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City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Mary Higgins
It’s one of those cliches of China advice, something that’s told to every business person before they travel to China for the first time: “Don’t lose your temper. Displays of anger are frowned upon in China.”

Yeah, right. If that’s true, then why is it that I see people here publicly and spectacularly Losing It here in China just about every single day?

You’ve all seen them — usually involving some nouveau-riche guy with a manbag and his mobile phone clipped to his belt, occassionally a little juiced up on baijiu, ranting and raving and screaming and shouting at whoever has slighted his “face”. I’ve seen people screaming at airport check-in staff, shop assistants, cab drivers, security guards, each other in the street when they collide on their bikes, there seems to be no end to the anger and frustration among the locals.

Lock your doors E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Metano
In China, Spring Festival is high season for thieves. It's a time of year when everybody needs money, and some folks will stop at no end to ensure that their family appears prosperous as the seasons change.

Last year, I lived in a comfortable 2-man apartment provided by my former employer in Xi'an. My roommate was a burly guy from North Carolina and—for the most part—we got along just fine. One night, almost a year ago to this day, we went out for drinks and came back sort of late. We were feeling good, talking over some of the things we'd seen recently. At around 1:30, we went to bed. Now luckily for me, I was having trouble getting to sleep that night. The hours passed—two o'clock, three o'clock—still no sleep. At about 3:30 AM—when I was just starting to doze off—I saw a strange light flashing through the frosted glass that adjoined my bedroom to the living room.

Oh no, that's different. E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Tim
I am not sure how many of you have been following this anti-Japanese fever running through China at the moment (Senkaku Islands etc.), though I admit it's nothing new. This week I am discussing or attempting too, with my students some of the cultural differences between their world and well...the rest of it.

I had prepared some question about marriage and relationships in general for them to kick around. One of the questions, "would you date/marry someone from another country?" I didn't want them just to think of someone from Europe or America and mentioned to them would it be different if the boy was from Korea or Japan for instance. On a side note, I know how most, if not all, Chinese feel about the Japanese, but I thought I would throw it in and see what happens. At first my students didn't react too much to the Korean comment, most of the girls think Korean guys are pretty cute apparently. Pretty much a 180 occurred when I mentioned, "let's say the guy is from Japan?"
Rich & Poor students E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by JX
Five hours of listening to students butchering your language is nothing. Nothing. I've been doing it for days on end. (Actually, I've finished now, and just have to mark them all - which is the real killer. Also, I've been quite impressed with the lack of butchery. This either shows that my current students are of a reasonably high overall standard, which they should be, as they are 4-year-degree students rather than 3-year-diploma ones. Or it shows that over the years I've developed immunity to the wholesale destruction of my beautiful language.). Anyway, I got a phonecall from a fellow foreign teacher the other day. He was deeply depressed and disillusioned. (What? I hear you cry. How could anybody be depressed and disillusioned while teaching in China?) You see, the thing is this chap's teaching in a rather famous and rather rich private university. Which means he's teaching stupid rich kids. Rich because their parents are paying tonnes of money for their education rather than send them to a poxy little state-run college like mine.

The Voices of Time E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by JX
That's the title of one of the texts in the extensive reading book I was issued last term. It was actually quite interesting to talk with my students in Xi'an about different cultural perceptions of time. The example given in the text described an important American agriculturalist who had an appointment with the minister for agriculture in 'an Asian country' (not specified).

After announcing his arrival to the secretary, the American waited for fourty-five minutes in the outer office, before leaving in an insulted huff. In 'western' culture, promptness is a virtue, and to keep a business associate or official visitor waiting is considered highly unprofessional. Yet in the 'asian' country apparently fourty-five minutes was only the start of the acceptable waiting time, and thus the American's actions appeared both incomprehensible and impolite.

Spring Festival: 小处不可随便 E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Jim Kirk
It's hard to take care of the public commons with a population 4 times the size of the U.S. This is especially obvious when you have hundreds of millions people mixing and milling across the country, going home, and taking vacations during their Spring Festival holidays.

Often times it's not the big issues that make a difference, but the small things that can make daily life and public spaces habitable--or not. " 小处不可随便" probably has a better English translation, but for now I'll go with "don't forget the small things." [Update: or perhaps, "don't forget the little places."] The story behind the phrase "小处不可随便" "Don't forget the small things" is also interesting.  According to Baidu Knows, a famous KMT official got tired of people peeing around the premises and wrote a sign saying “不可随处小便” "Random Urinating Not Allowed."  His calligraphy was so prized that someone stole the sign, cut it into individual characters, and rearranged it into "小处不可随便" "Don't forget the small things."

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