Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why China?


Nobody ever consults me about moving to China to teach English. Ever. But if someone were to do so, I would tell them that it's not for everyone, in fact it's barely suitable for anyone. Or at least anyone who is an American.
For one thing, you give up virtually everything American when you come here. There is no Taco Bell, Subway, Burger King, Doritos, Ben and Jerry's, Big Gulp drinks, micro brews, DirecTV, large selection of you favorite TV shows, high speed unrestricted internet, American sports on TV except NBA, chocolate cake, cans of frosting, non processed cheese, Costco, Home Depot, Pep Boys, Mexican food, tortillas, tomato juice that isn't sweet, granola, whole grain bread, sour cream, whipped cream, fudge topping, drive through anything, or good pizza.
If you are a big guy it's difficult to find clothes. If you have big feet, it's nearly impossible to find affordable footwear. If you love wide open spaces with no people, stay in Montana. If you have a problem with line cutting and horn honking then you would best remain in Mayberry.
Americans have problems with things like chopsticks, squatty potties, taking their shoes off when going inside, sharing space, and not being able to get their way. They like things to be orderly and make some sort of sense. Things can be very chaotic, and you sometimes are amazed that anything ever gets done. If you cannot exist without efficiency then this place would drive you rabid dog mad. If you can't live without pot, forget it.
If you are a church going Christian, be prepared for a Mandarin service. Jewish services? Only in the mega cities. Buddhism has you covered, though.
Why would you want to move here?
It's an exciting place. The economy is booming and people are very optimistic about the future. If you really need a job, you can teach English.
If you are good at it, you can make a good living and a good life here. You are unique and special. In a way, you are a star. People say "hello" to you all the time. This can be good or annoying, depending on your mood. It is an adventure. If you are tired of the same old over regulated, protected, safe, clean, even surfaced, predictable life then this might be the place for you. In spite of what Americans may think, many things about this country are rather Libertarian. You can ride without seatbelts, helmets, or kids in carseats. You can smoke virtually anywhere.
It's a very old culture, and many of its values are why it has existed for so long. Life centers on the family, and the strength of the families is the strength of the country. I am always moved by the grandparents, who live with their kid, playing with their toddling grandkids in the park. They are the primary caregivers in a country where both parents work.
Many Western rules and conventions are non existent, such as queuing, or answering your cell phone during dinner, and traffic laws are mere suggestions. However there are deep social mores that transcend the society's penchant for scofflaw behavior. Drug problems, murder, and robbery happen in a very small part of the population. Divorce, unwed mothers, and obesity are not common.
For those of questionable morals, pirated DVD's abound, and you will never pay for a song again.
The food is great. Public transportation and taxis are plentiful and cheap. It's exotic, weird and very stimulating. You will be surprised every day.
I don't know a ton of foreigners here. The ones I do came here for many reasons, but mostly because they wanted something less mundane in their lives. Losers and lowlifes don't seem to do well here, they go to Cambodia, Thailand, or stay in Cleveland or El Centro.

1 comment:

  1. Nice and enjoyable post. :D I've scheduled a trip to Japan next summer for 2 months to study the language. After I return and graduate, I want to go back! I really am feeling like I want to spend the majority of the rest of my life overseas. I love so many things about the cultures there in Asia --- your post makes me feel like I'm homesick, isn't that odd? I'm so sick of the US society.

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