Who is rich in China? Don’t ask me!

pexels-photo-462368.jpeg

From living in China, I’ve quickly realised that material things matter to many many Chinese people. Whether it’s a new pair of shoes, a new bag, getting their hair done every week, looking great…. people here need to look….. well, rich.

One thing that I dislike about China is their need to persuade to others that they have money. They need to have nice clothes, they need to have an iphone, preferably and Iphone6+ and newer. They need to have that fancy car. It’s a constant battle to appear rich and that you have money for these things.

So it’s quite difficult to spot the people who are generally well off, and the people who are on an average wage here.

We found an example of this when myself and my fiancé went for food at our local dumpling restaurant. Now this restaurant is small, not very modern and it’s a typical hole in the wall style of restaurant that you see all over China. There’s really nothing fancy about it at all.

So we order our food and we wait, while the owner (we guess he’s the owner) is starting to leave. He has taken a shine to us and always cheerfully welcomes us in. As we wait we see him and the wife leaving, and in such a surprise to us, they get into a big, new jeep that was waiting outside.

We were both really surprised about this! How can he afford a jeep when he runs this small hole in the wall restaurant that only serves like 6 types of dumplings??!! We thought that he wouldn’t be making that much money. Maybe we are totally wrong and he actually makes a tonne of money from his business! Now we are in doubt about the whole thing!

We do know that people take out loans to buy whatever they want here, so he could have taken out a very big one for his jeep! That’s the problem here; so many people take out loans for cars and phones and what not so then they appear to be very rich, but in fact they have taken a loan for all these material things. That’s how it’s difficult to figure out who is well off and who is not.

I don’t have a car, an iphone 6+ or anything else fancy really, except for my macbook air laptop…. but at least I’m not drowning in debt! My family taught me “If you don’t have the money for it, then don’t buy it”.

Plus, I’d rather spend my money travelling!

Aisling.

 

Advertisements

The Bustling City of Guangzhou

With a week off from Uni, we wanted to get out of the city and head somewhere a little bit warmer! Chengdu in the winter is a horrible place to be, made worse by the fact that it’s 8 degrees outside but there’s not a radiator or heater in any shop, restaurant or school! I literally freeze while I’m teaching!

Anywhere north of Chengdu was too cold to visit, so we decided to visit Guangzhou, a big city near Hong Kong. We really didn’t know what to expect from it. We knew it was big, people spoke Cantonese, and it would definitely be warmer than here! Our friends from Chengdu recently moved to the city so we could also catch up with them there!

Well my I think Guangzhou exceeded my expectations quite a bit! I read online that apparently it had no culture, but I thought the city itself was full of culture! I especially loved the old buildings all around the city. Some were ugly but I just loved how different each were and how they had their own unique characteristics and architecture. I really enjoyed looking at all the different buildings in the city. And from what I saw, pretty much all of them are in use, usually as housing!

I know the weather in summer is absolutely scorching, so we visited when it was much cooler. During the day a light jacket is enough for us during December, but at night it was a little more chilly!

So I was left a good impression of Guangzhou; it’s much greener than Chengdu, the weather is better, and it’s a great place to live if you want to travel as there are lots of nearby places to go to  such as Shanghai, Hong Kong. Also it’s a major city for international flights. Chengdu is more in the west so it’s not as easy to hop on a train and go somewhere in 5 hours…… more like 25 hours!

But of course I did miss Sichuan food! The food is nice in Guangzhou, it just lacks spice and a bit of flavour. Some of the dishes were a little bland for me. I’ve gotten too used to spicy food now! We tried the famous Dim Sum that southern Chinese people eat, and I enjoyed trying all the different types that they offered, when we could understand the Chinese characters of course!

IMG_E9560

I think If I could move there if I was planning on staying in China longer, but of course the cost of living is more expensive, plus the rent is much higher there than Chengdu! Oh, it’s also MUCH bigger! Chengdu is nice and compact, whereas Guangzhou is a sprawling city! So it’s bigger, meaning more people, so that equals a busy metro!

After 5pm the metro was crazy when we used it! I would say during rush hour, you only need to wait for a train for about 20-30 seconds, and then another comes. But of course there are big queues waiting for every one of them! So I didn’t really like how busy it could get. I can only imagine what it’s like during a major holiday!

But I’m glad I visited the city. It’s nice to see different parts of China. Each and every city is different and has it’s own unique history and culture!

