Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Great Migration

My blog is moving. This blog host at is actually blocked in China, but my laptop has a nifty workaround that I've used for the last four months. Since I'm not going to be bringing my laptop with me when I go traveling next week, I'm only going to be updating my blog from Internet cafes. This means no more fancy workaround for now. So, I'm moving my blog to another host until I get back. Reset your bookmarks, or whatever you do to keep an eye on my blog, to this new address:

Pretty simple, just delete the 'spot' from 'blogspot' and you're ready to go. Until further notice, I'll be blogging from the site linked above. I'd rather not, since they put ads on my page and I have much less control over the code. But you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

See you on the other side!

EDIT: The blog above has been trashed. It was just too much of a pain to keep tabs on both. I've moved all the previous posts to this blog for your viewing convenience. :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Teacher Charlie

As I expected from my last post, that weekend did turn out to be adventurous. Not in the I-woke-up-without-kidneys sense as one might have guessed, but in the Hey!-I-have-a-girlfriend kind of way.

It's true, I've got a Chinese girlfriend... I think. It's complex, don't you see. After Sun Lili and I met at the Temple of Heaven several weekends ago, we've really hit it off. That weekend, we went first to the Great Wall and strolled the wall, arm-in-arm. The very next day, the two of us went to the Lama Temple and saw the sights. (All pictures here). It's a great arrangement for the both of us; we both love Chinese culture and history, we're both new to a lot of Beijing's sites since I'm American and she's from the south, and she can practice her tour guide skills while I practice my Chinese. It couldn't be better.

That is, it would be perfect if only she would stop trying to hook me up with her friends. Seriously, whenever we run across some of her classmates, she says, "Hey! She's pretty, isn't she?" That one's right up there with "How do I look in this dress?"

But despite the fact that she keeps gently pushing me towards other girls, I think we have a good thing going. A thing I'd guess I'd call 'dating'. If I sound ambiguous, it's because I've quickly learned that clarity is not going to be an underlying characteristic of this relationship. Between the obvious language difference (we conduct our relationship almost exclusively in Chinese), the cultural differences are palpable. For example, we've already had our first 'relationship' talk. She told me that she, like many Chinese girls, is pretty traditional when it comes to dating. From what I gather, dating is a serious precursor to marriage where she comes from. Not quite so, back in the States. So, by her books, we're not yet dating. We just hug a lot, go places together alone, and hold hands.

All kidding aside, this really is going to be quite the exercise in communication. My Chinese is nowhere near fluent yet, and that makes pursuing a Chinese-language relationship... interesting. It's time-consuming to get across what you want to say, but fortunately we're both patient, clever people. Sometimes it just takes a little rephrasing to get the job done. And more patience, lots of patience.

In other news, I've become a teacher. My Chinese friend linked me up with this job a couple weeks ago, and I can't be happier with it. I teach a group of eleven Chinese college students colloquial English. They're a bright group with a pretty solid English background already, so they come to this class to supplement their other, more formal English classes with some spoken English.

It's been a really positive experience so far. I only teach for two hours on Saturday afternoon, but I have total free reign on what I teach them and how I do it. So I bring in clips from TV shows and American/British songs (I feel like I'm doing God's work by introducing the Beatles to the masses). Last week's topic was common greetings (i.e. Hey! What's up!), and this week was 'dating'. The pay isn't bad, either. Each hour I teach, they hand me 150 RMB, or about $21.40 USD. That's going to really help cover my traveling costs this winter break. And the biggest perk? Despite me telling them many times that they ought to just call me Charlie, they often slip back into calling me Teacher. I'd be lying if I said I didn't like the ring of that a just a little bit.

Lili and I are headed to the Old Summer Palace tomorrow morning, so when I get back I'll have new photos to share. I hope everyone's holiday season has gotten off to a good start!