Tag Archives: Living in China

#Shaolin Temple’s #Kungfu Monks

21 May

Henan is home to the Shaolin Temple – made famous in Jackie Chan’s films and the center of Chinese Kungfu or “Wushu.”  The monks did a performance for the Henan Tourism Festival!

Do You Eat Mouth?

31 Dec
Student: Teacher do you eat mouth?
Me: 😶 no, can’t say that I do! What kind of mouth? — Pig, cow, goat? (thinking to myself, you eat pigs feet and chicken head, maybe you eat the mouth too? . . )
Student: No, teacher “mouth”
Me: -_- I feel like we’re not communicating here. . . Can you spell it?
Student:  M o u s e 🐭
Me: 😱😨 Nope, thought mouth sounded bad, but that might just be worse.

CAQ: Is China Safe?!? – The Health Issue: Pollution

27 Feb

Continuing the Commonly Asked Questions series based on questions people give me about China.  While it may not answer everything, I hope that it will clear up some big misconceptions people  have about this beautiful country.  You can find the first part “Is China Safe: the Size/Language Issue Here.

CAQ #2: Is China Safe?!? ~ the Health Issue: Pollution

Yes, this is really what my city looks like some days


Concern: China is a scary place with backdoor doctors, unsanitary practices,  horrifying pollution, and dangerous hazards lying around everywhere.

I’ll start by addressing Pollution in this post~ the biggest concern for most people.  Is there  pollution in China? ~ Yes, of course there is.  There is also a lot of pollution in the US, Korea,  Japan, England, India, etc.  Is smog a problem? ~ Yes, smog can be a bad problem, especially on   certain days.  The worst of the smog arrives when we haven’t had rain in a while (Henan had a  drought this year, so that didn’t help), when they burn off the fields in the fall, and when the  machines are running extra long at the local factories.  There are certain days when skyscrapers  right in front of you completely disappear and you can taste the acid in the air.  I’d say that’s been about 7-8 days in my first semester here in China (Aug-Feb).  It can be really, really bad.


My City Today


Of course, I live in Zhengzhou which is one of the worst cities in China, so I can’t measure the rest of China by that. You can see a rating every day for most Chinese cities’ pollution level here, and  Zhengzhou is always pretty bad. But if Zhengzhou is the worst they have to offer, I don’t  think the problem is as prevalent as people believe. 

First, I’d like to say (and I’ll probably repeat this in later posts), a large part of your ability to withstand the smog depends on your own body.  Personally, I generally suffer from serious skin sensitivity and asthma; one bad day in the US will knock me out.  But in China, I’m actually the healthiest I’ve been in a while. My skin clears up, my asthma goes away, I suffer fewer headaches, I’m breathing much better.  Others are the opposite; they’re fine in the States and then get landblasted with respiratory illnesses here.  I think a lot of it is dependent on how your body likes certain environments. Mine seems to like China.  

Furthermore, as far as actual pollution goes, it isn’t like every single day I am terrified of  walking out the door. Only about 2-3 days this semester have I been unwilling to leave  without a mask.There is also the fact that Zhengzhou has coal mines not to far away ~ and  that always adds to the issue, just look at the coal towns in West Virginia.  We have to dust about  twice a week to clean the black off everything, especially outside windows. That gives me a few  concerns about Black Lung or something similar, but it’s my own fault for choosing to live so close  to the coal mines.

Seeing the sun in a bright blue sky is a pretty rare sight around here, but we do get it, especially  after a rain.  And I can see the stars many nights, so long as the fireworks haven’t smoked the  place up. I breath fine for the most part, although I know some people who struggle.  They do have masks everywhere; you can always pick one up to help you out. I personally never really use them unless it’s during the crop burning week. 

One nice part about China is that the people here are incredibly health conscious and actively work to clean the mess up.Even big  factory owners know that their children have to breathe in ‘the air they create; it provides a lot of incentive to clean the mess up. ‘They are truly worried about the situation, and there are constant 

discussions on how to eliminate or guard yourself against the threat posed by air pollution.  They  have extremely advanced masks, they make sure that everyone knows what days to avoid going  outside and what days it’s okay. They are constantly planting trees, bushes, shrubs, and adding water in an effort to combat the problem and reoxygenate the air.  Zhengzhou even bought a “Smog  Machine!”  It goes around the streets spraying water in an effort to cleanse the air.  🙂 

If you move further out of the big cities, the problem isn’t half as bad anyway.

So maybe some cities in China are worse than most of the United States, but they are working with millions more factories, mines, people and other pollution causing issues. As my student’s say,  just look at the advancements they have already made in eliminating causation factors. Give them a few more years, and they will probably have advanced in leaps and bounds.  They like their  clean air, and generally the Chinese are a stubborn/innovative set. If they want clean air, they’ll  find a way to get it. It just takes time and patience, and a willingness to wear a mask every so often till the problem is fixed.





CAQ: Is China Safe?!? – The Size Issue

16 Jan

Well, small break in the vacation plans – mom fell yesterday and crashed her hip so I spent 13+ hours in the Korean hospital.  Today she is zonked out on pain meds, so I have some time to do a little typing 🙂

I haven’t really had time to answer questions yet, but I wanted to start addressing some of the Commonly Asked Questions people give me about China.  While it may not answer everything, I hope that it will clear up some big misconceptions people have about this beautiful country.


CAQ #1: Is China Safe?!?

When I began telling family and friends about my new adventure plans to teach in China,I found fear and worry was a bit more prevalent than excitement, and I had to do some serious selling of the idea before they would start to get behind me.  The most common question I was asked was “well, do you think it’s safe?”  After thinking about it, I’ve decided that this question stemmed from concerns of about three things (size/language, health, and security); I’ll address each in turn over the next few posts, but I want to start with the size/language concerns.

Concern: China is massively large and the language is foreign. 

Just looking at a map will tell you that China is one of the worlds largest nations (technically #3, right after Russia and Canada).  Then there is the fact that it is actually the #1 largest nation in terms of populations (1.3 billion in 2015, making up 19% of the worlds’ people!).  Just, woah!  There are 45 cities in China with more than 1,000,000 people, and the vast majority of them are closer to 3-4 million.  Compare that to the US, where only 9 cities have more than 1,000,000 and only 4 of those are more than 1.5.  It’s just kind of mind-boggling to think about how HUGE China really is.  And I think this is one part of China that people actually kind of get – we’ve seen the movies about Shanghai and Beijing, watched the tiny little streets and billions of flashing lights in strange characters leading us into back alleys to be lost in the maze forever.  China’s size is daunting, and I won’t say that this doesn’t scare me at times.

Unlike Korea and Japan, where subway signs, maps, and bus routes are more or less in English, most of the transportation aids in China are in Pinyin.  In fact, there isn’t even a map at all of my home city of Xinzheng, and it has about 600,000 people.  While this seems extremely big to a Missouri girl from a town of 12,000; to the locals, this is practically a backwoods country farming village.  Even the nearby city of Zhengzhou, boasting 5,000,000 as early as 2010, is considered a small city. And that’s TWICE the size of Chicago! And still no good map! Continue reading

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