Ping Tracker

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Video Blogging

Hello, everyone!

So, yeah......I don't post much anymore. I've been shifting my focus away from blogging to video blogging. It's easier to film and edit a video than to write a blog post..........or at least, I think it is.

It's much easier to get people interested in watching a short video than reading a really long blog post. Plus, I feel like it's better because you can see/hear me and the inflections in my voice rather than just reading a blog post where the tone can be misconstrued.

Anyway, all this to say that I won't be posting on here as much anymore.

You can check me out on YouTube here. 

You can check me out on Youku here.

So, yeah, there you go! I hope you'll subscribe to my YouTube - I check it more than my Youku, but either way, it'll make me happy! Comments and subscriptions are always welcome :)

Thank you guys so much for sticking with me - I'll be posting on here from time to time :)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

What's Up? (Videos and More)

So, as you might have noticed, I've been away from my keyboard lately --- I've been given an extra assignment by my boss which has kept me pretty busy these days.

She wants to demonstrate her "co-teaching" system to the Gansu Province Ministry of Education, so she's making me prepare a couple of special classes that she'll film and send to the Ministry. Basically, there's me and a Chinese teacher who teach a combined speaking/listening class. We take turns teaching, and we help each other out during the 2-hour class. I talk some, they talk some. It's a pretty neat system, and as far as I'm concerned, it's great!

Because this is China, they want to endlessly prepare and make everything as perfect and artificial and fake as it could possibly be. That way it'll look good. It doesn't matter if it's the real thing or not. If it looks good, it sells, you know? I'm fighting against that, and I made my boss a little unhappy with how I did things today.

We just had the first one today --- it went pretty well. She had a couple of suggestions, but I'm debating on whether I actually care or not about what she says.

My students love my class (80-90%, anyway), and my co-teachers love me, and that's enough for me to keep my job. My boss doesn't have to like me  hahahaha

I'll try to get a copy of one, and I'll make my own little video with splices of teaching in it. I hope you guys will enjoy that -- you'll get to see what I actually do for a living.

Okay, now for a shock. I've started running, exercising, and "eating right" in a general effort to be healthy.

I's a shock. I've been that person who always made fun of healthy people, but now I'm starting to possibly, maybe, sort one.

I'm not gonna be vegetarian or vegan --- no freaking way, but I've had some recent health episodes that I don't want to talk about, and it's kind of scared me straight in the past couple of months, and I really just want to treat my body well. I'm only gonna have one life, so I should try to make it good and worth living.

...........Plus, it'd be nice if I could play Ultimate Frisbee or football (soccer) for more than 5 minutes without stopping for air.


In my next post, there'll be a couple of videos, and I'll be talking about teaching and cultural differences! I've got a lot to talk about. I'll be traveling soon, and I've got some great news I'll be sharing sometime before my  birthday (January 31st).

Anyway, until next time!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Videos and Thank You!

Followers and subscribers are slowly trickling into the site and my YouTube, so I want to say "Thank You!" to everyone! I have people coming here from the US, Iraq, Fiji, South Africa, Australia, China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Thailand, Canada, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Italy.......the list goes on. 

I'm so humbled that so many people have come by -- It's amazing, and I absolutely love getting comments and emails from you guys. I've even been recognized in Lanzhou a couple of times by other foreigners --- that's insanity!

My numbers may be low to some, but I'm catering to a small market -- people interested in China, Lanzhou in particular. So, low numbers are okay! I'm just happy when people leave comments. It makes it all worth it!

So, I just want to say THANK YOU!

Well, the next order of business is my new videos! I have been on a vlogging streak lately, and I've made a lot of videos lately -- it's been great!

This first video is about me going to a local park on the north side of the Yellow River. It's called the "Idiom Park" by some because it has different sculptures which come from cultural stories throughout the little park. These cultural stories have lessons and morals, and have evolved into idioms that are used by the Chinese to this day! Check it out! If YouTube is blocked in your country, click here to watch the first video! 

So, let's talk about it!

I've forgotten how much I like to walk and vlog --- it's really great! That way, I can say whatever comes to my mind, and then edit out the stupid stuff or whatever doesn't fit within the "storyline" of the video. It's also a good way for you guys to get a sense of what's around me (or at least behind me).

I love living here for many reasons, but one reason is the depth of culture and tradition that this country has. And one result of that is this little cultural park with statues dedicated to idioms. People going around with their children can (and do, actually) stop and tell their children these stories while they're walking in the park. I actually got to listen to a bit of one, so that was great! It's just something that America doesn't have....or at least not in that same depth.

I said in the video that one of the most important things you have to do in a new culture is just to GET OUTSIDE and LOOK AROUND! It doesn't really matter if you completely understand it or not -- you just have to get out there.


Now, the second video is about my encounter with prostitution in Xi'an.......some of you guys might know that story --- it's my most-commented post, and also one of the most popular. You can find it here.

Now, this second video might be hard to watch on Youku because of the censoring that happens in China. It's already been taken down once, so I don't know if it'll stay up. If it doesn't work, leave a comment, and I'll put it up again! Anyway, click here if YouTube is blocked in your country. 

