Unexpected Asswhoopings

With great power comes great responsibility. As a foreign teacher in China, we don’t always have the most power considering the responsibilities we have to the education in our classrooms. We’re often seen as an additional recess by the students; a time when they get to play games and sing songs with the foreigner rather than crack the books and study relentlessly. A regular ESL class is meant to reinforce what they’re already learning rather than factor into their grades, and that lack of testing and academic pressure, along with the foreign teacher’s segregation from the school’s discipline system due to both language and position, more often than not transform our lessons into a play period for the kids to release the pressure from their other classes. A good foreign teacher knows how to work within these constraints and control their lesson with interesting content and good management, but there will inevitably be times where outside factors creep into the classroom and make our lessons impossible to control. Whether it’s a major upcoming exam, the days right before a vacation, or a full moon, there are going to be times when the students just aren’t going to cooperate no matter how alert and well prepared we are, forcing us to call on their head teachers for help in order to keep the class running even semi-smoothly. I’ve learned the hard way that using this power has a responsibility of its own, because it could very well result in several crying kids and some minor bruising.

It had been my first semester teaching in the Shenzhen public school system, and my Mandarin wasn’t anywhere near as effective as it is now. I’m not sure what had been going on outside of the classroom, but whatever it had been had transformed 6A into a circus that day. No matter what I’d done I couldn’t get the kids to stay on task, and the group work they’d been assigned had devolved into yelling and bickering. Instead of rounding the room providing feedback while the kids worked, I’d been hustling back and forth, barely keeping them in their seats as they threw things at other groups or tried to chat with friends on the other side of the room. They called my bluff when I’d threatened to get their class teacher, and I’d been left with no other choice but to actually send for him.


The calm before the storm

The short stocky science teacher had arrived at the perfect time for my language barrier and the worst time for several boys; there’d been no need to explain what was going on when they were caught red-handed trying to run back to their seats after knocking the books off of another group’s desks. He’d come prepared too, holding a flexible plastic rod similar to what people put on their lawns to organize parking without damaging the vehicles. But damn could it damage a 6th grader, and he didn’t waste any time with words or figuring out what was happening when he’d used it on them. He straight up descended on the group of boys, moving between the desks as he wailed them in their arms or backs, challenging them to stand up and run around again. Only one of the three boys didn’t cry immediately, glaring at the man defiantly before getting struck several more times and lowering his head to sob. Having accomplished what he’d come to do, their head teacher barked out a short command before giving me a nod to continue and walking out casually. I’d been left there dumb struck and slack-jawed, standing at the front of a classroom that was either sitting still as stone or sobbing silently.

There are reminders within the classrooms as well

Ehhh, it could’ve been worse

Uhhh, I didn’t know he was going to do that. Seriously, I didn’t ask him to hit you. I mean, you guys weren’t THAT bad. I’d sheepishly tried to continue with the lesson, and it would’ve been hard for an onlooker to tell who was more embarrassed and shaken up by what had just went down. The kids were understandably responding like they were walking on eggshells, and go figure, the class was about as unproductive as it had been before due to their uncomfortable silence. So, uhhh, that’s why we do group work right? And with that, I awkwardly told them we’d continue the lesson next time before giving up to put a movie on. That was the last time I ever called on a male head teacher for help, continuing my teaching career with a deeper understanding of the decision Harry Truman had been forced to make.

Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001 (1)

I’d won the war, but at what cost?

The Second Most Elaborate Beggar in China

It’s no camel, but a monkey in a shopping mall’s courtyard seems to work just as well as far as begging goes. The monkey even did tricks, so how could you not give this guy money for that? Just imagine how this would’ve gone down in America. On a scale of one to Ferguson, how quickly would this guy have been down surrounded by security? But not here, because as usual, just about anything goes in the middle kingdom.



He’d just strolled through casually, turning heads as he’d walked up to people and prompted his monkey to give them a high five or do a handstand. This seemed to be working well too, because most of the people were handing him money without much hesitation. Was the monkey just that cute? Had they never seen one before? Or had he threatened to let the monkey loose on them if they didn’t give up some pocket change? I honestly couldn’t be sure how it went down, since whenever I attempted to get close enough to listen in or get a good photo, he’d gotten pretty aggressive. His monkey was probably camera shy. Honestly though, who brings a monkey to a mall and doesn’t expect to get photographed?! That’s sillier than using a monkey to get money.


