America F*** NO!

I think that this blog is turning into more of a web journal, since I only update it when I have the time, but this post is inspired by a recent column written for the China Daily Metro section by my friend Will Axford. It can be viewed here at http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/metro/2010-07/30/content_11073081.htm

I’ve been in Beijing for about 5 weeks now, as I arrived on June 24th. I think I can say this experience if making me into a better person than I was before because of all the things I get to experience and also getting to see how people in other countries live their lives from day to day. What I didn’t expect was my thoughts of some of the people from my own country here in Beijing. In Will’s column, he talks about this briefly, as I was one of the friends with him at this pizza shop and I’m going to go into this deeper.

Every week my friends and I have been going to this chain-restaurant pizza shop in Beijing called the Kros Nest since the pizza is amazing and also if you go on Wednesday night they have free beer from 8 – 10 p.m. Basically all you can drink Tsingtao drafts. For three recent college graduate American expats, this is an opportunity you just can’t let pass by to relax after a long day working in the newsroom at China Daily, but every week we see these same American college students. They’re loud and obnoxious and the restaurant staff are annoyed by the very sight of them. I understand that they’re college students, but it doesn’t mean they need to be disrespectful by drunkenly shouting profanities and chanting “USA! USA! USA!” at the top of their lungs, or even singing the theme song from Team America known as “America F*** Yeah!”, as well.

Being around these people makes me want to pretend I’m from Canada and not feel proud to think that we all come from the same melting pot. Just because we’re in a country where people don’t speak the same language, doesn’t mean people here don’t deserve the same amount of respect.

While I may not be a perfect person in all aspects, I still have the piece of mind to be respectful in a place that is only my temporary home and also to the many traditions and cultural aspects I may not completely agree with. To me, these people I’m meeting and observing don’t follow the definition of an American in my dictionary.

For now all I can say is that of the title of this blog post: “America F*** NO!”. Some of the Americans I’ve seen in Beijing need to grow up and watch how they handle themselves. Why would we want even more people in the world to hate us and think Americans are obnoxious when much of the world already thinks that? We stereotype people in America and many of these people seem to be serving as the American stereotype for the Chinese people.

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Beijing or Bust!

It seems like I’ve been neglecting my blog, one thing I always seem to do. I’ve been here in Bejijng for 12 days and I’ve already seen so much and am starting my second week of working here at the China Daily. For this first blog, I think I’ll start with my trip to Beijing then I’ll catch up to where I am currently since most days I don’t do anything, but work all day so not much exciting goes on.

I’ll try to spare the boring parts, but the journey really begins once I got on the plane at Dulles International Airport. It was direct from Washinton, D.C to Beijing Capital Airport, 14 hours.

It was a bit of an annoyance, but for the first hour or so on the plane, I was sitting next to a young Chinese university student on his way back home who grilled me on why I was going to China and why I was interested in interning at the China Daily, a state-run publication. He couldn’t understand the fact that I want to be a journalist, well, that I am a journalist, and experience is experience. What better a place to get international reporting experience than in the PRC if you have the connections through your school?

All that aside, although it felt like a lifetime, I made it to Beijing, bewildered since I didn’t speak any of the language. The next couple hours after arriving were some of the most stressful times of my life. The plan was that I was supposed to get there, get online with the airport WIFI and contact my friend who was going to meet me at the airport to take me to our hotel. I was supposed to be able to check my email and he would have sent me his phone number for me to call him after I got a sim card for my cell phone. The problem was that there was no free Internet in the airport and you could only use it if you were on a departing flight. The information desk directed me to the “business center” where I would be able to get online and check my email, but when I finally checked it, there was no email from my friend. Apparently he got on a different flight and didn’t get to Beijing till later than he was supposed to. So here I was stranded in the airport with no contact and on top of that my cell phone battery was dead.

Fear not, for I eventually charged my phone as this ghetto charging station where you attach your battery, and was able to get online later on my phone to send an email to Eric to call my number which he eventually got his. From there I got in a taxi where the driver at first told me “no” when I handed him the address in English and I had to call Eric to have him tell the driver where to go in Chinese. When I did get to the hotel, I found out about 30 minutes later as I waited for Eric that I was at the wrong hotel, as our hotel was a chain with about 15 hotels of the same name. From here I went into a shop and handed my phone to a woman holding a baby who then was able to help me get another taxi and tell the driver where to take me.

