Category Archives: Shanghai

I know what is wrong with human society

Heart pounding. Sweating. Anxiousness “What if I forget the words? What comes after this sentence? Will this make sense? This is it…it’s show time!” It is time to put what I’ve learnt to use; the time has come to public speak in Chinese.

Standing in front of my Chinese class, it dawns on me; a mere 11 months ago (February 2014) I did not even know how to order “chicken fried rice or beef noodles” in Chinese. Now, I speak Chinese on a daily basis. Sure, it does not compare to an actual Chinese native speaker, but I understand newspapers, I understand news, and there is virtually no common topic I cannot decode using a Chinese-English dictionary.

It is truly phenomenal what the human mind can accomplish when one is put in a situation that they MUST succeed. In some ways, it may sound a bit cheesy, but in my case, failure was NOT an option.

Basic communication was on the line. Human connection. To be heard and to be understood. Society is not made to lower itself to your own shortcomings. It is YOU that must bend your beliefs and create the appropriate breakthroughs so that you can properly communicate and be an active participant in society. Everyone person wants to be heard.

This was our final presentation topic. The question at hand – 人类社会存在的问题 (translates to – problem of human society)

My first thought… are you kidding me? I barely know how I would answer that question in English, nevertheless, Mandarin?

Below is the finalized answer/presentation :

“这个问题乍一看很复杂,可是我想来想去,其实很简单。 我们的生活中类似的情况不少。有时候觉得生活太难熬了。有学习压力,或者工作负担, 并且有社会压力。 我们可能以为如果我们干得很辛苦, 我们可以赚到很多钱,然后我们应该得到幸福感。 可是你平时听到或者看到人们在这个世界上不太开心或者完全苦闷。我觉得问题是我们怕追求自己的梦想。

从小的时候教育的制度要求我们去幼儿园, 然后小学,中学, 高中, 最后是大学。如果,你开始工作,每个公司几乎都要求你从最低的职位 爬到最高的。我不能说这两个制度没好处,但是我想指出的问题是每个制度早已给你们他们的计划。很多人,为了钱或者稳定性完全忽略了自己的梦想。

怪不得, 人们到一段时间, 他们发现根本不合适这分工作,或者找到不对的情侣,因而马上离婚。这些小问题之所以存在,是因为很多人没付出时间好好儿思考自己想怎么样活。自己的梦想到底是什么?


无论是谁,凡是每个人肯定都碰到过这些深深的无助的感受,所以每个人都可以互相了解。 怕是怕,不过你不继续追,你永远不知到你可能达到什么结果。你以为有人笑你,但,肯定有人赞成你。

对我来说,每个人都想了解自己的才能,以后用功集中发挥自己的本领。教育应该教你什么解决各种各样的问题。打工应该为你提供你工作经验,而且帮你建立生活中重要的关系。 我相信如果我们可以克服自己怕什么,我们可以活得 更幸福,而且热心地解决全球的问题。


如果你需要有一天说出来你成功, 你先需要失败。这句话也没说你需要失败了几次。可能好多几次。。。


Here is the English translation : (This is taken directly from Google Translate. Even Google is not perfect at translating Chinese to English.)

At first glance, this problem is very complex, but to my mind, is actually very simple. Our lives a similar situation a lot. Sometimes I think life is too tough a. Learning pressure, or workload, and social pressures. We may think that if we do very hard, we can make a lot of money, then we deserve happiness. But you usually hear or see people in this world do not feel happy or completely depressed. I think the problem is that we are afraid to pursue their dreams.

When childhood education system, which requires us to go to kindergarten, and elementary school, middle school, high school, and finally the university. If you start working, almost every company requires you to climb from the lowest of the highest positions. I cannot say that these two systems is not good, but I want to point out that the problem is that each system has already given you their plans. Many people, for the money or the stability of completely ignoring their dreams.

No wonder, people go to for some time, they found it inappropriate simply divide the work, or to find a couple of wrong, and therefore divorce immediately. These small problems exists, because many people do not choose to take their time thinking about their gonna live. His dream in the end is what?