 So, yeah --- if that was your first time to hear/read that story, then great! Now you've learned a valuable lesson in preparing for China! If you want to come here, then it's best to be aware of this. Technically, it's illegal, but it's tolerated. Kind of like weed in Jamaica.

I don't really want to say much more on that subject haha I think the video and the former blog post are more than enough!


In other news, I've made some changes to my YouTube Channel - namely in the form of a couple of playlists, and they'll be updated every now and then.

As time goes on, I keep finding little ways to tweak and update my pages, and it's great! They're subtle changes, but I think they'll make a difference.


As always, feel free to leave comments and subscribe to the blog or to my YouTube! I'm always interested in what you guys have to say!

Until next time,

Austin Guidry

Friday, November 23, 2012

Snow, Shoes, and the Solstice

Okay, great - a new video! The title is above! If you'd like, you can subscribe to my YouTube or my Youku account - it's no hassle, and you'll get updated whenever I post a new video! You'll also get to see it before anyone else; videos always go up on YouTube/Youku a few days before I share them in a post.

Anyway, that's one shameless plug for today. On to the video!


Yes, I'd like very much not to turn into an ear-less monster, so I will be eating dumplings on that day :)

Not much else is going on - I have another video in the pipe that I've gotta edit. I went to a park along the Yellow River that has statues from traditional Chinese stories, and I talk a little bit about those stories and about the walk. I hope you like that video!

I'll also be continuing my "Preparing for China" series in a few videos regarding Culture Shock and a few crazy stories I have about it. It's been getting really cold here, and I'm even less willing to go outside now than I was before hahaha

I hope you guys are doing well! Feel free to comment and subscribe or whatever! I'm always happy to get feedback, no matter the place!

Twitter: @LetChinaSleep
Weibo: @懒惰老外

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Video Series and Other Stuff

Well, I've been trying to find the balance between my video blogging and my blogging-blogging. I still don't know what I should do.

I think I'm gonna continue putting my videos up on my blog, but it feels weird that when I have made a video and have nothing to say, I just put videos up on the blog and post it. I dunno, it feels incomplete.

Anyway, here's some recent videos that I've made - the first few in a series. I have some more stuff to say below, so keep reading.





All right, so there are my recent videos!

I wanted to start a series called "Preparing for China" that deals with how to prepare yourself physically and mentally for coming to China - for travel, study, or work.

I'll be talking about different culture shock stories, cultural differences in many different areas of life, and just all kinds of cultural-related stuff that you'll want to know.

It'll be really interesting! I think the next video I shoot (I've got one in the pipe that will go up first) will be a re-telling of that classic story of my incident with Chinese prostitution. Go to my Favorite Posts/Stories page to read that one.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Advice and a Foreign Restaurant!

Okay, first: watch this video.

I get a lot of emails from people asking me for advice, so I made this video, for which there's a sequel in the works. By the way, YouTube really hates me right now, so all the stuff I upload looks like total crap. Watch the first embed- it's HD quality on Youku.

If you have no plans to come to China, then this video's not really for you -- but you can always watch it if you want. If you don't want to, skip to the next bit down below!

By the way, if you want to contact me, you can email me at or send me a message on YouTube or leave a comment. 

Okay, now onto other things.

I went to a real American restaurant today! It's run by this American guy named Josh who's studying aeronautical engineering or something crazy like that.

He's got his own family recipes for the menu, which includes hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, and salad.....I can't remember much else.

There's not much in the way of food, but I got the burger, which was really awesome!

There's a ton of cocktails and drinks you can order, and the main waitress there has devised some way of creating her own version of Dr. Pepper...........WHICH IS AWESOME!!! It tastes just like it --- how does she do it??

Anyway, I went with a couple of friends and one of their husbands, and it was pretty cool. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

As you can see, it's called "Charlie's Kitchen" (Charlie is Josh's dad), and here's the address: 城关甘南路中段,1881酒吧旁边. Anyway, there it is! If you're a Lanzhou Laowai, you might want to check this out - you can also find it on Weibo, @查理的厨房. 

 A cool thing that they have is this map of the States - if you're from the States, you can sign your name there and draw a line to where you're from.

They also said you can draw a picture or something, but I can't do that, so I didn't.....

East Texas represent!
 One funny thing about the restaurant is the menus -- they're just cheap, black, paper menus that are written on in silver sharpie.

But that's cool! It adds to the charm of the simple little restaurant. It's a great place run by the American guy and this American-born Chinese girl, who are both bilingual, so it's no problem if you're the lone Laowai.

It's nice to be back in a restaurant with that good old home food, you know? Sometimes you feel like a fish out of water in all this Chinese-ness. I don't want to (and can't) eat this every day, but it's definitely something I want to introduce to my friends and students and my internet people.

They have a chili cheese dog with sausage they bring in from the US! And real cheese and all that - pretty cool! Anyway, see you guys later!

"Charlie's Kitchen"'s address is: 城关甘南路中段,1881酒吧旁边. If you're a Lanzhou Laowai, you might want to check this out - you can also find it on Weibo, @查理的厨房. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

So Many Mountains! (Video)

So, I think this once a week(ish) blog post thing is going well -- what do you think? Should I post more? What should I talk about? It gets hard to think of video and blog post ideas after a while....I want to keep this fresh, and I want more and more people to come and check out the site.

