Friday, January 27, 2012

Beijing 2010

A quick summary on my venture to the far east two years ago. 

What was I doing in Beijing (BJ) in 2010?
I came for a 6months Internship to teach English to preschool children in a small English language center

How did I get the internship? 
I got it through Aiesec McMaster, which is one of the many local aiesec clubs across the world. The whole process from the time that I joined to going abroad took about 3months.

Working Hours
I worked in the evenings and weekends with two days off during the week or whenever I could get them off.

Since one of the main reason why I chose China was to study the language and culture, I decided to put the 6months into good use. I signed up for an intensive course in a nearby language school which offered morning classes M-F, 2hrs/day. I studied for 4months and was able to get around on my own after 2months, rather than always calling a friend when I needed help.

Some Culture shock
TVs everywhere, in buses, taxis, subways, elevators, on buildings and so on..
I was (still am) a walking clown, with people wanting to touch my hair and just so surprised to see a black person walking around.
China is different from what you see on TV
Chinese eat with huge *wash* basins. I mean bowls i use to wash stuff are placed on dinning tables
There is NO least in BJ
BJ is soo polluted
Almost every Chinese man smokes
and so on and so forth. This is a HUGE topic, and i will be discussing this in a series of blog posts!

Names locals called me...
People calling me "black person", "African", "old foreigner", "foreigner". Other black people I met told me they've been called "black devil", "monkey" and other degrading names. While others might think of this as racism, I just think it is pure ignorance.

I ate out most of the time, so I tried lots of street food, foods from different parts of china and famous cuisines such as hot pot, barbecue kebabs, different types of hand pulled noodles and sooo much more. Again, I will be posting series of blog posts on this.

Towards the end of my stay, I decided to visit Inner Mongolia, Shanghai and Suzhou. My favourite place out of all three was Shanghai because there are more things to see and do
The world is a small place
I met people from all over the world including countries I have never heard of or that I don't know much of.

***Overall, I had a great time, met lots of people, got culturally exposed and was able to check off some tings on my checklist. However, I was still hooked, I was craving for more, so i decided to return for the second time in 2011 for Part II.***

Short video
Since pictures speak louder than words, I decided to put the video I presented to Aiesec McMaster after I returned. I prepared a narration for the video, so I appologize if some parts seem out of place or don't make sense. I haven't figured out how to add an audio clip without messing stuff up, so bear with me while I work on this skill :).


Thursday, January 26, 2012

10 things I know about Chinese New Year

*What I have been told, observed and read about Chinese New Year (CNY).* 

1.  It's on the first day of the first month of the Lunar year. Which means the date changes each year since the full moon occurs on different dates every year. But it's usually between January-February. This year's CNY (Chinese New Year) is on January 23rd.

2. It's the longest and the most important Chinese Celebration. The 15 day celebration is concluded with a Lantern festival on the last day. Although it is celebrated over the course of 15days, national holiday is only 7days.

3. The biggest human migration occurs around this time of year when Chinese both home and abroad make their way back home to celebrate the holiday. This means Beijing, as well as other large cities with a large migrant (out of towners) population is emptier.

4. It is loud. Though I would expect the city to be quieter due to scanty streets, the city is however bombarded with firecrackers all day long, everyday, through out the entire holiday. 

5. Theft around Spring festival (also known as CNY) is very high, because holidays are very expensive as we all know.  It is also expected that working adults give younger children in the family money in a red envelope (hong bao) in addition to gifts that are exchanged among friends and family.

6. The Reunion Dinner is a feast with many dishes which differs with every region. Dishes may include dumplings, fish, duck, e.t.c, with each dish having a traditional significance. This feast happens on CNY eve where every or most of the family member is present, including their "deceased " ancestors. 

7. It is RED everywhere
people would decorate their home and place of work with red decors. They will also wear red on New Years. 

8. Adults in the "marrying age" will sometimes "rent" a boyfriend or girlfriend to take home to their parents. 
Looking to rent a Boyfriend for 5 days, Pay-$1600CAD! 

9. Taxi's are hard to find. I had to wait on a queue for about 20minutes when I returned to the city on New Year's eve. This was obviously because a significant number of the cab drivers were having a delicious feast at home with their living and deceased family. 

10. Everywhere is closed! Because Beijing has a high population of migrants with small shops and kiosks, their presence and importance is only felt when most shops on streets are closed. This means, I will have to drink boiled tap water for the next few days, though I hear there isn't much of a difference.

At last, I have a Blog!

You are welcome to my blog, and thank you for dropping by. I'm excited about finally getting around this instead of just thinking and talking about it. One of my motto for 2012 is "More doing and less talking".  I can already predict 2012 to be an amazing year with many fresh starts and new beginnings. Although few predict it will be the end of the world (may be for them), I can already feel many of the great things that are in store for me this year.

On this blog, I will mostly be talking about my experiences in Beijing, China. I specifically mentioned the city as opposed to the country because China is a BIG country with many minorities and well, few majorities. Also, because Beijing is like a pot of soup with many people from all parts of the country and world; it is nearly impossible to have a general view and thoughts about the City.  This also makes it all the more exciting!
Apart from sharing my personal experiences in the city, I will also be talking about other topics that I find interesting. Topics may range from current affairs to Black (African) hair.

And because I enjoy giving, I will be having contests from time to time with great prizes to be won. These contests have no boundaries, the only requirement will be to have a valid mailing address. So watch out!! I hope you enjoy your reads and you leave more informed. Also, remember, sharing is caring <3. Please feel free to share any posting on here you think a friend might find informative.

Once again, thank you for dropping by and I wish you and your loved ones a successful 2012. See you soon!

Stay Blessed :)