Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Chinese Caption Contest #464

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Chinese Caption Contest #464

At first, I thought it said, “No Black People Allowed”… but then I figured it out. What do you think it means?

The Summer That Was ________…

Monday, September 26th, 2011

I’m back in Tianjin and, honestly, not loving it yet… “Tea and Gin” is just one of those cities that needs to grow on you. And it’s taking its sweet time this round. Oh well?

Let’s focus on the past 2.5 months, instead!

This summer was grand / busy / emotional / wonderful / sad / whirlwindy / needed / crazy / too short / worth it. Insert whatever adjective you want and it probably describes it perfectly! In an unexpected turn, I actually didn’t want to return to China. (Don’t worry, I did anyways.) I had a fabulous time with my family and friends and just didn’t want it to end. Alas, it was time to come back and continue my life.

I’m told that the first time going home after living overseas is always the weirdest, so I hopefully did alright? I asked some good friends who’ve lived in East Asia for many years, “How do you balance life in China and life in America?”

Their answer wasn’t what I wanted. They chuckled and said, “You don’t. You just have to get used to the imbalance.”

Here’s to imbalance!

*Leave a comment with what we did together this summer so we can always remember… and make notes for next summer.

Did it still feel like home?

Stone Arch BridgeTough question. The house I “grew up in” was long sold, my sister had moved out, and my dog had gone where all dogs eventually go… in that sense, it wasn’t really home. But my family was still the same, my friends and I picked right up where we left off, and Minneapolis was basically how I remembered it and loved. I just need to learn how to have two homes now.

The first day back, a soon-to-be friend pointed out that I used very simple English and a lot of hand motions and verbal cues when I communicated. He guessed that I must have lived in a foreign country before. Little did he know, I had just returned from one!

And another time, I pulled out some hand sanitizer before a meal (a must here in China!), and my friends looked at me strange and got a good laugh at my expense.

All in all, I’m still an American – I just don’t act and speak like one much anymore, I suppose.

Other changes I observed: Netflix. (I was just getting the hang of it, too.) Food trucks. (Maybe Mpls is trying to be more like NYC?) More bicycles! (My days of lone biking are over.) QR Codes. (I still don’t see the point.) Reality TV. (Out of control! But oh, so addicting.)

Get everything done you wanted?

Twins GameYes and no. Looking back at my calendar, I’m surprised I was able to keep track of everything! In fact, in the 65ish days I was home, I had about 140 different occasions or appointments that were listed. Hmm, that’s more than 2 a day! Oy vey. I’ll have to think of another way to do things next summer…

Some good friends lent me a car, a bicycle, and a record player, and I was so thankful to have those tools to help make my summer more accessible and awesome. I don’t know what I would have done without them, actually.

I had many meals, coffees, and walks around parks. I got to go up to my friend’s cabin on Lake Vermillion, MN, for a few days. I watched and participated in friends’ summer sports leagues. I got to see so many wonderful concerts, including a truly American bluegrass show at least every week. I had a couple weddings to attend. A bad run-in with Americanized Chinese food. I had a memorable day-long roadtrip to Wisconsin. I saw a show at the Guthrie Theater. I saw a MN Twins game at their new stadium. Lots of grilling out on my friends’ decks. Outdoor movies. A Chinese language and culture tutoring session for a business consultant. Lots of shopping for a needed wardrobe. Seeing people I didn’t expect to see. Meeting new babies. Making new friends.

But no, I didn’t get to do everything. And there were many people I didn’t get to see, either… all I can say about that, though, is start planning for next summer!

What’s up next for you?

My lovely studentsBesides readjusting to the wasteland that is Tianjin, I’ve had a great time reconnecting with my friends here and seeing how much of my Chinese has sunk into my language learning iceberg.

I’m teaching at the same university again this year, so my mailing address remains the same… hope that helps! Some of my students actually signed a petition to get me back and the admin gave me a nice little raise so I can live off-campus.

I will be living with a like-minded New Zealand guy who’s been here longer than I have and who’s known to be an excellent cook. I’ve only been moved in for a week, but I can vouch that this is accurate. Should be a great relationship! As long as I continue to do the dishes, I’m guessing.

