Life sucks….if you are a Chinese HS student

Being a recently high school graduate, one cannot blame me for communicating with the similar age group here in China. From my conversations, I have reached a simple yet layered conclusion, that “life sucks shit being a Chinese HS student.”

With the understanding that all thing are but relative, my conclusion is only valid when compared to my own HS experience, but dude your life sucks shit if you are a HS student over here. First off, you are at school 6 days a week…. not 1…… not 2……not 3, but 6 days a week. You go to school in the morning for 5 hours, then come home for lunch for 1 hour, then another 5 hours in the afternoon, only to have 2 more hours of “night study” at school. Now, that’s a lot of time spent at school, for purely academics.

It wouldn’t be so bad to spend so much time at school if you are doing what you enjoy and actually have control over your activities. But no, you must study all the required courses with no choice of what subjects or even what difficulties of the same subject to study. Even though each individual is different, all are forced to conform and succumb to the same mold. Being understanding, I simply attribute such “inconsiderate” behavior to the immense size of the Chinese population.

But life still sucks shit, not only are all students assigned to clean, repair, and refurbish certain areas of the school, they also have to pay tuition for a public education. The school takes in a grandiose amount of income in tuition and other “gifts”, while limiting the amount of budget spent on improving student life and education, even to be so stingy as to not hire much if any (janitors, gardeners, cleaners, lunch-ladies) while assigning students to do these jobs as a “requirement” to graduation.

Enough about the hardware, let’s talk about the software, the actual high school “education” itself. Now high school in China is only three years, granted there is still some humanity left in whomever decided shorten the torture from 4 to 3 years. The first year is alright, one has to learn a variety of subjects only to a certain depth in order to cover the wide range of “required courses”, only to end up with no real knowledge of anything, because the time spent on each is so minuscule. Time and youth are not only wasted because students are forced to give up 12 hours (6 days a wk) to school time, (not mentioning the countless hours spent doing “busy work” hw), but student are also deprived of the opportunity to pursue their own interests in (sports, writing, volunteer work, etc.) due to the lack of time in their schedule, already taken up by their “education”.

The second and third year and solely consumed by studying for the “High School Exit Exam”, think about it, you are spending two years of your life studying for one test, on one fateful day, that will likely determine not only the next 4 yrs of your life, but probably your level of income in the next 10 yrs. Once again, life sucks being a HS student in China. This inefficient system of generating talent has led to the recent trend of students here not only going overseas for graduate degrees (like they use to since 1990s), but also more frequently, for undergraduate and high school degrees.

So the next time you gripe and whine about “studying for the SATs, APs, IB tests”, think about the people who have to spend two years studying for one stupid test that will determine a majority of their life, think about those who have to go to school 6 days a week studying subjects they have absolutely no control over or interest in, think about the shitty lives of the Chinese HS students. And be grateful……..if you can

A Horse is Not a Home

Travelling so much in such a short amount of time really made me reflect on where my home is. And after much reflection, I came to face the cold reality, which is that I do not have a home.

In my 18 yrs of living, I have never lived in one place for more than 6 years. My 6 yrs or so at Walnut was the longest duration of time I have ever spent in one place. Since birth I had been travelling from place to place, wandering and flying, I recall laying on the soft cushion of an airplane and feeling like home. By the age of 7, I had more than 200,000 miles of flying under my belt, if only the benefits for frequent fliers extended to those under 16, I would have been a Gold Member fosho.

Before turning 10, I had lived in Beijing for 4 years, Foshan for 2 years, Xinjiang for 2 years, and countless temporary stays in hotels of various major cities for weeks when it was short and months when it was long. I didn’t know what home was, books brought me ephemeral escape from the unattached reality, but I learned not to trust people too much or to get too attached to things for I would have to leave it in a short while.  At age 11, I moved overseas, first in Oregon, then Washington state, eventually to Cali and with some degree of chance, landed in Walnut.

Walnut became what I believe to be my first home, it was where I grew (physically and socially), where I made mistakes, and where I met some of best people. But even the best things have to left behind to linger in what we call the “past”. Looking forward, I will probably continue to live this modern nomadic lifestyle, living in various places, learning the different cultural social environments, and most of all meeting new people.

However, I will change my approach from now on, I will be more proactive in establishing friendships and relationships with these new people I will soon meet in the near future, and hopefully when I am old and weary I will have friends in every corner of the world. With some thought, I must say that I do not have “a” home”, but instead many “homes”. Many places where I have history, friendships, and memories. Many places where I am loved, cared for, and needed. It might be quite troublesome when deciding where to bury myself when I die, but holy shit, I don’t have to worry about that for a while.

Shopping with woman= Good arm workout

For some odd reason, the girls in my family are all super duper tall, when compared to other girls of Chinese origins of course. Even my little cousin, who I use to bully all the time when I was younger,  is about my height at 5”9 at 17.

Today, she ask me to go shopping with her, why? Well apparently according to her, her “legs are too nice” and boys “hit on her all the time”, so she need my presence to “guard against the predators.” My initial reaction was  WTF, but because she is my lil sis and her legs are really skinny, I decided to be nice, for once.

