Teaching In China

The easiest job for a native English speaking foreigner to get in China is a teaching job. I've been doing that for a while, but I am looking at getting into video production in the future. Either that, or making t-shirt. But that's something to talk about in the future.

The topic at hand that I want to talk about what I've observed regarding the education system and social development of children in China. My mother is a teacher as well in America, so talking to her about this type of thing can give me a sort of reverse culture shock about things I've forgotten about American schools when she tells me about how different it is.

For example, I hear stories about middle school, and sometimes even primary school children in America who get arrested for assaulting teachers or get suspended from schools for having sex in the bathroom. While I can't speak for all of China, this isn't something that I've ever seen happen. In most cases, students consider their teachers their friends, and will even buy you gifts (I get coffee a lot, because I drink coffee when I teach). They will keep in touch with you for years after you finish teaching them as well.

Students in China are usually too busy to get into a lot of trouble, so the idea of them having sex or getting arrested for misbehaving seems a bit insane. It could simply be that they are being watched far too much to do anything like that, or simply because information regarding sex isn't as freely available to children here as it is to kids to America. Even having a girlfriend or boyfriend before University is something that can get you in a lot of trouble. If you have a relationship, it's hardly more than sitting next to each other in class. If you get caught holding hands, they can go to some rather extreme measures, such as separating you two from the same class, and if parents find out, it can lead to some severe punishments and even removal from the school. Being removed from a classroom or even a school might not sound horrible to some people, but these kids are with their friends for years, and being removed from a school where all your friends went and placed into another school could mean that you never see your friends again, especially once you get into middle and high school. The new school or new classroom your are placed in usually asks questions like, "why did he/she get moved?" The boyfriend/girlfriend who remains in the class could become isolated as well, as the other's friends may blame them for losing their friend. It should also be noted that suicide in China is not uncommon among students. One university in Xi'an, I was told by my ex-girlfriend, was said to have at least 1 suicide on a weekly basis.

Students in 6th, 9th, and 12th grade spend almost their entire time studying for a national exam to continue their education. These scores can determine which schools accept these students, so students as young as 6 years old will begin attending additional math and English courses from training centers, not to mention any sort of hobbies they may attend, whether due to personal interest or a parent's decision. I have one boy in my English class who attends ping pong classes on a daily basis.

In primary school, kids are usually very playful, open, and enjoy everything you like as a kid. They color and draw and express themselves in ways that aren't very different from American children. As they get older, it starts to become more obvious that they are a little bit more immature than American kids in some respects - not that it's a bad thing. They are children, after all.

In 7th and 8th grade, students in middle schools are usually much more relaxed because they feel they've accomplished something major by finishing the 6th grade exam that you must pass to enter middle school. Some schools will even divide students based on their test schools and their behavior. The students with the worst scores and worse behaviors are placed in one class, while students with the best scores and best behaviors are placed in others. If a student has a good score but is a bad student, he will be placed into the class with the other students who misbehave, hereby subjecting him to a lower form of education and giving him a worse life - at least that is the belief. So students are "encouraged" in this way to behave in class. Middle school students also attend school for about 14 hours a day, if not more. This means that they usually don't have as much time to attend extracurricular activities or continue their education in training centers. Some high ranking middle schools offer dormitories as well, though it's not mandatory.

10th and 11th grade, students begin to act far more shy and it's easier to see a class divided between boys and girls. It reminds me of American middle schools in some ways, but even so, most middle schools weren't that bad about students separating themselves based on their genders. It can become a problem with some students, as girls are more likely to have boyish haircuts and may be mistaken for boys in school. High school students can attend school for up to 16 hours. Most high schools seem to offer some sort of dormitory for students, though it also isn't mandatory.

When students get to college and will have more free time. This time is spent going back to activities they did as children, or in some cases, pursuing romantic relationships, but only if they haven't been discouraged to the point where they worry about getting in trouble for it even in college. At the age of 21, girls can get married, and at the age of 23, boys can get married. Normally it's at these ages that the family begins to accept boyfriends and girlfriends. After college, there is a lot of pressure from the family to marry someone, and after marriage, having a baby. The baby is usually raised by the grandparents, whom may or may not share a house with their children - depending upon how rich the family is.

