Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In China

《洋鬼浅见》的读者们也许---(all right, if they won't let me speak English, they'll at least have to let me write it)--- Readers of the Foreign Devil will perhaps be happy to hear that this blog, this notorious source of unwholesome and subversive material, has been banned by the government of the People's Republic of China. Even if I have got caught up in the China craze that seems almost universal in colleges these days, I've kept at least enough credibility as a partisan of the free world to maintain an illegal blog. And to the moral victory of exercising my God-endowed right of free speech, I've added the technological victory of finding away around the Great Firewall of China. To be honest I'm not sure how it works (Mr. Fang would know more about such technological trickery), but it does work.

On June 13th I left my home in lovely Mahwah (at left), and said good-bye to the place for the summer. It was a very 哭笑不得 moment, but however excited I was by the prospect of living in Beijing or anguished by the prospect of leaving home, I stopped first at the doctor's for a regularly scheduled appointment, where it was found that contrary to the opinions of some readers of the Foreign Devil, there is nothing significantly wrong with me. And from there to China. I slept through almost the entire flight, which is probably the only way to spend fourteen and a half hours in an economy-class seat and emerge with one's sanity.

My room in Beijing, No. 1006 in the Seventeenth Dormitory of the Beijing Language and Culture University, is nice enough, as can be seen below:
And there's also this room, where I can take care of any necessities that the hygienic standards of restaurants in this country may give rise to. There's no separate shower; the bathroom itself serves as a shower stall: I just close the door and ducharme (or 洗淋浴, as the case may be).

Beijing is a big enough city that I can get everything I need; to the left shows the first breakfast I ate here, purchased at the No. 3 Cafeteria (in background). It was just 馒头 and 包子, and not especially delicious, but I've subsequently found the first and second cafeterias are much better. On campus there's even a 穆斯林食堂 where I can get excellent (and apparently halal) lamb kebabs, with which the program's secretary tormented some inadequately Chinesed students by telling them they had eaten rat. I've also found and joined a gym, where hopefully I can keep in shape until the fall. There's a more than adequate gym on campus, but unfortunately it is closed to students these days, since it's being used for training by the Olympic basketball teams. I haven't seen any Olympians yet, though.

What with all the work I have here (the teachers claim that we cover every day what a college curriculum does in a week, and they're not exaggerating by much), I'm more or less as busy as I was during the school year, but I will try to post updates as often as I can. I'm writing this in the dormitory lobby, where I get free internet access, and in which I get to watch the surprisingly entertaing spectacle of Koreans and Italians trying to speak Chinese. I know I speak Chinese with an American accent, but it's nice that there are some people who make me look good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"there is nothing significantly wrong with me"

Lies! Nice room though =)

-- Max