Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Good Internet

Man who knew that all I needed to have really fast internet in China was to be the only one on the whole schools network. Well, I doubt I'm the only one, but almost all the students are gone and my internet is flying. I can not only watch YouTube videos without waiting long for them to load, but I can watch them in high definition. I used to get something around 100 kb/s during the day now I'm getting above 300. I forgot how much more fun the internet is when you don't have to wait for everything to load. I keep my VPN on all the time and it's almost as good as being in the US. This may seem like a simple pleasure to people in the US, but trying using an old dial up connection for a while to get a sense of how incredibly slow things can get in China. Now I just hope they don't turn it off or something during the summer, though I doubt it since there are a lot of teachers who live here. But until then I'll be online watching videos of cats, really quickly.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Given how close we are to the sea and Guangzhou's long history of trading with Japan, there is a lot of sushi around. You see it not just in restaurants, but in street vendors and supermarkets. And I have to say it is awful. Like shockingly bad. The fist is tasteless, they don't put the sushi together very well and for some horrifying reason they put sweet mayonnaise on it. It is totally inedible. But this being a pretty cosmopolitan city I was sure that I could find at least some good sushi somewhere. After doing some research on the internet I found one place not to far from my favorite foreign supermarket. I was pretty skeptical about this restaurant at first also but it turned out to be fairly good. Not amazing or anything, but the fish was OK, and they didn't try to do anything crazy like but mayonnaise on it. I actually saw some Japanese people in there, and a bunch of Westerners. It wasn't great sushi, but you take what you can get.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Shy and the Not So Shy

Generally speaking people are pretty shy in China. The biggest problem I have with my class is that people  never want to be the first one to do something or to speak up. There are some students that I have never gotten to speak above a whisper. But on the other hand I meet a surprising number of people who are really outgoing. Anyone whose spent much time in China knows that sometimes when you are sitting down people will just come up to you and talk to you. America is, as a whole, a much more outgoing country than China, but if I was just sitting in a food court eating I don't think it's very likely that someone I didn't know would come up and sit across from me and strike up an conversation. But at lunch today that's just what happened. I was getting some food from a Sichuan place when one girl and her cousin came up and sat across form me asking all sorts of questions about America. It turned out that she was a student at Guangzhou University, and that her family also owned this Sichuan restaurant where I had gotten my food. The questions she asked where pretty standard, but it got me thinking about why, in a country that is for the most part extremely introverted, do I so often run into really outgoing people. I think it has something to do with the fact that foreigners are still something of a rarity in China so when the more outgoing people see them they jump at the chance. Also in any college area there are a surprisingly large number of students who are interested in English, but didn't have the chance to study it. That combined with the fact that there are just so many people in China means that even if most people are shy the ones who aren't make themselves known.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Wrist

A little while ago I manged to hurt my right wrist somehow. I think it was the combination of sleeping on it in a funny position and the fact that my desk was higher then my chair so my mouse was in a position that put a lot of pressure on my wrist. It doesn't hurt hurt, as in I can't move it or am in a lot of pain, but it gets sore whenever I use a mouse or hold something heavy in my right hand for a while. There's not that much you can do about this sort of thing besides trying to take it easy so I switched to using the mouse in my left hand, which if you've been doing it the other way your whole life takes some getting used to. I also started using the keyboard pullout with my desk so that I don't reach up to use the mouse anymore. It's actually gotten better than it was when I first hurt, but after I tried to start using the mouse with my right hand again it came back so I'm going to keep favoring my left hand for a while and hope that it gets all the way better with rest.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


My dad mentioned this daily e-mail called Sinocism to me and I wanted to mention it to the readers of my blog. Sinocism is a daily e-mail about all things China written by Bill Bishop who was one of the co-founders of CBS MarketWatch. It's a really great run down on a lot of the top news about China each day from a number of sources, both foreign media and some of the better Chinese websites. The e-mail takes the form of a brief summary and then a number of links about the top news from China. Most of the links are in English, but a few are in Chinese. It's really the best way to see what the big news out of China is each day at a glance. I'm amazed he has time to put the e-mail together each day as it's really very detailed, and must involve looking over quite a few websites. Anyways, if you ever want to get a quick look at what's going on in China on any given day I highly recommend it. You can subscribe by going to the website, if you're not in China and if you are behind the Great Firewall.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Food Options

