Archive for BNU

The Final Paper for My Independent Study in Beijing

Posted in Beijing, Study Abroad China 2009-2010 with tags , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by foundmeinchina

As part of my Spring semester at BNU, I opted out of taking the class focusing on newspaper reading (which I probably should have taken as it is very useful but a complete drag in terms of the workload) and decided to do an independent study paper. I decided to focus on China’s economic rise. The paper is fairly informal, as I was given a lot of leeway from my advisor, who simply wanted us to show her that I had researched and learned something, but it did provide me with a great foundation of working knowledge regarding China and its economy, as well as US-Sino relations. It also proved to me that my interest in China has not waned; while writing the paper, even though I left it to the last few days before the deadline, I found myself researching because I enjoyed learning, not because I wanted to get the paper done. To me, this revelation meant more than the grade. This paper is a healthy ten pages double-spaced, so feel free to skim.

Grade Received: A

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精读第六课的文章: 我看中国人的生活 My View of Life in China

Posted in Beijing, Study Abroad China 2009-2010 with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2010 by foundmeinchina

Part of my Intensive Reading class in Chinese is to write an essay using various vocabulary words and grammar patterns that were covered in the chapter. Seeing as how these are possibly the most interesting (and fun to write) assignments I have had both in China and in general, I figure I’d post them up here (with the English translations). This way, I can not only see how my own writing has progressed and how I can learn from my mistakes, but I can also provide you with proof that I am actually learning something over here.

The translations are not always verbatim–sometimes things just don’t translate perfectly between languages, and a lot of seemingly laconic four-character sayings in Chinese carry with them an intrinsic connotation that needs many more words in English to convey. Some things just sound a little bit better when embellished in English. I did, however, strive to stay as close to possible as the original Chinese as I could.

This one is the most recent one, which I actually just finished writing.



在北京,什么样的人都有。有的人太富有了——除了天天大吃大喝,他们甚至在豪华轿车安装了三四个电视。 有的人则连吃都吃不饱。我各种阶层的人都遇到过。不管是男女老少,也不管经济地位如何,他们绝对都会下象棋。离我家最近的十字路口每天从早到晚都有一群老百姓在下象棋。特别是一位老年人不管风吹雨打每天都在那儿。他常常说:“谁要挑战我,谁就坐下来!任你谁来,我也有可能输”人们接连地来竭力地想要打败他。 最讽刺的是越把时间浪费在吹牛上的人,越容易输掉比赛。其实我从来没有仔细地监督他们,但是我今天问他有没有输过,他从容地回答“我向来没输过。”


I have been to myriad different Chinese cities, all in the pursuit of better understanding China’s diverse cultures. Every city I have been to has its own special unique characteristics–for example Henan Province’s Kaifeng City and its Chinese Jewish minority, Zhejiang Province’s Suzhou with its so-called most beautiful women in China (though I personally do not agree), Sichuan Province with its Jiuzhaigou, bamboo, and pandas, to Yunnan Province with its more than twenty extraordinarily friendly and inviting minority groups. From my travel experiences it has become evident to me that China truly has an innumerable amount of different customs and traditions, but despite each place’s own unique customs, I realized that there is one phenomenon that persistently presents itself: In China, regarldess of whether you are in a Naxi village in Yunnan or in a teahouse in Chengdu, there is always somebody playing Chinese chess. Seeing Chinese chess played no matter where I go sometimes makes me wonder whether or not the reason the Chinese follow (most of) the rules and laws of their country is in light of the fact that Chinese chess plays such an intrinsic role in daily life?

In Beijing one can find literally all types of people. Some people are almost too rich–besides eating and drinking to gluttonous levels every day, they have multitudes of televisions installed into their limousines. On the other hand, some people don’t even have enough food to get them through the day. I have met people from both extremes, and from every echelon in between. Whether male, female, old or young, and regardless of socioeconomic status, every person knows how to play Chinese chess. At the nearest intersection from my house there is a group of old Beijingers who play xiangqi from sunrise to late night. Especially of note is one elderly man who regardless of wind or rain is out there every single day. I often hear him say: “Anybody who wants to challenge me, just take a seat! No matter who you are, you still have a chance to beat me!” People come one after another and try their absolute best to beat him. Ironically, it is the ones who waste the most time bragging that they can take him that lose the easiest. Honestly, I’ve passed this table for a year but never closely paid attention to his record, but the other day I asked him if he has ever lost, to which he looked me tranquilly and replied “To this day I have never.”

In short, Chinese chess seems not only to be one of the most widespread symbols of Chinese culture, but also one that contributes to the unity of the Chinese themselves.


Posted in Beijing, Study Abroad China 2009-2010 with tags , , , , on May 31, 2010 by foundmeinchina

This essay prompt was to write a story about animals and people. That was easy for me–I have two awesome kittens here in Beijing. This essay is my personal favorite.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Kaochuanr won’t be able to come home with me. Unless somebody can help me watch him for summer, he’s staying in China to make it on his own. Ask around.






