First few days

Do not fear, I am alive and well for anyone who was wondering. Unlike the US, China does not have a plethora of wifi hotspots liberally scattered around and I’m having trouble obtaining a cat cable and modem box to go along with the internet card I bought so I can have an internet connection in my room. As it is, I have just discovered the college computer “bar” where you can pay 1.50 yuan (about 25 cents) per hour to use a school computer or bring your own and use their wireless network.

So, anyway, I guess you want to hear about my trip? I’m going to be brief since I have homework due tomorrow, you’ll get a more comprehensive blog complete with pictures (and maybe a movie), on the weekend. My flight was long but uneventful. I was met at the Beijing airport by the uncle of a friend of mine (Chinese) who put me up in his hotel for the night, took me out to breakfast in the morning, and helped me get to my train to Qingdao. He and his wife were so helpful and nice, as well as very generous. Beijing, as everyone has told you, is DIRTY! Actually the streets and such aren’t very dirty, but the air is…..bad to say the least. It is a combination of dust and pollution. During the day everything is in a haze and you can’t really see things that well far off. It irritated my eyes quite a bit and it was very bright during the day because of all the particles in the air for the sun to bounce off of. I didn’t get to see much of Beijing, but what I did see was very beautiful (lots and lots of trees and even more flowers).

The train ride was, again, long and uneventful. I actually slept most of the way because my body thought the trip was from 11pm to 5 am, when in China it was 11am to 5pm. I expected the air to clear up as we left Beijing, but it was dirty looking all the way to Qingdao. I saw lots of farmland and farmers (I felt very sorry for them, which just goes to show what an incredibly soft and privileged life I’ve led), and we passed through a few cities, all much dirtier than Beijing. In Qingdao, their air was still not clear, but this time it was because of the fog! Beijing was getting to be hot, maybe in he 80s, but here in Qingdao, for the moment at least, it is cool, cloudy, and foggy.

My Chinese friend met me at the train station (the one who’s uncle put me up in Beijing) and she helped me get a taxi and find the student dorms at Qingdao University. I, praise the Lord, have a room to myself as do all the girls from our program (the boys have to share a room, don’t know why). I got settled in, which consisted of unpacking my very small amount of belongings, and then going down to the student store to buy supplies (toilet paper, notebooks, a map, water, etc). After that I just spent the rest of the evening walking around getting to know the area. We have a curfew here, joy of joys. You have to be back in the dorms by 11pm, unless you have specific reason why you can’t, in which case you have to tell the doorman beforehand so he’ll be expecting you when you come back late. The curfew is fine with me. I’ve actually found out that China, especially in the north, really has no night life to speak of. Quite in contrast to the other places I’ve been, namely Mexico, which has an amazingly active night life. After about 10 pm, there isn’t really alot going on and most things are closed. It could be different in the downtown area where there are more shops, I’m not sure.

You’ll have to wait to hear about everything else will this weekend. Until then, ta ta!

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