Hello everyone. I am in Xi'an, and everything is okay. I pretty much had to hack my way out to get this to you, and it will be much more difficult than it was in Beijing. All that I needed to do there was to run an anonymous server and re-route my internet connection to look as if my browser request was coming from another country, namely the US. Here I cannot do that, because any server that is not on a list of Chinese permitted servers is blocked and is inaccessible. I had to dial out using the hotel phone and log into a SLIP/UNIX server to get to a terminal window which I used to obtain an international IP and then use that to connect. Crazy, eh?
Anyway, I'm checking my e-mail now and I'm going to upload a blurb on what is going on in China, but blogging will be severely limited until I arrive back in Beijing next Sunday. Everything is okay. I've primarily been focusing on my studies because the professors are really nailing it to us regarding volume and if I don't keep up with the hundreds of pages each night I will sincerely be lost because the speed at which they are going in class is mind boggling.
Personally, I am okay. I am going through some self-discovery where I am realizing that for many years I have been blinded to a piece of the person I am now realizing that I have been all along. I tried singing the other day -- really singing out loud alone in a place where my voice can resonate, and I got so excited that I broke into a sweat and my heart raced and my palms sweated from the excitement. Apparently, I still have a voice which I haven't heard in years. I thank my recent experience before I left to China for bringing this out in me, and when it comes to lessons learned from unexplained experiences, I hope this is one of them and I hope I am onto something.
I'm not going to drop everything I've been doing and run away into a new profession and a new lifestyle, chos v'sholom (G-d forbid). But, what I am going to do is expand a bit and become a worldlier person, exploring this world of the arts that has been dark and abandoned by me for so many years. I realize that I have limited my interests by my circumstances, and I realized that I am far more than I have let on to even myself who I am. This will be an interesting trick, however, because I have dug myself into a corner on many aspects of my life which I'll need to do some breaking out to move forward. I am sure some of my friends who met me after this stage of my life will find my new interest strange and out of character, but I trust that they’ll help me to adjust. I hope that G-d gives me the strength to realize these changes and that they are seen as favorable in His eyes.
Xi'an overall is okay, but it feels bigger than Beijing even though it is smaller. I am feeling a bit pressured here because everything is in the hotel, and so outside the hotel doors are a foreign world to me that is unfamiliar and scary. I will venture out today because I don't have enough food to last the week, and so I am not sure what I'll do because kosher food isn't available here. It looks like I will live on rice, vegetables, and fruit. I just have to find a market to get these supplies.
As for socially, I am feeling disconnected from the program because I have not attended any of the events that are on Friday nights or Saturday because I've been observing the Sabbath. However, it has been during those times that people have been bonding by going out to dinners, to bars, and on the organized trips to see the sights. Unfortunately, I have not been with them, and so the only times I see them are in class where everyone is stressed. During the evenings after classes, generally the people on our program have been going out to dinner, then to karaoke bars and getting drunk and then ending up in some dance bar. Again, activities I have not participated in.
Lastly, my Indian ex-room mate has not helped things either because it seems that as soon as I moved out in fear that I might say bad things about him (which I have been careful not to say anything bad about him when people asked why I abruptly moved out and requested a single room), he began spreading lies about me which I find to be completely childish. Anyway, he has not made things easy, and to my surprise, I saw him wearing an Arafat hat with a shirt with Arabic written on it. Forgive me if I am naive, but are there Arabs in India? It turns out that from speaking to others, he is a major Jew-hater. I would have thought otherwise from all his questions during our initial conversations. My luck; anyway, I am glad I moved out when I did.
Lastly, I wish I had a more positive message; I am enjoying China and am enjoying learning their culture and their language, and I am enjoying the program. I wish I had some of my friends or family with me here because I am sure that seeing the sights would be an exciting experience (and I will try to squeeze some sightseeing into my trip), but it is no fun to do it alone. I'd rather do it with someone I love. It's lonely here.