It’s the last week of the TEFL course I’ve been taking here in Zhuhai, and we’re teaching in public elementary schools and middle schools now. What an experience. First of all, there are a lot of the little monsters, and they seem to punch and kick a lot more than I was ever allowed to when I was their age. But when I think about the fact that I rarely see a teacher, it doesn’t surprise me. Despite their rambunctious behavior, they are really clever.

The Chinese have definitely taken over the distinction as the most studious pupils on the planet. These little guys start learning English at ten when it’s still easy for them to learn. It makes perfect sense, and I wish more countries would realize that they should be starting younger. China will really have a leg up on its rivals in the Asian community in the near future because of this decision.

Also, the level of technology in the schools surprised me. For a country that is still “developing,” and taking into consideration this is a rich Chinese city, they have so many resources. All of the classrooms I’ve been in so far have big screen plasma TVs and computers. Students in the US don’t have that kind of luxury.

For me it’s indicative of where the priorities are placed. Here, education is highly valued, and therefore the students take their personal educations seriously. They also have higher hopes for improving their lives than western students. It’s easy to get lazy when you’ve already got everything you need and mom and dad have a trust fund…pass the bong. There are also many cultural reasons that can explain why the Chinese are so studious, including the “losing face” mentality I’ve spoken of earlier.

My experience in this elementary school today was invigorating. A 12 year old kid spoke to me in clear, well articulated English. I probably couldn’t have matched his level after three years of studying Spanish when I was 17! It’s made me think again about whether or not I should teach this age group in the future.

Running low on face

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

I’m in the heart of Guangdong province at the moment, probably not the best place to be if this bird flu decides to mutate into anything more threatening.  But I’m also in the heart of Canton, the weird food capital of China.  I’m getting a little sick of it also.  I’ve learned that even if you have a picture menu to refer to, you’re not necessarily going to get something edible.

Last weekend me and an Ozzy friend found ourselves in a place that seemed to specialize in intestines of all varieties.  Pork tripe seemed to be the favorite, but fish intestine soup also appeared prominently on the menu.  And I can’t forget to mention the boiled pig face.  I’m a big fan of pork and all, and it might taste great, but I don’t want to have to eat my food to get it to stop staring at me.

So I played it safe and went with the chicken.  I didn’t see any chicken feet in the picture (another Cantonese treat), so I went for it, only to be disappointed when my piping hot plate of fried chicken knuckles came.  I’ve tried these in Japan, where you receive a small portion.  They’re not bad and not great either.  The Chinese must love them, though, because I got a mountain of them.  I can’t remember any meat that I’ve ordered in a Chinese place here that didn’t have something strange attached to it.  I appreciate the fact that they eat more of the animal and reduce waste, but I’ve realized if there could be one symbol of my wasteful western habits that I don’t want to give up, it would come in the form of a plump chicken breast, a pork chop, and a lean flank steak.  Do your best bird flu, I’m still going to eat some tasty chicken meat once I find it.

Bird flu? Pshaa! Give me some damn chicken

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
I’m in the heart of Guangdong province at the moment, probably not the best place to be if this bird flu decides to mutate into anything more threatening. But I’m also in the heart of Canton, the weird food ... [Continue reading this entry]

Live in China?

Monday, March 20th, 2006
I’ve come to the realization that I may not want to live in China, at all. At least I’m more and more on the fence about it each day. Having spent over two weeks in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Those boring logistics

Saturday, March 18th, 2006
It’s good to travel about freely, drifting on the recommendations of fellow travelers, the vast networked encyclopedia of the world. But it’s also good to have a plan. My plan stops in August, and I’m starting to realize that I’m ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Chinese Invasion?

Monday, March 13th, 2006
Chinese finance has helped bring the USA such recent hits as the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and pretty much anything else Bush has decided they need more money for after they really thought about it. Even ... [Continue reading this entry]

Pabst Blue Ribbon Goes Global

Thursday, March 9th, 2006
Yes, I've found PBR in China. I thought at first it was dumb luck, but the Pabst goodness just keeps on flowin'. First it was the can, then the 22oz., and I'm happy to report that my local ... [Continue reading this entry]

Slowing down

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006
Now that I officially have my own apartment, I'm not technically traveling anymore, so to speak. The attacks on my senses are slowing down and therefore my blogs will follow suit. This isn't exactly true, as Zhuhai is ... [Continue reading this entry]


Sunday, March 5th, 2006
I've settled comfortably perfectly into my apartment in Zhuhai, a welcome change from the suffocating air of Guangzhou. I look forward to my class and living in this quaint town (by Chinese standards) for the next four ... [Continue reading this entry]


Saturday, March 4th, 2006
I've never been happier to leave a city than Guangzhou, for health of mind and body. With pollution so thick one strains to read neon signs from 200meters, I have arrived at the China the textbooks all discuss, where ... [Continue reading this entry]