It turns out that I was on the complete other side of the city from where I needed to be. After I got out of the taxi, I met my friend who I hadn’t seen in weeks since we were in State College, PA. We got to the hotel and that was the end of my long and tiresome journey before we went out to dinner that night.

I arrived at Beijing Capital Airport at 2:30 pm. From the time it took me to get through customs, get my baggage and face all these troubles till I met my friend, Eric, it was about 8 pm when I finally arrived at the correct hotel and was about to go out to dinner. Nonetheless, I was triumphant and hungry.

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Vietnamese spring rolls… or “tacos” as I called them!

This was about 2 days ago, but I never got around to posting it since I’ve been busy preparing for China, trying to find a flight, apartment and preparing information to get my visas, but Jackie and I made some Vietnamese spring rolls! Being the retard I am (haha), I originally called them “Vietnamese tacos”. We made them once last summer when Jackie’s friend came to visit and they were amazing, so fresh tasting, that we had to give it a try – plus, me being the foodie that I am, had to post this on my blog.

These spring rolls had pretty basic ingredients. We bought these Vietnamese spring roll wraps that get soft when you dip them in warm water, Thai basil, mint, shrimp, lettuce, rice noodles, shredded carrots, beansprouts and peanut sauce. All of the ingredients were as fresh as you can get in State College, we even had to de-head and peel the shrimp – sorry if I gross anyone out with that photo below of the brains coming out from when we were preparing them.

Basically all you need to do it put the wrap in water then fill it with all the ingredients you love and wrap it like a burrito. With the basil and mint, we basically just put one at a time in each spring roll, meaning not mixing the herbs and putting a couple leaves of the single ingredient. We had one other herb as well, but I can’t seem to remember what it was, they were all fairly similar looking to me. None the less, they were all delicious no matter what ingredients you put in it.

For a warm day, this is a perfect fresh, light and healthy meal. It doesn’t get any better than this. Enjoy!

UPDATE: You can also use cilantro. That was the last ingredient that I couldn’t remember, Jac just informed me (LOL).

Some finished spring rolls next to one before it’s wrapped.

Wrapping a Vietnamese spring roll.

Om nom nom 🙂

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Life as a College Graduate, I’m going to Asia!

I realize I haven’t posted in a while and I apologize for that. The last month of school was just very crazy. It felt as if I did nothing all semester and all of my work was due during that last month. To tell you the truth though, the bulk of my work was in the last month, that’s just how my professors setup the classes, but, anyway, I survived and am now a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in English!

I bet you’re all wondering, what now. Do you have a job? The answer to that is, well, not quite, but I’m happy to report that I’m going to Beijing, China! In past entries I said that I wanted to go to Asia and with persistence and searching, I got offered an internship with the China Daily, one of the top English-language newspapers in China. Just to show how big it is, the paper has an average daily circulation of more than 300,000 in about 150 countries and regions. My past professional experience only includes blogging, so I really wanted to work for a print newspaper, although I could be working on the website, Chinadaily.com.cn.

Here is my plan and it is to go to Beijing to intern for the China Daily. I’ll be there for about 2 months. If I really love Beijing, I’m planning on trying to find a full-time position there. If that doesn’t work out, I already have another internship lined up right after where I’m going to be working at Akihabara News, a tech blog in Tokyo. If you know me, you know that is right up my alley.

I can’t wait to be in China, especially for the food. Just look at the pictures I posted and these are just noodle soups. Doesn’t it look amazing? That is only one thing, there’s going to be tons of dumplings, steamed buns, tofu and everything else that I can’t imagine right now and it’s all supposedly very cheap. I think about 6 dumplings costs less than 50 cents. By the way, I think the food in those pictures look delicious, they’re screen shots from when I was watching Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in Shanghai on my computer.