Say the problem or “dreams” Although very sweet, but really it is not so simple to do. In fact people are not afraid of their dreams, fear of failure when the pursuit of dream. Are you afraid when you fail, the whole society of people laugh at you, you are afraid of your life are when a loser.

No matter who you are, everyone who certainly have come across these deep feelings of helplessness, so that everyone can understand each other. Fear is fear, but you do not continue to chase, you never know what the results that you may achieve. Do you think someone laugh at you, but certainly someone agree with you.

For me, everyone wants to know their talents, after hard play to their ability to concentrate. Education should teach you what to solve a variety of problems. Your work should provide work experience for you, and help you build important relationships in life. I believe that if we can overcome what they fear, we can live happier and enthusiasm to solve global problems.

I want to take advantage of this opportunity to introduce you to a saying: “Failure is the mother of success.”

If you need one day say you are successful, you first need to fail. This statement did not say you need to fail a few times. Probably a lot of times. . .

We have only one life. Together we should support everyone to pursue their dreams, and therefore we can influence others with their problems facing the community together.

Society has a plethora of problems and no one thing will solve everything immediately. Perhaps, we have to be responsible for our own lives and fears before we can start preaching to others how the world should be changed.

A couple things you should ponder as you make this year’s resolutions

– What are some accomplishments that you have achieved in 2014 you can celebrate? (This only works looking backwards, not measuring yourself forward against who you think you “should” be. Be grateful for what you have done, who are you, and the people in your life)

– As we have just kicked off a NEW YEAR (2015), what is your dream? Do you dare to chase it now? Are you ready to fail first? (Probably a lot of failing)
Please comment and share your answers below!!! Will respond MORE consistently!


A more frequent writer than last year.

PS. Chicken Fried Rice : 鸡炒饭 Beef Noodles : 牛肉面


What I learnt from an 8 year old on a plane


Sitting on the plane, about to spend a month in western rural China traveling without too much of a plan. I was exhausted emotionally and physically from all the good-byes and “obligatory” parties in the previous weeks. I needed time for myself.

I was hoping I could catch a few hours of sleep before landing so I can start my trip with energy and enthusiasm. As I started drifting off, I noticed the person sitting next to me was a simple little girl. I assumed that her family members were nearby and did not think too much of it.

I woke up in a daze after a couple hours to find her jumping in the seat, full of energy. Of course, kids. We made eye contact and she begins to berate me with questions. Very direct questions.

“What’s wrong with you?” “Oh nothing, just tired” “Why? It’s morning” “ I did not sleep much last night” “Why? Does your face always have that? (pointing to some acne spot) “ Does it hurt?” “Do you want to play any games?”

This proceeded for half an hour, until I learnt her whole story. Let’s call her 小美 (Xiao Mei) for the story sake. Xiao Mei is only 8-years old and she is traveling all by her myself back to her hometown, Huaihua, China. She is very gifted, and goes to a well-known elementary school in Shanghai, but has not seen her family for months. This explains the excitement.

Our conversation was entirely in Chinese and at some point, I realize that I was clearly outmatched in language.

Now, let me give some proper context. I have been learning Mandarin intensively for 4 months up until now and received the highest speaking marks at my current level (intermediate beginner). Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about myself. And yet, this 8 year old (native speaker) was grammatically superior and knew considerably more words.

I did not want to admit it. Curious to see the extent of her knowledge, I pulled out my Chinese textbook, and thus began our Chinese reading contest. I will spare you the details, it does not end well for me.

Here I am, a foreigner with only a backpack on his own journey through China and Mandarin acquisition. With brimming confidence, I thought my trip would be a great assessment of how far my language acquisition has come along. Who would have guessed, within the first 3 hours, I would be humbled by an 8-year old girl. (probably a genius, let’s go with genius!)

Humbling yourself is a great reminder to keep your ego in check and keep matters in perspective. It is amazing to celebrate your victories, just do not forget that the world is always moving forward. There will almost certainly be someone working just as hard, celebrating some of the same victories, and looking to elevate their skills and abilities to the next level. You must constantly be changing and improving.