Education in America, from my experience, is normally more social and free. You can go home and play video games or watch TV after school. If you don't do your homework, it's not the end of the world. Education in China is much more...studious. They spend long hours at school doing work, and they even learn physics in school - I believe middle school. There is a lot of pressure in Chinese schools compared to American schools. I won't deny that American schools can create pressure, but it is normally a different type of pressure. Teachers don't keep an eye on you in America, while in China, we must watch the students to ensure no one is doing anything "inappropriate," like holding hands. The culture is quite different, as you would expect. But which education system is better, and in which respects is it better, is the more interesting question that we should think about.


How Many Months?

It has been a long time since I logged into GiantBomb. That doesn't mean that I haven't been visiting the site, of course. But explaining things is pointless. Needless to say, I am now a premium member, which makes me happier than a bitch in heat. At least, I assume a bitch in heat is happy...

So, I've been in China for just over 15 months now, if I am doing my math right (I arrived here September 3rd, 2010). Currently, I am living in Xi'an. I have 2 pet turtles, and some fish that I don't care too much about. Oh, and I have a good, custom built computer. But, being in China, the OS is a fake Windows 7, which I'd love to upgrade, but getting money to America is really really troublesome, and quite expensive.

As you may or may not be able to see, I can still use Steam here, though some games are blocked, such as Dead Rising. The internet here isn't too great, but it's good enough that I can still watch videos and download games from Steam. I've got a bunch of bootleg DVDs - well, I assume they're bootleg, since nearly everything in China is fake. I think that my phone might be real. I mean, it's real, but I have no idea if it is a proper phone. It's an LG phone with Android on it. It's ok, but it's my 4th phone in China. In America, I only had 1 phone. The only problem with it was the battery, which after 8 years, you'd expect to be total shit.

Not much else to talk about. I'm interested in getting a business started up, but who knows if that'll happen. But I don't think I'll be headed back to America anytime soon - at least, not moving, but maybe for a visit - but no one can predict the future. Who knows, maybe something will happen and I'll find out that pigs really can fly. I know they can glow in the dark, and that Chinese people love to eat their penises, so it wouldn't surprise me.


Pokemon Black/White Starters

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Since it was announced, I have been interested in Pokemon Black/White. I have followed it from day one. What exactly got me back into looking at Pokemon was Gible - specifically, Ash catching Gible. Perhaps it was simply his personality, but that Pokemon got me playing Pokemon Platinum just so I could catch one. Of course, the purpose of this blog is not to talk about old stuff, it is to talk about the new starters, and maybe do a bit of speculating.

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First up is Pokabu. Personally, I think Pokubu would be a better name, but I am sure it will change when it comes to America. My personal opinion is that it is going to be a Fire/Dark Pokemon, but I am simply going by the colors. I am pretty interested in seeing more about it. I would imagine that it's evolved formed will either be pretty awesome or utterly horrible, depending upon whether or not it takes the same route that Totodile did - who I liked. Either way, I am interested in checking it out. In terms of anime, I could see this Pokemon going to either Ash or his female counterpart, though Tsutaaja will probably go to the opposite. I could see this guy being either offensive or defensive. Judging by his type, I would go with offensive, but I would be interested in seeing a defensive fire-type.
For English names, I could see something along the lines of Cynork, Cynoink, Pyoink, Cyndaboar, or a number of other names that I could probably come up with if I put my mind to it. I have to admit, I am kinda excited about him. The more I look at him, the more I want to use him. I mean, come on, a fire pig! If he is a Fire/Dark, that would be pretty sweet. Sweet like bacon... You know, Bacon would be a good name for him...