Making friends


Sometimes people bring their monkeys to the Hong Kong border as well

Snoozin’ China

A guy sleeping on the street? Surely he’s homeless… Card board boxes, piss stained clothes, and incoherent rambling, right? Not even close. Sprawling out to fall asleep in random public places is way more of a I’m tired and this is a surface I could sleep on sort of situation than it is home foreclosures and hard times over here. Both schools and offices have a time for napping built into their lunch breaks, which are usually around two hours long with at least one hour of it devoted to sleeping wherever and however you damn well please. Siestas are a common sight all through the day if you’re out and about in the city, because who needs to go back home to nap when they’re shamelessly okay with sleeping in a position that bends their spine in 3 different directions. Or if there’s an IKEA nearby with free AC.

These photos are the best of the best from my time in China, and to my knowledge, none of these people were drunk or homeless… Just too sleepy to give a single fuck whatsoever.


“Help yourself and throw the money behind the counter”


During the office’s designated nap time, anything goes


Once back on the clock though, more subtlety is required




Napping? Or practicing what to do in case of a crash?


“There’s room for more if you’ll pay the meter”


He came prepared with that pink pillow




Where there’s a will there’s a way


Just kidding, this is a Prozac ad


Who actually buys crocs anyways?



Bro tip: Don’t fall asleep in places that make it look like statues are fisting your butt



Pit stop








“Before I attach this door, lemme sleep on it first”


Weary commuters



Saved the best for last


Seriously. Not even a hint of fucks to give as he’s so clearly on the clock and also in charge of keeping an eye on the cars. The insides of his eyelids were the only thing this guy was watching


After all of this, I figure it’s only fair to post a photo of myself, since I often fall asleep on the subway. Guilty as charged, and thankfully not in the Bronx at the time

The Turtle Men

Sky scrapers, luxury cars, and expensive suits are the symbols of success, and naturally you’d expect to see plenty of each while walking through an area of the Central Business District. International businesses and the satellite offices of household names from back home fill the multiple fifty story buildings that tower here, as expensive cars and taxis navigate around pedestrians too distracted by their bluetooth conversations to use the crosswalks of the crowded streets below. It’s hard to imagine a man selling snapping turtles having any place at all here, but the small group of men in suits who had crowded around him and his reptilian merchandise one afternoon in front of a prominent bank had proven otherwise.


Up above


And down below


The business men were shouting over each other as they used the money in their hands to gesture and point, employing the same tactics they would use once they returned to their offices to trade stocks and engineer corporate take-overs. Un-phased by the yelling and pleased with their enthusiasm, the turtle man just sat there on the curb calmly, letting the men haggle as he showed off his different turtles.


The caviar of the nouveau riche

While this was definitely the nicest area that I’ve witnessed a turtle sale on the street in, it definitely wasn’t the first. In fact, since early March I’ve been seeing turtle men about once a week in various middle-to-upper-class areas of Shenzhen, strolling around with several snappers at a time sticking out like a sore thumb (often more so due to their fashion than their business). Some have carried their turtles in burlap bags, others have sat with them leashed up in way that reminded me of pitbulls outside of a Brooklyn bodega, while some have even walked through heavy traffic making offers into the rolled down windows of BMW SUVs before the traffic lights had turned green. Day or night, I’ve seen them in every area of the city, selling the oddest commodity I’ve yet to witness here.


Not sure which is more shocking, that outfit or his turtle stick



Strut your stuff, guy


Perplexed, I’d decided to ask around. My coworkers shrugged and said turtles taste good and are healthy, while one onlooker in an upper class neighborhood had mockingly pretended to pray while saying bàifó 拜佛, which means to worship Buddha. I’m still not really sure if he was trying to make fun of me for needing to ask, or the people who’d stopped to inquire about these fine terrapins. As usual, it was my Chinese teacher who’d offered the most helpful explanation. She explained to me the correlation between eating turtles and increasing your longevity, due to how long they can live for. And to my total lack of surprise, she added that there’s a belief that turtles can increase virility and help with making male children. But these turtles won’t work, look at them, they’re obviously captive bred. They’re too well fed and their shells aren’t beat up. You need wild caught turtle to actually get the effect. This guy is a scam artist. And here I’d thought selling a snapping turtle for almost 1000RMB on the street had been the only rip-off happening on that street corner. Silly me.


