I havent written a blog in quite some time. Unfortunately, I seem to start a lot of my blogs this way, need to be more consistent with keeping up with this. I will just write some random thoughts and things that I have been up to lately.
One interesting introduction to Chinese contemporary culture has been using social networking sites and online instant messaging to communicate with friends that I have made since being here. The facebook in China is called Xiao Nei, or Campus. It is basically an exact copy of facebook. One interesting feature that Xiao Nei that facebook does not is a place where it tells you everyone who has recently viewed your page. So if you are just casually looking at peoples pages, you know that person will know about it. And you also know everyone who recently sees your page, it is kind of weird.
Also, a lot of random people add me as a friend. I dont know if this is a normal thing in China or just because I am a foreigner people decide to add me. And the things they will write to me are also pretty interesting. The weirdest thing is random strange guys greeting me on Xiao Nei and commenting on how handsome I am. This is especially true of my travel pictures that i posted. People will just comment on how attractive I am. Kind of strange. I guess it is just a cultural difference or I have recently become a lot more attractive, who knows?
Another interesting thing is the pictures that Chinese people post, especially girls. A lot of them put up these professional pictures taken in what seems to be photo studios. And some of the poses are just interesting. My favorite was this girl who was posing in this leopard skin theme background with a matching dress staring at you seductively. Very bizarre.
In addition to Xiao Nei, I started using this instant messaging called QQ. When I was traveling every person I met would ask me what my QQ number is. Because everyone asked me this question I had to check it out. It is basically just MSN but a little different. After I got my number, I told people I had met traveling to add me. So my friends started adding me but I soon encountered a problem. For one, for some reason a lot of Chinese people do not use their real name, they use some sort of nickname. So complete strangers would add me and then my friends would add me and would not know who was who. My plan was to just figure out who was who in course of conversing with people, which was not a very good plan. One emabarrasing moment was when I told my teacher to add me one day but then completely forgot I told her. A week later I told her again oh, you should add me. She looked at me like I was crazy because she said we had already had two conversations online! But I had no idea it was her...hehe. It was pretty embarrasing.
Anyway, besides all that things have been going pretty well. My chinese has improved quite a lot but it is still frustrating. Right now I now enough words to be able to communicate most anything I need to get across. But the hard part is getting the correct grammar and pronunciation. So that is still a struggle. One of my teachers today was telling me I need to improve my pronunciation, but Im not really sure how to do that other than just practice speaking a lot. Its not like you can memorize how to pronunciate words. I think the best way is to just spend as much time as I can speaking and listening to Chinese.
This semester is going by really fast, its already half way over. Next week we have our midterm exams and after that we have a week off. I dont have any exciting plans and I have already been to all the close cities around Harbin. So I am going to go with some students to Beijing and hang out there for a few days and then come back to Harbin a little bit early.
I have also been think a lot about next year. I really want to come back to China and continue studying. I have applied for a job at the school I am currently studying at where I would assist the American students who come to Harbin adjust to life in China. This job sounds pretty laid back and the main reason they need another American to help is to assist in case of some sort of emergency that could arise and act as a bridge for the Chinese staff. But the best part of this job is that it provides free full time study at the university. So I could continue the classes I am currently taking while also getting paid. It sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I have an interview sometime in April so I hope it all works out, we will see.
The only downside of this job is having to live in Harbin again for another year. It would be nice to be able to live in another city in China, preferably one maybe a little more warmer. For some odd reason, I keep getting stuck in all the cold places of the world. Living in Alaska, Pullman WA and now Harbin, China. Its very strange.
As a back up, I have also started applying for English teaching jobs. My ideal choices would be Chengdu, Qingdao, Beijing and Dalian. These have been some of my favorite cities to visit so far in China. I have not really known how best to go about getting this kind of job. I have given my resume to a couple American hiring agencies who have partnerships in China as well as directly applying to Chinese colleges. So far, I have not had any success and only a few unpromising replies. But I hear it is still early in the hiring season so hopefully something good will come along.
Anyway, thats about what I have been up to for the first half of the semester. I have a feeling this second half will go rather fast and before I know it I will back in good ole alaska.