A Travellerspoint blog

First Day of Class!

Two days late, fufufu...

sunny

First day of class:

Typed on 9/16/2010 :/

Classes have been taking up a lot of my time. I swear I’m not slacking off on updating this….sorta.

I’m still waking up around 4am-ish at this point, which gave me enough time to get ready for class. Class starts at 8am and ends at 11:40am. I LOVE getting everything done in the morning and having the rest of the day to do whatever. I also enjoy being able to explore an area at my leisure with none of the “you have to be back on the bus in two hours” or “you don’t have time to do this because we have to meet back here soon.”

No more of that. Needless to say, I’m ecstatically happy.

On my way to class, I double checked the bulletin board to make sure I was headed for the right room. I was curious as to who all made it into the Advanced level classes. I glance up to where theirs is posted and see almost no one but Asians, haha. Lucky kittens got a head start on the Eastern languages :-P I’m so jealous of them :/

Class was pretty nice. We have different teachers; one for listening, one for speaking, and one for reading. They’re all really nice, but what I like most about them is that 99 percent of what they say is in Chinese. They only speak English when they’re telling us the meaning of a word no one knows or if they’re using a word/phrase that they know we don’t know. The listening teacher especially flows so well from Chinese to English and back to Chinese that you wonder if she just spoke English at all, haha.

For today, we had listening and reading, methinks. Two of the book covers look very similar, so I always forget which is which. I’m excited to know that I can understand a good portion of what’s being said, even though they’re speaking at native speed.

We have ten minute breaks every hour, so I slinked around the supermarket in the basement. I’m so glad that I’m so close to food :D

After class I went back to the dorm (I made myself stay there so my aching joints could heal…). I read and surfed the net for a while.
I started up a self-heating meal that I got at the supermarket. I’d never seen anything like it :O It was a garlic chicken rice dish (I loves me some rice). Apparently, there’s this ‘heat pack’ with some substance in it that I hoped was the next poisonous element on the periodic table. Oh, I’m terrible. /:D

There’s also a pack of water sealed to the bottom of the container. After opening rice and chicken contents, I put the heat pack over the water, set the bowl with the chicken/ rice on it, close the lid to the entire thing, then pull this string that apparently breaks the water bag so water comes in contact with the heat pack and ten to fifteen minutes later, voila.

I was kind of paranoid at first. Like, will something explode? The instructions said the container heats to over 100F, I think, in ten seconds.

They weren’t lying.

I want to buy a bunch of those and bring them back to the states. I mean, the food isn’t all that great, but it’s so cool to heat it! I’m going to try the other flavors later on :O

Around 6pm, my roommate finally returned. I thought she was visiting her parents, but it turned out she was taking a trip with her friends. We talked for a little bit but then she had to go to class. She’s got class from 7pm-9pm everyday.

Still jet-lagged, I fell asleep a little before 9pm. I really like getting up super early, but I hate going to bed so soon since I like to study and read at night. I’m sure before long I’ll have my regular sleep schedule, but I wouldn’t mind waking up at 5am every morning but going to bed mayhaps around 11 or 12. We’ll see.

Posted by CelLung 14:36 Archived in China Tagged of day first class Comments (0)

>^..^<

meow

86 °F

Ah, today was another day of discoveries :O

I stayed in the dorm until I noon to leave to find out which class I was in and to buy my books. I tested for Elementary Level II (out of three levels). I was hoping for Intermediate I, but then again, my hearing isn’t anywhere near where I want it to be and I know less than 1000 characters :X There was a note on the board saying we could switch classes if we wanted to. We just needed to talk to a teacher (and prove our linguistic worth). I first wanted to flip through my textbook and gauge the first day of class before I attempt to switch.

While I waited to buy books (the store didn’t open til 1pm so I had a little under an hour to spare) I searched for the basement of the student service center. I found it after following some random students and found one of the bookstores. I found an arseload of Chinese-English dictionaries, even one geared toward the HSK. I think I will buy that one later. To my amazement I found Chinese books on the GRE. I flipped through one of them and found words like “barbeque”. I guess their GRE is different? Or mayhaps not everyone knows what a barbeque is? Who knows?

