Hey urbody- just a quick bit of socio-cultural analysis. I've been in China for two years, seen a lot, done a lot, and it's mostly all good. But there's one thing that consistently bothers me, and the problem isn't with China; it's with foreigners. Specifically, the Takers. I get this term from a cool movie with Anthony Hopkins called Instinct, and in it he refers to people who pillage and plunder without regard to the society or environment. The pillaging and plundering I'm talking about is mainly emotional and psychological.
Now many foreigners come to China for many good and noble reasons- teaching, business, brave new experiences, cultural studies, etc. But many people, and usually it's guys, just want to bang the local girls, get jobs at schools just to have spending money even though they have no interest in teaching, and use their local superstar status to have people treat them to meals and drinks. Now I know this sounds self-righteous and condescending, and let me tell you, it feels good to be a superstar and I get treated to meals and drinks often and given other free stuff just for posing for advertising pictures and stuff like that. But I don't abuse peoples' enthusiasm for my company. As a young foreign dude, girls want to be with me. I've got one Chinese girlfriend and she's all I need- just because I could have this or that girl in the club doesn't mean I'm not a man if I don't take the bait. And teachers sleeping with students in their classes that are like ten years younger than them? Man, for real. I'm know there's a lot of emotional damage and broken hearts from teacher/players who use their students' genuine affections just to get them in bed. I truly enjoy teaching and I try to do my best at it. Sure, I feel that I'm getting paid far more than I'm worth, but the students and the bosses are happy so I won't argue :-). My point is this: I am given so much in this country, and it's responsible, polite- hell, just the right thing to do, to reciprocate what I can. I am embarrassed by so many foreigners that come here for the quick buck, the easy bang, and the free drinks.
I'm sure many people will think I'm on a high horse looking down on people who don't dig China as much as me, but that's not the case. I'm just a dude trying to live a good life and be a good person- it's not that difficult. You don't have to be a dog to have fun- find yourself a good girl and stick with her and you'll reap the rewards. Put effort into your classes, and when the term is up, you'll get a request for contract renewal instead of a phone call asking how soon you'll be out of your apartment. If you're in a small town like me and you're a very conspicuous person, be fun and cool and entertaining every once in a while, but make them respect you as a person, not as a puppet that performs when they yank the strings. I think foreigners as a group have a long way to go to get China's genuine respect and it starts by people coming here for the right reasons and doing the right things. And if you come to China just to play, remember that what may mean nothing to you could mean very much to others. In the end it's better for everyone. It's all here- the party, the money, the sex, the shopping, the mysterious exotic culture. Just keep it real and don't piss out the candles on someone else's birthday cake.
P.S. See Sicko, Michael Moore's new film. I'm not always down with Moore's ideas but man he nailed this one.