A Jersey Guy's Excellent Adventure in China

Tag: Zhengzhou

After a Remarkable Year, No Longer a Stranger in a Strange Land

When I started this blog a year ago, I envisioned it as a convenient way to keep my family and friends updated on my adventure in China. It turned out to be something far more meaningful. Writing almost daily about what it’s like to live and teach in China connected me with thousands of readers… Read More ›

Farewell to Cheap Massages, Cute Kids, Squat Toilets, Dirty Air

Cruising 35,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean on my flight home to the U.S., I’m thinking of all the things I’m going to miss about China – and some of the things I’d just as soon forget. Things I’ll Miss: My students: Their English was lousy, but they really tried to learn. They treated me… Read More ›

Hong Kong Highlights: Peak Tower, Light Show, Bruce Lee

  I left Zhengzhou on Wednesday and flew to Hong Kong, where I’m spending four days before going home. It’s been 26 years since my last visit to Hong Kong and 17 years since the British returned control of the city to China. But it remains distinctly different than the mainland –- a Special Administrative… Read More ›

Graders of College-Entrance Exam Draw Tight Security

The entrance to our campus office looked like a military base yesterday. A soldier guarded the front door, special IDs were needed to get in, and the perimeter was cordoned off with plastic tape. The tight security wasn’t the result of a bomb threat or a visiting dignitary. It was because teachers were inside marking… Read More ›

Newest Iowa State Fan is an Adopted Child From China

During a farewell dinner at a Zhengzhou hotel with my teaching colleagues, I noticed several American couples walking by with Chinese children. It turned out that the kids had just been picked up by their new adoptive parents. I met couples from Georgia, Kentucky, Colorado and Iowa. The ones who adopted healthy children had waited… Read More ›

Marking Tests, Calculating Grades Like Waterboarding

  I just finished marking 150 final exams and calculating year-end grades for my five classes at Henan University of Technology. I’ve never been waterboarded, but I imagine the experience is similar. Our grading system is so convoluted that it must have been invented by Rube Goldberg. It’s divided into five parts, with each representing… Read More ›

Think U.S. Bureaucracy is Bad? Try China

If you think U.S. bureaucracy is bad, don’t ever live in China. China has a rule or regulation for everything. Opening a bank account can take hours. Getting a visa extension can take months. Getting a drivers’ license can take years. Tons of paperwork. Long lines. Endless instructions. It’s a libertarian’s nightmare. I got another… Read More ›

Rivals Nike, Adidas Share Stores in China

Though they’re fierce rivals in the sports shoe and apparel business, Nike and Adidas are roommates in China. In most malls, their stores are housed together in a maze-like complex with other competitors such as Puma and Reebok. Each brand has its own display rooms, but they’re all connected in the same building. I’m not… Read More ›

Rolled-Up Shirts Provide Bellyful of Laughs

If you want a bellyful of laughs, check out the most popular summer fashion for Chinese men. When the heat is on, they like to roll their shirts up to their chest to expose their stomachs. And there’s usually plenty to see. It’s rare to see rock-hard abs. More often it’s a bulging mound of… Read More ›

Dragon Boat Festival Features Rice Dumplings, Arsenic-Laced Wine, Egg Balancing

Today is the Dragon Boat Festival, a colorful Chinese holiday that commemorates the death of the celebrated poet Qu Yuan in 278 BC. According to legend, he was so depressed by the capture of his ancient state by a rival kingdom that he drowned himself in the Miluo River. People raced boats to the site… Read More ›

Don’t Mess With the Kung Fu Kid

Here’s some video of the Children’s Day I wrote about in my last post. I wouldn’t mess with the Kung Fu Kid.

Children Wear Snoopy Shirts, Do Magic Tricks, Draw Their Dreams

After teaching at a Chinese university for 10 months, I got to hang out with a younger group of students yesterday. A teaching colleague took me to her daughter’s elementary school for Children’s Day, when the kids put on a show for their parents. Each class staged its own performance. The third-graders I watched sang,… Read More ›

Flamenco Dancers Compete With Cell-Phone Talkers at Arts Center

  I went to Zhengzhou’s version of Lincoln Center to see a Spanish dance troupe perform a flamenco love story called “Fuego en los Pies’’ (Fire in the Feet). It was a highly entertaining show in a beautiful setting – a sparkling, glass-enclosed arts center located in the city’s new financial/entertainment/shopping district. The only disappointment… Read More ›

Farewell From My Students: “You Always Laugh Us”

I taught my last class today at Henan University of Technology. Finals are next week and then I’m off to Hong Kong, where I’ll spend four days before flying home on June 15. I received many farewell notes, letters and videos from my students. Saying goodbye was an emotional experience for all of us. Over… Read More ›

Students Use IVs, Birth-Control Pills to Prepare for College-Entrance Test

The national college-entrance exam, known as gaokao, is a life-changing event for Chinese students. It determines where you go to school, what kind of courses you take and, to a large extent, what kind of future you’ll have. Some students fuel marathon study sessions with amino-acid IVs, while anxious girls take birth-control pills to avoid… Read More ›

Pesky Mosquitoes Circle Like Vultures, Turn Skin Into Mass of Itchy Bumps

It’s mosquito season in Zhengzhou, which means a never-ending battle to keep the pesky insects from turning you into a mass of itchy bumps. We’ve got mosquitoes back in New Jersey, but not like the ones here. Chinese mosquitoes seem to be made of indestructible material that makes it almost impossible to repel or kill… Read More ›

Cave-Like Apartment Has No Doors, Closets, Wires

A Chinese teacher at my university recently showed me the new apartment she bought for her parents. I’ve seen caves that were more habitable. The apartment is basically a concrete shell. The floors are unfinished and the walls are unpainted. There are no doors, no closets and no wiring. The kitchen has no appliances and… Read More ›

Students Swelter or Freeze in Classrooms With No AC, Heat

Summer and winter are tough times to teach at Henan University of Technology. Classrooms aren’t air-conditioned and there’s little or no heating, so students either freeze or swelter. Temperatures have been in the 90s this week and my classrooms have felt like a sauna despite the constant whir of ceiling fans. By the time class… Read More ›

Zhengzhou’s “Michigan” Has Huge Campus, Tall Trees, Job-Hungry Grads

  Just a mile or so up the road from Henan University of Technology, is the much larger, more prestigious Zhengzhou University. If this were the U.S., my school would be Emporia State and Zhengzhou would be the University of Michigan. Zhengzhou dwarfs Henan in size and influence. It has about 50,000 students on its… Read More ›

Female Students Wear Wedding Gowns for Graduation Photos

During the past week, I’ve seen a lot of women wearing white wedding gowns on the campus of Henan University of Technology. Since most of the female students I know don’t even have boyfriends, I was puzzled until I found out the real reason: graduation photos. Seniors have been getting their graduation photos taken this… Read More ›