Frustrated

For every new job or new mission, we are well prepared and we tell ourselves and others that we can do it and succeed. We have the ability and we are eager to demonstrate it. But there is an important step before we lauch ourselves and go fight for the promissed success, that is to open the door and get that permission to try.

The world is not made of logic niether with pure fairness. There are so many factors that contribute to the success of your own life and career: competitition, relationship and chance. Even if you have the strength and the confidence, the good result is not guaranteed. That’s why we feel frustrated.

When I use this world, I feel hopeless because I have done all that I could but the situation depended on external factors.I do believe that life will compensate those who work hard and keep optimist, but sometimes a pessimist opinion will allow us to consider more realistic obstacles. The New York Times has republished an article that illustrates the same philisophie: The power of negative thinking.

Feeling frustrated is a normal life experience, through which we learn how to see the world from more different perspectives. Yes, nobaby can control us but we neither can control everything.

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An unaffordable Lesson

We were visiting LA this October and my daughter was suffering from earache and fever. As foreigners, we fell into a panic because we were out of town. We called her doctor, who suggested us to take her to a walk-in urgent center since she might need antibiotics for the infection.

We didn’t worry much about the fee, given that we pay  every month a big amount of money for the medical insurance. It was later that we realized that we had committed a huge mistake by going to the children’s hospital emergency room. But it was a mistake that we could not avoid. Who would have time to google the difference between an urgent care center and the emergency center?

We were not happy in the waiting room but surprised by the three hours that passed by before being checked up. Claire had ear infection and needed antibiotics. 5 minutes later, we were ready to go.

Then, the story began. At the door, we were asked to pay 150 dollars for the co-pay. I paid although the fee did surprise me. Then, one week later, we got another bill which said that the treatment cost 166 dollars and that besides the insurance, we still should pay 114 dollars by ourselves. I accepted and paid.  Another week later, we got a second bill which listed 695 dollars for the hospital charges. It is said that our insurance covered 184 and we still owe 360 dollars to the hospital. I was shocked.

I never expected to pay in total 861 dollars for an ear infection treatment which lasted 5 minutes. Even with a good insurance coverage, we still should pay 624 dollars by ourselves. That was crazy.

So I asked my friends for advice. All I got was the same anger against the medical service and the suggestion to avoid any contact with hospitals and doctors. They told me that I mad a huge mistake to go to the emergency room, that gave me the only reason to accept the situation.

I don’t know how people can handle such situation if they are not familiar with the system and have no courage to fight back. An individual will never win the battle against a huge and complicated system. It’s all-consuming.

Privacy and public debate

For the past week, China’s social medias were flooded with comments on a private scandal. Former Olympic Badminton player Lin Dan had been filmed when giving some intimate gestures to a pretty woman before the hotel’s curtain was shut down. Anger and criticism went viral in the internet, especially because his wife, another former world champion just gave birth to their son two weeks ago.

Well, everyone believed to have right to comment on a celebrity’s life, where privacy and public image are confused. The majority expressed their condemnation on Lin’s betrayal, considering an extramarital behavior was the first sin of a man, especially of a successful man. His legends collapsed and people mocked about their ten-years’ true love story.

After first waves of criticism directed to the national idol, many began to point out the naive and aberrant action of all internet users, who were supposed not to take others’ privacy as an official trial. Some even claimed that all the emotions were just a show which reveals the emptiness of our social life.

The counter motion was triggered, refuting this cynic conclusion and justifying their roles in defending the moral duty. While men were accused of their compulsive animality, women were satirized though their increasing self-respect.

To many’s surprise, the wife tweeted a disappointing response several days later, claiming that she would forgive her husband since the later had acknowledged the fault.The internet went even crazier. Some cried on the typical weakness of women, some thrilled with the happy ending, some seemed  find justification of being wrong, some called love illusion and marriage a cruel trap and some just laughed at all discussion.

“You know, China is very interesting.” Many foreigners told me. A famous young writer also admits that life was even more interesting than some American TV shows because everyone seems so involved but the next episode is never predictable.

Then, one week later, other news began to top all social medias. The former champions can finally sit down and talk about their private problems while all internet users still suffer with their own problems and lose hope to seek an example to apply accordingly.

Be thankful…and Do not take it for granted

Thanksgiving is coming. We can even smell the sweetness in the could air. All the slogans, in the supermarket or at school, remind us to be thankful, generous and kind, as if every problem can be solved with a warm heart.

Be thankful is also a life motto in my family. My mom told me that kindness should be magic to solve any problem and for long long time, I deeply believed in it.

When I first went to France as an exchange student, I was full of hope and confidence, although my French was very limited. After the arrival at the airport, we should immediately find the nearby railway station and catch the last train. At that time, mobile phone was still a luxury that a student could not afford, neither a laptop computer. Unfortunately, one of my classmate lost his bag, which contained his passport and a new camera. He was desperate.

When all other classmates kept their silence and jumped on the last train, I remembered my mom’s farewell words and stayed with the guy. To our surprise, we did find the bag after looking around. One passenger had picked it up and returned it to the information desk. At that moment, we were so thankful, believing that France was an ideal world. The Autumn night was chilly but we wandered in Paris with a warm heart.

The next train to our destination was scheduled in the early morning, departure from another station in the center of Paris. We were so brave, testing here and there our limited French. We were so hungry but only ate a small bag of chips, given that the budget for the following year was only 6000$. The money was carefully stored  in our underwear pockets, pockets that moms sewed for this particular purpose. Thus, we had no money for hotel.

