Archive for June, 2012

Me and 500 of my closest personal friends

June 25, 2012

I love ducks. Not only are they kinda cute in a bird-like way, but they’re also delicious! If there’s one thing that always grabs my attention, it’s when there are masses of them. Stumbled across this video this morning which completely cracked me up. If I saw this in person I would just die – particularly if i didn’t have a camera handy.

 

 

Welcome to Stressville; Chinese college entrance exams 2012

June 8, 2012

It’s that time of the year again when over 9 million Chinese students prepare to go through emotional hell: the infamous college entrance exams.

Over 9 million students are at the end of their middle school lives – fighting it out with pen and paper for just 6.5(+) million spots in university. For those poor souls who are unable to find a place – god help them as they face their parents.

For the poor Chinese student, the college entrance exam can mean everything. Throughout their school lives they are put under ridiculous amounts of pressure to work hard and perform. In China, if you’re not extremely good at something, you’re simply one of the crowd – and in China, that crowd is absolutely massive.

Throughout their school lives, students work long hours, have minimal breaks and extreme amounts of homework. At Tianyi Middle School where I worked, students would only get approximately one or two weekend days off per month. On those days off, or on some of the lengthy week long public holidays, the students would be so loaded with homework that there was little to no time to actually just be a kid.

When it comes to social development, Chinese students are seriously lacking. They’re not given the opportunity to develop healthy social networks like western children. They’re under constant pressure to perform, to do well. While the parents might only have their child’s best interests at heart, in reality, it’s doing far more damage than good. But what choice is there? In China the opportunities are numbered, and the competition for them is fierce.  

All through school these kids are pressured to perform. They simply must do well in the exams to gain a place in a good university. Once they’re in university, they’re under pressure to find a good job where again, places are limited. And as they move into their early 20’s, the focus then turns to finding a suitable partner, marrying and having a child. There is no let up, there is very limited freedom, and it is any wonder why so many students succumb to suicide.

China is a fascinating country, but there are some serious social problems. When many of these kids become adults it will be interesting to see just how their lack of social development affects them. With China rushing to become one of the world’s biggest superpowers (if not the biggest), it’s more than a little scary to think that these younger generations of under-developed children may be one day calling the shots.

Beijing’s awesome ‘Two Fly’ rule.

June 4, 2012

It always sucks returning to reality after a lengthy stint overseas. Last weekend I returned from one month overseas and have been playing catch-up ever since. I had planned to blog more while away, but writing them out on iPhone proved simply too infuriating. The amount of times the damned phone would change words around had me almost tossing it against the wall.

Since returning I’ve forced myself to re-enrol into the next level of Mandarin Chinese which will kick off again on a weekly basis. I enjoy the classes. The teacher is great, there’s an interesting mix of people who don’t make you feel silly when talking with them in Chinese, but man – it’s such a struggle to force myself to turn up. I think it’s just language learning as a whole as opposed to Chinese. It required considerable motivation, and after a long busy day work…that’s something that’s often in short supply.

Anyhow, enough of that – as I was doing my regular reading about the net, I came across this story concerning the cleanliness of Beijing’s public toilets. A series of criteria has been put together to improve the overall sanitation of Beijing’s public bathrooms – one of them being a ‘two fly’ rule. Someone somewhere has decided that any more than two flies in a bathroom is simply unacceptable!
I love this rule! What I want to know is, who has come up with this brilliant idea? What tests have been carried out to determine that three flies or above is filth? What happens if a third fly enters the bathroom? What systems are in place to monitor the number of flies in the bathrooms at any given time? Will someone be employed specifically to remove excess flies?

Only in China could a guideline like this exist, and this is precisely why I miss being there.


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