My main reason for sniffing out the basement area was for one of the supermarkets. Yes, I’m in love with Chinese supermarkets. And I found it! The Zijing supermarket (not to be confused with the Zhaolanyuan supermarket I went to yesterday) is a pretty good sized store. It’s got both home products and food :D I was SO happy there was a market that didn’t require a twenty minute walk. My lower back is pretty much shot from all the walking I’ve been doing. I’m going to invest in getting a bike soon :/

I still want to search for the other two market areas, but when I can stand upright for more than half an hour :/

Anynoodles, I briefly scouted this supermarket then went back up to buy my books. There was a long line (my back complained) but I had a light conversation with a Japanese student. He was pretty nice and named Mao. He got into the Intermediate I class. I should have asked him if he’d help me with my Chinese :O

I finally got my books and skimmed through them. I wanted to make sure that if I stayed in this class, given the course material, I would be pushed more than ‘re-learning’ what I already knew. From what I’ve seen, there a many characters I’ve never learned before, as long as grammar structures I haven’t been taught. I have three books. A 口语篇 (spoken articles), 综合篇 (comprehensive articles), and a 听力篇 (listening articles). None of the Cds works, which sucks. I don’t know if it’s technological incompatibility or what. Anyway, from what I’ve skimmed, I think I may be in the right level, but I’m going to wait until tomorrow/first day of class to see for sure.

To some degree, I do trust Tsinghua’s judgement. I don’t need to pull another Georgia Tech and be thrown in to a bunch of material I need to scramble to learn JUST to keep up. Crazy hornets.

From there I decided to walk back to the dining card charge station. I ended up going a block or two out of the way accidentally, much to my lower back’s chagrin, only to find the place closed til 2:30pm. I thought ‘screw it, but back is too jacked up so I’m going back to the market to buy some dinner and hunker down in the dorm for the rest of the day’. So, I did just that. I bought a few snacks and some instant noodles for dinner. I’m praying to the heavens that this doesn’t jack me up like the ramen did in my first time in China. I don’t even know if that’s what actually made me sick. Anyway, here’s hoping. I’ve been popping multivitamin pills everyday so far, so let’s hope that will counter anything negative.

I only have six days of class til Mid-Autumn Festival lets us out for three days. I need to decide what to do and where to go. I also need to buy a moon cake to munch on. Tradition and all that ;D

I’ve been scheming to go to the Beijing Natural History Museum. I loves me some animals. I’ve read up a little on it and it seems nowhere near the….condition….of Shanghai’s. Haha.

I’m also planning on hitting up some bookstores. There are about three on Tsinghua’s Campus, one of them having a special area for foreign language, but I also spotted one on Xichang’an when I was scouting for a Western Union. It was a pretty big building :D Two bookstores are on Wangfujing as well. Ah, I have four months to scout, but I really want to hit up those bookstores. I plan on going back to that bookstore in the basement of the student service center to buy that HSK dictionary deal. I also spotted an English translation book, but I could work it both ways since it was in Chinese. Ah~ so many books to buy. Even a book on English idioms broken down into Chinese <3

In other news, I finally turned on the t.v. in my room and searched for some cartoons and soap operas. I can sort of keep up with the vocab I know for one of the cartoons. Something about two weasels going after these chickens.

School starts tomorrow, I hope the noodles don’t put me out of commission, and I’m already a tad sleepy. I woke up about 5-ish this morning, so I’m slowly getting over jet lag. I have class from 8-11:40am. It will be nice to get class out of the way early on and have the rest of the day to study and relax at my leisure. Morning classes are good like that. The other option we had was 1-4:40pm :O I’d hate to have a random block of class in the middle of my day D: I’m glad they let me have my pick of the early morning class. It’ll SUCK when it gets cold because I like to stay warm under the covers.

OH WELL. I picked my poison. Both time options have pros and cons, I guess. Won’t matter much. Every website on Beijing weather says January will be the coldest month (mid to low 20s) so it won’t much matter what time I’m out and about. I need to buy some down jackets before the really cold weather sets in :X

On a random note, I haven’t seen any stray cats around. Am I really in China? Haha.