Until next time,

Peace and Love! (From the genius herself)

5 Unusual/Ingenuous Observations in 3 days of China

These are simply things that I noticed in my first 72 hours in Shanghai last week and should not be taken into any type of context except for my thoughts on each topic.  This entry is not meant to offend or criticize the Asian culture and community in Shanghai.  Ok, maybe poke fun a bit…

I will not be touching on the cliché foreigner experiences of describing in detail how awful the toilet hygiene here is OR how people are always coughing without a hand over their mouths OR the initial shock of being surrounded constantly with thousands of Asians.

The following 5 observations have never really been mentioned to me by anyone, and I am sure there are logical explanations for all of them.  That can be another post for another time.

Let’s start :

1. Push and/or Pull doors – China Doors go both way :

Why in the world would you label a door “Push” or “Pull” if it does both? At that point, what is the purpose of the label?  Decoration perhaps?  I have seen countless times where a door is labeled one or the other, and yet I find that you can do both in most cases.  Check this out :

Why only swing one way, if you can swing both ways? What is China’s real stance on accepting homosexuality? All joking aside, I personally find this very convenient, yet funny that they went through the labeling process for these ambidextrous doors.

2. Why is it freezing everywhere?

Coming from Canada, I feel as if I am entitled to speak on the topic of when it is appropriate to label outside “cold” or just brisk.  It has been “cold” the last few days and it has only been 3-10 degrees C.  This is the type of cold that your internal body temperature lowers when you enter a NEW room without heating…which is every room!  It is almost as if they dislike using a heater OR they have not discovered the pleasures of central heating for buildings.  I know we will complain when it is disturbingly humid outside during the summer months, but until then, I will find comfort wearing my winter jacket to bed.

3.  Movies on the metro

Now, I am all for watching interesting shows and movies at inappropriate moments in life, but what is with the fact that people are watching full length films on their tablets or cell phones during their commute. I am talking about plot development, character development, fights scenes, love scenes etc… Perhaps it is cool to watch 1/3 of a 3 hour film, and you can finish the movie in 3 commutes. Perhaps they just have VERY LONG commutes (2+ hours) and it makes sense. Maybe, I have too much criteria for binging or watching a TV show. (Ex: preferably in my room where no one can judge me for wasting a day or a few days…) It does beg the question though : how good are these movies and shows? (Ex: House of Cards < random Chinese show) If that was the case, I might be very inclined to follow suit.  Here are a few examples : (Clearly, I am awesome with an Iphone camera)

Train 1Train 3Train 2Train 4 Train 5IMG_1106[1]

4.  Running in the rain:

My school has 2 complete tracks, which I find refreshing considering my last university did not even have one close by.  Over the last decade that I have been running on tracks, I usually assume that when you make the conscious decision that you will run in the rain, you are going to get wet. It is just how it goes down. Every time, same result.  Until, I saw this :

Now, it was not just him. I saw another fellow doing the same thing.  Innovative, logically makes sense, and completely ridiculous.  Perhaps it stabilizes your arm muscles and increase hand grip while you do sprints in the rain.  Perhaps they are butlers-in-training for extremely wealthy Chinese businessmen that enjoy the occasional jog/track workout. A must try for my next run…OR my next round of butler auditions.

5.  They have service underground:

If you are successful in getting any type of data plan, you will realize that you will have service everywhere you go.  Taking the subway, no problem! Perhaps this explains my third observation… On one hand, I find this ingenious because you can address a variety of errands during your commute. (Ex : work emails, family emails, Skype with a friend, catching up on shows etc…) On the other, it made me realize that people here do not have an opportunity to unplug…ever! Unless intentionally, they always have the option of being online or in front of some type of media.  This can easily transition into a “technology has made everything in the world faster and better, and yet meaningful communication is almost nonexistent in today’s world” type of argument, but I am going to cut it short here.

Perhaps life is better with your senses being distracted at all times.  Perhaps, sometimes we just need a reminder to look up, take in what is really going on around us, for us to truly appreciate each moment.