Anyway, I have another video for you guys that I want to show. It's of me going to some mountains behind the school (Lanzhou Jiaotong University) and just hanging out. I went back again today, but there was a lot of people, and I was too sore from playing Ultimate Frisbee to finish climbing.

I hope you enjoy! The YouTube version is kind of crappy, but the Youku one is HD -- I include both because some websites are banned in some countries. I want everyone to have the chance to watch them.

Like I said in the video, there's just something about climbing just makes you feel more alive. This is true everywhere, of course, and not just in China. But for me, there's an added level of intrigue and mystery to these mountains --- for a number of reasons, and not just because there seem to be a number of people buried on them. I asked a friend if people really were buried there or if they were just commemorative markers, and he said that 99% of the time in China, they're actually buried there. What a beautiful place to be buried!

I seriously need to get out and do more stuff. I've been so lazy lately....I'm always telling people to get out and get around, but I haven't left the Jiao Da area in the past two or three weeks. A little sad, really.....but I'll try to do that more. Now I'm a little busy with classes and learning Chinese from a friend. Luckily, he's doing it for free --- great!!!

(Lanzhou University of Technology's 2011 Music Competition)

I'm going to be performing a Chinese song with a friend on November 11th at a Welcome to the University Party for the friend says there'll be around 2,000 people there.

Damn, that's a lot of people. I have to teach him how to play guitar AND play this song within two weeks. I don't know if that'll be possible, but we'll see.

Well.......that about wraps up this little blog post. I think that's all I have to say at the moment, but I'd really like to get away from the more personal stuff and back to the bigger picture. It seems like this blog is becoming more and more personal/narcissistic/whatever word you want to call it, and I really want to ask you what you think. Comments, please!

Is there something about China or Chinese culture that you'd like me to talk about? Do you like my normal posts, or should I do something special? I feel like doing something special soon!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wuquan Mountain and National Day Video

All right! I finally put together my Wuquan (5 Springs) Mountain video! I have just been lazy, so I hadn't done it till a couple of days ago.....but here it is! Sorry for the nearly two week-long delay!

If you're having problems with the embedded video, click here to go to the original video page. There shouldn't be a problem on that page

Unfortunately, I've lost my USB Drive, so I can't transfer any more pictures of the place to this computer, sorry about that. I hope I can upload them soon!

The video will just have to do for now. But, luckily, this is in HD - I took the pictures and the raw footage with my iPhone, which, although is a little unsteady, does a pretty decent job in the HD department!

Anyway, yeah, Wuquan was a fun way to spend a morning, as well as Lan Mountain. What, mountains AND hotpot???!!! Fantastic!!! That's a recipe for win.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bai Ta Shan and Guo Xue Guan Videos!

(Before I start this post, I just want to apologize...I've been the perfect combination of busy and lazy these past couple of weeks, so I haven't done anything. My bad. I'll try to catch up on my posts and updates.)

October 1st was the Chinese National Day - the day China celebrates its being a country. As I'm writing this post right now, I'm surprised that there really hasn't been much celebration.....this is supposed to be a really important holiday, right? How come there's no fireworks, no celebration, and all that? In America, we go nuts during that holiday. I don't want to speculate about China's population's feelings towards their government, but it might have something to do with it.

As you (might) know, a couple of weeks ago, I went to Lanzhou's Bai Ta Shan (White Tower Pagoda) for an afternoon. Here is the video for that afternoon. I'll also add it to my post, which you can read here.

A couple of days ago, I went to another place in Lanzhou called 九州台山 (Jiu Zhou Tai Mountain), which is located in the northern part of the city. On the mountain, there's a Confucian-style temple called the 国学馆 (Guo Xue Guan). Here's the video for that one:

Well, this was a very interesting place - distinctly Chinese, which is what I like. There are lots of different places on the top of this mountain, but the place I was headed to was the "Guo Xue Guan," a Confucian-style temple dedicated to thinkers and writers of Chinese history.

It's in a classic place for a temple - on top of a mountain!

Like I've said in the videos, I like going to mountains for a number of reasons. My hometown doesn't have any mountains, so it's still a new experience to live in a place full of them.

I also love getting above the noise and craziness of the city and see just how big the city is. I'm not Chinese, so I think this is a big city....they keep insisting this city of 4 million people is a small town. Crazy Chinese people.

Going to temples is a serious thing for me - it's a place to pay respect to those who have gone before me and to learn about what they did during their lifetime and how they contributed to this place that I'm living in.

These places are always very interesting for me - it just highlights the differences between America and China. America just doesn't have this kind of history and culture. It's not America's fault or anything - it just hasn't been around for long enough.

I don't really get into the offering of incense and ritual worship and stuff like that, but I definitely understand the respect that's behind it. The temple centers around Confucius, who you see right here. In front of him, you can see where they light the incense and make donations to the temple.

While I understand the respect being paid to Confucius, I have to say, I am always pretty confused about the offering of incense to him. He always said that he was just a teacher and just a man. When did he become somebody to be worshiped?  I get confused about that with Buddha too.....but anyway, the place is still very interesting!

