Dear Otherside Readers,

As the one month anniversary of my arrival in China approaches I find myself in an increasingly desperate situation, a desperately boring situation that is.  My lack of companionship and lingering bafflement of the Chinese language often means that when I’m not in class I find myself not knowing what the hell to do with myself.  I spend hours in my room, watching crappy shows on Hulu in ten second increments and pestering friends on Facebook chats that have their own lives to attend to and no obligation to cheer me up.  I can hear my Korean roommates, who do their best to include me in their fun whenever appropriate, giggling and carrying on the way I once did with my friends back home.  It’s a good night when I’m lucky enough to find an over the top Hollywood ball-buster on television.  Last night it was the mid nineties classic Steel, starring Shaquille O’neil.  I know it’s still early, and I know that this post will be followed by a series of stick in there’s and everyone goes through what you’re going through’s, but this just doesn’t change the fact that right now, life just sucks, plain and simple.

My last trip to China was with a program from America called Where There Be Dragons, and it was my instructors’ jobs to pack every last minute of my time in China with as much adventure as possible.  We spent our days visting temples and pagodas, riding trains to distant cities untouched by any bit of foreign influence.  We took classes in Chinese culture, ranging from kungfu, to calligraphy, to cooking classes.  We had all our travel plans arranged for us, and lived with Chinese families that included us in their own outings.  Somehow I expected this trip to China to be somewhere along the same lines, but alas it is not.  I’m on my own now, left to find my adventures, book my own tickets, meet my own friends, and looking back now I’ve realized that I’ve done a terrible job of all this.

On top of all this, I’ve grown rather weary of writing this blog.  The realization came yesterday after I posted a pathetic few tips on learning Chinese that I pulled out of my ass just to get something on the page. And while I believe my other most recent posts to be interesting—and if I do say so myself, well written and intelligently derived—I realized that I’ve slipped into a pattern followed by the vast majority of western bloggers in China; writing pithy politicized jabs at American arrogance that show-off my own intelligence and understanding of this culture.  The truth is, I don’t know jack-shit.  If you want to read about politics, commerce, or all the crazy things that all foreigners in China—and despite what some of my other posts say, there are plenty of us—read the Economist, or if you have the time read Peter Hessler’s River Town.  These guys are experts.  I’m just a spoiled junior in college who thought, hey, why not spend a semester in China?

I’ve strewn from my original purpose in writing this blog, which was to describe the daily life of a student living in China, providing a guide and incentive for students thinking about studying in China, and perhaps adding in some editorial pieces that come to light naturally as part of being here.  But instead I’ve found myself writing solely about topics that western media and liberal thinking deem as “important.” I live my days here as if I’m actually a journalist with a deadline and copies to sell.  This means that my writing is rather stale and contrived, as well as the fact that I’m not concentrating on what I should be: me.

It took me a while to realize that my difficulty in writing engaging blog posts and my boredom in China are not unrelated.  If I were out and about more often the stories would be flowing more easily.  Indeed I’ve found that on the days that I do go out with a mission in mind I return to my room at night full of ideas to put on the page.   I’ve often used my blog writing as an excuse to return to my room and catch the next episode of The Office on Hulu while jotting down a few thoughts about the larger world.

Well friends, it’s time for a change of pace, both in this blog and in my life here in China.  It’s high time that I stop searching for the deeper meaning in it all, and simply let it flow.  No more roaming the streets of Liaocheng as if I’m someone important, and no more choking out of my own voice to sound intelligent.  From now on the Otherside will be more personal, more immediate, more me.  I hope that this doesn’t upset my loyal readers, but in the end I think this will be a major turning point for the better, both for this blog, as well as for this wonderful undertaking I have thrown myself into.  This may also mean that the frequency of my posts will dampen, but it will most certainly mean that as a whole they will become more engaging for the reader.  I still promise to post something everyday, whether it’s a link to another blog or article about China, or just a few pictures.

I leave you now in perhaps a better, more exhilarated mood than I have felt in the past few weeks.  I think I’m going to go for a bike ride and see if I can get myself into some trouble.

Sincerely yours,

Christopher Geoffery Montague Biddle.

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