Welcome back readers, to another FLASHBACK FRIDAY – the series of filler-posts which make-up for our lack of original content…
*epic theme music*
This week we’re looking at Mike’s Guide to China, a series which explores that most enigmatic of ancient cultures…
First of all, a short introduction to Mike…
Mike is an American fellow who first found himself in the Middle Kingdom back in 2011 working as an English teacher of sorts. Since then he has immersed himself into the culture; having become fluent in the language, furthering his tertiary education, and tying the knot with a local (and very charming) gal.
As a friend and colleague of his, I’ve gotten to know him as an honest and outspoken guy of the ‘less-than-politically-correct’ variety who tells it like it is, and I’ve been keen to pick his brains on the whole Chinese-affair.
Warning: Social Justice Warriors, please leave your nonsense at the door.
You may disagree with him, and that’s fine, but I guarantee that unless you yourself have lived as a foreigner in China, you’ll be hard-pressed faulting his perspective.
As they say, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
Don’t learn Chinese:
Upon meeting new expats who just got off the boat, we often get asked the question What’s the best way to learn Chinese?
Our answer: Don’t.
The first rule for learning Chinese is ‘You don’t want to learn Chinese.’ The second rule for learning Chinese is ‘You really don’t want to learn Chinese.’
Not unless you want to suffer listening to comments like Do foreigners and Chinese go to the same heaven?? Or Look, a foreigner! Xiao Wei, you speak English, speak to it! Come on! Speak to it!
Just about anyone who has been anywhere outside their home country can relate to culture shock – that sudden realisation that the world isn’t one big fluffy bubble of comfort and familiarity.
People live differently, who’d ‘ave thunk it, right?
Personally this is one of the parts of international travel which I most enjoy. However when it comes to actually living in a different culture to your own, the little differences can start to build up to the point of annoyance, or in the case of living in China – RAGE!
Take a look at Mike’s tips on avoiding the daily head-banging madness that comes from living as a foreigner in China.
The Differentiated Responsibilities Dilemma:
Which, in short, means you’ve got a co-teacher who thinks it’s her to job to check-out during your lesson. You and the co-teacher may have common responsibilities, but don’t presume to think hers extends into your lesson plan; it’s YOUR hour, after all, not hers.
You’ll barely be able to sense her presence. Was that a tremor in the force? Nope. That was flatulence in the middle of her nap. And that ‘susurrus’ you keep hearing ain’t the wind either – it’s her moans of angst for whenever you have the gall to include her in the game you’re trying to play. If you’re real lucky, you’ll also get the Eli Manning face that in unspoken words says Go. Away.
Living in a different country obviously comes with the added bonus of interacting with the locals. If you yourself are not a teacher, don’t worry; cultural differences and the potential conflicts that can arise tend to apply to all industries.
A word of advice to anyone anywhere working overseas – don’t be a dick. Understand that the industry standards and work-culture of your home country may not apply in your new environment. Be prepared to adapt, and maybe take the time to get to know your colleagues. Who knows, you might actually learn a thing or two.
That said, it’s okay to get a little frustrated.
The ‘Manager’s Pet’ Persona:
Which should be gracefully removed and buried in a yard somewhere. Look, it’s no secret that foreigners can often get preferential treatment in China. As a wise man once told this writer, The Devil gave me this ability to speak English. China wants English. What do you want from me? Fair enough. But when your Chinese manager starts stroking your…uhm…ego, THAT’s where problems occur. Why? Because your Chinese coworkers are getting screwed with their pants on by the same manager. Every. Single. Day. Don’t forget that. Only difference is, they don’t complain.
Mike apparently had a change of heart in retrospect of his last guide (see above). It can be hard to get along with your Chinese colleagues from time to time, but guess what…
They feel the same about you too!
As I said before, don’t be a dick. Cultural differences aside, we’re all still people and it’s not always easy for anyone to adapt to different standards. In the case of a foreigner living in China however, YOU are the guest in THEIR country. The onus is on YOU to understand THEIR culture and customs far more so than the other way around.
Take a moment to appreciate how foreigners in Western nations are so often expected to assimilate into society at the expense of their own cultural background.
It’s not fucking easy!
The Walking Cesspool:
We’re not just talking kids with a sneeze or cough. No, the Walking Cesspools are the meth addicts from Breaking Bad. Hey, we understand that sensitivity must be exercised here, but come on! When a student walks in with an open sore the size of a Buick on their lip and subsequently chews everything in the room… THAT’S NOT GOOD.
The diagnosis from school administrators and coworkers: Oh, he’s fine. He just has too much fire in his liver. To which there are two possible responses: 1) Then he has two things; or 2) No, that’s herpes.
There comes a time in every teacher’s career that they throw their hands up and say ‘you know what, fuck the kids!’ While that’s not necessarily fair to the kids themselves, it IS fair to blame their incompetent fucking parents.
Let’s face it, not everyone is qualified to raise a human being. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want to know the source of a problem child, look no further than their parents.
Mike wraps up his guide to China by listing the top 5 kids teachers love to hate!
That’s all folks!
We’ll leave you with a quote from Carl Pilkington on his visit to China:
Being honest with you, it’s not the ‘great’ wall of China. It’s an all right wall. It’s the ‘All Right Wall of China.’
We hope to see you again next time…