Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Let’s see... How do I say this? An interesting character trait of mine... I'll exert and exert not realizing when I've gone way past the threshold point where many people would stop... Then without crashing, my body adjusts and I’ll disappear for a day, only to resume activities the next day as if nothing has happened.

After classes yesterday, I convinced my room mate that it was better for each of us to have our own separate rooms. We checked out, settled the bill, and then we checked back in our respective rooms.

I was awe struck when I saw my new room -- when I say new, I mean literally new! Everything is made from dark brown oak wood, and the lights are small halogens in the ceiling. The bed has a pillow filled with beads, and a down blanket. The dark grey rough marble stone bathroom has a bathtub and a light with a pink glow that shines from beneath the sink onto the floor. I feel like I am in a Sharper Image catalogue, especially with the HDTV monitor attached to the wall in front of the bed.

I spent most of last night unpacking and repacking because I have been living out of my bags since I got here. I watered my sprouts, and I started my vegetable garden in the room because the vegetables I purchased at the market tasted very strange. The vegetable sprouts I am growing take around 3-4 days before they are fully grown. I am not sure what else I did other than charge batteries with my new battery charger (I blew out the old one because the voltage here is twice as strong as in the US), cook dinner (rice with soy sauce), and get organized, but by the time I laid down to bed, it was past 2 am.

My Chinese is getting better. I am finding that from the words I've been learning, I've been able to piece together sentences to the point where a native Chinese speaker would be able to figure out what I am saying. Last night, I went to an electronics store and negotiated for my friend a deal on an electronic Chinese-English dictionary. The funny part was trying to explain to them that he doesn't speak or read Chinese, so we needed the transliteration of the Chinese words on the dictionary screen. They call that Pinyin, if I remember the word correctly.

For myself, I negotiated an IBM DVD/CD burner for far below US market price. Generally, things here are so much cheaper, but when it comes to electronics, the Chinese really try to keep prices on par with US prices. However, as far as I understand it, since the cost is so much lower to produce, their profit margins are so much higher, which allow them to sell things at a lower price if you ask them with enough determination. Anyway, so after walking away from the shopkeeper after getting a price that I was ready to pay, I came back with an amount of cash that was slightly above my original asking price -- around 50Y under our final negotiated price. I was hesitant buying hardware from a market, especially because it was 1) likely a fake as are most of the things made in China, and 2) there was no guarantee that it would even work. Nevertheless, I felt comfortable after he offered me a 3-year warrantee plan on the device (which need I say, I did not take). When he had my cash in his hands, even though it was less than the amount he wanted, he couldn't say no. I suppose there is something psychological about holding the actual wren (Chinese dollars) as opposed to just writing numbers down on a piece of paper in a price negotiation. I laughed (and sighed) when I took the unit home because it worked; however, it was a Sony model, not an IBM.

After seeing the clock move past 3am last night, I realized that I needed to get to bed for today's class. Today the plan was that after our classes, we were supposed to have a trip to the patent office and then to some science museum that I was excited to go to. The problem was that this morning, I did not wake up and since the curtains were drawn so tightly shut; I did not see that the sun had risen. This was a mess up on my part. I don't know why, because unlike my natural inclination to wake up at 6am after sleeping for only three hours, I woke up instead seven hours later which meant that I missed my classes for the day. This is a bad thing, but I don't know what to say or do except to suck it up and make sure I don't do that again. I'll need to pay more attention to my sleep patterns, especially because I am on a twelve-hour jet lag which sometimes makes me feel that the middle of the night is really the middle of the day.

Otherwise, everything is okay. I leave to Xi'an on Thursday with the program on a twelve hour rickety-rackety train ride through rural China. I have been excited to see this part of China since I arrived here, because so far, all I have seen is the equivalent of a polluted New York City on a hot, summer day. It's almost 1pm here, and I have a headache from the stress I experienced earlier today that I missed classes and the tour. My plan for today is to be a hermit, and to stay in the room, take a bath, do some reading for tomorrow's class, and to not see people. I am, after all, an introvert at heart.

1 comment:

Rowan said...

I know that horrible feeling! Thinking you've awoken with plenty of time and then realizing it's practically evening....gives your heart a jump, doesn't it?

Good luck with your studies.