News / Asia

Q&A: First Impressions of China for First-time Visitors

FILE - Foreign tourists visit Yuyuan Garden, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai, China.
FILE - Foreign tourists visit Yuyuan Garden, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai, China.
The first visit to China for most Westerners is likely an experience for which they are not fully prepared. Now, there is literary help; Lessons from China will be officially launched the week of April 7.
 
The book highlights the experiences of Jan Cross, a recent college graduate on her way to teach English in Beijing, China. The challenges of living and working abroad change her forever as she gives and receives lessons inside and outside of the classroom on life, social practices, international employment, and the deep bond of friendship.
 
Cross is a fictional character created by author Beau Sides, who shares some of his real life first time memories of the Middle Kingdom.
 
SIDES: Honestly I went with no expectations because I didn’t know what it was going to be like. I was just wide-eyed and couldn’t wait to jump in and get my feet wet over there.
 
STEVENSON: It’s an amazingly familiar sight when you get into the city and see how people are dressed and you see some of the modern things that they have. They have cell phones just like we do, and move around on buses and subways. But yet there are differences that strike you pretty quickly when you arrive there.
 
SIDES: One of the things that I noticed was that guys that were out doing manual labor were wearing slacks and nice shoes while they were doing that, let’s say they were digging a hole or something like that.
 
Their technology for cell phones is about two years ahead of the United States. They realized that when that technology became available, they had a huge country that wasn’t 100% connected with landlines. So they thought why should we spend the money on upgrading our landlines when we won’t need that soon, so they were actually doing text messaging I think about two years before America.
 
STEVENSON: You had a lot of chance at the university to interact with students, and that certainly must have presented some interesting times for you.
 
SIDES: I was amazed with how accepting students were of me. The guys would just take me in like I was someone their own age when I was in my early to mid-40s at the time I was there. We would go play basketball. They would come to my apartment and watch DVDs, American movies. They would ask, ‘Do you think she is pretty?’ when we would be out playing basketball and a girl would go by. I was just amazed how they accepted me and then I was just another guy their age. We had some wonderful times together.
 
STEVENSON: One of the other sides to spending any time in China is of course the food.
 
SIDES: One of the things you are told not to do is eat street food. And I loved street food. There’s something called chuànr, which is meat put on a stick kind of like a kabob, and it is cooked over these hot coals. They put some pretty strong spices on it. Yángròu, which is mutton, is by far my favorite. You have your chicken and pork obviously. But I really like the street food there with the mutton on a stick.

Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs