Life in China

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Some Glimpses of the Challenges & Rewards of Living in China
Don't miss "page 2", and you can reach lots more "China photos" from our photo index page!

Sister-pages:   Home Up Life in China Life in China (2) Chinese Medical Care(1) Chinese Medical Care(2) Health Issues in China Friendship Award 2008 China Map Intro to China (中文)

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Wherever we go, we have found a warm welcome by people at all levels. This banner (below left) was set up for a large international conference in Shanghai (China hosts many such events around the country). 

(Right) But living here does have its challenges. We survived Shanghai's worst rainstorm in 50 years (Aug 6-9, 2001).  Many streets, sidewalks, and homes were flooded as the city got several inches of rain within a few hours--and it happened TWICE within a week of heavy showers! (Read Vivian's account of the flood!)

Chinese New Year is lots of fun. These red banners decorated our door in 2003. (Right) Andrew and Michael play with sparklers--we leave the firecrackers to our neighbors! Andrew enjoyed being able to celebrate both Western AND Chinese holidays.


Shanghai's Nanjing Road is always busy, but words can’t describe the National Day (Oct 1) crowd! One holiday tradition is for young people to buy large inflatable hammers and “play” with other hammer-bearers as they pass!

Wherever you go, foreign children draw a crowd of admirers who line up to get their picture taken together! (When Andrew was young, he hated this!)






Chinese people want FRESH food. These living chickens will soon be someone's dinner, and waiters often show you the squirming fish before it is cooked.


You really have to feel for whoever is in charge of China's city roads. This (above left) is a major intersection we had to cross to get to Andrew's Shanghai school. Can you tell that vehicles are moving in about six ways at once--to say nothing of the pedestrians who don't even bother to look at the traffic lights? Chinese taxis are good for your prayer life, as are major intersections if you are on foot! Bikes are faster than buses a lot of the time, but finding YOUR bike in a lot like the one pictured above can be a problem! Motorcycles are also popular, and Xi'an adds 2000 private cars to the roads each week. Most streets have bike lanes, but people ride EVERYWHERE (traffic lanes, bike lanes, sidewalk, and in either direction!). When most left turns were outlawed in 2002, everyone started to practice the right-turn-U-turn combination (regardless of what was coming the other way). Public busses even do it, even though they can barely negotiate a U-turn on a five-lane road. It is easy to see why I think that China's traffic engineers have an impossible job!

The first "snow" of 2002 came INDOORS when our apartment maintenance crew scraped the whitewash off the stairway walls. The fine powder got into everything! They let it sit like this for almost two weeks!

Like all places, there are rules to obey. For example, Andrew got frustrated because our apartment complex didn't let kids play on the grass. However, Andrew thought this sign in a Beijing park took the cake. He said: "Why not just say 'don't do anything'?"

On December 10, 2004, Michael went with Andrew and his schoolmates to "share Christmas" with a flood-damaged elementary school in Weinan (near Xi'an). The school welcomed us with a traditional drum and cymbal band, and the students had worked very hard to prepare dances, music, and other forms of entertainment. I liked this sign so much, I put it in my book!


Here you see a year's worth of Xi'an's dirt and dust, combined with Andrew's love of the outdoors. Yes, it is the same "model" of shoe!


Shipping things is a headache whenever you move (anywhere in the world), but things can really get complicated here. Above, some of our boxes got soaked as they were shipped from Shanghai to Xi'an with the international moving company "Tiger" (fortunately, only inexpensive things were ruined). Other things were damaged from Xi'an to Kunming when we used the famous Chinese "Ant movers" (蚂蚁搬家), and still more were destroyed from Kunming to Xiamen (below). We managed well enough "across town" with Pidgeon Movers in Xiamen (see here). You can also read about our nightmare over getting things from the US to Shanghai.

These are some of our things that ZJS Express crushed in the move from Kunming to Xiamen (more pictures here). We knew we were in trouble when they picked up our stuff, and started rolling the boxes head over heels to get them to the van--deaf to our protests ("It doesn't matter; they will be treated much worse by others later"--as if that was supposed to be comforting!). I'd used the white cups since 1985, when I bought them in Xiamen; most of these keepsakes had only sentimental value. Of course, the monetary value was negligible, and nothing (in any of these moves) was covered by insurance. That's just "life in China."

In Xi'an, Michael taught "advanced writing" and spent eight to fifteen hours per week in this chair, grading student essays. (If you like marking papers, this is the course for you; but be sure the university takes the marking time into consideration, as my university in Xi'an did.) The work at NPU resulted in a textbook, which many say is very useful. In this photo, Michael grades the LAST essay of the 2002-2003 school year. Of course, he will be at it again after the well-deserved summer break!


After leaving Xi'an, Michael taught writing (to teachers) for a year, but never again accepted a job teaching this subject. For the next few years (in Kunming and then in Xiamen), he taught oral English. But not content to give students a grade based on a quick end-of-term interview (with 200 students, they get only a few moments to make an impression!), he has always also given a written final exam. Marking tests is just a part of the job of a good teacher (and his wonderful wife!).

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