We were getting some ice cream after her” intense”shopping (carry 8 bags all around the mall was a pretty good workout for me), when suddenly these two boys approached her, but quickly walked away when I started to wave hi. At first I was like, “Am I that ugly”? But then my cousin explained to me that it was her ex-bf and his friend and she is trying to get back to being friends with him after they broke up. I guess I didn’t really help with that with my ugliness, but then my lil sis aka my cousin starts blaming me for scaring him away. I was totally like “smh at woman these days, asking me to go shopping then blaming me for scaring away her ex” in my head, but no she is my lil sis so I didn’t say anything. Instead I went and bought ice cream for her, but it was actually for me, cuz I know she can’t finish her portions.

I would normally make some vague generalization about girls nowadays, but these days I have acquired some empathy and vague understanding of females, so no comments. BTW, my lil sis aka cousin is so nice, turns out all the bags of stuff were gifts for her friends, parents, and the children at the shelter that she volunteers at.

PS: Do not confuse this lil sis aka my cousin with my other lil sis in America, they are too different people. My cousin has thinner legs than SNSD, while my other sister in America has thicker (and hairier) legs than me, hahaha jk jk . I love all my lil sis ❤

Why my Family thinks I am weird……and lame

1.) Because I am dark, which causes them to think I am a “Filipino migrant worker”. Other than being hella racist, which they are, I never even knew those existed.

2.) Because when asked what I do for fun in America, I said “I go to track practice”. So now they think I am not only weird, but also a lame dude with no life.

3.) And when asked if I had a gf, which I said “no” to, of course. They assumed me a homosexual or a straight dude with no game. Maybe I had too many suitors that it was hard for me to chose or maybe I was too busy, you know, with mourning the Spurs’s losses.

4.) Because I always hold hands with someone when I cross the street here in China because I am terrified.

5.) Because I wake up at 11:00 AM everyday(super unhealthy), and go out to run miles around town (healthy)….half naked.

6.) Because I scream like a girl when I see “long-haired” girls in a dark stairway. Maybe I am still heavily affected by that Chinese ghost movie that I saw earlier this week.

7.) Because I keep all the letters my friends wrote to me in an orange box that I bring to every city I visit. Maybe I am a sentimental guy.

8.) Because I spend 6 hours a day exercising and not sitting around getting fat and wasting time. Maybe I should spend more time with family though.

9.) Because I am not aroused when I see attractive woman with long hair and legs. Maybe I like girls with short hair, or maybe I am going to a monk, yeah that one.

there is going to be much more too come…..

3 Degrees of Hairiness

Since I don’t have much, let’s talk about it!!! I am talking about hair, no not the thingy on your head, but body hair. I have been observing lately here in China, and I have concluded that there are three ascending degrees of hairiness among males here in the western region of China.

The first degree is the “I have hair but you can’t see it” hairy. These are the males who do not want to face the reality that they do not have any visible hair but still wants to remain relatively manly in attempt to not seem too insecure. About 5% of the male population here fall into this degree, which is quite a lot considering the Xinjiang province, where I am, is consider the only region in China to produce real men. “Real men” as in lots of drinking, fighting, cursing, and hair.  (Inner Mongolia also produce their own share of manliness too, but being overweight has become quite an issue)

The second degree is the “I have hair, so what” hairy. These are the males who have some visible hair (mostly black hair).They do not try to show-off their hair nor do they try to hide it, because to them it’s simply a part of their physique like an arm or a leg. About 75% of the male population here fall into this degree, and that is quite unusual, considering I am in a rather hairy part of the country.

The third degree is the “Holy shit!! I thought Asians didn’t have that much hair” hairy. These are the males who have trouble getting sunlight exposure on their skin due to the amount of hair on their legs. These are the males who grimace when they have to rip athletic tape off of their body. These are also the male who can braid their “happy trail”, twirl their chest hair, and sometimes be mistaken for not being completely 100% Chinese, because I guess the “stereotype” of us isn’t of being super hairy. About 20% of the male population here fall into this degree, once again not too shocking since I am in the region of “real man”. A good real life example of this degree would be my dear friend Peter Lee, who is in my opinion “over-haired” to say the least.

What degree do you fall under???

Arrested Development…

A few updates on the fight I got dragged into a couple days ago. Just earlier today, we finally got the cops to arrest the guy that was beating my friend aka “the best guy friend”. Remember? The hoodrat high school junior who was drunk and mad that his girl friend broke up with him, so he decided to beat the crap out of my friend? Yeah, we finally arrested his insecure, selfish ass.

Apparently here in China, when you want to arrest someone for committing “assault and battery” on you, you have to help the cops find the suspect and only then will he make the arrest. So it took us about two days to find the dude, and what do you know, we found him today once again drunk and picking another fight with some random kid on the streets.

I think he is getting 3-6 month in little kiddy prison  aka juvenile facility cause he is still under 18, but its all subject to the judge, surprisingly the judicial system in China works extremely fast, we should expect a sentence by the end of next wk.