Traditional Chinese Life Insurance


About as friendly as his merchandise. And as slow with the stick too.

The idea of transference through eating animals isn’t exactly a new theme in Traditional Chinese Medicine. There’s a reason chicken cartilage and organs are popular items on just about any restaurant’s menu; falling under the same line of thought as living longer by eating matured turtles, eating an animal part to enhance your own is a common belief over here. This even extends into male enhancement, because who wouldn’t believe that eating tiger weiners, ingesting a powder made from big’ole rhino horns, and drinking snake wine could have positive effects on your lower member. Maybe Yao Ming had been on a steady diet of giraffe steaks when he was a teen. I guess at face value this could all make sense, if it weren’t for that pesky thing called nutritional science. My dubiousness aside, if it works for you man… The placebo effect’s a hell of a drug.


A turtle a week keeps the reaper away


Recommended for anybody seeking more favorable interest rates

Roasted Ducklings, Hidden Bones

It’s like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but much more likely to break your teeth than Chow Yun-Fat. Chinese cuisine has some of the most delicious and diverse dishes in the world, but it also includes the unfortunately common chainsaw chicken. Imagine your typical stir fry, except among the vegetables and hidden underneath the sauce lie chunks of chicken with the bones and tendons still in them. Who knows which part of the chicken is in your dish, but you can bet it wasn’t the most edible or valued portion of the bird. Sometimes shards of the bones have even broken off into your vegetables, creating a potentially dangerous dish of low expectations and soy sauce.


Lets play spot the bones

Chefs in China are known for using every part of an animal, and filleting birds just isn’t seen as necessary here in the Middle Kingdom. Eating these meals is like navigating marrow-laden land mines, although chopsticks do make it easier to pick them out, and I’ve experienced this at both high-end restaurants and dingy kitchens. Heck, a dish in Guangzhou even claimed one of my back molars when a particularly negligent chef had decided to deep fry chainsaw chicken. Drunk and hungry, I’d dug in expecting something to similar to sesame chicken, and left shortly after needing to see a dentist. Good times, bon appetit.



Bones or no bones, Cantonese duck is still one of the most savory and delicious meals that I’ve ever eaten


When you see something like this in a restaurant, it really all comes down to expectation management


For the customers who order extra bone

Moving Money out of China; the Legal, the Convenient, and the Shady

Whether you’ve taken a job in China as an opportunity to travel the world, to experience a new culture and learn Mandarin, or even just to break out of the normalcy of back home, nobody is denying that the money had also been a major factor. There are countless opportunities for a foreigner in China, and anybody who has been living here for more than a month probably has several side jobs on top of the job they’d originally came for. Tutoring, part-time training centers, transcribing and proofreading, even English basketball training… you’re a valued commodity here, and even if you don’t play your cards right, you’ll still have offers thrust at you left and right just for being a native English speaker. Couple this with the low cost of living and your ability to save huge amounts of money without being forced to live like a pauper in order to do so, and you could easily accumulate a grand or more every month to stash away and send home.


Mao money Mao problems

Making the money is the easy part though, because sending money out of China is where it can get complicated, as well as expensive. The wealthy are getting wealthier in China faster than anywhere else in history, and China’s rising emigration rate is directly related to this. One of the many side effects of the wealthy leaving has been the tightening of currency controls, and while it is a lot easier for a foreigner to send money outside of China, it can still be a hassle if you aren’t aware of all of your options. “What’s the best way to send money home” is a question I’m constantly getting asked, and so I’ve decided to create this guide to lay out the different options available. Establishing a shell corporation in your home country to sue yourself with will unfortunately not be covered though.

Bank Transfers Most legal. Most expensive. Most hassle.

What you’ll need: Tax documents, a Z VISA, and your home bank’s SWIFT code.

If you asked an official, they’d tell you this is how it’s done. Lining up in a bank and potentially waiting for hours, you’ll eventually get your turn to meet with a teller and start the process. You’ll need to pay a fee on both ends, as well as a percentage of the amount that you’re looking to send back, and your tax documents will dictate how much you’re able to transfer at one time. Fees and percentages differ with each bank, and the Bank of China will probably be your best yet most crowded option. Make sure you have the afternoon free and try to keep patient.