Posted by CelLung 14:52 Archived in China Comments (0)

I learned many things today!

And in the process, killed my lower back :(

sunny 86 °F

Starting with....

The Lotus supermarket. For the, what? Second? Third day in a row?....I trekked twenty minutes into 'civilization' I found the building and went inside. All I saw were a bunch of clothing vendors next to a restaurant or two. I circled around and went back outside, a wee bit frustrated.

"I can't handle anymore disappointment." I thought. I saw shopping carts parked outside and a woman carrying a whole thing of toilet paper. I was convinced that I missed something because they had to get that from *somewhere*, so I went back inside and slinked around a bit more. I found a pair of escalators just around a corner (nice building plan, China) and went up. THERE was the supermarket I was looking for :D The floor I came up to was all the house/office/bath body beauty stuffs. I wanted to get food first, so I went up one more level.

Lotus is definitely no Carrefour (as far as the large selection) but it still offered a thing or two. I bought some chocolate muffins for breakfast/snack, a 1L thing of apple juice, and bread. I then went back downstairs to get a hand basket and got some cute sticky notes, a mini notebook and some filler paper to practice my Chinese characters.

I also spotted a Chinese graphic novel that was actually a graphic novel, not just a novel, haha. What I am led to believe are comics are actually 90% characters and very few pictures :( This one had pictures! BUT, it was on volume 3 and I couldn't find the previous 2 :*(

I bought my stuff and ambled my way back to campus. The morning was still pretty cool (I left a little before 10am, mayhaps?). I'm thankful for the cool breezes that come in from the mountains :)

I hunker down for the next few hours, eat lunch in my dorm, and surf the net. I rechecked the map for the supermarket that sorely disappointed me yesterday. Except this time, I checked the ACCURATE official campus map, not the "campus sketch map" they have in the manual that is grossly disproportionate.

Feeling adventurous, I made my way back out into the wild, Chinese yonder. About twenty-ish minutes out (it's this long because there are few shortcuts where you can cut across an area...darn sports fields...) I realize I'm in the area, but no supermarket to be found. Of course, I didn't know exactly what to look for...

I doubled back and went into this one store that sold a lot of home wares, clothes, school supplies, etc. They even had a place in the back to pick out fabric and they had the old school sewing machines to boot! If only I spoke enough Chinese to have something custom made for me. One day soon...one day....

On my way in I noticed another section of a store that was blocked by metal gate things. I wanted to see if it had food since that's what I really wanted, so I made my way back out and searched for another entrance. I found it, along with aisles of food. It wasn't huge like Carrefour or Vanguard, but it held enough. I bought a few more things that I could manage to carry back.

I made my way back towards the other side of campus without really using the map. I decided to put money on my dining card while I was out there and managed to go in the right direction towards the building. Too bad I needed my stupid student ID number and couldn't remember it. UGH. I was very displeased with myself.

At this point in the game, my lower back felt like it wanted to punch me in the face and leave me for dead. Near the dorms there was an ever so slight dip in the sidewalk and as I walked down, my back went "PAYBACK, BITCH" and tiny little pins and needle sensations erupted just enough to make me gasp.

I considered getting my ID then going back to one of the dining halls to put money on the card, but I decided to hunker down in my dorm so my back could repair itself. I've done SO much walking in the past three days that I need to give my body a rest. Tomorrow I really want to go to the Yuanmingyuan Park which is mayhaps a 15-20 minute walk to the other side of campus, but I really need to let my legs and lower back take a breather. I Googled pictures of it and it looks gorgeous, but alas, I will rest. No matter how much I want to explore :(

I already feel myself getting sleepy and it's only 6:22pm, haha. I think I'll eat something and then head to bed. I'm such an old lady :/

Posted by CelLung 17:55 Archived in China Comments (0)

Another free day :O

And free days are the best :D

sunny 63 °F

Picking up from 9/11/2010

I had a good two hours of rest before I headed out to the orientation. I left around 1:20-ish since I didn't know how long it was going to take me to get to the location. It took about ten minutes and the building overlooked this really pretty green area with flowers and stuffs. I made my way in and paused at the mini art gallery they had set up.