(This is the Dao de Jing by Lao Zi written out in its entirety. The whole other side of the stone is filled up as well.)

As you can see, getting to this place is no easy task. The stairs are really steep, and this is a real mountain....not just a hill.

Me and my friends Nick and Xia Fei took a cab to the top of the mountain to see everything on top of the mountains, but we climbed down on our way back home.

It's insanity - all we did was climb down, and we still all had shaking and sore legs by the time we got the street at the bottom. Man, it was crazy.

But again, the location adds to the mystique and mystery of the place - mountaintops are classic places to put temples in China. It seems like almost every mountain here in China has a temple dedicated to someone.

All in all, it was a good day with some friends - I got to learn about some traditional Chinese culture and history, see the city, and hang out with some people I hadn't seen in a long time.


A few days after that, I went with some other friends to climb a couple of mountains. I have lots of pictures and a few videos from that day, so I'm gonna be posting that when I can. This week is a bit crazy because it's the first week back from vacation, so I can't promise anything, but I will really try to do another post in the next 7 days.

Until next time,

Austin Guidry

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Night Markets and Foreign Banquets

Well, this week has been really good - I'm learning how to get into the rhythm of teaching and figuring out what I need to do to keep up my stamina, and having some fun with my classes. It's been fun and challenging!

Well, Fall is here, and Winter is just around the corner, and every morning I wake up and think, "GOD, it's freaking cold this morning..." But hey, Lanzhou gets cold. The central heating doesn't get turned on until November 1st, so I've got about a month before the heat comes on.

One thing that signals the onset of winter is the sweet potato vendors. As you can see, there's an empty oil barrel filled with wood/coals, and the sweet potatoes are baked whole right on top of the barrel.

From what I've heard, this was originally a Beijing/Northeastern tradition, but it seems that over the years, it's made its way out to Lanzhou and other places in China.

I don't eat sweet potatoes, but it's just one of those things that I see and think, "Well, I guess it's officially Fall now."

So, I've been up to a lot this past week - one of the things that I enjoyed the most was my trip to the Zhengning Night Market. It's one of Lanzhou's more famous and popular night markets, and deservedly so. There are a lot of great snacks to be had there.

One of the best things you can have there are the kebabs - lamb kebabs, chicken kebabs, octopus kebabs.....all kinds of great stuff.

They'll have the raw meat on sticks there, and they season it and cook it whenever you order it. It's pretty awesome, and really fresh! You can see the guy here seasoning it with a water bottle poked full of holes filled with the seasoning.

One of my favorite things is the octopus kebabs, and it's great, but the ones I had weren't cooked quiiite long enough, and I was thinking....."And yet again, I'm rolling the dice with my food here." Haha that's part of the deal in China. But I was fine.

It's a chaotic place - crowded, a little hot, dirty, and such delicious food. Oh,'s so awesome, and so uniquely China.

I went there with a Chinese friend who hadn't been to Lanzhou in a while, so I got to sort of play the guide and she got to be the tourist.

We had a lot of fun sitting and chatting about China, America, life, culture, and a lot of great stuff. I was thinking,

"You know, this is life. This is a good time. Just watching the people go by, talking about culture, eating some delicious food, and not really doing anything."

I dunno, I enjoy those little moments of being idle and relaxing in this crazy, chaotic city. It's refreshing.

One thing that I enjoyed a couple of days ago was the Gansu Provincial National Day Reception for Foreign Experts. It was a little gathering for about 100-ish foreign teachers, delegates, and workers in Gansu Province.

I didn't know that it was a really special dinner, but apparently it was. Not a lot of people were invited to this dinner, so I was pretty lucky to go. Lanzhou Jiaotong University is a pretty well-regarded university in the province, so all the teachers were invited to go.

Only about 8 of us went, but it was pretty fun. As you can see, it was a pretty nice spread - a lot of great food, some wine (I don't like win), and some great conversation.

(Also, check out the menu. My favorite one is "Fried Bun stuffed with Vegetarian Stuff"....awesome, huh?)

We got to meet a lot of other foreigners, a few of them who had read my blog. I met a girl from Europe who had emailed me about coming to Lanzhou, and another American teacher who read my blog before coming to Lanzhou.

It was pretty cool to meet them, and it really made me feel like this whole blog thing is finally worth doing. I've gotten emails, met people who've read it, and I keep getting hits. It's nice to know that it's not just numbers - real people are actually reading it.

I always love meeting other foreigners in China, because we're all here for the same reasons - we love China, and we all are here to do something we can't really do back home.

It's also fun to share those funny stories about talking to kids, embarrassing moments, our crazy-normal lives. There's no such thing as a foreigner with a 'boring' life in China, and once you get a bunch of foreigners together, it's readily apparent. Once the China bug bites someone, it's not a bug that people that can easily get rid of.

Until next time,


P.S. - If you guys want to see more pictures of Lanzhou, I've got them up in a couple of albums on Facebook: Here and here and here. I've got way more, but it would be a lot of trouble to put up everything on here. Anyway, yeah......see you guys later!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good Times and Being Content

So, it's been a while since I posted something, and a lot has happened in the past few days. I'll do a post tomorrow or the day after about the other stuff.