有一天,我和思考带了一些考羊肉串儿回家,一边吃一边看电影。一只小猫看我们吃肉串儿,偷偷地“拿”了一串儿,放在两个小爪子中间模仿我们的样子吃起来。我看它这么爱吃考羊肉串儿就给它起名“烤串儿”。 我们另一只小猫从小就很酷,不管我们多么厉害地欺负它,它都兴高采烈地呜呜叫,所以我们给它起名“哥们儿”。



Feel Like Eating Kitten Burgers?

I have been in China for ten months already. Since I landed in Pudong Airport in Shanghai, I have been with my friend Scott. Even though in Shanghai’s ECNU we were not roommates, we were still classmates.

We studied at Shanghai for six weeks, and after finals we decided to take a two week trip to Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan Province. When we finally got to Beijing, we made it just in time to catch the beginning of Fall semester, and thus had no time to our own separate housing, so we had to live together again. Due to constantly being together, we have become like brothers, and just like brothers, we tend to argue a lot. Since we were not classmates in Beijing, we originally tried our hardest to hang out with our own new classmates, however as soon as we both got home, the squabbling started. We talked about this problem for a while, and finally realized that this finding new friends idea would not solve the problem. We thought long and hard for a better solution, and finally figured out the perfect solution–we would get kittens.

We found a Chinese friend to take us to a street where they sold animals for pets. Before I came to China, I used to hear about the terrible conditions that animals are forced to live in, but after arriving at that street and seeing it with my own eyes, I found out that terrible does not even come close to describing their plight. I had never seen such sad, pitiful animals. We quickly started going through the stalls to find the most healthy looking kittens. We picked up and turned their too-small-for-bird cages around to check them for signs of life (and in some cases death). After finding the two most healthy-looking ones, we high-tailed it out of there. As we were leaving, I promised myself that I would never go back to a place like that.

Scott and I carried the kittens home, and the whole way they looked terrified. As soon as we arrived home and let them go, they flew across the room and under the couch. Besides eating, peeing, and pooping, they spent three days under that couch without making a sound, just watching us two big strangers. But Scott and I were not discouraged–we spent a lot of time whispering to them, steadily getting them comfortable with us. After a week, they even let us hold them.

A while later, Scott and I brought home some 考羊肉串儿 (kao yang rou chuanr), or roasted lamb skewers for dinner. While we watched a movie and ate, one of the kittens sat watching us, sneakily stole one of our skewers, and holding it between his two tiny paws, imitated us eating it. After seeing how much he loved eating lamb skewers, we decide to name him “烤串儿(Kao Chuar)“. Our other kitten was since the day we got him always really cool, no matter how terribly we bullied him he would take it happily purring away. For this reason we decided to name him “哥们儿(Gemer)”, or “Dude”.

One day Kao Chuar’s eye got infected. Even though it eventually got a little better, he never fully recovered, so his depth perception is pretty bad. Even though he’s a gimped kitten, he still manages to make it a point to wreak havoc around the house every day.

Thanks to Kao Chuar and his partner in crime Gemer, Scott and my friendship took a great leap forward. We are getting ready to head back to America soon, but we have already prepared to take the kittens back with us. Our biggest worry, honestly, is whether or not Kao Chuar will approve of American lamb skewers.


Posted in Beijing, Study Abroad China 2009-2010 with tags , , , , on May 31, 2010 by foundmeinchina

This is the second essay I wrote for class. The prompt was about Chinese food.


我们世界有各种各样的文化, 它们有自己独特的特点和习俗。在大部分的社会中,文化和当地饮食彼此互相影响。由于这种特别紧密的关系,因此了解文化,注意每个国家制作的饮食是免不了的。譬如,在美国人的吃的方式上, 除了吃中国菜,即使人们常常聚一起吃,他们还是各点各的, 各吃各的,共吃一盘菜的场合非常少。这个习俗意味着美国注重个性自由的文化。

此外,美国人对吃饭的要求也比中国人讲究得多。很多美国人认为吃肉既损害健康而且多动物很残酷, 所以他们根本不吃肉。然而中国人完全不一样。中国人则把团聚的感情寄托在吃饭上。中国人聚一起吃饭的时候, 点的菜的菜份之所以比美国的多是因为中国人共吃一盘菜。

另外,甚至在餐具上我们也可以看到中国文化的影响。 在美国,服务员给你的餐具取决于你点的菜,点牛排的话就上叉子和特别的牛排刀子,点一片比萨的话,有时候甚至连盘子也不给。中国人则主要有两种餐具:勺子和筷子。中国的文化反映了这种情况。中国人不用刀子,因为中国菜已经切好了,所以上刀子也不合算。中国人用一样的餐具从一样的盘子夹菜吃,不用浪费时间把菜切好,只要使劲儿嚼就行了。

Even the McDonald’s is Different!

