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  • grenphi 8:29 pm on May 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , recommended reading,   

    Preparation Goals-Nanjing 

    Every journey begins with a single step, and my blog begins with a traveling cliché.

    I’ve decided to write two preliminary blog posts as opposed to just one. The first will be written at the beginning of my summer prep (now), and one towards the end (probably late August). I realize the preparation by itself will be an adventure because I have numerous goals and a few obstacles. Optimally, I will be a different person in three months as I depart for China.

    Let me preface before I discuss the goals and plans to be accomplished before I head off to Nanjing. I have diabetes, and I’m a martial artist. These two characteristics are very influential concerning the goals and experiences I will have in preparation and in China. Therefore, I have two sets of goals for preparation. The first is a set of generic goals that I believe are fairly common among China travelers. The second set is the set of goals that I believe are more specific to me and people with similar experiences.

    Set 1) I’d like to be able to do some basic living in China. This will mean speaking and understanding the language (I may be doomed here), and having some money for emergencies and/or spending. To do this, I study Chinese frequently (almost every day), and use multiple methods-books, videos, audio lessons, music, etc. As far as money is concerned, I’m still looking for a summer job. Living will also require a visa and various other logistics, which I believe I am taking care of by completing every task CIEE has been giving me.

    Set 2) I’d like to be able to survive in China. This means, as a diabetic, I need insulin. Insulin comes with a very particular set of restrictions, so it will be best for me to get insulin in China rather than ship it from the states. My mother has figured a way to work this out, and for this I am extremely grateful. She’s done more work for this trip already than I have, and I’m extremely lucky that she has been there for me.

    Survival, beyond just insulin, will revolve largely around martial arts. On a very basic level, I want to be performing with a very high level of physical conditioning when I travel and arrive in China. This will allow me to deal with jet-lag, changes in diet, changes in weather, diabetic issues, fatigue, and frustration much better than if I were in poor health. Good physical condition will also allow me to be better prepared for violent confrontation and emergency situations. This isn’t to say I expect a crisis to occur. I prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    In order to maintain this physical conditioning, I will also be developing an exercise program that is equipment free, allowing me to practice wherever and optimally whenever I need. For myself and others looking to do this, I suggest looking into the 8 Brocades of Qi Gong, which has already proven tremendously beneficial for my health without great effort.

    Also, for the sake of survival, I’ve been steadily giving up vegetarianism. This was a difficult decision, but I’ve been told by numerous travel abroad students and Chinese nationals that vegetarianism and a 200 lb frame don’t go together in China. I don’t want to compromise my physical health or ability to defend myself by losing muscle mass over 4+ months, so I have to get used to eating meat.

    There are more goals that I am probably forgetting, but that’s ok. This post is long enough, and I hope I haven’t bored my readers. If I still have your attention, I would like to point you to two books for summer reading that I believe are worth your time. The first book is called Meditations on Violence. It’s written by Sgt. Rory Miller, and provides a very important insight into violence and the world as a whole. I have read this book twice, and plan to read it again many times in the future This recommendation goes double for you martial artists out there.

    The second book is called A Tooth From The Tigers Mouth. It’s written by Tom Bisio and it’s about traditional Chinese medicine. I have just begun reading the book, but I had the rare opportunity to meet Mr. Bisio in person and receive treatment from him. He’s an intelligent, humble man and an incredible martial artist. His insight and treatment were life changing, and I foresee no less from his book.

    And with that, I am off to go work on these goals. Best wishes to all my fellow Asiapod bloggers and to all the readers who have taken the time from more important things to read my words.


    • DougReilly 3:39 pm on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      That’s a wonderfully rich post! I definitely need to look at Meditations on Violence, as I’ve been aware of, touched by, and have given a lot of thought to violence…so thanks for sharing that recommendation.

      I think it’s great that you’re taking your preparations so seriously, and that it seems that martial arts is a very important structure for you and for your journey. What is your martial art, by the way?

      I respect your decision to give up vegetarianism, at least for a while. It probably makes good sense–and once you are the ground you could always re-evaluate. I’m not sure what your motivations for vegetarianism are–moral, environmental, nutritional, but I guess I’d view the experience of eating eat again as something worth reflecting on. In terms of the environmental and moral arguments against eating meat, I found a counterargument that I never heard before, and in an unlikely place, the novel Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. She talks about how anyone involved with mechanized crop farming knows that it kills multitudes of animals (I believe the example in particular was combines decapitating rabbits) so even most of the earth’s vegetative food production is not free from creating suffering. I’m not a vegetarian though I’m sympathetic to all the arguments, and Kingsolver’s observation I guess made me a little more conscious of the truth that suffering really is an unavoidable part of existence. We cause it, inflict it, and experience it, even when we might try not to. I think trying to minimize the amount of suffering we cause is still a good thing, however!


    • grenphi 2:09 am on June 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Doug,

      My original martial art is a combination between Korean Tae Kwon Do and Japanese Shotokan Karate. I have now focused my training more towards Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. I’ve also had chances to dabble in Tai Chi and Qi Gong.

      Let me know how the book strikes you. I’m curious to hear a reflection on it from someone other than me.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post,


  • Hannah 1:57 pm on May 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Awesome, , Games,   

    Zon: Learning Chinese 

    Learning Chinese is important to going to China. Just a little.

    But learning can be boring. So it was really awesome when I attended the Freeman Language Workshop at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and I found out about this site called http://www.enterzon.com.

    It’s basically a game you would expect to find on facebook; a low key version of The Sims. You go around with your little avatar in what is supposed to look like Beijing. The really cool part is that even though the Chinese is not always the best (Chinglish prevails, as in ‘may wǒ help nǐ?), the interactions are invaluable. Along with in-game characters that ask you to do tasks with them and help you practice vocabulary, you can also interact with other players.

    Basically, it’s a fun way to study. And feel free to say hi to me, Linxuemei.


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