International Bank Accounts Most legal. Most expensive. Convenient.

What you’ll need: A Z VISA, your home bank’s SWIFT code, and the money to keep your account open

To my knowledge, only CITI bank and HSBC offer international bank accounts, and from everything I’ve heard, you’ll pay more in upkeep for maintaining your international account than you will doing a bank transfer at a Chinese bank, while still being subject to transfer fees on both ends. The upside, and why some expats consider this the best option, is that bank transfers are painless and easy, they can be done online, and won’t ever eat up a sizeable portion of your day off. This is best option for anybody who wants to move money out of China legitimately and conveniently.

Chinese-assisted Bank Transfers Debatably still legal. Moderately expensive. Some hassle.

What you’ll need: A Chinese friend and your home bank’s SWIFT code

This is the same as the above-mentioned bank transfer, except a Chinese national is doing it for you using their ID. Perfect for anybody working less than legally, you can move large amounts of money without restriction assuming you know somebody well enough to ask them for this favor. A Chinese girlfriend is the obvious option, but my coworkers had also been happy to help when I’d asked them. Just expect to return the favor with something English related around the office when the time comes, or help them buy cheap designer handbags if you ever visit back home.


For anybody still getting paid with envelopes

Western Union Legal. Somewhat expensive. Convenient.

What you’ll need: Your home bank’s SWIFT code or a family member/friend

Western Unions are available in any Chinese city, and fees will vary according to how much you’re sending and the country you’re sending the money to. In my opinion there’s very little reason to send money back this way unless you absolutely need to or only want to send back a small amount. The fees are high and I’m pretty sure the restrictions are tightening every year on how much you can send back at one time and the documents you’re expected to provide. Find a Chinese friend if you need to send money back without providing a valid working VISA.

Mailing a Bank Card Home Not so legal. Cheapest. Most convenient.

What you’ll need: A second Chinese bank account and somebody back home to withdraw the money on your behalf

Union Pay is the interbank network that China uses exclusively, and almost every ATM in America will have their logo next to Visa and Mastercard. After you’ve opened a second bank account, you’ll need to take a photo of the number on the front of the ATM card and then send it home by mail to somebody you trust. Save that account number, you’ll need it later. Myself and people I knew who’ve done this never had any issues mailing an ATM card home, but there is the potential for it to get confiscated on its way out of China. If you’re especially worried about this or don’t want the potential hassle of having to redo the process, you can always carry the card back with you on your next visit home, along with a fat stack of cash of course. The best bank to use as far as international withdrawal fees go is Ping An bank, although if you use Bank of America they should reimburse any and all ATM fees when you use a China Construction Bank card at one of their ATMs. Take your money and go to your local Ping An ATM to deposit the cash without your card by imputing the account number of the card you’d sent home, and wait for whoever’s back home to withdraw the money and drop it into your home bank account.

When you’re sending back large amounts, you should coordinate how much you’re sending back with the maximum that can be withdrawn at any one time (usually 300-500USD) to get the most out of each withdrawal and minimize the fees that will come with it. Even though I’d been working legitimately the majority of my time in China, I’d still chosen to use this method for sending money home simply for its flexibility and lack of fees. In time though, as restrictions continue to tighten, this method may become less viable.

Flying it Home Yourself Totally legal. Situational.

As far as fees go, none of the aforementioned methods are going to be anywhere near as expensive as a plane ticket home. That being said, eventually you’re going to be heading back home whether it be for your summer break, a wedding, or even just to recharge. This is the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and stuff your pockets with money. Of course, you’ll need to keep in mind that you can only carry up to $5,000 worth of currency out of China, but a little bit more than that had never caused me any trouble. Money does contain RFID chips though, and there will be scanners at every immigration checkpoint checking for egregious amounts of cash, or electronics, that somebody may be covertly trying to exit with. Put the saranwrap down and plan for a second trip back if you’re loaded.


