China! My friend! You are right on time.

Jishou University views and wonderful students
The natural beauty in Hunan, China is unparalleled, but that only leads to an incredible abundance of natural pests. I love animals and creatures large and small, but only, only, ONLY when those animals/creatures are outside in the great outdoors. A penguin is great and lovely. A penguin in my bedroom at 3 a.m. walking in circles and looking confused is mildly heart attack inducing.

"Why?" you may ask. I'll tell you. Do you know what a wild animal does when it's nervous, scared, or feels threatened? No you do not. No one does. Because animals that are nervous, scared or threatened react irrationally and unpredictably. A dog is great - a cornered dog is a problem.

Animals that aren't pets generally do not like being inside with humans. Humans panic, then the animal panics, then we're all panicking and flailing about and shrieking like banshees through the night. TL;DR, animals in their natural environment are incredible. Animals in enclosed spaces with me must either leave or die. With this in mind, I give you my current ringtone courtesy of Trolls:
Hey!/I'm not giving up today/There's nothing getting in my way/And if you knock knock me over/I will get back up again/Oh! If something goes a little wrong/Well you can go ahead and bring it on/Cause if you knock knock me over/I will get back up again/...
I'm off on this remarkable adventure/Just riding on a rainbow/What if it's all a big mistake/What if it's more than I can take/No! I can't think that way cause I know that/I'm really really really gonna be okay! 
Mantra stated and grievances explained, below is a running tally of my encounters with wild China.

Pest Count:

  1. 11 September, 11:38 p.m. local time: one (1) large cockroach, kitchen (beheaded and crushed)
  2. 12 September, 8:42 p.m. local time: one (1) large cockroach, bathroom (scurried down the squat toilet, the bastard)
  3. 15 September, 5:07 a.m. local time, one (1) medium sized bat, bedroom (then flew to living room and eventually kitchen) (grabbed and released by two brave, female students)
  4. 15 September, 3:49 p.m. local time, one (1) large brown marmorated stink bug, bedroom (smashed to dismemberment and then crushed)
  5. 22 September, 7:33 a.m. local time, a rove beetle leaves long scratches and pus-filled blisters on my left arm (see below). Update: after six days, the rash/marks remain, but the blisters have gone down and it's less painful. 
Rove beetle blood is bad
Every day since I've been here, I have also encountered adorable dogs outside, annoying flies both in and outside, mosquitoes, and other small insects that one should only encounter in Hell. Bats eat insects, and so it's likely that was what the bat was doing in my apartment that fateful Friday morning; however, the bat was unsuccessful seeing as how I found the large, adult stink bug in my room not 12 hours after finding the *$#@!% bat.

I live alone in a country where I don't speak the language, so I'm left to my own horrible devices for pest removal. However, for every allergic reaction to an insect bite, I've seen a friendly face encouraging me to keep practicing my Chinese.

Daily walks, reading and rice
I've met students who rush over in excitement to greet me and learn what I'll be teaching them. I've met the babies who try to touch my hair and the mothers who shush them. I've met kind shop owners who bend over backwards to get my order right and I'm already a regular at my favorite restaurant for cold noodles.

China is different, no doubt about it, but a desire for sameness and easy comfort didn't put me on a 15 hour plane ride across the Pacific. Everything here is new, exciting, and an adventure because each day is completely unlike the last, and I'm here for it.