I’m definitely going to be updating my blog a lot more frequently. I plan to keep a blog from now on of all my journeys and experiences while I’m in Beijing and then also if I go to Japan. So be sure to keep checking back!

One last thing, being the crazy technology-obsessed American that I am, one thing I’m really excited about is all of the cheap KIRFs (people in the tech world call them Keeping It Real Fake), or in other words, Chinese knockoffs. Apparently they are really cheap. They have fake cellphones, like iPhone for about $100, I’ve even seen KIRFs that look like the new iPhone 4G that was recently leaked and isn’t even out yet. I have my eye set on a KIRF iPad, which runs Android 2.1, the same as my Nexus One (by Google) cell phone and now has about the same processor as the iPad that costs about $250. What also is improved is that it has a place to put SD cards for more memory, USB ports and also an HDMI output so you can display it on your TV.

China is gonna be amazing!

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Collegian Cartoon

I saw this cartoon in the Daily Collegian today and I’ll admit I laughed when I first read it. This is again showing how America is concerned with a dispute that doesn’t really even effect it since it is constantly in the newspaper.

http://www.collegian.psu.edu/opinions/

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Looking forward

It’s hard to imagine that it’s nearly spring already. April is almost upon us and with the coming of spring, that also means one other thing, especially for me… GRADUATION! It may have taken me a little bit longer for me to decide what I wanted to do with my life, but on May 15, 2010, I’ll become a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Print Journalism and a minor in English. With my life changing moment drawing ever-closer, it’s only natural that I’m constantly thinking about my future. I’ll admit, that its becoming even more so than the amount of thought I’m putting into my last college assignments. I’ve been weighing my options, and I think I’ve come up with a plan.

After thinking about this for some months now, I’ve decided where I want to be in the next 6 months and it’s a simple answer. Tokyo. It’s really all I can think about right now, and living abroad outweighs my wants of working as a journalist for a local paper right now or some other job in the US. I have a desire to live on my own, abroad, burning inside me that I need to satisfy this before I even start to consider doing the sensible thing and settling now at a salary job in the US.

As for my options to work there, it seems like my best bet is to be an English teacher. I read and heard about all the problems with that system, but in the end, I’m not looking to be a permanent resident right now, if ever, but I want to have a chance to be abroad in a country that I love and I want the chance to be able to learn the language, expanding on the one semester I have of learning Japanese. The way that I look at it also is that I’ve been studying English and Journalism all throughout college and I have to be better than most of the people they hire for these jobs who have no background in English besides being able to speak it since they live in America. I think I can actually really help these people too. I helped my roommate Shin with all the editing of his papers and learning different words and phrases, it’s not that much different.

Gundam in Odaiba, Summer 2009Another thing that I’m hoping is that while I’m in Japan I can continue to write for some English language publications or blogs. This will allow me to keep doing what I love, which is writing and will hopefully expand my portfolio and maybe even get me some contacts, which could be help about the time my English teaching contract runs out (they are usually for a year). I already found one that I can write for that would give some information to other people in Japan or wanting to work in Japan and that is GaijinPot.com. I might even get lucky to find some places that will let me freelance and pay me per article I write, giving me a little extra spending money in Japan.

Anyway, this is my plan. I want to live in Japan, in a large city, since I’ve always wanted to experience city life abroad and have always lived in rural or suburban areas. I’ll get to eat all the food that I love, visit friends that are living in Japan and go to a bunch of events that I’ve only dreamed about like the Tokyo Game Show and going to see the life-size Gundam. All this will satisfy my need to live and work in a foreign country to better learn the language, learn firsthand about a world media system, and to go on the adventure that I’ve always dreamed of. Who knows if I’ll be successful in this, and I know it won’t be easy, but I’m going to try my best and try to make the most of this life. You only live once.

(Shin, I borrowed the Gundam image just to prove how awesome it would be to see this thing lol)

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Great Firewall of China by Laura Ling

I saw this video a couple years ago on Current, one of my favorite news sites/tv channels. It’s what really got me interested in censorship in China.

Laura Ling goes to China where an information battle is taking place between China’s 120 million Internet users and the Chinese government’s web censors.

The Great Firewall of China by Laura Ling

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