Also, at the beginning of next month, I’ll be going to Seoul, South Korea for a week for a friend’s wedding out there. It’s during China’s National Day Holiday and I’m really looking forward to visiting a new country and seeing some old friends…

Summer Me Go Home Home

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

I apologize for my poor English skills ahead of time… I’ve really immersed myself in Chinese this semester and my native language has definitely taken a nose dive. Don’t tell the university where I teach English! They’ll never know.

Summer Me Go Home Home = Heck yeah, I’m coming home for the summer! (Is that grammatically correct?)

After almost two years of life in China and travels to North Korea, Western China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, I’ve decided to spend a holiday back home with the people that care about me the most.

And it’s long overdue!

Please check your calendars and let me know when you’d like to meet up… I’d love to catch up on your lives and, of course, share about mine. If you have a small group or a big group that wants to hear about “overseas life,” I’d definitely consider sharing with them, too. Ask me anything!

When and where will you be?

TutoredI’m arriving home to Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the end of June, to firstly spend some quality time with my family and friends for a few weeks. I’ll be traveling to Washington, DC, to spend some time with various friends on the East Coast maybe in August? Back to Minnesota for the end of August.

There will be a weekend somewhere when I go to Chicago. Maybe spend a weekend up north at a lake. Maybe short trips around MN and surrounding states? Any road trip ideas?

I will head back to China by September. Make sure all of our adventures are completed before then. I’m afraid my time home will go by way too quickly.

What will you do whilst home?

threegirlsI can tell you what I won’t be doing: having dinner with three beautiful Chinese girls at the same time! Hey oh! It’s possible, but unlikely.

Anyways, my options are really endless. What else would someone who hasn’t been in America for two years want to do?

Food (literally anything), Twins games (or any sporting event), Guthrie tickets (or any theater), live music (of any size or genre), cabins up north (or south or west), State Fair (self-explanatory), walks around the lakes (or rivers), more food (maybe not Americanized Chinese?), coffee/tea (or milk tea), and free things (like food!)…

And to be frank, I won’t have too much money to spend this summer, so if we’re deciding between things, I’d prefer the cheaper option… You know what I mean? Thanks. Good thing it doesn’t cost anything to just hang out!

How can I best support you?

Student CircleMany of you want to help in various ways and with various resources while I’m at home. Here are my thoughts:

Does anyone have an extra car I could use for a couple months? In Minnesota or DC?

How about a two-month SIM card for my cell phone?

Any spare frequent flier miles laying around?

Who’d like to fill me in on recent pop culture/politics?

Anyone like to help me go shopping? I desperately need an entirely new wardrobe. For lack thereof and for lack of fasion know-how. (My second to last pair of shorts just ripped yesterday. Come on!)

Anybody know a cheap doctor and dentist to get check-ups at? My Chinese insurance won’t cover things in the States.

How about a counselor? Being home might be a tad bit overwhelming.

Does anyone have a record player I could borrow for the summer? I sold mine before I left, but saved my favorite vinyls.

Oh, and I’m thinking about taking up the banjo.. Anyone have one they don’t want?

A Lesson in Language Learning

Monday, November 29th, 2010

So I was out with my Chinese tutor last week. We were having a great time learning about comparisons and weather patterns, etc. But then in the middle of the lesson, she said something that I didn’t understand at all. Not. A. Word. I kept asking her to repeat it more slowly, again, and again. But I just couldn’t get it… twas seemingly hopeless! And very frustrating.

It’s easy to get arrogant when learning a new language and I tend to celebrate at every small accomplishment. But on the flipside, it’s also easy to get quite frustrated when you don’t understand the simplest thing. Oh well.

On this occasion, with a smile on my face, I voiced my frustration to my tutor: “Why is it taking so dang long to learn this dang language!?”

Also with a smile, she answered by teaching me a Chinese proverb. Here is that proverb…

“Impatience Spoils The Results”

Once upon a time, an old farmer planted a plot of rice. Everyday he went to the field to watch the seedlings grow. He saw the young shoots break through the soil and grow taller each day. But still, he thought they were growing too slowly.

