The Great Firewall of China

So this is my first blog post in Dalian, but I have been here for around 5 weeks now (a bit late for the first blog post). I have a few posts already written, but access to the internet has been a bit rough so I have not been able to post them. Wi-Fi on campus and at home isn’t great, but the problem is the “The Great Firewall of China” blocks my access to many sites (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc). I often use a VPN but that just slows down my already questionable Wi-Fi. So big thanks to Brad Miner for helping me post these back from the US.

I figure few people reading this (if any) know anything about Dalian, China. So it’s probably best to start with a little introduction. Dalian is a tourist destination known for its seafood, shopping and relaxing days on the beach. It’s located in the Northeast of China, only an hour flight from Beijing.

This was my first time to mainland China and I, along with many Americans have many misconceptions about what living in China would be like.

Dalian is not like many large cities in China. It has many green spaces, trees, and parks which are filled with the older generation exercising. Watching them exercise is a spectacle in and of itself. Some are practicing Tai Chi, a form of shadow boxing focused on meditation and mindfulness. But most of the old folks meet to participate in a large dance routine. They play loud music and wear matching red outfits and long white gloves. This is a favorite of my host grandmother (姥姥).

Living in a host family has been great so far. My host family is made up of two grandparents, two parents, and two younger brothers, ages 6 and 10. I currently only live with the grandparents, but the rest of the family lives right across the street. The grandparents are a welcome break from the high energy of the boys. The boys have definitely accepted me as their own brother, affectionately calling me 哥哥(the Chinese word for big brother). The youngest brother is hilarious. His mannerisms are of someone 10 times his age. The first time I met him he could tell that his Chinese was better than mine so he decided that he would be my teacher. He often corrects my tones with a little smirk. He can recite what seems like hundreds of Confucius’ poems. Before I go out with friends on the weekend he tells me “安全第一” meaning “safety is first.” Glad my 6 year old brother has my back.

So my first few weeks have been a blast, but stay tuned because more blog posts are coming soon.