So, the last few days have been pretty eventful but at the same time uneventful. The only new thing I did was I took a bike ride straight east on Sunday to see what that part of town looked like, but I just happened to get lost and my 45 minute bike ride turned into a two hour one. It was still fun, and I think I learned more about the other half of the population because I came to the conclusion that really I live in the wealthier part of town. At least, this part of town is very touristy because of the West Lake. Still I had a great, very unnerving ride. Like I said before the traffic here is nuts and the huge number of crazy bikers and moped riders doesn’t help; I saw a moped collide with a bike and a car almost flatten several people. The weirdest part is that the chaos seems natural and just a part of life to them. But if you just go with the flow you’ll be pretty safe, which I did, and I was able to see some really cool things like an old section of the imperial city wall. I wasn’t able to take pictures for fear of falling over or getting hit by a car/bike, but I’ll go again and take some pictures of everything.
Monday seemed like a slower day, but was still really interesting. We had Chinese class in the morning and afternoon so that took up most of our day. Chinese class has to be my favorite part of the week because we learn something that can actually be used in daily life. We just learned how to say “what’s your name?” and later on I’ll explain how it already paid dividends. But the rest of class was pretty much spent on just learning how to say that because if you don’t know, Chinese is difficult. Not just hard to remember but just a lot to remember. You have to remember how it sounds, the tones, and the characters. What’s your name is spelled ‘Ni jiao shen me?’ but then you have to know that its tones. The tones are probably the most difficult part because there are four and to an English speaker they differ much from one another. But the tones are a 1. flat tone – , 2. rising tone / , 3. half falling half rising tone \/ , and a sharp falling tone \ . So, the tones for that sentence are ‘Ni\/ jia\o she/n me—?’ One of the examples of the importance of knowing the tones was Ma, which with each tone has a different meaning. Ma—means mother, Ma/ means hemp, Ma\/ means horse, and Ma\ means to scold. Crazy. The other example was that depending how you pronounce the word for to buy it could also mean sell. It’s fun though because it’s actually a class that we can participate in, rather than just getting lectured to.
So after that we went to lunch, and I ordered probably the most delicious thing I’ve eaten here. It’s sweet and sour pork and usually the things that you may recognize usually taste way different from in America, but this tasted amazing. Usually we go to the cafeteria and are unsure if we’ll like the food there because it’s always a gamble, but we found something that can always be a fallback, which is sooo unbelievably nice. Then after lunch we just hung out in the dorms until the next Chinese class. After that a couple of the people wanted to get their hair colored because why not. Well, they went to a hair place that’s just across the street from the campus, and this is how you can tell we’re spoiled by how cheap everything is, it would have cost about 40 dollars, which isn’t a bad price but in RMB it would be like 280 which sounds unreasonable. So they didn’t and they wanted to go to Walmart to get some hair dye just to do it themselves. Well seeing as I can navigate these streets really well, I led the way on bike. Truthfully, I had a very vague idea of where I was going, but we got to drive past West Lake and it was a clear night, so everything looked amazingly beautiful. I’m hesitant to put a picture up because I don’t think it’ll do it any justice. After a little confusion and a longer ride than expected we got there. Walmart only has black and brown hair dye so almost a wasted trip, but it was nice to get out and bike a little because back home it’s still below zero and there’s no way we could do anything active there. The rest of the night was spent listening to music and watching Dr. Horrible’s sing-along blog, which honestly was pretty amazing.
Tuesday (Today) started out slow because we don’t have any class until the afternoon so I decided to write a little bit, so I walked to the internet café which says it’s open 24 hours, but was closed. So I’m sitting in McDonald’s writing this, while the workers are screaming Chinese, and the delivery guys are jabbering away right next to me. I really love being in a different country so much.