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Next up is Tsutaaja. This guy seems to be a favorite. I can understand why - he is pretty cool-looking. Hopefully, his first grass move won't be "leech seed," but we'll see. I am pretty interested in checking him out too, but I am sure I will be seeing him and his evolved forms quite a bit if I continue to pay attention to Pokemon. Personally, he looks like he could be part psychic, but that is mostly because of the shoulder flairs. Since he is a snake, a ground type would not be unheard of. I can see his evolutions turning out pretty awesome, but we will have to wait and see. I am not sure if Ash will get him, his female counterpart, or both, but he will definitely get caught and used in the anime. I would hate for Ash to miss out on catching one, and it could be interesting to see two of the same Pokemon with dramatically different personalities - though I don't know how interesting that would actually be in practice. Perhaps a split evolution? I suspect a very offensively based Pokemon.
I would imagine it's English name would be similar to the scientific name of what it's based upon: Natrix. Hell, I could even see them considering going with that name. It is already kinda Pokemon-eqsue. But they would likely modify it in some way, perhaps making it Natirax or something like that. Either way, I could see myself calling him Natrix, if for no other reason than because of how much he resembles a grass snake.

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Last up is Mijumaru. "Raw Ball," as I call him. He is...an otter. I am not really sure how I feel about him. On the one hand, he could be incredibly cute. On the other hand, he looks kinda weird. It all depends on the angle - literally. The way that he looks "officially" I hate, but the way he looks in nearly every other picture (including the one above), he seems cute. Maybe it is because the fans push his fluff to the sides of his neck, rather than around the front of his neck. I could easily see that being the case. Still, I am not very interested in him. I have no real opinion on his evolved forms, though I suppose those could turn out pretty cool. I mean, they do change quite a bit. While I want to stick with my Water/Steel type combo theory, I could see him being Water/Ice or simply pure water. If he does pop up in the anime, I hope he evolves quickly. I would expect this guy to be more defensive.
As for possible English names... Raw Ball? Nah. Perhaps Lutrotter? Lutrin? Lutrino? I dunno. It's hard to come up with something for this one. He looks like the love child of ice cream and a snowman. Perhaps Snotter? That would be a good name... Regardless, I am going to call him Raw Ball - assuming I get him.

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I am also intrigued by the new characters being an age beyond 10. I highly doubt that we will get much information about the guy, and the girl doesn't look like the type to be into those competition, so perhaps the anime will be on the upswing in that sense, since they have the "new girl" join Ash. I understand why they feel the need to have the competitions (for the female viewers), but I don't know too many girls who are actually interested in that part of Pokemon. Or anyone, for that matter. It just makes me kinda uninterested in Pokemon. It is an entire part of the game which I don't care about, and which seems to dead-end and kinda take away from the point of the game. Perhaps if they had contest-esque battles or whatever outside of the game, that would make it feel less outlandish, but then...I dunno. I just feel kinda ick about competitions, specifically because they don't match up with the way you actually play the game.
With the trainers being older, yet still getting their starter Pokemon, I would be interested in seeing why they don't get them at 10. I suppose it would be related to location, but I could also see them having to study Pokemon and being more knowledgeable about Pokemon. This way, you get Ash, Brock, a new character just starting out, but there is no need to really explain the basic concepts of Pokemon to them, yet they are still new to battles and are still learning as they go. Perhaps someone similar to how Max was in Pokemon Advanced, but less obnoxious.

Anyway, with all this new information and more to come as the days press on, I can only hope for good things. While I am expecting more reveals of Psychic and Dark Pokemon, since it was established in Silver/Gold that Day/White is Psychic and Night/Black is Dark (Eeveelutions), I am trying not to stick too closely to my own personal opinion of what Pokemon Black/White is, or state what it should be.

Job Offer Craze

In the past week, I have received 3 job offers: one from Japan, one from the UK, and one from China.
I am currently leaning towards the one from Japan. You can read about it here.  The other two job offers from the UK and China came earlier this week.
The job in the UK pays enough to survive comfortably, and the exchange rate would make it easy to save up money (assuming the American economy recovers). The fact that I would be living in London is a big plus, and I am told that they have free health care (but I don't know if it applies to foreigners). Also, I know enough people from that area (because of study abroad) that life wouldn't be too difficult. Oh, and they speak English.
The offer in China has lower pay, but the benefits are better. Specifically, an apartment has already been picked out for me. They would helping me learn Chinese for free, and I would have someone who spoke both Chinese and English in the classroom to assist me. Additionally, I am in a relationship with a Chinese girl, so that could also benefit from this. I have also been told that the cost of living in China are pretty low.
I have a little while longer to think about it and talk to people about it, but nothing is set in stone quite yet.


