Sam's Trip to China

Two years of college Chinese was not enough 😅

Why are Chinese Apps So Annoying?

1 July ’19

微博 (weibo, the Chinese Twitter), will send me eight notifications about new posts on accounts that I don’t following when I open the app. I’m already on the app, what is the point of sending me notifications? Annoying.

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Beijing

6 June ’19

Living in Beijing is incredibly convenient.

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Free

25 May ’19

All good things must come to an end. On April 29th I had my last day at Microsoft Research Asia. My team took me out to a nice restaurant nearby and told me they thought my Mandarin had improved greatly over these six months. I formatted my computer, received my certificate of completion, packed up my things, and the next day I got on a flight. I had a great time here and am sad to be leaving Asia…

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SamInChina Presents: Navigating a Hospital

7 April ’19

Something in this city is killing me. I’m tired all the time. I sleep from midnight to ten every day, and yet when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror there are still dark circles under my eyes. I have a couple of hypotheses. The first is that exposure to my second language all day every day tires me out. If I knew zero Chinese my brain would just filter it all out, but since I’m learning the language it’s always processing bits and pieces that I come across. The second is the pollution. I didn’t know this before coming to Beijing, but apparently air pollution makes you tired. Doesn’t seem to have an effect on the natives though 😂 The third is the food. When I’ve told some friends about my exhaustion the first thing they all pointed to was the food - after all the staples are rice and noodles. Beijing in particular, they say, tends to load meals with oil and sugar.

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客随主便 (kesuizhubian) "A guest should suit the convenience of the host"

11 March ’19

A month ago or so (yeah it’s been a while, so this post is longer) was 春节 (chunjie “Spring Festival”). 春节 is one of the most important holidays in China and almost everyone returns to their parent’s homes in the countryside. Big cities like Beijing nearly become ghost towns. It’s a week of fireworks, 白酒 (baijiu “white wine” but it’s actually a really strong liquor), 麻将 (majiang “mahjong”), big feasts, and spending time with loved ones. It’s an exciting occasion - for everyone except the foreigners. Most of the other foreigners I talked to had planned vacations in other countries during the festival. So I was left alone in Beijing, a poor foreign boy whose friends had all gone home and whose favorite places to eat are were all closed.

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The Great 福 Hunt

11 February ’19

This past week has been 春节 (chunjie “Spring Festival”), also known as the Lunar New Year (although it’s technically a lunisolar calendar) or the Chinese New Year (although it’s celebrated in several other Asian countries as well). But this post is not about 春节. This post is about the largest mobile game in the world.

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Korean Kristmas

5 January ’19

China doesn’t actually celebrate Christmas (圣诞节 shengdanjie “Jesus’ Birthday”). Lights are hung up, Christmas songs are played, fake Christmas trees are erected… but on the 25th of December everyone still goes to work.

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錢可通神 (qianketongshen) "With money you can reach God"

9 December ’18

The value of a dollar is a funny thing. In high school the value crashed, toppled by the thrill of being able to spend my money how I wanted. I spent hundreds of dollars on videogames I still haven’t played (steam sales pushed my psychological buttons to a breaking point), a hundred plus dollars on (I am embarrassed to admit) League of Legends skins, a $250 bow that I barely used, and of course countless snacks and drinks that I bought for no better reason than “because I could.”

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双十一 (shuangshiyi) "Single's Day"

23 November ’18

China doesn’t actually have too many holidays. There are two big ones: 春节 (chunjie) “Spring Festival” or Chinese New Year, and 国庆节 (guoqingjie) “National Day” are the two bigs ones. Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar so it shifts around, but it’s around January or February every year. Both of these holidays let off for an entire week and, especially during Chinese New Year, everything comes to a halt. Shops and restaurants are not open, so I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to eat when the festival rolls around…

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水土不服 (shuitubufu)

12 November ’18

Chinese people have a vast array of four character expressions that are very similar to our idioms in English. The literal translation of 水土不服 (shuitubufu) is “the earth and water are not familiar”, and the meaning of this idiom (they are called 成语, chengyu) is “being unaccustomed to one’s environment”. It is also an officially diagnosable cause of illness in traditional Chinese medicine.

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China 101

5 November ’18

In retrospect, I was not prepared.

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Wanderlust

25 October ’18

I’ll admit that my younger brother beat me to it. After just one year of college he registered a gap year, threw a mattress in the back of Mom’s old VW Station Wagon, and hit the road. He spent the fall meandering from Maryland to Los Angeles, sleeping in Walmart parking lots. In the spring he continued, going from Los Angeles up to Quebec, over to Vancouver, and finally back down to UCLA. He loved it.

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