One thing that has been the highlight of my recent life was my trip to Bai Ta Shan, or White Pagoda (Tower) Mountain Park in Lanzhou.

It's located just north of Zhongshan Bridge near downtown Lanzhou.

Along with the bridge itself, it is a central landmark of the city. If you say, "Oh, it's by Bai Ta Shan," people will know exactly where you mean. 

Yeah, you can see from the pictures here, it's a pretty cool place - there's a lot of trees and shade, and it's pretty "new." 

Last year, it was being remodeled, so I didn't get to go to the park itself. I just got to go to another peak of the mountain range. 

I went with a bunch of Chinese friends and another foreign teacher. It was a great afternoon - a lot of laughs and a lot of new sights.  

The part is facing directly south. If you look at the picture here, you can see the gate to the park is directly across the street from the north-south running Zhongshan Bridge. Pretty much every important building, historical site, park, etc. has a gate somewhere, if not the main gate, facing north or south. 

That makes living in a city like Lanzhou easy. The river runs east-west, so you always can figure out where you are.

I had seen this exact picture so many times on the internet, but the pictures just aren't the same as actually being there. You just think to yourself, "Wow, I can't believe that I live here. This is such a crazy, amazing, polluted, wonderful, dirty, loud, and unique city. How did I end up here?" I did another post about "Seeing The Elephant," which talked about how it's impossible to understand these kind of feelings without actually being there. I hope someday you can come here and experience these things for yourself. It's great here.

You know, I came from a very small city of about 100,000 people, and to be in a city like this is a very interesting and wonderful experience.

It's so different from my hometown - Lanzhou has a long history and has a lot of special food and culture. I'm not saying that my hometown doesn't have these things, it's just a different kind of special.

Just look at this place - do you live in a place like this?? If you do, that's great! If you don't, try it! If you live in a big city, try going out to the countryside for a little while - find something different. It's been great for me, and I can't wait to try even more new things. It gives you this little rush - a little endorphin buzz every time you do something. It's something that can't be replicated.

Going to Bai Ta Shan may have just been a fun afternoon for my friends, but for me, it was a time to just be in the moment and reflect about where I'm at in my life right now.

I remember, just before I left for China, I was at church, and the preacher did a sermon about being content and not being restless in your life. For some people, they can find it in their job, some people can find it in religion, some people can find it with their friends, or any number of places.

For me, I am truly content in being here and continually learning new stuff and learning new things. I really wish I was my sister sometimes so I could pull out some crazy word from the Oxford English Dictionary to express myself, but I'm not, so I can't. I definitely miss home sometimes - my family, my friends, and the food, but I'm having a good time right now being a teacher and doing my China thing.


Well, that's all I have for tonight - I'll put up another post about some other stuff  this weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Teaching Begins

Well, I guess I'm a teacher now!

As I write this, I've just finished teaching my classes for this week at Lanzhou Jiaotong University. It's been interesting, encouraging, discouraging, awesome, extraordinarily dull, and amazingly crazy all at the same time.

There are a lot of emotions for me because I'm a first-time teacher. Dull from teaching the same lesson 8 times a week, awesome because of the students, discouraging from the limitations of the book/curriculum, interesting because of the questions I've been asked, and a lot more.

I've got big classes - all around 60-70 students each, so it's going to be hard to get all of them interested and engaged. I can already tell which classes are going to be the most outgoing, which students will be the most interested, and which students don't understand anything I say. I hope to work more with them soon.

I'm teaching non-English major freshmen students. A pretty shy group, all in all. I've taught the first week - I teach 4 hours a day, 4 days a week. One hour of required "office hours" a week, and that's about all. Since I don't teach English majors, I don't have to deal with English Corner! (at least at the moment)

It's been really fun to be at the front of the class and talking about where I am from. It's so easy in one respect - this is my language and I'm talking about my home and my culture, but on the other hand, these are freshmen, non-English major students. I have to talk slower and make sure most of them understand what I'm talking about.

It's also really fun to share funny stories about being a foreigner in China - it feels good to have the whole class laugh and whisper and stuff at my comments. That way, I know they're paying attention. If I say something funny, and there's crickets.....then there's a problem and I need to explain myself haha

I have had no discipline problems whatsoever - it's always quiet, maybe too quiet. The students are smart, but they're shy. That's going to be the biggest challenge: getting them to come out of their shells. That's the big thing about Gansu students...they're just too shy.

Chinese students in general are too shy. They have low self-esteem, and they think they are not smart enough to contribute to the class. But if I ask them questions, they can answer them almost every time. If I can just convince them that they're worth something and that they're smart, maybe we can really open up and have some fun. I've really tried to emphasize this, and I've seen a couple of encouraging smiles and a twinkle in some students' eyes, and that's great. Maybe it won't always be there, but I'm happy right now.

We've talked about movies, music, sports, the Diaoyu Islands, Apple, traveling, and a lot more. It looks like this will be a good year.

