Well, I can't see my own blog....but I can post via a different page. So if you're seeing this, leave me a comment and I will get it in my e-mail. Lots of webpages are blocked in China, including some of our favorites, but we shall try to keep lines of communication open!
This week has been pretty normal, with everyone getting their first colds and adjusting to homework. I have one interesting teacher that makes students sit outside if they are late for class...and I suddenly feel like I'm in elementary school in the 1950s. I have another older, well-educated professor who is a gentle spirit and full of good history. He tells stories of when he was exiled to the Northern countryside during Mao's "re-education" of the cultural revolution. It was so cold that tears froze before you could cry, and several of his classmates lost their earlobes to frostbite! I can't even imagine...
There is a Wu Mart across the street from our apartment complex. Gotta love the name. It is busier than its American counterpart, in that it has lines ever hour of every day that are like the Wal-mart lines the week before Christmas. We go there and buy entire little chickens for dinner that are so small because they aren't stuffed with the same hormones as the States. Every large chain grocery store is a noisy experience because people are paid by distributers to advertise individual products all day long. There is a lot of noise as people try to out-yell their counterparts and promote their samples in hopes of a sale.
We had an orientation this week from the Beijing police. It turns out that if you get into a fight with a local, you may be forced to leave the country. And if you buy a dog, you have to take it's picture and pay $75 to get it's picture ID and registration. One American stood up and said, "So what do I do if a guy is stealing my wallet? Can I punch him?" The answer: "It is illegal to fight, so you should just call the police phone number #110." Gotta love it...
We eat family meals at our apartment, and I love it. During breakfast and dinner almost every day, all three of us sit at the table together and drink lots of tea and talk about the day. Because they haven't been here before, I don't think my roomies realize exactly how great it is to be surrounded by good friends during the first weeks of living in China. It lessens the severity of culture and language shock and enhances experiences in general as you can share them with each other. It is a pleasant lifestyle...definitely the most pleasant out of the three times I've been in China.
Yesterday my class and some other new friends all went out to lunch for a group of 12 people. We were from the U.S., France, Germany, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Romania and maybe somewhere else. Walking away from the restaurant, I had such an immense appreciation for the existence of a common language, (English). I wouldn't care if it was Japanese, but without a common language, how would we all communicate? In that moment I was very thankful...First for having such a varied group of friends and second for even having the ability to exchange ideas and cultures at all.
Our group at lunch: