Bayberries (杨梅): An Intriguing Sweet and Sour Fruit
Chinese bayberries are fascinating. Striking the perfect balance between sweet and tart, these berries have long been an inspiration for ancient Chinese poems and legends. To commemorate bayberry season, I have taken a closer look at this refreshing summertime fruit, including its origins and fun facts, and the hysterical story of the Bayberry Swindler.
Cùn: The Chinese Inch (寸)
Units for measurements around the globe developed from what was easily available, namely body parts. For instance, hands were used to measure the height of horses, human feet for distance, and even the average length a physicist’s beard grows in a second was once used to measure extremely short distances (around 5 nanometers). An inch…
Why Wearing a Green Hat Symbolizes Infidelity in China (戴绿帽子)
No other class on a Western holiday elicits such a visceral reaction from my students, and not for reasons you might assume! It is due to green hats being the unofficial symbol for infidelity in China. What scandal started this taboo? How does it affect China today? Is St. Paddy’s Day celebrated at all in…
Legends of the Split Pinky Toenail
If split pinky toes are a common characteristic among other nations and races, then why do some Han Chinese feel strongly possessive about it?
Ikea in China: Where Locals Come for Selfies, Picnics, and Some Z’s
Ikea in China has become synonymous as a place for all-day family outings, to the frustration of its workers and the amusement of expats expecting a “normal” Ikea shopping experience.
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 中秋节快乐！
I often liken the Mid-Autumn Festival to Thanksgiving in the USA, but Mid-Autumn festival has more similar counterparts in Korea and Japan (with the Chuseok and Tsukimi holidays). During this holiday in China, family members will cook and eat traditional foods, watch tv together, and enjoy the full moon.
It’s Mulberry Season!
Long rows of short, crowded mulberry trees stretched far beneath covered canopies of mesh wire fencing and plastic tarps. We’d driven a bit further out of the main area of town, near the old abandoned west bus station where I’d first taken a trip out with my 8th graders two years ago. The heat was…
The Sad Closure of Lishui’s Only Walmart
Word leaked about a month ago that Lishui’s Walmart was to close on April 16, 2019. A document in Chinese that was shared on wechat sent shock waves through our town. While Walmart hasn’t always had it easy breaking into the Chinese market, it had grown to become a beloved store in Lishui.
Happy Year of the Pig!
新年快乐！ 恭喜发财！ Spring Festival is upon us! This February 5th, 2019 marks the beginning of the year of the Pig！ Why is this important? It’s is the final year in the 12th-year zodiac cycle! This means we can all indulge in a huge sigh of relief and reap the benefits of having worked hard the…
Holiday Season Recap and a Visit to Shanghai
It’s been a whirlwind past couple of weeks! Where did November and December go? Now that my classes are finished (as in my classes were co-opted for test review), I actually have free time to blog. Thanksgiving The AYC Thanksgiving this year was held by my friends, Dani and Rachael, as is the tradition for…
Why 666 is a “Lucky Number” in China
It was 2017 when I first heard “666” in my classroom. I was taken aback; my sweet students were shaking their fists with their thumb and pinky out, chanting “six six six” in English at their classmates doing a grammar racing game on the chalk board. I left class that day feeling bemused and more…
10 Tips on Eating in China: A guide to Chinese Table Manners and Dining Etiquette
Slurping, Belching, and more! Do your food habits bring shame on your family? It’s easy for foreigners in China to make numerous table manner faux pas in China. Here are 10 tips to follow for better dining etiquette in China!
China’s Strange Obsession with Peppa Pig (小猪佩奇)
Remember, back in May of 2018, when a meme on Facebook made the rounds saying, “China banned Peppa Pig for being too Gangsta?!” I remember reading it and laughing at the time, but now I can’t help wishing it was true. Peppa Pig is a British children’s cartoon centered on a young anthropomorphic she-pig, named…
12 Quirky Things to Know Before Visiting China
Maybe you’ve watched Disney’s Mulan a few hundred times and have a strong hankering to find your own Shang or to see The Great Wall. Perhaps you’re intrigued by how hard people say the language is or have come to buy “luxury goods” for cheap. Great! It is an awesome land with good food, loads…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…in China!
“Welcome to China! Gan Bei!” “Laoshi , welcome to our home! Ganbei!” “Laoshi, over here! Ganbei!” “Drink more! Drink more!” Melody’s mother-in-law urged as she poured more wine into my glass while Melody’s father reached over to refill my other glass with baijiu to “ganbei!” (bottoms up!) yet again. It seemed as soon as I…
Yes, I am Asian: Asian American.
“Ay, you! What province you from, again?” “Are you sure you’re American?” “But your face looks Chinese…eh, maybe you could be from Xinjiang, but no, not American.” These are the types of greetings I get every day in China from curious taxi-drivers, to cashiers, to grandmas who want to tell me that I should know…
Hi, I’m Steph. While working full-time as a literature and drama history teacher in China, I started this blog to share about my travel experiences and observations. Now, when I’m not spending time with my wonderful husband, I continue to write about my love for travel, food, teaching, and identity politics. Read more
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