Where we stayed: Lazy Gaga Hostel

Good: It’s literally 5 minutes walk to the nearest metro so it’s very centrally located. It made getting around Guangzhou that much easier. There are places to eat/ shopping centres/ bus stops and famous landmarks all within walking distances.

Bad: You’re really paying for the location. I thought it was too expensive for what it was, and the hostel needed to be refurbished. If I only had 1 night in Guangzhou, I’d stay again, but for anymore I would look for another hostel.

Aisling

Preparing For Exams

For this semester of teaching, I decided I was going to give my students one main speaking exam at the end of the semester. However I then thought that I would give them one now and then another one at the end. For their first exam, they would have to present a 4-5 minute role-play with a beginning, middle and end to it. This would be worth 15%.

I’ve students and their English is very very bad so I’ve told them they can present theirs for about 3 minutes.

Throughout the few weeks that I’ve been teaching them, I’ve given them quite a few role-plays to do already, so this shouldn’t be new to them! Role-plays are really just to get them to be creative and try and use English in a real life situation. Some don’t particularly enjoy them (they would be quite happy sleeping/playing on their phones) but some really do try their best.

So during the previous week I was helping each group think of ideas and characters they could use. I had one group say “Our role-play will be a group of friends meeting up, we will introduce ourselves”.

Ok….. sounds a bit boring to be honest. Also not very creative. So I advised them to change their idea.

Another group had in mind about doing a role-play of one person getting food poisoning in a restaurant. So I said ” Make it more exciting, maybe Mandy will get sick and you will have to bring her to the doctor and then she dies suddenly!?”

“WWHHOOOAAAHHH” they all exclaim! To me, that just came naturally…. how do you make it more creative??? Have someone violently die obviously.

But for them, they really wouldn’t have thought of doing that. They lack a lot of creativity these kids, so doing something like a role-play is very daunting for them. That’s why I want to teach them to be more creative. Yeah some of them are very intelligent, but making up a story by themselves; that’s difficult.

So I’ll see what type of role-plays they present to me next week. Hopefully there won’t be one about introducing themselves……..yawn.

Aisling.

Learning Spanish With ‘Duolingo’

Learning Spanish With ‘Duolingo’

After finishing up my last semester learning Chinese and starting a job, I’ve put Chinese to the side for the moment. Having become increasingly frustrated with how little I’ve learnt so far, I’ve decided to move onto Spanish for a while. Plus I have my own private Spanish tutor living with me which definitely helps!

I had a go at learning Spanish before, but I quickly realised that it was just too difficult to concentrate on two languages at the same time. But now I’ve really put more effort into learning the basics of Spanish, and so far I’m doing ok.

I’ve been using Duolingo, and overall it’s pretty good. There are some problems in how they teach it, but I’m getting the basics right and although I guess some answers, usually they are correct! So something is working!

In order to improve my pronunciation, I try and mimic the Spanish recordings until I get it right, this way I can sound more native like and also It’ll help me to practice speaking in Spanish.

What I need to do now is get my fiancé to speak Spanish to me all the time. The problem with that though is that because I’m only at a basic level, he really needs to dumb everything down. Maybe when my level is higher then he can do that with me. At the moment If I’ve any problems with grammar or what not, then I ask him and he tries to explain it to me.

But of course the Chinese grammar that I’ve learned creeps in sometimes.

For example, there was a sentence like ‘ I talk with my father’

So in my head I reverted back to my Chinese grammar and how I would say it in Chinese using the Chinese sentence structure: ‘I with my father talk’

So I start saying in Spanish “Yo con mi padre hablo”

My fiancé looks at me and says “No……Aisling that’s not right. Say it again.”

So I say again, wondering what’s wrong with my sentence.

“Aisling you are using the Chinese sentence structure. Just say it like you would in English!”

Ohhh….. I never even realised! I just naturally translated it into the way I would have said it in Chinese. Also, when he speaks to me in Spanish, I automatically think of the answer in Chinese, so it’ll take me a little while to get used to switching from Chinese mode to Spanish!

But anyway, I’m glad I started using Duolingo; it’s good for beginners and it gives a good foundation on the language.

Plus it’s free!

Aisling.

Spur Of The Moment Decision

Spur Of The Moment Decision

After a spur of the moment, I’ve decided to book flights home to Ireland. Being away for 2 months, I will definitely miss my fiancé while I’m away. Unfortunately he’ll be staying in Chengdu for that time.