ImpatienceHe got impatient with the young plants. “How could the plants grow faster?” He tossed in bed during the night and could not sleep. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head! His idea could not wait until daybreak. He jumped out of bed and dashed to the field. Under the light of the moon, he began working on the rice seedlings. One by one, he pulled up the young plants by half an inch. When he finished pulling, it was already morning. Straightening his back, he said to himself, “What a wonderful idea! Look, how much taller the plants have grown in one night!” With great satisfaction, he went back home.

In a triumphant tone, he told his son what he had done. His son was shocked! By this time, the sun had risen, and the young man was heart-broken to see all the young plants dying.

People now use “ya miao zhu zhang” to describe the behavior of those who are too eager to get something done, only to make it worse.

Time to give my Chinese tutor a raise.

揠苗助长
古时候宋国有个农夫,种了稻苗后,便希望能早早收成。
每天他到稻田时,发觉那些稻苗长得非常慢。他等得不耐烦,心想:“怎么样才能使稻苗长得高,长很快呢?” 想了又想,他终了想到一个“最佳方法”,就是将稻苗拨高几分。
经过一番辛劳后,他满意地扛锄头回家休息。然后回去对家里的人表白:“今天可把我累坏了,我帮助庄稼苗长高一大截!”
他儿子赶快跑到地里去一看,禾苗全都枯死了。
人们现在用拔苗助长形容急于求成,违法客观规律,只会把事情办坏。

Chinese Caption Contest #461

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Chinese Caption Contest #461

I think the four marketing points say, “I’m American. I’m white. I’m cool… I’m Todd.”

Who would want to study from a guy named Todd, anyways!?

(Hopefully I don’t have any readers named Todd.)

Chinese Food 101: Adventures in Cooking Rice

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

“Without rice, even the cleverest housewife cannot cook.” – Chinese Proverb

I’m no housewife, but oh how I wished I had practiced cooking rice before moving to China! The first few weeks here were brutal without this simple knowledge. My roommate and I and purchased a rice cooker, but I had no idea how to use it. The directions were in Chinese, obviously, and the pictures seemed to also be in another language. Thankfully, I’ve mastered the art of rice cooking and I can now easily make a bowl of mouth-watering rice whenever I feel like it.

My first try, I ended up with a bowl of watery slop. The second try, I overflowed the rice cooker and made a huge mess. I asked a Chinese friend how to use it and they laughed at me and said that rice is the easiest Chinese food to cook! They said to put in a cup of rice and then to add water up to the top of the rice, “just so that all the rice is covered.” That time, I ended up with a disgusting and overcooked hodgepodge.

I turned to my friends in Egypt for help. They told me a simple formula that saved my wannabe cooking life: >one part rice + two parts water = one delicious bowl of rice.

The only preparation needed might be to clean the rice. If, like me, you buy the rice from the outdoor market down the street, you might not trust it to be the cleanest rice in the world. Just rinse until the water becomes clear.

(For reference:
Chinese Food 101: Basic Cooking Utensils
Chinese Food 101: Basic Ingredients)

Let’s begin.

1. One Cup of Uncooked Rice

You can’t have cooked rice without uncooked rice… but which came first? The little cup that came with the rice cooker is a little smaller than an American-sized measuring cup, but I’m sure you could use it just the same. Remember to clean the rice if you don’t trust it!

(Photo)

2. Two Cups of Water

Clean water, please.

(Photo)

3. Mix in the Rice Cooker

Add both to the rice cooker’s bowl and mix together lightly, allowing the rice granules room to breath and cook evenly. Place back in the rice cooker, push the “cook” button and wait.

(Photo)

4. A Fresh Bowl of Delicious Rice

15 – 20 minutes later, you should have a refreshing snack! Be sure to have some veggies, soup, or soy sauce ready…

(Photo)

DK’s Fried Rice will be next, I think.

A Very Generous Video of Tianjin

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I came across this video the other day and was completely surprised. Is this really the city I live in? True, I haven’t been here during the summer yet, but STILL. Shouldn’t I have seen at least one of these places already? I think this is just good marketing trying to lure unknowing foreigners into its grasp:

http://tianjin.chinadaily.com.cn/m/tianjin/e/2009-06/11/content_8272914.htm

Would you live here?

Little ol’ me, featured in a Tianjin monthly…

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Article abouut me

You know you stand out from the crowd if you get interviewed for a big magazine in town when you haven’t even been here 3 months. Well, that’s what happened to me.