I like the island I live on in Guangzhou. It's close to the city, but not as noisy or crowded as being right downtown. One problem though is that there aren't that many options for food around here. When I first moved to this island I ate in the cafeteria pretty regularly, but the food there is, well, awful. They have a lot of Chinese dishes I know, just really bad versions of them. The students agree that the cafeteria isn't very good but at least it's cheap. After a while I found out that there was a little village about a 20 minute walk from where I am. There are a number of restaurants in that village, though most of them make fairly similar food. I found one Muslim place I like a lot, plus they have picture on the wall which always makes it easier. For most of the semester I ate either in the cafeteria or in the village, but recently I discovered a third option.

A month or two ago I had to find a post office, there isn't really one at my school, so I could mail my taxes by express mail, so I would have some confidence they would actually get to the US. One of my tutors told me that there was a post office over at Sun Yat-sen University's campus on our island. After I managed to get my taxes mailed we went to a food court at a shopping center near Sun Yat-sen . This food court had a lot more options then anything else around. There are some sushi places, though they're not very good, there is a Sichuan place that is good if really spicy. My favorite though is a Korean food place. There people who own that stall aren't actually Korean, but they come from the North of '
China where that sort of food is really common. When I'm not working I have a lot of time so I've been going down there doing some of my studying there, just to break it up so I'm not always studying in my room. It's just nice to find some more options for food.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Amazingly enough I actually have a schedule for next semester. It is totally unprecedented to have a schedule even a few weeks out, but before the term is even technically over, shocking. Well, it would be a little more shocking if the students didn't all know about it before I did, but still giving me any advanced warning is pretty amazing. My schedule is actually pretty similar to this semesters. I have mostly the same students, and most of my classes are still in the morning, the only big difference is that I have two fewer classes. So instead of having classes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, now I have classes, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I'm guessing they gave the other two classes to one of the other teachers since sometimes it seems like there is not enough work to go around here. This school has by far the most professional Foreign Affairs Department of any school I've ever worked for. In Changzhou Teddy was a really nice guy, but he always seemed a little bit in over his head. In Alaer Ma Ming wanted to be everyone's friend but was not always terribly competent. I had a rough start with David here with some mix-ups about when I actually needed to be in China, but now everything is super easy. He isn't trying to befriend all the foreigners like Teddy or Ma, but he just gets things done with a minimum of hassle, which in China is a refreshing quality.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Downside

I've done some bragging before about how nice it is here in the winter so I feel it's only fair to note how hot it is in the summer. The summers here are like DC in July, but July lasts from May to October. It's so hot that I've started to feel happier when it's overcast since at least that means it isn't 98 degrees out. How the students ever sleep in this heat is beyond me. The mosquitoes are also really bad. my ankles are pretty bitten up. The rain is also incredibly unpredictable, I've taken to carrying an umbrella everywhere with me because just because it's clear one minute doesn't mean it won't be raining torrentially the next. At least with all the rain the pollution isn't so bad, which is no small feat for China.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The End of the Term

Well the school year is finally over here in sunny Guangzhou. Actually the students are still around this week for finals in most of their classes, but my classes are over. I just have to type in my grades and I'll be done. But unlike most years I'm not going back to the US over the break. With my parents in Beijing it just didn't make sense for me to go all the way back to the US this time. Instead I'll go visit them in Beijing when my friend Steve, from Changzhou, and his family are also in Beijing. It'll be nice to get to see him and my parents. Besides that I've got a part time job at a language company in Guangzhou, it's not a ton of hours but they seem pretty flexible about the other stuff I want to do during the summer. I'm planning on going back to Hong Kong for a few days, as well as to Macau. I also have to study a bunch for the GRE which I'm taking this September in Hong Kong. All in all I'm sure I'll have lots to do during the Summer recesses.