Thursday, June 26, 2008
so ive totally neglected myO lately. sorry 'bout that. not that anyone still reads this anyway.
holy crap, its really over. i just finished a semester-long study abroad in china. had my last test this morning. its done. my parents will be arriving here sunday and staying for a few days. then were all heading out to travel for 2 weeks. in just over 2 weeks, ill be back home. i swear this has gone by so fast. it was just march, or at least april.
overall, this has been a great trip, and i wouldnt have missed it for anything. sure there have been problems (lost passports and stolen ipods), but it could have been so much worse. ok, im going to basically summarize my trip and have a little "what i learned on this growing up experience", so feel free to stop reading now.
i arrived in beijing speaking very minimal chinese. id studied for a year and a half in the US, but it was pretty pathetic. while in beijing, we went to the forbidden city, beihai park, and the houhai district. my passport was lost on the night-train up to harbin, but i got it back 3 days later. once we got to heilongjiang university (hereafter refered to as heida), we took the placement test and started classes. ive been in the second level (out of 5). during my stay here, ive left harbin and been to dalian (a beach town) and mudanjiang (a small city). both were great trips. the traveling has been the best part so far. theres really not too much to do in harbin. i like the city, just because its so different and its absolutely fascinating to wander down the streets, but i just dislike large cities as a rule.
harbin is a little back-water city by chinese standards. its as far north as you can get and has 9million people. yeah, million. small town. other than central street (big shopping district) and sun island (big park), theres really not much to do. but again, its so different its most interesting.
i find it so odd that chinese people will be polite, forgiving of poor language and very respectful of the elderly, yet theres no concept of holding the door for someone, saying thank you, or letting the people on the elevator get off before shoving on. waiting in line is another foreign concept, as is personal space. we joke that we checked our personal bubbles on the west coast and will pick them up with our luggage. there are so many people here; pictures cant even begin to describe. this little american from a small city is a bit overwhelmed.
Another thing, this is the first time in my life ive ever been in the extreme minority. im from southern US: tall, pale, blonde hair/blue eyes. i stand half a foot taller than the majority of the population, and im amazingly visible. the stares are usually funny now. sometimes we make faces at the people staring at us. little kids think thats hilarious.
one good thing communism has done for china, theres a very strong sense of community and "our" country, "our" people. the sichuan earthquake united the country in a way ive never seen. the only thing i could compare it to was 9/11 back home. and now the olympics are the biggest thing to happen since the cultural revolution. the whole country is gearing up for it. i remember the couple times the olympics have been in the US, but even when it was near my state, we heard little about it. there was little promotion or anything outside of those cities. here, theres olympic stuff everywhere. ive already bought some keychains of the little olympic mascots http://images.beijing-2008.org/20070709/Img214108291.jpg and some tshirts. (good gifts, this stuff). the names of the mascots are beibei, jingjing, huanhuan, yingying, nini. beijing huanying ni. beijing welcomes you. kinda cool huh? (in chinese, doubling words like that is an affectionate thing. some of my friends here go by yanyan and chenchen for that reason)
so did i learn anything? i can fumble along in chinese well enough now. cant say too much, but what i can say, i can say well. i could go into the expected "i learned to be more tolerant of different cultures and habits", but i could also just say asians are kinda weird. (sorry guys, but its true) i think in the future ill be a better student and not slack off so much. i also know now that i can handle this real-world, away from mommy and daddy thing. i also learned that i dont appear to suffer jet-lag, and that i surprisingly miss my dog more than humans (hey, i can talk to the humans. cant pet the dog), and that i miss the food more than anything. you have any idea how badly i want a cheeseburger, bbq and a waffle? (not, ya know, at once) but i will miss the chinese food. (mmm noodles) tho i could do without ever seeing white rice again. holy crap do they eat rice. fried rice is wonderful, white rice is good, but i cant handle it at every meal of everyday.
ok, i think ive babbled enough now and likely no ones still reading this. (if you are, do you really have nothing better to do but listen to my rambling?)