Real Life Chinese Ghosts………scared the shit out of me

Contrary to popular misconceptions, I am actually a very “safe” person, meaning I am freackin scared of many things,  among them are death, ghosts, hairy woman, and etc. Since I am in China, I have the pleasure of being entertained by a rare but dangerous breed of ghosts, the “not so gruesome looking but hella scary and fully dressed” Chinese ghosts.

After watching a scary movie called “Chinese Ghosts from the Past” last night, I have been freacking out randomly at the slightest sight of long haired Asian woman, especially walking the stairs of my 10-stories (no-elevator) apartment, which has no light.  Yeah it’s pretty scary at night

Coming home from a long bike ride to the “Sunflower fields” today at approximately 10:00 PM Beijing time, I met my first real life Chinese ghost, it scarred me for life. It was “completely dark” as there is no light in the stairs (and I have to climb 8 stories), and suddenly BAMMMwhen I reached the 4th floor, this “long-haired” Asian chick comes out of nowhere and just stares at me with her hair all over her face like the “Grudge Girl”.

And being sane, I had the normal Jerry reaction. I jumped back, hugged the nearest wall, and squealed like a dying farm animal. But in reality, my spirit really died a little after seeing her face, it was so shocking that I forgot what she looked like. She then asked me in a calm ghostly voice “Am I really that scary?”. I didn’t say anything due to immediate fear, and i think she took offense to my silence for she stormed off with a loud “whatever” type of moan.

The climb after this incident, from the 4th floor to the 8th, was the longest climb I have ever had in an apartment building in China. I think she lives on the 1st floor, I really I hope I don’t see her again in my two more days of stay here.

Drink with Moderation? Total BS

The excessive consumption of alcohol has been a big part of my family for as long as I can remember, but my role in it has always been that of an observer, and  that of a helper in case people vomit too much (which always seems to happen). But now that I am 17, and in their eyes, old enough to have kids. Simply being an observer was not reason enough to avoid the family fun.

All the adults in the family start out by saying how excessive drinking is unhealthy and that you should “only drink to have fun and relax”, but not to the point of being drunk. Fair enough. But after 3 or 5 drinks, the same reasonable family member becomes a “hey, why isn’t your glass full huh?”, “hurry up and fill it up all the way” kind of person. And all the “we should drink with moderation” talk seems to turn into a glass full of BS, right after about 5 glasses or the equivalent of 7-9shots, which isn’t too much but isn’t a small amount either.

But to be fair, the consumption of alcohol in China is as essential to the culture as the celebration of the Chinese New Year and the usage of the Lunar Calender. It is a quintessential component of the rich Chinese history, and because of that it is very hard to avoid the “drinking scene” in China without being completely disrespectful of rather anti-social.

Thanks to some good genes and practice, a combination of nature and nurture, my alcohol tolerance is high even when in comparison to that of  chronic drinkers.  Now I must go and learn the drunken fist.

I could be a morning person….if morning happened around noon

Back in the days when I still lived in Walnut, I woke up around 6:00 AM and slept around 11:00 PM each day, mainly due to the fact that they sun rises around 6:00-6:30am and that the sun sets around 7:00-8:00pm.

But here in China, in the far western region of Xinjiang, the sun rises at 5:00 AM and sets around 10:30 PM, that a whole lot of sun every freackin day. So as the flexible person that I am, I was forced to adjust. Now I sleep around 2:00 AM and wake up around 11:00AM. I feel really guilty doing this, but hey if the sun sets at 10:30PM, can you sleep at 11:00 PM?

So now i consider myself a morning person, but morning happens around noon for me 🙂

Badminton is a Sport?!

Before today I had always thought badminton was something for the established people, a wonderful pass time activity combining physical exertions with friendly competition. But before today, I have never been exposed to badminton in China (or even badminton en general).

People in China take their small balls very seriously, I am talking about the “ping pong balls”, “badminton balls”, and “billiards balls”. I played badminton for the first time today, and it was one of the most intense physical activities I have experience so far, probably because I played for 4 hours straight, struck every shot like I was hacking wood for a fire, and moved around like a fencer and not so much a “badminton player”.

I am still amazed at the quickness that these “older male players” have when they strike the ball and recover  volleys. The only person from Walnut, who I know of, that plays badminton like a boss is my friend Jackie Ko, who is an absolute beast in terms of badminton. But Chinese badminton players take the word “intensity” to a whole new level, I have never seen people get so riled up and excited about badminton, come on, of all things to get excited about, one would not normally think of badminton as the first option.

The intensity of badminton and its players really drew me to the sport, and I am really liking it. The cardiovascular endurance and the gentle wrist strikes so intrinsic to the sport of badminton, makes it much more artistic and at the same time more challenging than most sports, which generally places more emphasis on brute physical talent and athleticism. By the stroke of simple good fortune, my father apparently is great friends with the Chinese National Badminton Team’s head coach and general manager. Though they typically work more with managing the players and team and less with coaching, both were former players themselves on the team back in the 1980s, and my father agreed to introduce me to them to learn some basics when I visit Beijing in two weeks before finally heading to the Shaolin Temple for my year long training.

I really learned to appreciate new things with this new introduction to badminton, really glad   I met this sport before I became too old to play it 🙂