Our world is filled with many different cultures, each with their own unique customs. In most societies, culture and cuisine are intrinsically tied together. Due to this especially close relationship, in order to understand a culture, it is imperative to pay attention to what and how the people of the culture eat. For example, in American food culture, besides Chinese food, even when with close friends and family, Americans still order individually, and eat their food individually. It is exceedingly rare for Americans to eat from the same plate. This custom signifies the emphasis on individuality and freedom in American culture.

Moreover, Americans are much more fickle than Chinese people when it comes to food. Many Americans believe that eating meat is not only harmful to the body, as well as cruel to animals, so many refuse to eat meat. However, the Chinese are completely different. Chinese people place togetherness and family on the act of dining together. When Chinese people come together to share a meal, the portions of food are so much bigger than the portions in America because they are to be shared with everybody at the table.

In addition, culture can also be seen in the types of utensils used. In America, the type of utensil that a waiter will bring you depends entirely upon the food you ordered–a steak is served with a fork and a special steak knife, and pizza is sometimes served without even a plate, much less utensils. The Chinese on the other hand only use two main utensils: a spoon and chopsticks. Chinese culture is reflected in this circumstance. The Chinese do not use a knife to eat, because Chinese food is always cut up into edible pieces beforehand, so using a knife is neither practical nor necessary. At a Chinese meal, Chinese people all use the same utensil to grab food from the same plate, without wasting time on special cutting tools and techniques–all they have to do is chew a little better and they are fine.


Posted in Beijing, Study Abroad China 2009-2010 with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2010 by foundmeinchina

This is the first essay of the semester that I wrote.


我曾经跟一位摆梳子地摊的人聊天儿。 我之所以跟她聊天儿是因为我那天晚上要坐飞机回美国过年。经过地摊的时候我突然想起我忘了买礼物送给我一个朋友。 那个朋友的头发又长又乱,我一见地摊卖梳子的就确定梳子最适合她,所以临时决定就卖梳子给她。摆地摊的人从我的表情看出来我对她的梳子很感兴趣,马上开始给我介绍她的各种梳子又什么不同。

我买好梳子后继续跟他聊天儿。我们彼此做自我介绍,她说她是东北人, 在沈阳长大。他的家人都在那儿住。 她以前在打火机工厂工作,但是工厂变得越来越现代化,所以她被炒鱿鱼了。她下岗以后没办法挣钱,也就没办法养活家人。由于受不了这种情况,她来北京找工作。她本来有开东北饭店的梦想,不过她一到北京就发现她的梦想实现不了了。再加上,她花光了自己攒的钱买火车票来北京,所以她没办法会沈阳和家人团聚。我觉得遇到这么多困难的人真是再可怜不过了,但是她却不要我可怜她。她睿智地说“对酒当歌”,即使我今生没机会再见到家人,去世后一定能再见到他们。在那以前,我干脆在这儿卖梳子,好好过日子。”

Why She Came to Beijing

I once had a long chat with a lady who sold combs on the street. I ended up talking to her because that night I was flying back to America to celebrate the new year with family. As I was passing by her, I suddenly rememberd that I hadn’t yet bought a gift for a friend back home. This friend’s hair was long and messy, so as soon as I saw the lady’s combs, I knew I had found the perfect gift, so in that instant I decided to buy some. The seller could tell from my expression that I was interested in her goods, and immediately began to explain to me the difference between the various combs she had for sale.

After purchasing the combs, I continued talking to her. We introduced ourselves, and she said she was from the Northwest of China, and grew up in Shenyang. Her family still lives there. She used to work at a cigarette lighter factory, but after it modernized and became more automated, she was fired. After losing her job she had no way to make money, and therefore no way to support her family. Because of this unbearable circumstance, she decided to come to Beijing to find work. Originally she had dreams of opening up a restaurant showcasing her hometown’s food, but as son as she got to Beijing she realized that this dream would never be realized. Furthermore, she had already spent all her savings on the train ticket to Beijing, so she had no way to reunite with her family. Listening to a story filled with such hardship and sorrow made my heart ache, but she assured me that she sought nobody’s pity. She sagely said “‘Sing to accompany wine’ (literally translated, which means that life is short, so make merry while you can), even if I cannot see my family again in this lifetime, once I pass on I will surely see them again in another world. Until then, I might as well sell these combs and live happily.”


Posted in Beijing, Photo, Study Abroad China 2009-2010 with tags , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by foundmeinchina

Landed in Beijing a little a day ago. I found it interesting that I had more of that excited-to-visit-a-new-place feeling stepping off the plane in LAX than I did stepping off the plane in Beijing International. It feels like Beijing is more of a home to me than America. I got to my apartment with no problem, and was greeted by my English buddy Sharky, who was house-sitting for us, as well as those two mangy ratcatchers 烤串儿 and 哥们儿, the house kittens. Although it seems like they’re only going to be kittens for a short while longer.

Kitten Glam 01

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