Thursday, July 24, 2008

3 Week Countdown

3 weeks left in China. 2 weeks of work and a week of furious shopping, packing and attending Olympic events before I go home to hit the books for a semester. Needless to say, there have been lots of little get-togethers lately as people trickle out of the country. No one can get visas anymore because of the Olympics. All foreigners without tickets, employed or not, and all non-Beijing Chinese citizens have to leave. We're left with lots of goodbyes, less people on the street, and no one to take a sublease. Pure craziness. The good in the craziness is the time with friends in the last month. We just tried out the new Mexican restaurant in town, The Saddle:

And went boating in the lake near the Forbidden City, one of our favorite past-times lately :)

Good times.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why China?

I'm getting a lot of this two word question lately. My 10 month internship is coming to a close and my 18 month stay in China only has 3 weeks left. I am preparing to finish my MBA specialization in the Fall and participate in the job search. Of course everyone is curious as to where I will sign that first contract, and brace yourselves Mom and Dad, but it is most likely China.

I've naturally spent enormous amounts of time thinking and talking about this, but I think the reasoning is pretty simple. There are 2 main reasons why I'd want to stay here, at least for the short term:

A) It's Interesting

Who doesn't want to be stimulated every day? Not be bored with what's around you? Maybe I've been "ruined" by living abroad, but I come back to the U.S. and am bored. I look like other people around me, I act and think like people around me, I like the same foods and movies, I understand the language and know how to do all the processes needed for everyday life. I don't have most of that comfort in China, for all the good (learning and adventure) and bad (annoyances and mistakes) that may bring.

I like the way one author put it: "I went to China to get a glimpse of the new China, and the more years I spent there, the more work that vision required. The silver lining was that I also saw America clearly for the first time, as well as my own, private Americanness, in the reflected views of the Chinese. China showed me America's place in the world." (Rachel Dewoskin) America brings consumerism, capitalism, freedom and immorality all in one package, seducing the young and ambitious while being rejected by the old and traditional. The shifting generations are now separated by a cultural divide, just like many of the foreigners that have lived over here for an extended period of time.

Regardless, it's a non-stop road of learning about yourself and others. One which I'm not quite ready to give up because living in the U.S. might be more comfortable.

The second reason for my answer to "Why China?"-

B) I'm Interesting

Call it selfish, but I like living here because I'm unique. Put me in the U.S. next to any of the thousands of type-As pouring out of MBA schools, and I'm just another young, Caucasian girl with very little full-time work experience on her resume. However, you put me in China and it's a whole different story. I have a western education that I can share and communicate to the local people in their own language. These differences that admittedly cause a lot of headaches and staring actually become the sparks for conversations, new friends, opportunities and job offers.

And like I said above, I'm learning how this being different constantly teaches you who you are and what you're made of. I certainly never hear of exceptional people that blended in perfectly with the maybe that means the path to exceptional is the path that's different. Who knows, the fun is in finding out.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rain, Smog, Sun, Rain, Smog

I'm interested to see how the Olympic weather is going to be here. It seems as if it has rained for a month. And when it's not raining it is smoggy or clear and scorching hot. The last thing I would ever want to do is run the marathon in this city next month. I feel for the athletes. Factories all around Beijing have shut down to clear up the skies. I had faith that it would work, but we're really close now and I don't see much difference. We'll see...only about 25 days left!

Opening ceremony tickets that were originally a couple hundred dollars are now being sold on the second hand market for $2,000-4,000 bucks a pop! So my friends and I have decided that Opening Ceremony house parties are the way to go. It's like the Super Bowl party in the U.S. just with chopsticks instead of chicken wings. I have tickets to a couple of events, but nothing important like finals, and I'm only here for the first week anyway. I'll probably go to one to say that I've been and then chicken out for the rest because of the crowds. But don't worry...I won't forget to buy the t-shirt.