First challenge -- you've been invited for lunch. The waiter plonks down a full plate of plump, juicy, deep-fried cicadas right in front of you.
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Yeah, China is different from home. That's the whole point. Austin Guidry calls out his fellow Americans in particular for being judgmental and not being able to accept things as they are, even if they're different.
I agree! Don't be like this precious princess who lived in Shanghai and refused to use a squat toilet and forced her Chinese companion to walk from restaurant to store to mall in search of a western one. She also can't handle scrambling for a taxi and being stared at.
Enjoying challenges -- doing just about anything takes more effort when you don't speak or read the language. Need to see the dentist? Get your glasses fixed? Want to find a turkey to cook for Thanksgiving? It's all more involved and time-consuming. So the triumph when you succeed is so much sweeter.
One of my challenges this semester involves the fact that the computers are broken in most of the language labs. I've got audio but not video. Okay, that means I need to teach most classes without using short videos, which can become a crutch, the thing I rely on to add the "sizzle" to a lesson, and are too often welcomed by the students because a video means they can sit back and stop talking or even thinking. Just as when I was a kid; I loved it when the boy in the AV club rolled the cart into class and the teacher set up the film strip and darkened the lights. But the key is, how do I react to not having computers in the computer lab -- as something to grumble about every day or as a challenge to my teaching chops? (Well, why not both, upon reflection....)
Independence -- Ross and I pride ourselves on this. We try to look after ourselves even though we haven't made much headway in learning Chinese. I was proud of the fact that I got to Zibo by plane and train by myself, and didn't require anyone from the school to come pick me up in Beijing. We've enjoyed making our own discoveries around the city, but on the other hand, we must acknowledge the hospitality and generosity of our Chinese hosts, who are always bending over backwards for us. In fact, we hesitate to even ask about something -- in my case, most recently, where can I buy a toothpick case to replace one that I accidentally broke -- because if I ask someone, that someone will drop everything and spend hours trying to help me. But I heard, for example, about a predecessor who had to be taken grocery shopping every week by a local because she was too nervous to do it on her own.
+Yeah, to live in China it doesn't hurt to have a relaxed attitude toward copyright laws. Movies, music, books, essays, exam answers -- they're all downloaded from the internet.