I'm sorry that I haven't been posting much in the past week or two - I've been adjusting, preparing for my classes, losing my USB Drive (which gets videos from my laptop to the desktop computer with faster internet. Long story for not using the laptop), and my new addictions to "Inside the Actor's Studio" and "Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza."

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Unfamiliarity of it All

Finally, a new video is here! Yeah, I've been pretty much keeping to a once-a-week update unconsciously, so I guess I'll be sticking to that schedule!

I just got my teaching schedule and textbook/curriculum and everything, so I'll be putting up a post about that soon.

First, the videos! Watch, and then I'll get into more detail below. As always, YouTube and Youku:


As I said in my previous post and in this video, everything you do here is different. Everything. And to a certain extent, it is really wonderful, but sometimes it can be really tough.

I'm not really sure how to explain it, but there's a great amount of satisfaction to be had in daily life in China, especially in a place like Lanzhou, where there are few foreigners.

You find yourself in these seemingly normal circumstances here - buying food, going to a restaurant, talking to people in Chinese, seeing the neon lights at night, and all of these other you they are normal life, and to be able to function in these ways without really thinking about it is really satisfying.

You have to use your Chinese to do all of these things, you have to always be aware of the fact that people may be staring at you literally all the time, you have to use your patience to deal with crowds or lines or noise or whatever, and at the end of the day, when (or if) you think about what happened that day or what you did that day, you kind of say,

"Oh, yeah, I totally just did ______ in China/Chinese, who knew I would/could ever do that?"

Just doing simple things requires a little work in another language or requires a little more thought, and it's these little daily/hourly challenges that make life here so interesting. Some people relish how awesome new and unfamiliar things are, and some people just don't.

You think and live with a different part of your mind here than you do back home. Because you're utilizing this other language, it changes how you think and how you deal with the circumstances around you, and that's something you just can't fully explain to people. It's one of the biggest reasons that people who come here stay here. 

That's about all I've got for you now - I guess I'll talk to you later!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

"Don't Lose Your Sense of Wonder..." and Upcoming Projects

Well, I have run out of things to do today, so I guess I will put up a blog post! It's funny, blogging was so important a few days ago, and I have totally neglected documenting this "just arrived and still adjusting" time.

I spent yesterday and today at Lanzhou University of Technology, my old school, to see old friends and help one of them do a crazy difficult and heavily technical translation for a recruiting presentation. It was so difficult and seemed impossible at times, but together, we did it! I feel pretty accomplished because I was able to translate pretty well in my own right except for some really, really technical things (like different kinds of engineering projects and statistics kind of technical).

Basically, that made me realize that I DON'T want to be written translator. Ever. That's just too tedious, and because of the nature of written vs. spoken language (not just Chinese, any language), it's much harder and it takes the human element out of the equation. No fun.

Besides that, I hung out, had a few meals with, and joked around with my friends who are still left at L.U.T. - they kind of became my family during that time there, and it brings back memories of great times to see them.

Anyway, you didn't come here to read about me waxing nostalgic - you came here to read about me and Lanzhou (or just Lanzhou.). 

I met a couple of American teachers who live next door to me at Lanzhou Jiaotong University, and they are really cool - they're in their early 40s and the wife has spent some time in Kunming and Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. They can't speak much Chinese, so I gave them some advice and said I would help them out anytime they needed. I like them a lot, and I hope we can hang out more.

Campus is still kind of crazy with all the new students - I see people giving tours to groups of 30-50 people at a time and people are clogging the shops to stock their rooms with snacks, water containers, etc.

Living in China is a constant exercise of your patience, your sense of adventure, and your capacity to deal with unfamiliarity. Pretty much how you do everything in China is different from how it's done in America. The public transportation system is the best way to get around, which is new to most Americans, water must be boiled before drinking, walking is just part of life, not an exercise regime, people drink tea instead of coffee and soda, eat rice, noodles and dumplings instead of pot roast, steak, hot dogs, and burgers, and live in apartments instead of suburban houses. It's a whole different way of life.

My dad told me,

"Hey, while you're over there, don't lose your sense of wonder and appreciation at where you are. You have a really unique opportunity, and you need to not lose sight of where you are and where you come from."

That's been rolling around in my head a lot these past few days, and while the wonder is still fresh in my head being sort of "fresh off the plane" for this time, it's my third time to come to China and to Lanzhou. It's more or less daily life, and it's hard to shake your head out of the daily routine and remember where you are. Most days last year, I totally forgot I was living in China - it was just life. Anyway, I'll try to stay conscious of that.

Anyway, I will make a video about all of that soon - I've been a bit busy and distracted to film much stuff. I've got about 2 minutes of raw footage I could spin into a video, but I want to wait until I've got enough for a good video. I want to make good stuff, you know?

I met an American couple online who are in Lanzhou now who said they saw my videos and read my blog about Lanzhou, and they said it gave them a lot of really good information, so I'm very happy about that, and the American couple who live next door to me said they read my blog and watched my videos as well, so it appears that what I'm doing is at least reaching a few people.

I know  that Lanzhou seems like a relatively unimportant place in a world with cities like New York City, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, London, Sydney, and Chicago, but that doesn't mean that it's not a place worth visiting. It's a whole different kind of city, with great people, great food, unique culture, and a long history.

