Last time I saw Anshan – you're always a stranger in China

I'm not a tourist, just a teacher. Actually, I'm a literature professor, currently working at an Indian university in the USA, and working on a Sino-American program at a Chinese university in Ningbo. Maybe I'll write about Ningbo later, but now I want to write about Anshan. But I don't want to write this as a writing teacher *.

As I taught for two years of my life at Anshan in northeastern China, I had some experiences that I will never forget. I had never been away from my own country – never – to Mexico or Canada, I loved these two countries so much. So what did I do the first time – unlike the world, I travel to teach at a technology university, even though I'm a human being? My new colleagues at Anshan University of Science and Technology couldn't figure it out.

At a Christmas dinner that all Laowai (foreigners) had thrown away in Anshan, the mayor thanked me for coming to pay a relatively low wage. I told her that I came to educate the students, not to prepare them for the exams. Preparing for exams and earning points is important for Chinese students. He seemed to agree with this concept, but who knows what he really said or really understood me since our conversation went through a translator, the head of foreign affairs, who was responsible for all the foreigners at the university?

Later I learned that Chinese people often do not tell what they think or feel. And they don't even print what they are told, as I found out when local journalists repeatedly interviewed. They love toast and love to hear glowing speeches – especially the ones they give themselves. The city was once awarded the prize for its contribution to economic growth, and I had to speak on television to get it. I never figured out what I did to earn this recognition because no one came to my classroom to listen to me teach. City big wigs seemed to like my talk, but who knows what I said when the translator finished his version?

When I read an interview that even included my photo (the least flattering of the photos I took), I realized that they were disclosing information that I had not given them. The reporter inserted in the homepage the fact that I am diabetic (type II), information that was not provided to our translator. I deliberately did not provide this personal information because I have already realized that many Chinese people are considered weak by the disease, as well as by people who are supposedly elderly. It soon became apparent that one of the heads of the Foreign Office had disclosed my personal information, which is contrary to US law. We don't ask people to show their age in the United States. I had to explain this several times when I refused to reveal my age or how much money I made.

Many Chinese have a figure in their minds telling them how much money to earn at a given age. If a given number does not match how much they earn, then that person will not consider it a success. In any case, I was almost as often asked about my age as many parents asked me when they first met me when I was teaching my child privately. They wanted your child, as I said, to go to a better university than Anshan.

This last sentence partly explains why I met a lot of non-diploma teachers – many Canadians and Australians who hadn't boned how much they loved to drink. That changed when Laioning Province raised its requirements for university jobs. Many young teachers had to return to their homeland, while older teachers had to find a place in a high school. An intelligent Canadian colleague and friend at Columbia University, a brilliant scientist who was frightened when he discovered that Anshani University was a less-educated young male teacher who liked to do very little work in the classroom, mostly DVD movies. presented to the students.

I discovered that English or linguistics students throughout China should have English names. Some were very imaginative, such as "Sea, Sky, Cloud, Magic and Potter". I had students who even had weird names like "Sunny, Silent, Galahad, Ice, Secret" and Japanese names like Hotoe. I told them that if they were interviewed by a Western employer with such a name, they would not be taken seriously. Some names were so ridiculous that I asked them to change them. Usually yes. The name of one of the girls sounded like she'd found something naked in a man's magazine, so I asked her to change it without telling her why. One bright young man refused to give up his chosen name, the Appleyard (brand name), so I called him Applesauce or Apple seed before class. He took the teasing very well, but never gave up his name. He later became one of my biggest fans and still writes for me today.

Just before I left China, Applesauce told me that my Anshan experience might seem like a dream when I return to the US. He was right. Just a few things – such as spitting on the floor in public with adult men, men on hot days in a shirtless restaurant, and men and women jumping in line at other clients – can be more of a nightmare than a dream.

Some visiting professors noted Russian influence in China. This is especially the case in Anshan's reserve, utilitarian architecture. Japanese influence is also visible, especially in the construction of a huge steel mill which occupies a large part of the map of Anshan City. I realized that many Chinese really hated the Japanese for their atrocities during World War II. Once, when there was an anti-Japanese demonstration, my young Japanese colleague had to lie low in his apartment.

During the daytime, lighting is often turned off in grocery stores, banks, and hospitals because of the expensive carbonaceous energy. Once or twice, when I was shopping at a grocery store nearby, I sang for myself (for the tune Strangers In The Night), my song Shopping In The Dark. It works just like Fred Astaire dancing in the dark. Since no one understood me, only I could appreciate my sense of humor.

