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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


  1. I don't remember saying that. (It's OK - - everyone says I say stuff that I don't remember !)

    Love you,


  2. I'm telling you now, Sydney isn't all that big. I live in Melbourne and always thought it was a big city - well fairly large -until I was in Shanghai. I remember sitting atop a rooftop bar in Shanghai, watching the sun go down and the lights slowly come on and I was thinking of Melbourne. Have you been to Shanghai? Along the riverfront..the Bund, there's a strip of old European buildings which are approximately from the same era as many in Melbourne. Anyhow I started thinking of Melbourne, thinking yeah it's pretty big - but damn after seeing it for the first time as we drove home from the is TINY. Sydney is not much bigger.

    Anyway....How are you finding it now for the second time? This is your third time really right - but your second BIG trip there? Are you feeling the culture shock again or are you feeling right at home? DId everything just come back? I am dying to get back there to see how it feels.

  3. Well, the photos of Sydney have always been pretty impressive to me....but yeah, I understand what you mean. I haven't been to Shanghai - I have been to Beijing, Guangzhou, Xi'an, and a couple of other big cities. I know how you feel about the change of thinking. I remember driving through Dallas, TX after I arrived back from China. I used to think Dallas (2-3 million ish) was huge!! Now, it looks like a village haha

    It's been good - I didn't have any culture shock this time; I just settled right in. There was a little adjustment because I'm in a different area of the city than I was before, but it's pretty much like being back at home.

    I hope you can make it back soon - I'll bet you'd love to go back to Wuxi and see everyone and everything again. I've got some friends from Jiangsu Province, so I might actually get the chance to visit Jiangsu this year!


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