Thursday, May 27, 2010

One more reason to love it here!

I have another exciting announcement to make: not only do I have a job in Shanghai, but now I have TWO jobs in Shanghai! Earlier this week I was offered a freelancing position with Women of China, and English-language magazine about - you guess it! - women in China.

Now, this doesn't mean I will definitely write any articles for them. As a freelance reporter, I will propose my ideas every month, and if I'm lucky and the editorial staff likes them, I'll get to write an article. There are no guarantees, and the pay is paltry, but, oh man! what a great opportunity!

This is yet another positive aspect of living in China: the opportunities available. Whether you are a writer, teacher, advertising professional, or architect, there are jobs available, usually at a higher level than you could get at home. (I have friends in all of these professions.) Here it's possible to skip the entry level paying-one's-dues and skip right to the good stuff. Where else could I teach at a university or write for a national magazine?

If you're interested in the magazine, this is an electronic archive of past issues:

Hopefully my writing will be in one of them someday!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Out and About

A few weeks ago I went to see one of Quanzhou's landmarks: the Luoyang Bridge. It's a stone bridge that's almost 1,000 years old now. A couple of my friends and I took a bus out there. I couldn't believe it - it was only a few stops past the university! I didn't realize it was so close.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, so we enjoyed walking down the bridge with lots of other people with same idea. As usually happens when foreigners visit a tourist attraction, we became a bit of a tourist attraction ourselves, and had our picture taken many times.

In the picture below, you can see a carving of Buddha from the side of the bridge, and there is a place where it looks like a stone or something similar should be. The story goes that there was once a giant gem there, but it was stolen by the Japanese when they invaded (I'm afraid I don't know details, like which invasion.) Given their history, the Japan makes a popular scapegoat in China, so take the story with a grain of salt.

The bridge spans the Luoyang River, which seems to be subject to drastic changes in water level. The picture below was taken when we first arrived.

And if you look closely, you can see the same boats in the next picture, but this time resting on land. ?! It was quite a drop in water level! We had no idea if this was a normal occurrence or not.

And last, I'd like to share a picture from the town garbage dump. Quite a throne, no?

Completely unrelated and much closer to home (and by that I mean IN my home,) today I discovered that my apartment leaks. Last night we had the worst storm I've seen since coming here. Pouring rain, thunder, and powerful wind. I guess it was powerful enough to expose some leaks in my windows. I woke up during the night to the sound of water dripping. I got up to see a puddle forming on my floor, so I grabbed a bowl, put it beneath the leak in my window, and fell back asleep.

The next morning I awoke to the same puddle and a bowl full of water. Then I walked into my study/extra room, to discover that apparently there was a leak in that room's window too. The entire floor was covered in water. Yikes! I set up fans outside the room blowing in; I don't think I can safely set up a fan in the room yet.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shanghai, here I come!


You might remember me mentioning frequent trips to Shanghai to see friends there. Well, I will no longer have to refer to it as my second home - starting this August, it's going to be my real home! I am moving from teaching at a university to teaching at a .... kindergarten! It's going to be a huge change, but I'm really excited about it.

The job sounds fun, with great hours, (great pay,) and great breaks. I'm going to have to leave behind the job I really truly love here, but I'll be getting a lot of other benefits. First and foremost, I'll get to live with a good friend of mine in Shanghai! Also, I'll get to use Chinese on the job, as 5 year olds don't know any useful English yet, and my coworkers will be Chinese. Not to mention I'll be getting paid to fingerpaint, haha.

I'm also looking forward to life in a big city. Shanghai has so much to offer! Right now it's an especially great time because the World Expo is going on. It will last until October, so if anyone wanted to visit me in the fall, it would be a great time, hint hint.

It you want to read more about the Expo or my new place of work, there are links below:

I'm going to be busy arranging my big move, but soon I'll be back to posting about life here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I love it!

秩序 (zhixu): "freedom from disorder through respect for the established system or authority; order"
-my Chinese dictionary

Alright, enough complaining. It's time to tell you all the reasons why living in China is awesome.

I love it!

Why did I even come to China in the first place, you might wonder. To improve my Chinese, of course. And while my Chinese has not been improving as much or as rapidly as I'd like, it still is much improved since coming here, which is incredibly gratifying. I picked up a literature magazine the other day while killing time, and I was able to read one of the essays! Gave myself a big pat on the back for that one.

And just like there are little things that bother me, there are little things that make life here great: cheap delicious food, not having to drive, and silly English translations.

Living abroad (alone) has also taught me to be independent and autonomous. I've never lived alone before, and definitely not in a situation like this. Moving to a foreign country by oneself creates self reliance in the same way that pushing a person into deep water creates swimming skills. It doesn't always work, and some people can't take it. I know people here in Quanzhou and elsewhere who have given up and gone home. But I did it! And now I will always know that I can. I'm an independent woman. ;)

There are also lots of cultural differences that I really enjoy. For example, hospitality is a very important part of the culture here. Everyone wants to welcome me to China, show me around Quanzhou, and altogether be incredibly gracious. When I go out with my students for dinner, sometimes I must literally fight with them to pay the bill! Everyone is insanely friendly and generous. People are usually nice in the US, but hospitality and generosity are much more noticeable here.

Too, my foreigner status has its benefits. While I may dislike being stared at and approached, it also grants me a lot of privileges. Foreigners are treated extremely well, and have near-celebrity status. This means I can comfortably go anywhere or talk to anyone. While going to the nicest mall in Charlotte, NC can make me (and most people) feel inadequately dressed and out of place, there is nowhere I can't go here where I won't get deferential treatment. From the littlest hole in the wall restaurant to the nicest restaurant at the fanciest hotel, I am welcomed.

I am also lucky to be living in a place whose economy is doing so well, and I don't just mean because they're able to offer me employment. China has been on the rise, in terms of economy, standard of living, international power, etc. for quite some time now, so there is a definite sense of optimism among Chinese people. Life has been getting better, and they expect it to keep doing so. Most people here are pretty content. I'll admit, this sense of optimism might contain some complacency too, but overall I like living in such an environment.

My favorite thing about being here though has nothing to do with China, but instead with what I'm doing here: teaching. When I stand in front of the classroom, all that stuff I wrote about in my "It's hard" post really doesn't matter at all. I love my job. I have found my calling in life, and although once I leave here it will be some time before I teach at a university again, at least I know my goal.

Also, did I mention that I have a maid?