Monday, November 27, 2006

Beijing life is starting to look up again. You're lucky, readers, that the time that blogspot was down coincided with my toughest time here. people are always talking about stages living in China, and it's really true. the first month or two that you're here, you're excited by everything, everything is novel and an adventure.
After the month and a half/ two month mark, though, you hit a wall. i started to feel like i had no clue what i was doing here, my chinese was shit, no real job, didn't like the people i was hanging out with. the beijing doldrums. but i've passed the first hard spot. apparently six months can be kind of bad too, but once you hit a year, you can stay forever, and usually do. i'm not really planning on it, but the feeling i'd been having that i would never make it for a year here has totally gone away. my chinese has definitely improved, although i still have far to go. i've found another job to last me through march. i've started hanging out with people whose company i really enjoy. and i'm not so worried about what i'm doing here. also, lately i've been having a great time writing for my magazine, and i feel like i'm getting better at that too. AND, my editors gave me the chance to go to Macao to review a new hotel. this is great, first of all because an all expenses paid trip to an island is awesome, and will give me the chance to travel, something i feel like i've been missing out on. and it gives me a nice opportunity to renew my visa, which i had sort of been stressing about. And one of my editors told me that i can get a work visa from hongkong that will mean i can stay in the country for six month as opposed to three, which is sweet, obviously. so, yay.
now I know that reading about Chinese characters and the Chinese language isn't that interesting to people that aren't studying it, but I'm doing a lesson about music, and i just learned the word for "serenade." at first i was really annoyed because i have most certainly never used the word in english, and i hate taking the time to learn the characters and pronunciation of something i will never say. but i noticed that if you directly translate its characters 小夜曲 (xiao ye qu), it literally means a "little night music." how cute is that? i'm also learning how to say the names of all the famous composers, like Mozart (mo zha te) and Chopin (xiao bang), so that when i someday learn anything about them, i will be able to engage in witty and intelligent conversation with my chinese companions.
also, this saturday i will begin my career as an english tutor. i'm not sure how it is going to work out, as i don't think i really impressed my future tutees in our preliminary meeting. they are all around 35, and their english is pretty good, so i think they might have realized that 22 year old me can't teach them much about business english. either way though, they were really awesome. they're all from taiwan, and they've formed a sort of group of taiwanese and other non-mainland chinesers that hang out and do activities and stuff together. they were really friendly, and invited me to participate in their weekly badminton game. i think this could be a fabulous opportunity to make some friends (as well as work on my badminton skills). taiwanese people are sort of easier to be friends with, because they are so different from mainlanders. they haven't come from such a sheltered upbringing, and their culture is not so profoundly chinese. taiwanese people are citizens of the world, very knowledgable on all kinds of culture, and they, too, think that the way beijingers spit everywhere is gross. yay for new friends!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

so blogspot has been down for the whole month over here, hence my failure to update. but blessedly, it has come back, so i thought i'd do a post. i actually also discovered recently that there are web sites that you can use to access all the blocked sites, so i guess i would have been able to start doing posts again anyway. it was so nice to be able to check in on all my blogs, i realized that the internet isn't half so interesting when you can't read the blogs. with this site, anonymouse, i was also able to check wikipedia, which has recently been blocked over here. life without wikipedia is tough. i do not know what we did before it, how could we research all the random terms floating around?
i've started taking the bus to work, which is nice because it means a much shorter walk outside now that its gotten cold, a 1 kuai ticket instead of a 3 kuai one, and that i really get to be in touch with the chinese people. well, i mean i get to be touching a lot of chinese people. the buses are super crowded, i've never seen so many people fit on a bus. luckily its a shorter ride though, so 20 minutes of crampedness isn't too bad.
my chinese is getting better, i've been doing tutoring, and i'm definitely noticing some improvement. but today on the bus i had one of those annoying moments when you're trying to say something simple, and you think you've said it right, but then thinking back you've said something kind of stupid. like i meant to ask the driver "where is the closest stop to precious gold street (where i work)" but instead i said "where is the most nearby stop." i mean not ridiculously stupid, but i should have gotten it right. a better example- in my tutoring class i was trying to construct a sentence to show i understood a grammatical structure. i thought i said, "I told the man that if he got into an accident, I would raise his child." but when i saw my tutor's face, i realized i had said, "i told that man that if he got into an accident, i would have his child." whoops, sort of embarrassing. it's hard in chinese to tell when you've said something wrong though, when for instance the phrase "arrive late" would be literally translated as "eat arrive." or in one bizarre grammatical structure, to say "He was hit by me", you would literally translate it as "He gave me hit" if you hadn't already learned the structure. those things piss me off, although there are some phrases that are cute, like "to be jealous" is literally "to eat vinegar". also, "to sexually harass someone" is to "eat their tofu". Haha. Okay, hopefully you'll start seeing more posts from me. godspeed.