I think it’ll be a nice break from each other though. The only time we’ve been apart was when he went travelling with his sister for a week. It’s not that we need a break or we are getting fed up of each other. We have a great relationship.  Just a little time with my family without him will be nice! Plus it’ll make us appreciate each other more while I’m away!

As I still have no job, my thought was ‘well I’m not tied to work or anything at the moment, so this would be the best time to go and visit.’ Plus, If I don’t go home now,  god knows when I’ll be back. I miss my nephews and my sister a lot, and I know they can’t come here to visit.

I’m looking forward to visiting home; enjoying Mums food, catching up with friends, my sister, playing with my nephews. Even sleeping in my old room!

I would have booked flights just for a month, but because it was such late notice, the cheapest flights back to Chengdu aren’t until the end of August. And the cheapest leaving are only at the end of June. At least I won’t miss out on my last few weeks of studying. Only 3 weeks!

Another reason why I think it’s a good time to go home is because I have a few things to sort out at home, eg wedding info, bank things….. so I can sort all that out while there!

I don’t really have the money for visiting, but I suppose my family outweighs my financial concerns. When you’re away, you realise how important your family is, and how much you miss them… so I don’t mind paying for the flights to visit.

So as I’ll be away for 2 months, I will expect my Chinese level to go down… but…. I will definitely try and keep on studying! I know it’s all well and good saying that, but I really need to concentrate on my Chinese this summer. As I plan on moving up to Level 7, I need to make sure my level is up to par.

So that’s what my summer will entail!

再见

爱玲

Re-watching KungFu Panda 3 In Chinese: 1 Year On

Re-watching KungFu Panda 3 In Chinese: 1 Year On

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about our experience going to the cinema and watching Kung Fu Panda 3… all in Chinese. We didn’t realise it was the Chinese version of the film until it started! You can check out my blog about it here:A Cinematic Surprise

Anyway, I said in my post that I would try and watch it again in one year and see how much more I could understand of it. So we successfully found the film on a Chinese website and we decided to watch it. And low and behold, I could understand about 60% of it!!!

This time round, I understood the storyline, most of the conversations and pretty much all of the jokes! The first time, I really had no idea what the storyline was about, and why the antagonist was so obsessed with finding Po. I didn’t understand pretty much any jokes, and I could only understand the gist of a sentence by a word I knew, such as ‘food’.

During the second time I watched it, I realised there were quite a few words which came up in the film were words that I have just learned in this semester of class!

The film also had Chinese subtitles so we can read the Chinese characters as we listen. I think pretty much every TV programme, film or drama will have Chinese subtitles. I think it’s because some older people actually have never learned the common Chinese language Mandarin; they have just been brought up learning their local dialect. So it makes it easier for them to understand what’s going on in the show. (I think this is the reason why, but I’m not 100% of it!)

But anyway, it was great seeing how much Chinese I’ve picked up in a year, and how I can actually understand the story! Now my speaking is still atrocious, but at least this shows me I’m improving in some area at least!

So I have to say I’m very proud of myself that I can understand this film now. It’s not a very difficult film with regards to the conversations and the words in it, but it’s a stepping stone at least.

I’ll have to find something else to watch and then in another year I’ll re-watch it and see how much I’ve improved.

再见

爱玲

Where Is The Time Going?

I’ve suddenly realised I only have 6 weeks left of studying! Time is flying by at an amazing rate! When I was in Ireland my Dad would say to me ‘When you get to my age, a week just feels like one day’. And the more I get older, the more this is starting to apply to me.

So anyway, we have two months of holiday until we start back to our next semester in September… and we’ve no idea what are plans are.

As my fiancés sister and boyfriend were coming to China for one month, this time last year we were busy planning our travels around China.  So we knew we would be busy during the summer… but for this coming one, we really have no plans.

My fiancé may have a job opportunity during the summer, so we may travel to a city nearby for work… but pretty much that’s it. With our lack of income, we can’t exactly plan on doing anything too exciting or expensive!

I’d have liked to have gone home for the holidays, but it’s just too expensive. So I guess we are stuck in Chengdu for a while! Maybe when we get jobs we might visit a city in China…Qingdao perhaps? My private Chinese teacher is from there so I’d like to visit it, plus it’s supposed to be a nice city!

But anyway, the weather here has been fantastic, so both of us don’t mind staying here for a bit!

再见

爱玲