Shortly after my last post, it became 2:30. As I entered the lobby to make my way towards the place I was supposed to be going, I encountered a woman who spoke English. She told me that the people who were supposedly coming back at 2:30 weren’t working today. This was the obvious conclusion to this saga and I should’ve seen it coming. Then a gaggle of American students (from UNC) and their Chinese helper approached. The Chinese woman, Amy, decided to help me. We set off for a different office, where I was told something even more obvious.
Registration isn’t until the 12th of September. I just started laughing. I mean, I knew in my heart of hearts that this was a possibility the whole time, but what could I do? If there was even a possibility that I had to be here on Friday or forfeit the scholarship, I couldn’t take the chance. I tried not to even consider it, because the small chance didn’t change what I had to do.
I felt a little bit stupid, because they asked why I thought it was the 28th. Of course, all my paperwork said the 12th, but it also said to check the website for changes, and the website said the 28th. And I’m not stupid, so I had called to check and THREE different people that I talked to in the Overseas Education College (through two different Chinese translators) said that it was on the 28th.
So, I’m here almost three weeks early. I have to pay for my accommodations for that time, so I had to go withdrawn more money today. It could be worse; as I told Elizabeth, my mistakes here won’t be as expensive as many other places. I’m out about $130, plus I’ll have to feed myself, etc., during that time.
My room is on the 4th floor of the overseas student dormitory, which does not have an elevator. After checking in, Amy and I had to haul all of my luggage up three flights of stairs to my new home. By this time, I had been traveling for over 24 hours, hadn’t slept in a bed in over 48, hadn’t eaten a meal in over 30, and it was probably over 100 degrees with the heat index. Thankfully, though, I did not pass out and we made it up.
My room is very Chinese. There are two slightly-wider-than-twin beds, pushed next to each other. I will be sleeping closer to my roommate than Lucy and Ricky ever did. There are two small desks with shelves, four cupboards in the wall, and a TV and stand. The bathroom is a small sink, toilet, and showerhead – basically, the bathroom is the shower. The most Chinese feature of all is the inside balcony thing. It is our washroom, I guess, but in a real Chinese apartment would be a kitchen.
Right now my roommate is using everything in the room. I felt really awkward moving my stuff into there and leaving without having met her. Judging by some stuff that was up on the walls, I think she speaks Spanish, but that’s really all I know. I left a note for her, so I hope she won’t be too annoyed.
After Amy left, I sat down on the bed to process everything. I’m not horribly upset about this most recent miscommunication; as I said, I half expected it. The only thing is, I now feel like I can’t trust anything. In fact, I am not even convinced that registration isn’t on Friday. A schedule that my roommate has up on her wall has registration for the Overseas Education College listed for Friday. So please don’t think that I’m lying to you; I’m just presenting the information as I know it right then.
I was becoming disgusted by myself, so I tried out the awkward shower arrangements. I was scared for a little while there because the water was coming out of the faucet BROWN (not so lightly rust colored that it’s only apparent in a glass, but legitimately brown), but the shower was pretty good.
I then ventured outside to get food. There’s a cafe next door, so I went there and got jiaozi (dumplings) and Passionfruit Ice Sand. It’s funny, now that I know some Chinese characters, I know that they translated it literally (it wasn’t just a spelling error or something) but it still makes no sense to me in either language. Oh well, it was full of “Romantic flavor and good feelings”.
Since dinner, I have been on a hunt for internet. Bless you, Jin laoshi, for casually mentioning that 网 of 网球 is used to refer to internet! (网球 means tennis and 球 means ball, so I think that 网 means ‘net’.) Everyone pointed me in different directions until I ran into my new friends from UNC. They have been here a week and are so knowledgeable . . . they pointed me in the right direction and also mentioned that they will be going out tonight for Chinese Valentine’s Day (which apparently is today).
So that’s where I am right now, Coffee Lake. It’s just down some stairs and across the street from my dorm. It’s cute and small, with a soundtrack that consists almost exclusively of Backstreet Boys. There’s a great view of some body of water, too – a little lake or something. Probably my favorite place so far.
I think they’re actually closed now but haven’t tried to tell me because they figured I wouldn’t understand. Fair enough; I probably wouldn’t . . .
PS – I haven’t quite figured out how to work the VPN, so I’m posting these via email. I hope that works. As of now, I have access to Gmail and Skype, but not facebook or my own blog.