Archive for June, 2004

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The story so far…

June 16, 2004

From an email to my parents…

Dear Mom, Dad and friends,

“Wo shi mei guo ren.” That means “I am an American.”
“Ni hen piao liang.” means “you are very beautiful.”
“Ni hua dua la ni hen sha bi.” means “You’ve had enough to drink you stupid asshole.”
So yeah… I’m learning Chinese quite well actually.

In one month I’ve already learned more than the other teachers who have been here for over three months. It’s not a difficult language to learn, if you learn it the right way. The grammar is similar to English, and they don’t use nearly as many words as we do. For example the word for “is”, “are”, “am” are all the same word. If the world moved towards one global language I think chinese is easier to learn than English.

It’s not a difficult language to learn, if you learn it the right way. The grammar is similar to English, and they don’t use nearly as many words as we do. For example the word for “is”, “are”, “am” are all the same word. If the world moved towards one global language I think chinese is easier to learn than English.

I can understand some simple sentences, enough to watch a movie in chinese without subtitles for example, but usually people don’t understand me when I try to speak Chinese, my pronunciation is pretty bad. Sometimes even if I do speak something correctly they don’t understand because they aren’t listening for Chinese, they think I’m speaking english.

The job is ok, though sometimes it’s a pain in the ass. We don’t have any books to teach from, so we have to come up with a new lesson on our own every week, and you never know what the students will find interesting or not, or what might be above their level of understanding.

I don’t really like my classes at the school I’m living at. There are too many students in the classes, and the classes are too short, so I don’t have any time to work with individuals, some of the students get left behind.

I teach a class at a university on Monday nights, and I only have about 10 students there, so it’s pretty casual. I don’t really have to plan those classes, I just talk with the students about what they did that week, then they ask me questions. It’s only supposed to be an hour and a half but I’m almost always there for about 2.5 hours. Their english is not too bad in general.

On Sundays I have a group of about 4-5 young teen students whose English is rather poor. That class can be a little difficult to plan, but it’s so small that if my lesson is above their level I can just scrap it and talk about their families or favorite sports or something.

My blonde hair has grown out enough that everyone knows it’s not natural, but it still looks pretty good. I will probably re-dye it soon. Actually a large number of the locals dye their hair too, but most of them dye it red so that when it grows out it blends with the black and they only have to dye it every few months.

I finally saw the great wall a few days ago. Actually I’ve driven by it about a half dozen times but I must have always been sleeping or something. Most people don’t realize that about 90% of the wall is in ruins. Most of what you see on TV and in pictures is restored sections for tourists. I like the ruins better myself, it’s authentic.

I ate at a Pizza Hut last week in Beijing. Normally I like to eat what the locals eat and try to be as chinese as I can, but I just needed a break from Chinese food. There were some American tourists that came in right after us and I told them I thought they were pretty stupid for flying 6,000 miles to eat at Pizza Hut. They said “well, you’re here” and I said “I live here, I am chinese.” and I said it in chinese. That’ll learn ’em.

I still plan to make a web diary, but I really haven’t had the time, and I figure there’s no rush on taking pictures, I’m going to be here a while. I can only stay here for one year on a work visa, the only way to stay longer would be to get a residence visa or own a business. I’m trying to think of ideas for a business to start. There are no American franchises in Chengde, but Chinese-made american foods sell very well, and the people love anything American, so I’m thinking that starting an American restaurant is a good idea. Or mini golf, they love physical activity and they don’t have mini golf here. I’m sure I’ll think of something.

If I can’t stay more than a year I’ll most likely head to Thailand next. I know I won’t have trouble finding work there and I hear it’s beautiful.

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