The next morning we were up bright and early (more like everyone else was up at 4am and I was the only one who was remotely adjusted) for orientation. There was breakfast downstairs starting an hour before our meeting but I decided to go down a little later and have a shower. The shower was actually pretty decent, although I completely flooded the entire bathroom (it’s unavoidable). After my shower I was getting ready, putting lotion on before I finished getting dressed, when all of a sudden there was a knock on the door. “One second!” I yelled in English, not knowing who it was. A woman replied in rapid Chinese on the other side of the door. “One second!!!” I yelled again, trying to pull on my jeans and make myself suitable. Once I was fully dressed I opened the door “Keye da sao ma?” what. “keye da sao ma?” she repeated. what? She then showed me her cleaning supplies.. oh? We have maid service? “keye” I said, which means “you can”. She and another woman stormed into the room with a broom and swept, took out the trash and mopped our room in about 50 seconds.
I eventually made my way downstairs about 15 minutes before orientation. To my surprise, everyone was already down there. Suffering from jetlag they’d all woken up ridiculously early. We first went over health and safety tips: don’t drink the tap water, pedestrians never have the right of way, even on the sidewalk you can still be mauled by a bicycle (or even a car!), etc etc. Don’t get in a fight with anyone because even a girl can still get punched in the face- basically never drink alcohol or attempt to walk anywhere or you will die. My favorite part was when Marketus told us not to go to Mix or Vicks (two huge crazy night clubs right next to each other) because they’re dangerous and Joe, the Xi’an director, goes “REALLY?! I love those places”.
I know a lot of people hate get to know you games, but I find them very helpful. Going around and introducing yourself is a good way to get to know everyone. We have a very eclectic group of people on our program from all over the US. We have me, from Seattle going to school in DC, my roommate and a guy named Nate who both go to the University of Illinois, Hannah who is from Minnesota but goes to school in North Dakota, Jill who’s from Boston but goes to UMD, Zack and Courtney from Southwestern in Texas, Seijin from Georgia, Anthony, Yoko and Tiffany from University of Minnesota (but Yoko is actually from Arizona), Will from Virginia, Katora from Pennsylvania, Alexis who is from Boston but goes to Mills in California, and Sam who goes to school in North Carolina. It’s very interesting meeting all of these people from all over the US because we are all so different and have very diverse personalities, political views, religions, and views on life. For example, Sajen arrived late because he was biking across the country and still wakes up at 5am every morning to run and watch the sun rise; I’ve been to 23 countries while Katora and Will have never left the country. Some of the roommate pairings are also very funny. For example, Zack is a slightly metro-sexual guy who is a borderline shopaholic, while his roommate Will only shops at walmart. They get along very well though, and it’s funny to watch Zack be Will’s personal shopper. We’re a very eclectic bunch, but so far we’re all friends with each other. We divide into groups based on who wants to do what, or who wants to eat where- which I really like! Obviously some people are closer than others, but it hasn’t gotten too clicky, which is great for a group of 15. I genuinely really like everyone on my program which is probably the best thing I could ask for.
We eventually got sim cards for our phones, which are little LG bricks. My phone won’t let me input people’s contacts in correctly for some reason so Courtney is “Courty”, Tiffany is “Tiffay”- close enough? We also got internet for our computers (FINALLY), which we have to pay for. Installing internet on my computer was the biggest pain ever. After a few hours of me and half the people on my program struggling to install internet, they brought a tech specialist over. Apparently the woman messed up and was supposed to install it there for us, but didn’t, and it’s impossible to instal on a mac from your dorm. Through Windsor’s PC I was eventually able to get my internet YAY!! At least my VPN worked, because a lot of people were having problems with theirs. Hello facebook, youtube and tricking Hulu into thinking you’re in the US so you can watch segments of shows after letting it load for 5 hours. I haven’t even tried to upload pictures on facebook- it takes multiple days for one album since our internet times out.
It was very weird, walking around our deserted campus. Chinese students have two months off in the winter and another two months off in the summer. We arrived to campus at the tail end of Chinese new year, so basically everything is closed and the campus is deserted. It should be interesting to see what the campus looks like completely full! Although I’m not excited to wait 10 minutes for the elevator.
Side note: I tried sea cucumber for the first time! It was in a soup at one of our orientation dinners. I had been warned not to eat sea cucumber but I decided to try it anyway. it wasn’t that bad! I find myself eating things here I would never try at home. Why not? We’re in China!
Here is a little slideshow of some pictures from in and around campus!
Yum, that spivey chicken looks so good, make mine five star please. The city looks very similar to when we visited except for one major thing-The streets. When we visited there were a few cars and a lot triangle shaped taxis. Mostly there were bicycles. Bikes with three at four people on them, bikes with people hauling couches, baskets, animals and even entire families. Then, thrown in with all that were the horse drawn carts coming into town to go to the markets. Just crossing the street was a real adventure. Looks like the streets have really changed. Too bad. They were one of my favorite things. I could sit in the window and watch for hours. There were more exciting than any television program!
Keep those photos coming. (When we visited, I had to get my film developed each evening. See how old we are…) We are really enjoying them. And blog whenever you get a moment. We love that too. Your blog keeps you near. Thanks for sharing.
Penny and family
The streets are definitely full of cars now! Having a car is a big deal here so the traffic is INSANE. There are still a ton of bikes a motorcycles but they ride on the sidewalk so you have to be really careful. It’s still hard to cross the street because the cars don’t stop. They are everywhere and if someone is making a free right they will not stop for you. I basically feel like I’m going to die every time I cross the street. I’m so far behind on my blog because I’m so busy, but I’m going to work on it some more this weekend.
Thanks for the update and thanks for reading! Richelle