I will be putting together a series of pages/posts about a "Guide to Lanzhou" project, and I'm hoping to get some feedback from my readers and the people I know here as to what they want to see in it. In the future, I'm kind of hoping that my blog will become a significant stopping place for people who want to visit northwest China, and hopefully Lanzhou in particular. It's got it's faults, sure, but I like it just the way it is.

Until next time,

Austin Guidry

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Got This!......Wait, No I Don't

So, yeah, I was walking around campus after going to 西站 or the "West Station" in Lanzhou.

I just bought a Chinese version of Tom Sawyer, a few snacks, explored the final corners of campus, and was just thinking,

"Wow, great, I could really get used to this. I've finally got the hang of the area and campus."

And then I proceeded to get lost.

That's what you get, I guess. I finally got my head on straight and found my apartment, and THIS time, I really think I got the hang of the campus layout. It's a big place, so it's a little easy to get turned around the first day or two. But I got it now! (I think)

I was kind of annoyed at the lack of restaurants and shops on campus at first. Actually, really annoyed. Pissed, really. But I had neglected a corner of campus that apparently had ALL of them haha

It's cool now. I'm not mad anymore.

It seems that most universities are like that - they can pretty much be self-sufficient. There are shops, restaurants, offices, and all kinds of stuff on campus. But if you want raw vegetables to cook or some special items, then you gotta get off campus.

I'm settling into my new place. It's not a two-bedroom apartment, so it's a lot smaller, but hey, it's pretty cool. It's more decorative and....I dunno, unique than apartment at Lanzhou University of Technology.

This is the living room. Just to the right of the photo is my desk and computer/printer.

I like it a lot, and I've unpacked everything. After going to the market, it's starting to look a little bit like a home.

There's not a lot going on besides the move itself. I've got a few things that need to be taken care of like my residence permit and foreign expert certificate, but other than that, I'm pretty much free for the next week!

I spent part of the morning and early afternoon off campus wandering around Lanzhou's West Station and bought the aforementioned Tom Sawyer.

I got lunch at KFC, which was not bad, although the KFCs in China are a little more bland than their western counterparts. I got the "Double Stacked Sichuan Sandwich" with some fries and a mango-peach juice or something like that because they were out of soda.

I'm happy to be back in Lanzhou - it's a great city, although it's really big. I was sitting on the bus earlier today and thinking, "Dang, this city is big.....I kind of forgot about that."

The area around Jiaotong University is a giant shopping center and doesn't have a lot of the family-operated shops that I liked so much about Lanzhou University of Technology.

It IS a lot newer than the stuff around L.U.T., and maybe that's why I don't like it as much. It doesn't have the character that

However, I've only been here a couple of days, so I can't say that I've found everything, but that's just my impression so far. I can't make all the decisions and judgments about the place in two days - this is a nice campus and it's just a different area.

As open as I am to living in other countries and traveling and stuff, it's weird how much I don't like change......I keep thinking:

"Man, this isn't L.U.T.. I want to go to You Jia for my favorite potato dish and that Sichuan place for the spicy fish and beef dishes! I don't WANT to go to these restaurants around here!!!!"

What the heck is wrong with me?! hahaha

I'll be back later with some more updates and pictures! I don't know if they'll be interesting or not, but hopefully they are. I've seen a couple of cool alleyways with lots of shops and restaurants that look promising. You'll like those pictures!

 I'm off to read Tom Sawyer!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lanzhou: A New Beginning

So, I'm back. I made to Lanzhou, where I'm gonna start teaching on September 10th at Lanzhou Jiaotong University. I like the campus a lot, although it's really big. It takes a while to get anywhere,'s crazy!

Anyway, it's cool to be back in Lanzhou, although I'm in a different part of the city. The people here are a bit different and the environment definitely is. The part of the city I lived in before was already developed and well-established, while this area I'm living in now is under a lot of construction and has a lot of the construction noise and dust.

However, there are a TON of shops around and a really big mall/supermarket that has everything that I could possibly need. It's pretty cool!

Anyway, the video is just about the trip over here - I'll be putting up videos of the apartment and campus life and friends soon!


Well, that's about all for now -there'll be more videos and posts to come! I've got to finish getting settled and caught up on sleep, so when that's done, I'll put the full effort into everything.

Let me know what kind of videos you want me to put up! Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Youku, any platform is good for questions and requests!

Twitter: @LetChinaSleep
Youku Username: 胖老外

See you guys next time!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Leaving Once Again

So, by the time you guys read this post, I am going to be either on a plane or already in China.

 Besides what's in the video, I don't have much to say except "See you next time - I'll be on Facebook and on here."

So yeah, I'll see you guys in the next video/post!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lanzhou Jiaotong University 兰州交通大学

So, today I will be writing about the university I'll be teaching at. It's called Lanzhou Jiaotong University, and I actually have a video talking about it!

This last trip I took to China in June, I was able to visit there a couple of times, so I've got some pictures and some video of it, so here it is!