I arrived a little early, so I read a book while I waited for the orientation to start. They basically went through everything that was in the manual (I could have skipped the orientation, but oh well...).

I was already in the middle of campus, so I decided to hunt down the Zijing supermarket. Forgive my American-trained mentality, but when I see/hear "supermarket", I'm thinking of what I went to the day before in the apartment complex. Food and house items. Even if it's on a smaller scale. It was a tiny, slightly open air market with fruits and vegetables and such. Admittedly, I was disappointed. For a campus decidedly far removed from Chengfu Rd, or as I call it, "civilization", I thought Tsinghua would have a been more to the store. Ah well, there are other "supermarkets" on campus.

Tired and sore from walking so much, I made a trip to the meal/dining building to buy a meal card. Genius me didn't put money on it yet (I thought they gave you a set amount when you bought it...) so a guy in the cafeteria helped me buy a bowl of beef noodle soup. It was really good, but I shouldn't have eaten something so hot on a hot afternoon :/

I returned to my dorm around 6pm and immediate hopped in the shower and washed my hair since I felt a bit sticky and blah.

By 7:30pm I was almost falling over asleep, so I went to bed a few minutes after :O I couldn't tell if I was jet-lagged or because I'd walked a few miles that day.

I later woke up around 4am and read a little before eating breakfast (yogurt, a banana, and some crackers) and surfing the net. I found a supermarket called Lotus that's pretty nearby on Chengfu Rd. I wish a Carrefour was closer, but ah well. There's one further down, but it's a trip best made by bus or taxi. Buses are only 1RMB (.68 USD) buuuut I can't read the schedules yet, them being in Chinese and all. I will figure that out, but in the meantime, I can give my calf muscles a workout and walk places. I'm hurting for some bread :) China has some of the best bread I've ever eaten. And the bakeries~ yaaay.

But now, I will got check to see when Lotus opens. They may be open already since it's almost 8am. Yeah, by days start so early /:O

Ah, and before I forget, as I walked back to campus from the bank, I happened to look up and see mountains in the distance. How cool. BEAT THAT, KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY! Get those mountains out of your logo, I don't see any mountains from your campus, haha. I jest, I jest.

Posted by CelLung 16:35 Archived in China Tagged lotus_chengfu rd Comments (0)

Aaand we're back

Things are FINALLY looking up...

sunny 84 °F

Ah, where to start?

As of 9/10/2010

I put in for a Western Union money transfer the day I arrived. In the mean time, I looked up banks/post offices with Western Union. I found one in the Xicheng district, kind of like the financial district of sorts, in Beijing. I wrote down the address: 西长安路14号 West Chang'an Rd building 14.

Simple, yes? It wasn't.

Before all of that, I was half starved because I had a limited amount of money on me, so I wondered over to a supermarket that I thought was on campus, but it was among apartments adjacent to the campus. Apartments for the teachers, mayhaps?

Anywho, on the way there I passed by a mini market selling fruit and bought some bananas and two peaches.

I finally made it to the supermarket and bought some peach yogurt (me and Chinese yogurt, teehee...) and some black sesame seed crackers (to go with my Nutella).

I made my way back to the dorms, got something solid in my stomach, and geared up for my trip to the bank.

It was way across town so I had to take the subway. The address I looked at wasn't on an official Western Union site, but they had a bunch of locations where I could find banks and such that offered the services.

I was a little excited and nervous to take the subway, especially since it was by myself on a route I hadn't taken before. It was about a twenty minute walk to Wudaokou Station (五道口站). It was nothing like Hangkou's station where there's actual visual stimulation when you walk to it. There was nothing but an old factory, a few buildings, the railway for the subway, and empty parking lots. It's not until you get to Chengfu Rd (城府路)that you get to actual civilization. Bunches of restaurants, stores, and such, including the subway station.

I had to buy a ticket from a ticket vendor inside because the stupid machine wouldn't take paper money and I only had 1 and a half yuan when I needed 2 >:(

If you ever need to get to that part of town, take Line 13 (yellow) at Wudaokou station and ride it to Xizhimen, a transfer point. Transfer to Line 4 (green) and get off at Xidian. The entire process took about an hour (including the twenty minute walk).

