What has happened this week

A small update on what has been going on!

~something I learned: I have a class in which students practice speeches for a contest and I’ve been checking out some tips on how to give better speeches in order to teach them to my students; and I must say some of the information might be quite useful in other areas of life, such as writing and communicating with people in general, so I’m pleasantly surprised about how broadening knowledge in one field can bring fruit in another;

~something I have been busy with: I’m going back to Poland at the end of next week to spend the Chinese New Year holidays there. I’ve been buying gifts for my friends and family members; apart from buying things that I have been specifically asked for, I prefer buying edible/usable gifts such as tea and snacks (especially types of snacks that are unique to China and usually not found in Poland)

For buying tea, I think two good stores are: Tenfu’s Tea (天福名茶 – link) and Fengpai Black Tea (凤牌红茶- link). In Tenfu’s Tea you can also find some great snacks, such as tea-flavored rice flour cookies with sunflower seeds (绿茶瓜仁巧叶酥), ginger candy (姜片糖果), green tea-flavored nougat (绿茶味牛轧糖) and more.

Other snacks I like to buy include Chinese dates (jujubes) with walnuts inside (红枣夹核桃), cookies made from bean paste (绿豆糕), flower pastry from Yunnan (鲜花饼) and some stuff with durian for my mom – dried durian (榴莲干) or durian candy (榴莲糖).

~an awkward moment during class: as an activity that someone recommended to me, I told my students to write down three topics that they could deliver a speech on, each topic on a different piece of paper; I didn’t tell them that it wouldn’t be them to talk about that topic, it was only after they wrote them down that I asked them to put all the pieces of paper inside a bag and then everyone would draw the topic again. And one of the students wrote a question “Should we always doubt the political propaganda?’ on his piece of paper (of course, he didn’t know that the topic wouldn’t be his to talk about). In China, talking about these issues is quite awkward, to be honest; the media usually only present one side of an issue and unless you read foreign media outlets, you’re not gonna know otherwise. So from an outsider’s point of view, it seems kind of obvious that yes, you should doubt the political propaganda, especially when there’s no free media, but I wouldn’t be so sure that it is what most people think here. Anyway, a young female student got this topic, and other students thought the question was “too difficult to give a speech on”. She just said that she doesn’t agree with the question and we shouldn’t doubt the government, since it’s obvious that they know more than we do and are more qualified, and we should trust that what they tell us I true. The student who wrote the question then started going on about how he read a book on the history of propaganda and how the governments always used it to steer people’s minds and control them; I just finished the topic quickly and started talking about something else. Once in a while, I will encounter these kinds of students who do realize how the media situation or some other social issues look like in their country, but they don’t alway dare to speak up about it (and I’m grateful that they’re all planning to go abroad).

~something I have to change: what I have been battling with for a long time (I just didn’t know its name) is impostor syndrome. I always seem to think that the things I have achieved kind of happened by some happy coincidence, because “I was lucky” and I don’t deserve recognition for them. And most likely, at some point someone will discover that I’m not as good at something as I seemed to be and I will be exposed and laughed at (for example at work, or when I’m voicing my opinion on something; it also kept me from starting a blog for a long time). It doesn’t help that in Chinese culture, when someone is praising you for something, You’re supposed to say “oh no, not at all; I’m very bad at this/I’m just average”; “It’s nothing at all” and I realize now it just fitted right in with my low self-esteem and repeating it over and over again for the past four years and a half that I spent in China has been reinforcing the negative beliefs I had about myself. This has to stop. I have been reading about this issue and it seems that it’s more common for women to suffer from this (of course). I also listened to a podcast episode about it recorded by a group of three women that create a podcast called “Self-Helpless” (and found out that many famous women also have said to suffer from this, like Tina Fey or Meryl Streep); and their podcast is very funny and seems really cool so I will keep listening to it.

~what I decluttered – I managed to sell a skirt that I wore like only twice a year on an online platform; a good app for that is called Xianyu – 闲鱼

~the app I’ve been using: I have an app to limit my phone usage, called “The Forest” (link) – it works in such a way that you set the timer for how long you want to stay away from your phone and when the timer is on, it prevents you from switching to another program; after the time is up, you get coins for a successfully planted tree. There are also coins for finishing achievements and when you reach 2500 coins, you can fund planting a tree in the real world, which I think is pretty cool.

~a habit I’ve been successful at: so for the past 18 days I’ve managed to do push-ups everyday (to be honest, I decided it’s OK if I slip for one day, provided that I will make up for it with the double amount the next day; but I can’t skip them two days in a row) and I’m gradually increasing the number: I started at 9, now I’m at 27 push-ups per day.

~what I have been reading: I recently bought my first e-reader (a Kindle) and I’ve been reading a lot more thanks to that (maybe because I’m excited about it; the cool things is also that I bought it used – according to the description it was 99% new and it looks 100% new– but the price was almost 40% lower that the price of a new Kindle; I love buying used things and I think there are many amazing deals like that on Taobao) – so I’ve been trying to read novels before sleep in order to wind down and fall asleep more easily and some other things during the day. So the novel I just started is “Elevation” by Stephen King and I’m also reading a book called “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers (a friend recommended it to me and I bought it to help me combat procrastination and finish my graduation thesis; in the past I spent tons of money on purchasing e-books from Amazon to help me achieve that; I guess they don’t work if you just buy the books but don’t actually act according to what is written in them). Recently, I also finished re-reading a book called “A Year of Less” by a Canadian writer Cait Flanders – it’s a book about her year-long shopping ban and how it changed her spending habits and her perception on consumerism, as well as helped her get rid of non-essential things in her life and focus on what is most important.

So this is what’s been up recently! Take care,

Xuanxuan

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