Lanzhou Jiaotong ("Gee-Ow Tong") University is a former railway institute/college, as evidenced by the train heads located right here. They don't work, but they are sort of the symbol of the school. It is mostly known for its engineering and transportation majors/concentrations, but has a rapidly expanding foreign language department.

English, Japanese, Russian, French, Spanish, and more - I'm not exactly sure how many languages are there. At least the 4.

They actually have whole block of buildings dedicated to foreign teachers housing right here.

See that writing? That says:


How segregated is that?! Haha

Yes, China usually puts all their foreign teachers together on campus. That's pretty much the way the universities do things. China hasn't quite gotten to the point where having foreigners in their countries is no big deal. It's still a big deal. Foreigners are often segregated and watched pretty regularly, but that's because there's not many of us and they're not quite sure how to deal with us yet. Give them some time - things will get better.

The school is located on the north side of the Yellow River in a district called Anning - unfortunately, it's not as close to the "downtown" area of Lanzhou...whatever that means in China. Everywhere is downtown. It's about 40-45 minutes from the areas that used to take me 10-15 minutes to get to. That's unfortunate, but I'm sure Anning will eventually become home.

Anyway, about the school - it's got a pretty good reputation in Lanzhou at least....people seem to be really impressed that I'll be working there, so I assume it's a strong school that has fine students.

I actually shared a cab with a guy who was a train driver/conductor or whatever you want to call it who actually graduated from Jiao Da (what people call it for short). Pretty cool!

As far as the campus itself goes, it's actually much bigger and the facilities themselves are much nicer than at Lanzhou University of Technology. Not that Lanzhou University of Technology is a crap's just got character. LUT is an older school and doesn't have the funding that Jiao Da has. Plus it looks like Jiao Da has finished renovating recently. Things look newer, cleaner, and generally kept up better.

I'm pretty excited about my future with Lanzhou Jiaotong University - good times are ahead!


I hope you liked this post! I'm going to be putting up another post about the process of becoming an English teacher in China. The idea really took hold when I read another "become a teacher in China" blog post, so maybe if I write my own post, someone will read it and be inspired. One can only hope, right?

Until next time!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

2012: The U.S.A. - China Olympics

"International Magical Cooperation," my Harry Potter-quoting sister reminds me while I obsess over the gold medal and overall medal count race of the U.S.A. vs. China.

"Yeah, I know, international relations and stuff.......Ron was wrong in obsessing about 'fraternizing with the enemy' and missed the whole point of the wizarding world's Quidditch World Cup...but seriously, we're beating China!!!! For now..."

    (2012 Olympic Torch - Public Domain photo)
It's strange how The Olympics can bring out such and sudden and fervent outpouring of patriotism. I've been getting up early to watch the U.S.A. women's soccer team play their games, and I've been cheering on our athletes like crazy, and annoying my family in the process, I'm sure.

China's going through the same thing - people all over China are shouting "GO CHINA!!! 加油!! We've GOT to beat America!!"

Everyone's being patriotic and having fun with the Olympics. It's one of those few events that (most) people can put aside their country's politics and just enjoy their team or individual event.

All of the athletes are there for the same reason: they've trained incredibly hard their entire lives and are now at the top of their game and are competing at literally the highest level possible. It's an honor just to qualify.

I don't know about you readers, but I'm still a pretty young guy at 23, so I don't really remember many Olympics. I remember some of the Olympics from 4 years ago in Beijing, but I only watched the opening ceremony and remember it being pretty legit. I wasn't even interested in China at that point - I just remember hearing about this guy Michael Phelps who was supposed to be pretty good.

I don't even remember the 2004 Olympics....where were they?

Anyway, few years later, here I am, and I'm pretty much glued to the action - it's a big deal. There are people from all over the world competing in sports you'd never watch otherwise - it's an opportunity to see something new.

When the spotlight is shined on the different athletes, we hear stories about their lives and their home countries. We heard about the kids from rough neighborhoods who found discipline in sports, the kids chosen at a young age to go to special training camps for years on end, kids who were pushed to excel and were encouraged by their parents and the people who literally do nothing but prepare and help others prepare for these games.

The stories provide interesting glimpses into the different cultures from which they stem, and while some highlight our differences, they all highlight universal truths:

We all want to leave behind a legacy. We want to be remembered. We all want to be great.

Yeah, this is going to be one of those "universality of human existence posts." I mean...I guess it is, I just kind of go and write with my thoughts.

We can't all be Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt or Muhammad Ali or Michael Jordan, but we all want to, to a certain extent. We want to be recognized for our skills and for our hard work and we want to be rewarded for it.

While the people who aren't competing are thinking about the implications of China winning the most golds and symbolically overtaking America or America staying on top with the most medals and yada-yada-yada/whatever, the competitors themselves aren't thinking of the political ramifications (except maybe the North Koreans) - they're there to show their hard work and to do their best to represent America or China.

I really wish I could be in China and talk to people about how they feel about the Olympics. I think it'd be a pretty interesting thing to look into, although I can't imagine the sentiments being any different than the sentiments here, but you never know.

But bickering about which country is the best at everything, who has the most medals, and which country takes the moral high ground when it comes to training is not the point of the Olympics, as my sister pointed out - it's "International Magical Cooperation."

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...