An A+ for effort Photo credit: Reuters/China Daily


Black money men are a common fixture in any Chinese airport, hanging around banks to exchange large amounts of cash for anybody looking to circumvent currency controls


“Taking photos of money laundering is against the bank’s policies”

Clapping in Kiev

As my plane touched down in Kiev, all of the Ukrainians began to clap. And it wasn’t just several people who had managed to get those around them to clap too either, like dickheads during a superhero movie; the whole plane simultaneously started to clap without any prompt, clearly as a tradition of some kind in these parts. As far as landings go, it could’ve been a lot worse, but I wouldn’t say it was exactly clap-able. Had the pilot successfully dodged every ice patch on the runaway and I was just too sheltered to be thankful for this? Are there statistics out there about Ukrainian pilots that would’ve made me terrified to board my flight if I’d known beforehand, and they all appreciated just how lucky we were to have touched ground smoothly? Had it been because our rickshaw airplane’s landing gear had functioned properly in the most crashable moment of the flight? All jokes aside, I’d sat there grinning, sheepishly looking left and right as the Ukrainians around me clapped with no expression. It had taken me completely off guard. Just another reminder of why I travel.

You'd have a deadpan expression too if you'd flown like this for 8 hours

You’d have a deadpan expression too if you’d flown like this for 8 hours

Getting screwed out the door

I wrote about this years ago, and then I got too comfortable. My direct manager was my friend from before either of us had started working this company, and I’d thought two and half years of working with there, padded by two promotions, would’ve afforded me fair treatment. That’s turning out to be an increasingly expensive misconception.

Having just come back from an unpaid vacation home for the holidays, I’d decided to leave China at the end of the current semester to pursue new things. In an attempt to avoid burning bridges or laying any collateral damage at the desk of my friend-first-manager-second, I’d decided to do things the official way with a formal notice of my intentions. I didn’t need to; in fact, there wasn’t much downside at all to not doing it legitimately… Some personal fallout, a bad taste in my mouth, and maybe an angry email or two. The winter break was coming up and I would’ve received my salary during that time, well before I would have been expected to be back in China, giving me plenty of time to no-show or create a personal tragedy once I’d had my money. The ATM fees in America would’ve been peanuts to get my money out of China, now more than ever considering I’m out almost 2,000 USD for being the good guy.

I mentioned a promotion just now, which is, or should I say was, more so an additional role I’d played in the company acting as their cultural consultant while also teaching. There’d still been quite a bit of work I could’ve done during my final month to earn this separate salary, but only a day after handing in my formal letter of intent, that rider-contract had been retroactively canceled, despite the clause that required 2 weeks in order to legally terminate it. “Get a lawyer” the vice CEO had said, as if I was going to be around to fight this.

I’d always thought I was lucky for working in a middle school, since their winter holiday, and my vacation, started about 2 weeks before anybody else’s. In this instance though, it meant my pay would stop 2 weeks earlier, regardless of when I was planning to leave the country since I was ultimately leaving the company. Every other teacher would be paid for that full month regardless of their school’s end date or when they were planning to head out on vacation, as an incentive to not unexpectedly disappear during the 6 week break like I could have. Sure, not receiving this pay was slightly more understandable than flagrantly terminating my consulting position, because any rational person would say “yea, well you were done teaching,” but again, my contract and its terms of leaving had been blatantly ignored.

This blog post isn’t to say my former company is terrible or even that I would never again recommend them to somebody else; it’s just a statement of how the ESL industry in China often works. If I’d ended exactly as they’d expected, I’m sure everything would’ve have gone accordingly. Call it a tax, or an embedded cost, but if they don’t need to pay for something, they probably won’t. Business and profit come first, and while I’m not particularly pleased about all of this, I’m still good friends with my direct supervisor whose hands had ultimately been tied. Insert that one quote about hindsight and good vision here, and be aware of what could happen if you’re ever in the same boat. That’s just how it can be here, a costly con across from all of the pro’s of living and working in China.

Needless to say, he paid for my going away dinner

Needless to say, he paid for my going away dinner

Courting Employers from afar

I gotta say, applying to jobs abroad kind of sucks. I don’t have much experience with online dating, due to the fact that it also sucks, but from the limited amount I’ve gathered from friends and by browsing tinder nightmares, I’ve come to the conclusion that they suck quite similarly and I’m prepared to back it up. If you were one of over 10,000 eHarmony members that met your spouse through their website this year alone, my bad.

No standardization whatsoever

Some profiles are just better put together; they’ve provided good information about themselves, were written interestingly, and have plenty of pictures that aren’t just selfies. Then you’ve got profiles that only have a sentence each and force you to judge the person solely off of their looks, as well as ones written so terribly that you’re unable to even make it past the second run-on sentence.

