China: The Finale

Final exams are finished. We officially completed the CET program. Our language pledge is over. The two months of intensive classes are finally done. I’m en route to Pensacola, FL for vacation with my family. But this ending is much less climactic than what I had always imagined. On the days I spent cooped in…

China: Culture of “Mianzi”

As final exams creep up, I’ve been spending most of my time working on my final 2,000-character paper about the Mosuo ethnic minority group. Besides going to classes, going out to eat, visiting a couple museums and getting a massage, I’ve spent this entire past week in my dorm studying. I’ve also been thinking a…

China: Empty & Full

Random Chinese people walking down the street gathered in the front courtyard of our hotel to watch my classmates and I as we danced to a rendition of Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.” Considering that we were in the relatively rural county of Jidong – home to Fenghuangshan (Phoenix mountain) – I wouldn’t be surprised if…

China: night market & the Great Wall

Hamsters, “shoe shampoo,” roasted meat skewers, hair-bows, Popeye T-shirts, turtles, multicolored contacts, Coca-Cola can purses, teapots, fried chicken, Peppa Pig cellphone cases, cotton candy, light-up balloons, “Balenciaga” slippers and kittens all overflowed from various cramped stalls at the Shida night market. When rain started to fall, shopkeepers hurried to cover their products with plastic tarps….

China: Family & the forgotten lives of Unit 731

“What kind of music do you like?” I asked the taxi driver in Chinese as he drove us to a popular nightclub in Harbin. Two of my American classmates chatted in the backseat. “I like slow, emotional ballads the best,” he said, the corner of his eyes crinkling into a warm smile. I rolled my…

China: 自相矛盾 & the “Eastern Moscow”

  334 BCE: “My shields are so sturdy, nothing can pierce them!” a street vendor yelled amid the chaos of a marketplace in the state of Chu. After the unexpected conquest of Yue, everyone in Dangyang was in high spirits – especially the vendor; he knew he was going to make a pretty penny from all…

Why I’m learning Chinese

On my first leg of the journey from Cleveland, Ohio to Harbin, China, I sat next to a man from Brooklyn who would not stop complaining about everything: the minor delay in take-off, the noise the plane engine made, how much he hated flying, the disrespectful people in New York City, etc., etc. “I actually…