It's twenty minutes before class and I am fourty minutes away and I just woke up. The program has been loading on the hours in the classroom and the classes are all intense and back-to-back for hours at a time.
Additionally, we had a class trip yesterday to a Chinese courtroom where we got the opportunity to see a music copyright infringement case from beginning to end in Chinese; they gave us interpreter headphones. The funny thing was the interpreter was snarling, burping, drinking, and breathing heavily into the microphone. Some of the girls from our program were cracking up laughing in the beginning from the unprofessional speaker. Real mature. I do have to admit it was funny though.
At one point the room became so hot that the temperature realistically was hovering around ninety degrees. We all were sweating and since they wouldn't let us leave for air, we were passing out in our seats. I actually mean that we were falling asleep. I resisted the temptation, but found myself waking up after dozing off. I was told that our whole program at one point was asleep; I am convinced that it was from the volume of work we were undertaking, combined with the heavy schedule and the fact that most of us were trying to see China in the process.
After the program was over, at one point, three of us left the tour -- running -- and headed over to the silk market. This was a place where they sold everything, or shall I say they sold replicas of everything for very good prices. I picked up some needed socks and undergarments because for the life of me I cannot find a laundromat here and the hotel charges very high prices -- 8Y or $1 per pair of socks -- to do laundry (pants and shirts and underware are considerably more expensive, also charged by the piece). It is actually cheaper to buy new clothes.
At the silk market, accidentally and by sheer luck, I met up with a guy who I met at the Rabbi's shabbos table last week. He was able to speak good Chinese, and over shabbos, he was telling me where I could buy a suit in China -- tailored and everything -- for very very cheap. He walked me through the process speaking Chinese for me to the tailors and I bought three custom tailored suits and three custom tailored shirts for less than one discount suit would cost here in the US. I will try them out on Sunday, and on Monday, they will be delivered to my hotel.
I also bought a luggage suit holder -- I've been looking for one of these for months because wherever I go, I usually dress in suits and button-down shirts. Originally, the vendors were asking 2500Y, but after some very smart negotiating, I bought it five locations later for 190Y which is the equivalent of around $23. It is leather, and it is fancy. I'm trying to figure out if the brand on it is real because they were trying to sell me for the price that I offered a bag that looked the same, but was made by an obvious knock-off brand, as if they were saving the model I bought for the high-rollers, or shall I re-phrase -- suckers. I also bought two Polo sweaters for a very reasonable price; I wonder if they are real. Anyway, please don't think that I'm sitting here in China splurging away cash; every purchase was needed. In fact, in line with my character, for every item I purchased, I already had it in a wishlist on my Palm detailing what I wanted to buy before I even entered the market. I knew what I needed, I found it, and bought it for a good price. Actually, I own one pair of gym pants that I purchased in 1998 which is beginning to get old, so I've known for a while that I needed a new one -- the one I purchased despite it being an XXXL, I should have known that Chinese sizes are smaller than American sizes, because it was too small when I took it home.
After my shopping experience, or shall I say my haggling experience, I made my way through the Chinese subway system back to the hotel. What an adventure. Anyway, it's 9am and my class just started; I have four of them today. Well, three because there was no way I could make it to the first one. I was up late last night reading, and then an hour or so after I fell asleep, a good friend of mine started ringing me on the internet phone not realizing that 3pm for him meant 3am for me. It woke me up and since I have no alarm clock (battery died) and the hotel is very inefficient at wake up calls (they don't always happen), I woke up late this morning.
Lastly, I feel like I haven't had time for anything and that the days are passing by so quickly. The hours are being absorbed between my program and commuting to and from the University to the hotel. Taxis don't help either in the morning because the Chinese haven't figured out that patience on the road avoids gridlock. I've never seen such gridlock as I've seen so consistently here. You would think that with a country of Chinese you would have smarter people. Wrong.
Anyway, I must head out or else I'll miss the next class too.