Employment ads for international jobs end up having the same downfalls. If you have to scour through paragraphs of varying fonts to find relevant job information, they’re probably not an organized employer with streamlined management experience. If the ad is in broken English with ridiculous pragmatic errors, read through it because that shit is hilarious, although this is also an indicator of inexperience working with foreigners… despite promising a Fortune 500 sunny everyday worker living. And then, some ads have been formatted and structured to give you everything you need to know upfront and a clear view of what life will be like there, while others read professionally enough to make you confident about buying a plane ticket with your own money to wherever it is that they are. Although when it all comes down to it, writing structure really isn’t going to be what you look at if you’re going to judge a book by its cover…

First impressions boil down to a single detail

Shallow as it might be, there’s a necessary first step for each of these, regardless of whether or not most people would admit it this openly… physical and fiscal attractiveness. How do they look? Are they attractive enough to meet my friends? What’s the pay? Can I live well and save here? If these requirements aren’t met, then it won’t matter how cool they’d seemed or how cushy the job would’ve been; the offer is simply no longer on the table. Only once this initial barrier has been crossed can personalities/job details start to be explored, with concessions being made based off of just how good they look. To avoid appearing as anything but a gentleman, I’ll keep it only about jobs for the rest of this.

Well, I definitely wasn’t looking to work that much, but damn could I hammer away at my debt there

You want me to work in the desert?! Staying on an alcohol-free compound of only men?!! Wait, how much did you just say? …Oh, yea, ok, when can I start?

Teaching kindergarten students makes me want to do somersaults down stairwells, but damnnnnn look at what they’re paying.

The I’ve got personality flaws/baggage warning

Dating websites give their users full reign to express what they’re looking for, which I guess is exactly what they should be doing. How this goes wrong though comes from the fact that people are people, and some of those people have crazy shit orbiting around them that they’ve chosen to type out in a paragraphical red flag. Employment ads generally aren’t as obvious as and if you’re this type of person, don’t even bother messaging me, although depending on where you’re looking white candidates only isn’t uncommon at all.

The way employers try to not make the same mistake twice is instead within their policies. The contract clause “payment for winter holiday will be withheld/staggered until Party B has re-attended their duties at their school for X amount of time” should have a face next to it, with a big ‘ole this guy ruined it for everybody else caption underneath it. Foreigners can come and go as they please, and the more financial controls and penalties that a contract has written into it, the more previous employees of theirs had probably dipped out unexpectedly. Or this place is managed by jerks. Either way, red flag.

Safety concerns are another one, like how this one job in Indonesia I’d looked at suggested getting daily malaria medication before coming, and how an international school in Brazil had promised to put us in a very safe, gated community. Why do they emphasize that they’ll routinely rotate vehicles when driving us to and from the school? The worst by far though had come up during a phone interview with a job I’d actually almost chosen to accept; Oh, and before we proceed further, I’m legally required to inform you that in 2003, a suicide bomber had managed to gain access to our compound and kill 9 people. Don’t worry though, since then we’ve upgraded our security with Jersey gates and a second guard checkpoint. A lot of guys will tell you crazy girls are fun, and since this article is all about drawing parallels, dangerous jobs are lucrative.


“Just keep your head down and you’ll be debt free in no time, Mr. Collins”

Sending out large amounts of messages and waiting for responses

Did they get my message? Did I say the wrong thing? Am I just ugly? Did he manage to get back with that ex he couldn’t ever get over? There’s no way of reading the person you’re contacting, and communication is limited to typing alone. Applying to job ads feels the same, and I haven’t always gotten responses. Maybe they’d already found somebody, or maybe on paper I just wasn’t right for them. Perhaps that recruiter had recently quit and nobody will never even know I’d applied. A headhunter who’d been enthusiastically up my ass for several days unexpectedly dropped off the map for a week… Did he fill the spot with somebody more preferable? Did he lose the contract? Did he skim my email while driving and then forget to get back to me once he was actually free to respond? Applying from abroad has this feeling of always being kept at arm’s length, and until you’ve received a contract to potentially sign, it’s hard to count on anything. Juggling so much with preparing to move to another country, buying reasonably-priced plane tickets as far in advance as possible, and settling up your affairs wherever you currently are… it can get really stressful without a tangible offer. There is one thing to be said though, being clingy when applying internationally will get you a whole lot further than it will on tinder.