Many signs and labels are incorrectly or incorrectly worded in Anshan. An example is the poorly written menus of pizza restaurants. Even in Anshan's diverse bookstore, there was no misnomer. I encountered many punctuation and spelling errors in Atlanta – especially the misuse of the apostrophe – but Anshan's mistakes broke all records. One of the beach signs read "Charging phone for tourists" followed by a phone number. Underneath is the same phrase, "Searching for a helpline at sea," so if you drown, you obviously can call for help. Very comfortable. If you have a few minutes to kill and want to find a cheap name, try reading the condom pack labels.

At our residence, which at my request was labeled INTERNATIONAL HOUSE, there was a young Korean teacher who did not speak English but wrote "CASH" in capital letters on the back. My British colleague and I thought it was howling; jokingly we thought maybe it was his second job and made sure that each customer understood his terms clearly. Who says you don't pay to advertise?

For advertising, read the back of the DVD boxes, with sections translated into English. At times, the descriptions have nothing to do with the internal DVD. At times, one movie gets one movie, while the content description goes to a completely different movie. This is, of course, the sign of the pirate DVD. The English translation was often computer-generated. Good luck. If you know it, avoid pirated DVDs, though they are almost everywhere. Often shit. Some are made in a cinema. Generally, the newer a movie they sell, the more likely it is to be a pirated copy. The best DVDs I found in China were copies of older films – often classic films. I was happy to find a lot of widescreen movies from the 1950s in beautiful wide pictures. I also found many Italian neorealism films on the Italian shelves. They are particularly valuable to film scientists, but I doubt they were hot sellers in an industrial area, such as northeast China. The spare convenience store owner was always happy to see it happen before his huge show, and I usually pulled a chair back.

However, an Irish colleague made a mistake when he brought back 200 pirate DVDs to his home. He was stopped in Amsterdam, where he lost his staff and received a huge fine. If you need to buy and export pirated DVDs, put them in DVD albums and send them to you. As I mentioned, I would avoid pirated DVDs. If you need to see a particular movie, just wait for a better (and legal) copy to appear. I'm a virgin (born in the year of the monkey), so I couldn't keep a lower copy of a movie. Fortunately, the familiar business owners took the bad DVD back without question. Therefore, it is good to go to the same seller every time; let them know you. Avoid dealers who yell "DVD .. DVD .." in your ear when walking. I also ignored the sellers who came up to me and whispered "sex .. Sex …" in an attempt to sell a soft porn movie. Just because I'm American doesn't mean I'm sexual, like many American movies. I don't carry guns or drive fast cars like Bruce Willis or Matt Damon.

By the way, if you do not drive a Sherman tank, do not drive in China. In Atlanta, lamps are often overlooked because some idiots talk on cell phones. In China, mobile phones are everywhere and ignore everything at once. Do you know the white lines that separate lanes on the street and highway? In China, these are just suggestions. Taxi drivers are likely to drive anywhere – on the sidewalk, on the cow, on the bike (if you find one). Bikes and scooters are everywhere and, like all-wheel-drive vehicles, they are often out of compliance.

Pedestrians seem to have invisible targets on their backs and often move almost anything that moves. They believe that the Chinese practically forget hitting the horn. Only these Laowai were repeatedly angry and used the stupidity that only a few of the locals understood. A Canadian colleague had previously rubbed the car's hoods if the vehicle turned too sharp and threatened to steal his leg. When I showed the middle finger to one of the drivers, I asked if they knew what that meant. The Canadian insisted, but I had my doubts.

You probably see anything on the scooter. A young woman was taking care of her child while driving her scooter. And next to the shiny new car, you'll probably see a mule pulling a vegetable truck.

Food: If you suspect North American Chinese food is something similar to American food in the Chinese buffet of Atlanta and other major cities, it could be a shock. The worst thing I didn't experience was in a slow-moving restaurant on top of an Anshan downtown hotel. I used to see grocery-sold chicken, head and feet still in place, but when I saw the chicken leg served separately as a delicacy, I realized why they look at many Chinese malnourished. If you have a large amount of salt or over-cooked meat served in a so-called hot pot (allegedly originated in Chongqing), arrive at the Global Hotel to your liking.

By the way, shopping at grocery stores was the culmination of my shopping experience in China when my British colleague and I saw the head of a severed dog on the display next to packaged pieces of meat. Hey, the dog's head is under glass. What can I say? Step aside, you French chefs.

