April 21, 2014

kaseyinchina asked: Hi, I'm going to be a part of the China 20s coming in June. I was wondering if Tumblr works in China without a VPN. I want to keep a blog a China but I don't want to pay for a VPN. Thanks for the help!

Hey hey, congrats! I’m so excited for you!!

Tumblr works without a VPN, which is actually why I initially chose it! I use the Tumblr app on my iPod and never have trouble.

FYI, these sites are non-accessible without a VPN:


If you have an iPod, consider downloading OpenDoor. It’s a free app that will (sometimes) allow you access to these sites, but s-l-o-w-l-y…

Once you’re in China, you won’t be able to download it, so do it before you go!

Happy trails, you’re in for such an awesome adventure! So many wonderful improvements and expansions for China volunteers in the future!

April 20, 2014
Today I Learned…

—that it is totally possible to just co-exist with a jackhammer so loud that it shakes your entire apartment. From breakfast until dinner. It isn’t preferable, but it’s possible.

—that there’s a reason I always bought the boxed mix when making pie crust in America. It felt like my arm was going to fall off after “cutting dough with twines of a fork” for too long.

—that I can easily consume half of a vegetable quiche, and could probably eat the whole pie if no one was looking.

Happy Easter, friends!

April 20, 2014
Snack product packaging in a Chinese supermarket.

Snack product packaging in a Chinese supermarket.

8:11pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZTP4Av1DapXYs
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Filed under: China sichuan 
April 20, 2014
I finished my first Chinese cross-stitch!  I wish we had such lovely and affordable kits in America.

I finished my first Chinese cross-stitch! I wish we had such lovely and affordable kits in America.

April 20, 2014

Nothing says “good morning” like a jackhammer upstairs.

Three more months.

April 18, 2014
Friday night decompress:  beer and shao kao (street barbecue) with my one and only.

Friday night decompress: beer and shao kao (street barbecue) with my one and only.

9:28pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZTP4Av1DOoKpI
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Filed under: China shao kao 
April 17, 2014

Hey! I need your help!

Our English Corner made Easter eggs this week, and now they need your votes. Send me a message or add a comment to tell me which egg is…
—the funniest?!
—the most beautiful?!
—the cutest?!

I’m posting here, on my Instagram (@asiamericana) and on my school QQ account…the students and I would love to add your votes to our contest!

Reblog if you have any pals or readers that wanna peek at some adorable eggs and add a vote!

April 17, 2014
"What’s Wrong With Your Face?!"

So, I feel like talking about something that isn’t exactly Important with a capital I…but if you peeked into my brain, you might think it was. I’m talking about skincare.

Trivial? I don’t think so! How you feel outwardly really does change your attitude and inner satisfaction, and when I first came to China, I realized that people here are not at all shy about commenting on complexions.

"Why do you have so many bumps?" My host parents would ask this question over dinners out. People would advise me to eat less spicy food constantly. Never mind the fact that for my first two months in China I was sharing just 1 towel and 1 set of sheets with my husband, stressing out majorly and adjusting to humidity and heat as I had never felt before. Pollution and unsafe tap water were the norm. My skin was like a new problem child, misbehaving and throwing tantrums.

As the comments from strangers and colleagues alike continued, I became acutely aware of my problem skin. I had brought a few containers of face wash from America, and they ran out quickly. Everything was elusive in the Chinese drugstores. Whitening agents are popular here, and I really didn’t want to bleach my skin.

Over the summer, I decided to forego any and all makeup. I was sick of my skin. I was sick of feeling anxious about how people saw me here. My first day sans-makeup, a friend asked me why I had acne. I didn’t know how to answer her. As if my acne was a choice, as if I was doing something obviously wrong.

I bought Chinese Clean&Clear, the only non-bleaching cleanser I could find for a price that my Peace Corps salary could afford.

I tried a bunch of weird all-natural Pinterest recipes…mashing bananas to make masks (meh), worst of all using baking soda as an exfoliant (seriously, don’t go down that rabbit hole unless you want to really mess with pH levels and burn your skin).

Finally, I ordered some CeraVe lotions and cleansers with my American savings, and my parents brought them to me when they visited. My skin is finally calming down, just a few short months until I come home.

I’d love to tell you that I achieved inner peace and stopped caring about my looks while in China, but that’s just not true. If anything, China pushed me into situations that felt like my worst fears in America…those “ohmygod everyone must be staring at my horrible face” moments were totally confirmed, and I dealt with them. And I survived.

I still care about what people see when they look at me, but it is different. I’m a lot more comfortable with the reality of me. Imperfection is inevitable. Bad skin days, weeks, months—it’s okay.

I gotta be honest though…Sephora, get ready. In a couple of months, I’m coming for you!

April 16, 2014
yeah I’m wearing a Chinese opera hat.  and yeah, it does make me feel amazing…jealous??

yeah I’m wearing a Chinese opera hat. and yeah, it does make me feel amazing…jealous??

April 16, 2014

Last night as I was reading in bed, I began to hear an awful noise.

It was a woman, doing something like retching—but much, much louder. It was a horrible barking pain, and she repeated this deep-body pain sound just about every 30 seconds for the next half hour.

I couldn’t concentrate on my book. I lay listening, wondering what could cause someone to sound like this. Birth? Death?

Meanwhile, outside life continued. Horns, children yelling to one another. The pain sounds drifted from another building into my window, and finally grew in desperation.

The last retching moan ended in a complete cry of pain, and then the sounds stopped.

I listened so hard, willing myself to hear the shrill wail of a new baby. I didn’t hear a thing. Life went on. Ma jiang tiles clacked and clattered, men whooped in excitement at their winnings.

I was thinking “I hope she didn’t die.”

But someone is always dying or being born somewhere, whether I hear it or not.

In America, we have such a sense of privacy…that death and birth are private acts. We cut and clip those painful, retching moments out of the public eye.

In the late spring, our windows are flung open. Sounds of China are constant. Living, dying, breathing China. It’s funny to think that in some ways, there are things here in China that can never be censored.

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