72 more days till stateside!

Posted by on October 7, 2012

So again I have to apologize for not updating when I said I would, because well the internet here in China is not reliable. For one, Sunday evening the internet crashed for the whole campus, so nobody could access internet. And then when the internet came back up last Monday they restarted the monthly fees, so even though I paid for this coming month the guy won’t be here until October 8th. So that is almost two weeks after I paid for a new month’s worth of internet. So am being forced to write this on a word document, put it on a USB, and use someone else’s computer to be able to post it online.
Well let’s see the last post I had was talking about the Great Wall and Diao Yu Islands. Since then the Diao Yu Islands ordeal has become less serious, at least on the protesting side of it. A couple of weeks ago on a Friday afternoon some of us went to the Summer Palace 颐和园. It was absolutely gorgeous except for the fact that the air pollution that day was around 250. Anything above 201 is said to be very unhealthy, or everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. While we were at the Summer Palace, a little Chinese girl in the middle of a temple, just sat down and started peeing. I was absolutely shocked, however the parents did not really seem concerned about it. Here in China, little kids often wear pants with holes in the back, to make it more convenient for parents to help their kids. However, lately I have noticed this just allows parents to hold their kid over a drain or a dry patch of grass to do their business for all to see. Anyways…At the Summer Palace I saw a statue of a dragon, really easy to find in traditional Chinese architecture, and I absolutely had to take a picture with it because my dad is loves saying the line from the movie Mulan, “I am the great stone dragon!”
That was the only break we had that weekend, because we had huge exams that next week. Talk about a lot of pressure. I think that Saturday and Sunday together, I probably studied over 20 hours. As I have said in previous blogs, school over here is extremely time consuming. When we are not in class, I am attempting to get some studying time in, because there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. And sometimes this even calls for waking up at the ungodly hour of 6am to finish homework before my 10am class.
For our huge exams that we had, they were all oral presentations ranging from 5-8 minutes, as well as a couple of essays. For my Hot Topics class, our exam was on blind dating sites in China 相亲网站,so I created an online profile on one of their Chinese blind dating sites and presented what kind of information these sites require you to give, and what other people are looking for in a person on these sites. I have never used an online dating site, so I do not know what kind of questions or what kind of information American sites ask you to give. But the Chinese sites want you to give information like your monthly salary and what kind of person do you want to marry.
Another thing that might be worth mentioning is that we went to 798, China’s SOHO district, two weeks ago for our Beijing class. Even though I had previously been to 798, it was fun to go back. 798 is a place where extremely avant-garde artists can feature their work. An example of how avant-garde some of the art is, my friends Cire and Brian went to an artist’s gallery, whose art was all about pregnant women. All in all, I got to take a lot of cool pictures, and witness a famous Chinese television show being filmed. The TV show was interviewing Chinese actresses about their upcoming films. However, because we were doing a class trip we could not stay and watch.
As I said in my previous post, I had planned to go to Xi’an for China’s National Day, but my stomach was not doing so well. I was really upset, because I had already bought my tickets to travel to Xi’an, and reserved a room at a hotel. Even though I was not able to go to Xi’an, our break was an absolutely blast. I got to relax, wake up when I wanted to, and hang out with other MIC (the program I’m doing) students. This break definitely has many stories that need to be told.
Over break a group of MIC students and I went to KTV twice, went shopping in a couple small markets in Xidan, witnessed an older Chinese woman start a huge confrontation on a bus, and got to experience Beijing’s late-night club scene. KTV is an absolute blast, if you like dance, sing, and sometimes act like an absolute crazy person…it is the place to be. Also our group of about five people went to one of Beijing’s most happening nightclubs, Element. I have never really experienced anything like this place back in the states. For starters, all girls get in free without having to pay the 100 块 entry fee. As soon as you walk in, you immediately hear the booming base of the music playing, and see so many foreigners you forget that you are in the middle of downtown Beijing. Right before we left this guy who worked at the club, a Chinese guy, came up and asked if I could speak Chinese. He really was impressed that I could speak Chinese, so you gave me his number so that the next time we came to Element we could get a table (typically 2,500 块) for free. This past weekend we took him up on that offer, and he held true to his word. We got a extremely nice table, with free champagne. However, that being said the club scene typically starts around midnight and can go until 6 am or longer. It goes without being said, going out can definitely wear you out.
Over break I also joined a gym. Which is extremely convenient because of how horrible the air pollution has been lately. The gym has the standard things like treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and weights. Even though the membership was quite expensive, it is definitely worth it. I am planning on getting my money’s worth; having already been 5 times in the last 6 days I would say I am doing a pretty good job. Another reason I am very happy for joining a gym is because after being in China 40 days I can no longer do more than one pull-up. Before I got to China I became a Crossfit junkie, and after working out at a Crossfit gym all summer I could do more than 10 pull-ups at a time. I am also having a difficult time attempting to figure out when the machine is asking for my weight in pounds or kilograms, or if the mileage is in kilometers or miles. This past week I have become a workout-junkie, if I don’t go run for 45 minutes or so, I will feel guilty for the rest of the day. Which is great because when I get back stateside, my dad and I are planning to do a half-marathon.
This past week, we luckily only had two days of class. In my one-on-one class we discussed the previous text and watched “The City of Life and Death”, which is film about the Rape of Nanjing. I recommend this movie to everyone. Even though is a really sad movie, you learn a lot about the Sino-Japanese War. (The movie is on Netflix, for those of you that want to check it out!) A couple of weeks ago we finished discussing Sino-American relations during World War II, and we are now discussing Sino-American relations during the Korean War. It is interesting to learn a different side to all of these topics, especially the portrayal of Americans during both of the wars. My next project for this class is our upcoming midterm on October 16th, and coming up with a 10-minute presentation to give our entire program (which is only ten students and their teachers…but still, lots of pressure) with regards to what I learned in the past six weeks of class about Sino-American relations.
Well tomorrow is the start of another full week of classes. I will try to post another blog this week about Beijing pizza and other little fun anecdotes about the past couple of weeks, before we leave for our short MIC group weekend vacation. For now مع السلامة . (goodbye in Arabic)

2 Responses to 72 more days till stateside!

  1. Bill H

    Wow! What a post. Thanks for sharing and taking all the time to write this.

  2. LindsleyHarner

    Wonderful update. Love hearing about all of your stories finally since you haven't had internet for almost 10 days! :-)