Ahhhhh wow hi. I’m sitting in our hotel lobby (free wifi!). It looks like this:
I know, right? There’s a guy playing the piano at the bar downstairs and singing the song “Angie.” (Pretty sure there’s nobody at the bar… awkward.)
Ummmm good morning, giant smoke stack. I’ll be thinking of you every time I breathe today.
Today was our first full day here, and unfortunately, not the most eventful! We had an orientation session in the morning about basic safety and cultural immersion tips. Next we hopped a bus to the Tsinghua Campus to register as students. There are 9 of us going to Tsinghua. There’s about 30 people all together in the program. Most of them will be headed to Shanghai at the end of orientation.
Tsinghua’s campus is enormous… people have been describing it to us as a small city. We’ve all been advised to purchase bikes (and then to rub them with dirt so they don’t attract too much attention for being new) as the best way to get around campus. We ate at a dining hall (more like a sit down restaurant with waitstaff and menus, fortunately with pictures.) The food here is definitely an experience in and of itself. I’ve eaten pig(?) stomach, chicken liver, some crazy black fungi things, lotus root, some weird spice that makes your tongue feel cold… yum. Our meals had been family style, which means round tables with a huge glass lazy susan. Each place is set with a glass, a soup bowl and spoon, a small plate (like a bread plate) and chopsticks. There are no serving spoons, so everyone uses their chopsticks to grab what they want as the dishes rotate around (although it’s rude to dig around too much).
So after lunch we headed to the International Student Center for registration. Apparently, I missed the memo that we needed to bring 2 passport photos with us (HOW DID I MISS THAT?!) So I didn’t have 照片(pictures) and they weren’t thrilled. I also couldn’t remember my Chinese name in characters, and it was apparently really important that I have one with characters, so I held up the line while I tried to say my name with the right tones so they could guess the characters… awkward. She ended up getting it right though! My Chinese name looks like this: 朱丽 娅 . In pinyin, it’s Zhu li ya, which is pronounced pretty much exactly like Julia. It’s not the best name because most Chinese names have auspicious or double meanings from homonyms, where as mine is just a phonetic transcription. Anyway, so after wading through registration (travesty) and promising up and down I would get my picture taken ASAP, (our in country guide later told me not to worry, if the school really needed it they would contact her and I could do it then) we sat down to take our language placement test. IT WAS HARD. I wouldn’t mind getting placed at the beginning level, but I’m worried I won’t get credit for the final semester of Chinese at UMW (intermediate level). Anyway, we’ll be placed in a few days. We then waited around for a while, so we could time our dinner with the other kids in our group who weren’t registering at Tsinghua. The dinner tonight was amazing. It was at a duck restaurant in a hutong (old insulated traditional neighborhoods)…. this is the first sign that we were getting close….
More tomorrow… It’s 9:41pm here, which means it’s 8:41am at home, which makes this my second all nighter in row. Goodnight!