Now when I go to Paris, I barely dare wander after midnight and never carry a big amount of cash. But at that time, we were fearless. Exhausted, we finally found a public garage which seemed to have lights on all night. We sat down on the ground and began to kill time by telling stories of our childhood. It was not romantic at all because I began to feel the real cold. Several hours later, a black and strong guy appeared in front of us. No panic! we tried to explain our embarrassing situation. Without a word, he asked us to follow him.

The next station was the police ? No! We were so lucky and so thankful. He led us to the stairs which kept us from the cold wind. The only word we repeated was “Merci!” The next morning, my classmate suggested to treat us because of our survival and we entered a coffee shop at the railway station. That was the most expensive meal I had during the whole year in France although it was only a breakfast.

I still remember this adventure and the hope that my mom gave me with the magic motto.

However, not all things turned good even I paid attention to be kind and thankful. We were cheated by the residence owner, the bank agent, even the representative of a student union. Being kind sometimes equals being silly. However, my mom tells me that even you are hurt, your tolerance and generosity will reward you soon or later. She is right to some extent because I’m proud of my resilience. But she is wrong too because sometimes you are not willing to lose so much.

Nevertheless, I’m not as kind as before. Life also pushes me to be assertive and prudent. Sometimes, keeping a nice relationship leads to unlimited sacrifice. When the other takes it  for granted, you will never have chance to value your sacrifice.

So now I try to pass the same motto to my daughter, asking her to be kind and thankful. Besides, I also tell her to be assertive, to protect anytime her own rights and joy. If tomorrow she is willing to help a classmate at night in Paris, I would totally support her but warn her of caution and safety. If tomorrow she is asked to pay an extra rent because of her foreign student’s status, I would suggest her to seek protection by law.

We are thankful to life, who has gave us good lessons and bad ones. However, our kindness should be respected. On the other hand, we should also never take others’ kindness and generosity for granted. If we do so, we become a silly and arrogant turkey.

How did the election divide my friends

In the parking lot, I heard such greetings between two old ladies and an old man. The man asked them how was their day. They had just attended a gathering to support Hillary and hopefully declared their favor of the candidate. “While I’m a Trump guy.” followed the man. “Then, we are not friends any more.” The two women entered in their car and drove away.

This dialogue amazed me, yet I still doubted about the irony or the joke in such a daily communication. I had never taken the political opinion into consideration when I make friends. First, it’s not easy to know others’ real opinion about a delicate issue. Second, in China we hardly debated on politics, which turned out to be pure chatting. Third, it’s easy to reach a consensus when we all complain about the government but not in support of a certain leader.

The new age comes where we are all connected in the social web, which makes the expression of our own beliefs easy and the others’ opinion transparent. By reading others’ comments and declarations, we constantly redefine the profile that they project in our mind. “I never know that she was so stupid!” “How extreme you are!””That’s a great deal of hatred!” “Never could I discuss with him any more.”

Although the recent presidential election didn’t concern directly me neither most of my friends, which was also a main reason that we discussed much more than an average U.S citizen in his surroundings, we all had the impression that many walls were being built up between us as our discussion went on with more and more disagreement. Some dialogue even became an accusation, a deception of trust, and a reason to end the friendship.

“Let’s hope another victory in France, with a true empowered woman!” declared one of my friend this morning. This made me so angry that I instantly block our communication. Another friend also cheered up by sharing some dirty jokes, which made me sick all morning. How could I believe that they are all actual teachers in university. They accused me of my elitism and my blindness of the reality, while I felt so humiliated by their arrogance and discrimination.

I don’t know whether our friendship will survive after this turmoil. To ensure the longevity of any relationship, we should never stand too close, because each individual has a natural defense of his basic needs including safety and self-esteem.

 

 

Culture and Civilisation

Complains made by the UK Queen about Chinese delegation’s rudeness have been a viral subject in social medias. Some tried to explain the misunderstanding by culture difference while others high lighted the arrogance of the actual government of China.

For me, it’s not a culture diversity issue. We do have many cultural differences that can be interpreted as weird. for example, speaking loudly in restaurants or fighting to pay the bill. But things like spitting on the streets are more relevant to the level of civilization than to the origin of culture. In a big city like Shanghai, people do such things randomly while in the countryside, old people still keep this habit. One of my former colleagues said that English people spitted also a lot two hundreds years ago and they just forgot it. It’s true that before 19th century, the sanitary condition was bad for all countries. Bad actions which harm people’s health can be improved with the emphasis of education. In big cities, people are more civilized and understand easily the limit of their freedom. They will try to keep themselves healthy and make others healthy too, both physically and mentality. It’s advocated to be polite in public area, like subway stations or airports.

Civilization can be achieved by a nation’s efforts and attention, but cultures are not comparable. American people like cultural studies, but sometimes, they generalized too much. I began to hate the word Identity, which defines excessively one person. The stereotypes live with you wherever you go. Labeled as Chinese, I don’t share many common ideas about China or Chinese People. But every time, when there is a misunderstanding, I tried first to understand the culture stereotype. I also saw lots of criticism on Islamic culture but sometimes I wondered what could be the best way to communicate with them. Most of us never want to make efforts before making judgments.

Try to understand different cultures but try to be civilized everywhere.