Here's where the day began falling apart.

I stared at Google Map for a good few minutes, memorizing landmarks and locations and such. I saw that the aforementioned building I needed was on Xichang'an and to my left. To my understanding, the subway station divides the streets up. To the north of it is Xidian N St., the West is Fuxingmen Inner St., the south Xuanwumen Inner St, and the East is ironically Xichang'an St. I even looked on a MAP they had on the sidewalk corner. I saw the YOU ARE HERE bubble. Everything matched up. I THOUGHT I was in the right place, but I look for the building number and it's building 80.

I needed building 14.

SO I walk ALL THE WAY down the street, it dead ends into a hutong area, I back track, start asking people where the address is, and I get a few "I don't know"s or someone who points in a general direction.

I walked all the way back to the map, made sure it was the right street, walked halfway down it again, looped back around to the main street, crossed under the street to the other side, walk up Xidan N St., back tracked, and walked down the other side of Xichang'an.

There was a row of buildings with banks/ATM machines/self serve banking and all that, and the buildings were numbered 15-1,15-2, etc...so I thought A-ha! I'm close!

No.

I went into one of the small banks and asked a women about the address and she said go down this street and make a left at the first corner I came across.

The first "corner" went into an apartment/condo type thing...or something that looked official, and I walked down until I couldn't see any buildings that looked bank-ish. SO, I asked another woman standing in front of a store. She and a guy sitting near told me to go ACROSS THE STREET on the other side.

I was like, I was just directed to go down THIS side to find it, and now someone else is telling me it's on the other side of the street?

Long story short, I never found it, asked maybe 7 people total, was dehydrated, partially lost, hungry, pissed, still broke, and walked for about four hours straight.

I didn't want to risk spending what little money I had left on a taxi, especially since traffic was picking up. Much to my chagrin, I got back on the subway for the hour-ish journey back to campus.

Brief aside: Beijing subway, at least to get to line 4 from line 13, is HUGE.

My feet were hurting, I had sores on the them, my back started to hurt, but I sucked it all up and trudged on. That's what having two parents in the army will teach you, hey?

I stopped on Chengfu Rd at a KFC to get some food in me (it was the one time in my life I was searching for a McDonald's and couldn't find one. GO FIG.) I got a spicy chicken sandwich that I prayed wouldn't jack up my stomach and a small order of french fries. I then trekked the twenty minutes back to campus, trying to beat the sun as it set.

I arrived in one piece, half-limped around to take a shower and refresh myself (a cold shower, but not by choice), laid on the bed and ate/tried to find another RELIABLE place with Western Union.

Maybe half an hour in I got sleepy. So, I went to bed around 9:30pm, haha. I wake up in the middle of the night worried about getting the wire transfer and whether or not I'd have time to find a place, get it, and make it back to campus in time for the 2pm orientation. I lay in bed for a while and realize I'm not going to sleep any time soon. I looked at my watch and it's 3:30-ish AM. I begin my search once again for a bank or post office.

9/10/2010

After a ridiculous amount of time searching, I find some branched off site of Western Union that let's me find an location by country/city/district instead of just country, city, and zip code. I look for Haidian District and see that there's one just off of Chengfu Rd, which is fairly close to campus.

I left around 10am and took a taxi, knowing it wouldn't cost me too much at that distance and that I would be too pressed for time if I walked. We find it without a hitch and I was able to get the transfer! I was so happy! Last time I tried it, my name didn't match up since I didn't know my name was supposed to match the one on the passport. On my passport they have my first and middle names as my first name, but I put down only Solis as my first name and it didn't go through.

I was so happy I WALKED back to campus, the entire 30 minute journey. I think the feel of the walk will become less the more I make it. I stopped by KFC again and treated myself to a soft serve cone and egg custard tart :D

I made it back with plenty of time to rest and recharge for orientation. Next I will buy a dining card so I can finally check out the cafeteria.

More to come later :D

Posted by CelLung 21:26 Archived in China Tagged things western look union_ up_ Comments (3)

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