In late August 2011 I was arrived in Beijing via Toronto Ontario to teach English. I quickly found myself in an entirely different culture with many different cultural norms. eg. women spitting in public, drinking on the street and insane drivers. At first I was nervous about being so far away in a mega city where very few people speak English. However after a while I realized China really grew on me. It was not the opressed policed always looking over your shoulder the western media potrayed. However I soon learned life was different for the real Chinese than foreigners. After settling there I began developing friendships with many people, some local CHinese. One friend in paticular loved to discuss politics so it was great to get a view straight from the source. He ranted on and on how terrible the government was and they stole money and opressed their speech. I said I don't feel policed or monitored at all. He informed me it was different for foreigners. I argued would he rather change it to an unstable democracy like Brazil where 60,000 people were violently murdered each year, compared to a few hundred protesters in China. While China was great for me I honestly felt safer walking downtown at 3am in Beijing than any city I have ever been in(mind you im from Canada one of the safest countries in the world). One day after month of avoiding it I registered my address with the police (supposed to do it soon as you arrive) Whoops! So me and my Chinese speaking friend arrive at 10:15 She hands the officer my passport he says something to her. She starts argueing with him. After a minute or so of back fourth Mandarin lingo. She says to me, they're closed come back at 3:00. I said but it's 10:15 what do you mean they're closed?! She informed me this is daily life for Chinese people. I realized then that one of the main reasons I was able to relax so much was my passport. For me I could back out at any minute and be home but for the average person this was life. There is no negotiating, just their word. Overall my experience in China was great I didn't see too much under the surface(as I'm sure is not easy to do). Comparing China to West in short. China in some ways I felt more free, eg. drinking in public, jwalking, you could even smoke in hospitals(I didn't but you can) However I came to eventually realize, despite the governments dramatic improvements in human rights in previous years, they still don't have even the basic human rights, for speech and protection, only privilages that can be taken away without a moments notice. I took the good and the bad and posted them here for you!