You’ll never know if you’re being cat-fished until it’s too late

Just outside the city center, assuming you’re commuting by helicopter

Enter on a tourist visa and work illegally while we attempt to process your working visa in-country.

Of course accommodation is provided, or you’re free to get your own place if you wouldn’t like living in a closet or with 7 other teachers.

Our license to legally hire foreigners is on its way, don’t you worry! Just don’t mention you work for us in the meantime if anybody asks.

Only 20 classes per week, unless we can get more students to sign up, in which you’ll need to work like a dog six days a week, because our profit matter more than your happiness

Nobody will ever be this straightforward about these unfortunately realistic and very possible scenarios. You’re at the mercy of these people’s honesty, and unless you’re able to contact current employees or find a scathing blog post forewarning any would-be applicants, then you’ll just need to have faith that you’ll be flying into a good situation. Nothing’s worse than showing up at a cafe and realizing that photo was from 3 years ago when they had actually exercised. But don’t you worry, that’s just winter weight, and living so far outside of the city that you’ll never have a social life is a great way to pay off your student loans. Perhaps this is the biggest similarity, some just want to screw you. Best of luck in your search.

Mantrums in China

Sometimes I really don’t get this place. I’ve seen a foreigner’s snide remark result in him getting hospitalized by a group of Chinese guys, and the nastiest fights I’ve witnessed here have been over the most trivial shit, like who would get a taxi, a fender bender that didn’t even result in a scuff, or an extra item on a restaurant bill that couldn’t possibly have been more than 40RMB (about 5 dollars). Taking these into account, you’d think wiping a counter clean in a bank and Shouting in Mandarin would’ve left me unable to write this.

Let me preface this by saying I’m not usually a dick, I’d just had a really rough week. I guess I should also add that the majority of my mantrums have taken place in banks while trying to change money, so maybe I need to reevaluate the way I do my finances. After waiting over 30 minutes to change money for an early morning flight back to America the next day, sitting in that lobby past 5 o’clock when financial institutions close and any chance of going somewhere else had expired, I was informed that foreigners couldn’t change RMB to a foreign currency anymore. I tried to reason with them, explaining the urgency, telling them how I’d done it before at this exact bank, and offering my passport to show them my residency permit in order to prove that I was legally employed. I’d even told the customer service girl what I’d wanted to do when I’d arrived in order to register into the correct que, but apparently that had been completely ignored. None of it mattered; foreigners could no longer change RMB to a foreign currency at this bank. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I lost my shit.

“Does anybody else here a white guy yelling?” Photo Credit: Chinadigitaltimes.net

To lose your cool or show anger, as well as throw a full-on mantrum, is one of most shameful ways you can conduct yourself in Chinese culture due to Confucian values, and well, I lost some face that evening. The people around me froze to watch, and the several security guards, each equipped with batons and mace, meandered my way hesitantly. Maybe I got lucky with the “foreigner card,” or maybe I was just angry enough and big enough to deter serious action, but instead of getting clubbed and pepper sprayed or having the police called on me, the middle aged bank manager calmly came up to me in the midst of verbally throwing down with the women behind the glass barrier, put his hand on my back, and said “calm down, Dad is going to help you.” Translated directly, that’s not actually as creepy as it sounds; Chinese people often refer to each other by age, calling each other big brother or little sister depending on who’s helping who, with children and young adults referring to their elders as uncle or auntie. I guess in this situation, I was the kid; I’d definitely been acting like one.

Same facial expression, and pants

Same facial expression, and pants

I sheepishly watched as Dad called over one of the secretaries and told her to change my money for me using her own ID, and within several minutes, I had the stack of US dollars that I’d come for. I of course had been apologizing the whole time, but my excuses and sorry’s weren’t necessary, the manager just waved them off and said it’s nothing, apologizing to me as well for the inconvenience. Modesty and deference, those are virtues here for the same reason flipping your shit in a bank is shameful, and this guy had just helped me despite how big of an asshole I’d been, even going so far as to break the rules of his job and the laws of his country. When I left, several of the onlookers and employees even smiled at me and waved goodbye, wishing me a good a day. Anywhere else… 3.5 years later and China still baffles me. I should’ve gotten my ass kicked.