The best food in China was the Korean barbeque on the street from the university. In summer you will find a spicy barbeque, which is sold on spit on long streets. Not like a home-sold BBQ. Forget the southern BBQ sauce. If you love meat very spicy, you're in heaven. If not like me, don't be careful. Ask them not to spice it up too much (if we have a translator for dinner with you). If you like good pizza, go to Chicago or Italy. If you like fried eggs in the middle of the pizza, next to pineapple and cherry tomatoes, you may like Anshan pizza. PIZZA HUT is a little expensive in Anshan, but KFC is the most popular American franchise I've seen in the city. In Atlanta, KCF is in competition with Mrs. Winners and rivals Church and Popeye. If you love KFC a little more, you'll love Anshan, provided you get to the restaurant early – like 5:00. These places, like McDonald's, are full. I rarely go to the fast food franchise in America, but if I am at home with American food in China – even fast food – I could do weird things.

Restaurants and soft drinks are everywhere in Anshan. In Beijing, especially inside the huge Forbidden City, sellers even get up by bike and try to sell frozen water. If you find an empty wardrobe on the street, then someone will definitely open a small restaurant inside. The food in these places is often very cheap. (At times, Chinese don't realize that the words "cheap" and "cheap" are not interchangeable.) If you do not need a receipt, it is often cheaper (no one wants to pay taxes). Meet the owners again with lots of smiles. Don't expect tips (in some places, tips violate the tips). Wait for other customers to talk about you. They are waiting for them to stare. Just be careful. When someone collides or prints printed material underneath your nose, this often encourages another person to raise their values.

If you are using a translator to explore the city, make sure that the translator knows you very well and likes you. My attractive young translator was called by merchants who wanted me to help them remove an article, such as a jade bracelet for my mother. In exchange for helping them overload me, you can bribe a gift (as part of the promotion). My British colleague understood and spoke Chinese. When the merchants tried this trick, he spoke to them in Chinese. Of course, it shocked me and apologized or told him they were just kidding. Yes. Right. When young boys stare at and point at us, he tells them in Chinese, something like, "You're a rough little boy." Shocking expressions about people & # 39; faces are upset, aren't they?

The best thing is to learn even a little bit. They are surprised if you speak two or two Chinese words; it makes them know how much they know Chinese. Never tell them. A Taiwanese colleague told me never to tell anyone how much I can understand Chinese. If they think you know a little Chinese, you will be careful. Remember that many Chinese contemplators. The look (or face) is important.

It sounds like I don't like Anshan, but the opposite is true. The Chinese city is chaotic, but alive. Colorful and full. . . Yes. . . characters. Character reserve.

Ningbo lacks many things Anshan has. . . things that are missing. Emails from my former students and some of my Anshan colleagues responding to a mission I sent in a mass letter shortly after returning to China one year after I returned to Atlanta saying that I wanted this southern city better, such as Anshan in the industrial northeast of China. The only reason they could give it was because it was more advanced.

Maybe. Ningbo is definitely bigger, flat than a map. You may miss the many half-finished streets and sidewalks that often break down into dust, littered driveways and bustling mules, but this includes traffic jams and egocentric drivers, unprotected pedestrians and bold cyclists.

But if I'm an advanced city, it's rare that I see a sunny day. Only after a harsh wind or occasional typhoon that rushes from the ocean and evacuates low-lying areas of coastal cities such as Shanghai, does the sun reveal the foggy blue sky almost all day long. Only then can I look at the southern mountains – the shorter range, which is darker because it is closer, and the higher range, which is hazy but still visible as it cuts the outline of the horizon. Only when I look west through the windows of alcohol where I work on my L-shaped ledge laptop or at this desk in the study can I see the vast terrain that includes the southern section projects.

However, this phenomenon is generally short-lived, and in the next few days, the dirty blanket will return to the shoulders of the terrain, which will keep them covered like a huge, foggy shawl. Yes, Ningbo is certainly advanced.

It's much harder to get around the city than in Anshan. I rarely had to use city buses in Anshan, but here in Ningbo, they were necessary and extremely congested. Taxis are very difficult to get and drivers, like business owners, are much less friendly – at least to Laowai. From the northeast, it is the friendlier part of China. It is also noted that crime and corruption are the seat of the latter (the latter even affected National Geographic). Maybe.

But as a Canadian colleague told me in an e-mail when I returned to Atlanta, "Give me chaos." He was right.

Now that I have returned to China, I can say the same.

Give me chaos. Give me Anshan.

* My articles on my written teaching experience in China can be found elsewhere on this website.