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.

-Gennady

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