So I Might Be Returning To Japan...

I recently returned from Japan after nearly a year at Hiroshima University. 
I may be returning due to a job offer I received from a company in Yamaguchi. It is a pretty sweet job, actually. I would get paid around $2,500 a month, with my rent being around $420 a month. The apartment would come with furniture (not common in Japan), and the company would pay the deposit and key money (likely around $5,000). I would work 100 hours a month (meaning around 25-30 hours a week) and would get a reasonable amount of vacation. The "catch" is that I have to sign a 1 year contract.
It seems like a good job opportunity to get me back over there. I normally wouldn't get my hopes up so high, but this employer contacted me. I feel my chances are at least reasonably good.


Hedgehog Love

Dear SEGA,
I want to believe that you are going to make Sonic 4 a good game, I really do, but after you pulled a werehog, how can I trust you? I want to, I do, but I am not a kid anymore. I am 21 now. In a years time, I may have kids. I just want my old hedgehog back. So please...no swords, no towns, and please no werehogs. Ever. This time, I just want to run left, as fast as I can... So don't fuck this one up!

- Your Loving Fan, Anthony.


Updates From Japan

So, first of all, I am in Japan. For ongoing updates on that, check out the following links.

Vlogs: http://www.youtube.com/user/Ariketh
Blogs: http://planetariketh.blogspot.com/

I am in Hiroshima, Japan. I arrived April 4th. I didn't get internet access at my computer until recently. I have been skimming through videos, picking the ones that seem the most interesting and watching them. I finished working my way back up to the newest episodes in Persona 4 Endurance Run, and now I'm working on BombCasts.

I bought a PSP here, and two games (Star Ocean 1 and 2). My Japanese is fairly poor in terms of reading (yay for voice acting!), mostly because I suck at Kanji, but it's getting better. I am working on getting a part-time job here while I go to school.

I plan to get a 360 at some time (which, according to my friends, is rising in popularity) - though it will probably not happen until October. I have started to get back into the groove of things. I am surprised that the GiantBomb crew didn't try C.C. Lemon last time when they were here. Maybe they have already had it? Oh, and you can eat Bear in Tokyo (I think it's a shop in Akihabara), though I have yet to try it. I plan to though.

If you have anything you'd like to see, feel free to send me a suggestion. Tacoyaki, Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki, and Curry have been mostly what I have eatten. I found that I like Squid better than Octopus - and both are better than fish (though fish can be tasty).

Can't think of anything else to update you guys on. Check the above links if you're interested in finding out more.


The Best of Gallup

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So we all know and love Rich Gallup (and if you don't, you're not a good person), and I still miss him on occasion. Well, I typed his name into Google and ended up finding this.


It's clips from The HotSpot, back when Rich was host. "The Best." It is some great stuff, that's for sure. Brings back old memories for me, and I didn't even really know him. I wonder what kind of memories it brings back for Jeff and the gang.

For the record, Cake > Pie.

E3 2008 Goodness

So E3 is over. While it had lots of great games, two games in particular caught my attention: MadWorld and Spore.

MadWorld, because it looks like a pretty crazy game (If I were a reviewer, it'd be my pick for E3 2008 probably). Basically, it's a TV show called Death Watch, and you're a guy with a chainsaw for a hand. Need I say more? You can play games like Man Darts, where you use a bat to smack guys into an oversized dart board to score points, or shove "Caution" signs through peoples heads. When you've collected enough points, you can push a button to summon a boss to fight. There are signs everywhere that say stuff like "Kill Shit," and it just sounds like a funny, yet incredibly violent, game for the Wii. The only problem is that the developers (PlatinumGames - Link) think the game might be too violent for Japan, so they are focusing on the western market - which means us. I think they're doing a spectacular job.


Next up was Spore, but moreso the speech that Will Wright gave on Spore. It was awesome. The primary thing I really like about what they are doing with it though is releasing the prototypes for different aspects of the game (such as  ParticleMan, which is pretty cool and I suggest you check it out), so players can see the different aspects of game design, play around with them, and see just how much work can go into making a video game. On top of that, it's lots of fun to mess around with.


With the promise of more MadWorld at Leipzig in August and Spore's release in September, I am bubbling with excitement.