I met one of my good Chinese friends, Jonathan, on the subway. Apparently, he knew I was a foreigner right away. (How could he tell!?) This was back in December and I found out he had just gotten a job at Tomorrow Magazine – “An Extensive Living Guide for Foreigners in Tianjin.” In January, he wanted to interview me. I only found the publication recently.

Here is that interview in its embarrassing entirety:

Daniel Konold, a big boy from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Before moving to Tianjin, he worked with computers in support and design. He loves travelling. So far he has been to over 20 countries covering almost all continents on the earth. For leisure time, he likes basketball, American football, and rugby.

1. Why do you choose Tianjin as destination? Actually, I didn’t choose Tianjin, Tianjin chose me! The company I work for places me in different cities around China, and Tianjin happens to be the city they chose for me.

2. How long have you been living in Tianjin? I’ve been living in Tianjin a little over 3 months.

3. What do you do here? Here in Tianjin, I’m an English Teacher and a Web Designer.

4. Did you feel difficult living in Tianjin when you just arrived, for instance? No, it wasn’t difficult at all to start living here. I think Tianjin is a good transition city with many similar things to my hometown, but still different enough to feel new.

5. How do you like Tianjin? Tianjin is not my favorite city in the world, but it’s a fine city to live in. The public transportation is very easy to use and I can find most food from around the world whenever I feel like it.

6. What do you think about Tianjin locals? Tianjin local people have been very nice to me, personally. Since the first day I arrived, many people have offered to help me move in and find things I’m looking for. No complaints about the locals!

7. By far, what do you think about Tianjin? I think Tianjin is, by far, the biggest city I’ve ever lived in but also small enough to start to call home.

8. When the day that you leave Tianjin comes, what will you miss about this place? Mostly, I will miss the people I’ve met along the way and all the nice Tianjinians who have helped me live here.

9. Tell me something about some interesting personal experiences in this city. One of the most interesting experiences so far was going to the TuanBo Hot Springs on the outskirts of town. I was definitely the only noticeable foreigner in the spa and I got a lot of stares. Dipping into all the different liquids was fascinating and I really felt rejuvenated after the visit.

Chinese Caption Contest #457

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Chinese Caption Contest #457

This one even has some English and I have no clue what it could mean…

Two questions:
Where can I get one!?

Where can I get another one?

I finally ate at KFC

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

If God grants me longer life, I will see to it that no peasant in my kingdom will lack the means to have a chicken in the pot every Sunday.
-Henri IV

I Finally Ate at KFC

There it stood.

That multi-level “western” food flashiness: K. F. C.

I knew I shouldn’t, but its power was too great. I was on my way home and too tired to try and wok it up Chinese-style that night.

Excuses are stinky; I caved.

As I walked into this chain restaurant netherworld, I felt every single eye glaring at me. The place was packed, but I was completely alone in my inner humiliation. The walk to the counter was even more disgraceful. It looked exactly the same as the infamous fast food joint back home and I hadn’t been in a KFC for years.

What was I going to order? How was I going to order it!? These are questions that you think of way too late for impulsive crack moves like this…

The cashier said something in Chinese, which I understood as, “Welcome to KenDeJi, may I take your order?”

I had the fried wonderland at my finger-lickin’ fingertips, but I had no idea what to get. I quickly composed myself and a Chinese sentence, “I want a chicken hamburger.” (That was the only food I could translate at the time. If I had said, “chicken fingers,” I’m afraid they may have gone the literal route.)

The young lady didn’t have time for my poor Mandarin. She immediately handed me a full-page menu with color photographs and pointed at which “chicken hamburger” I really wanted. Honestly, none of them looked appetizing. Under so much pressure, I just randomly picked one. Note to self: never randomly pick one at KFC.

In total, my meal was about 35RMB, the same price I’d pay for many dishes of delicious Chinese cuisine. The sandwich was tiny. The meat was dark. And they only gave me a small napkin and one little ketchup packet, which I was warned about.

As I sat and ate this pitiful meal, I had lots of time to reflect… friends don’t let friends eat at KFC. Period.

Shame.

Heartburn.

More shame.

(It’s been almost 6 months, though… that ain’t too bad, right?)