Using my new cell phone, I was able to contact the other students from UNC to join them for dinner in the cafeteria last night. It was much busier this time, causing us to explore a little bit more. It turns out that there are three floors with distinct food choices. I didn’t look at everything, but the second floor (where we ate) had some spicy Sichuan food and make-your-own soup, where they give you a bowl of hot water, some dried ramen noodles, and various ingredients including meat, vegetables, and eggs. The third floor is apparently the Muslim floor. They have a picture of a mosque on the wall and serve what I’m assuming is halal food? It’s the nicest of the levels, with real wood tables and chairs, but it was full when we looked.
The food in the cafeteria is alright, but I think the portions are too large. I’m used to being able to try each of 6 or so dishes and then get more of the ones I like. Here, I get a fist-sized portion of one or two things, and I don’t really want that much of them. I think that at least half of my calories are coming from drinks so far . . .
After dinner, they all went to study, so I went back to my room and showered. I think showering is definitely going to be a night thing here, at least while it’s hot, because I couldn’t even imagine getting in to bed as nasty as I was. Once I was clean, I got into bed with my cell phone, dictionary, pen, and one of my new notebooks to “learn” my cell phone. Everything is in Chinese, so only my general knowledge of cell phones has enabled me to do anything. Unfortunately, I’ve never really texted in America, so preexisting knowledge will not help there. Anyway, I figure it’s a good way to expand my vocabulary!
One thing I’m quickly learning here in China is that knowledge of characters does not directly correspond to vocabulary. I know about 700 characters and I see them everywhere, but most of the time, I can’t understand them in context.
For example, here is a quote from the cover of my fish notebook, with the meaning of each individual character, all of which I already knew:
These four characters together, however, mean “to be perfectly contented with one’s lot”. Obviously . . .
So it was kind of slow going, but I did learn “shortcut”, “function”, “news/information”, “mobile” (as in “mobile phone”), “correspondence”, “to store up”, and “to take notes”.
I did notice as I was doing this that I have gotten better at using a dictionary, not because I’ve been practicing, but because my general knowledge of Chinese has gotten better. I’m better at identifying the radicals of characters; the radical is part of the character that functions kind of like the ‘root’ of the word. I can actually count strokes now, too, making it easier to find the character I’m looking for among the list for each radical. Also, now that I’ve stopped ignoring tones, I’ve noticed that entries that are spelled the same are organized by tone – 1st (shī), 2nd (shí), 3rd (shǐ), and then 4th (shì).
I fell asleep around 9. I think I could have made it later if I had been doing something physical or if I were with other people, but it was hard to fight jet lag while sitting in bed with a dictionary.
This morning I was up by 7:30. After working on my cell phone for a little longer, I decided to go register. Yes, I know that they told me I was a few weeks early, but there was a huge welcome banner next to my dorm for “New Overseas Education College Students”, and on my acceptance letter, it said “Overseas Education College”. I went up there and immediately knew I had made the right choice. They didn’t even give me a second glance once I told them I was a scholarship student. I got some paperwork and went to the “Form Filling-Out Room”, where I was told that I needed to have a bank account number.
The Bank of China is really close to my dorm, and it was relatively easy to open an account. I don’t really know what all went on, but they asked for 25 yuan and I gave it to them, and I signed my name in a bunch of different places. Now I have an ATM card and a little check book thingy!
I went back to the OEC building, where I passed through two rooms full of stations. I got my passport checked and my information entered into the computer. I bought insurance (or rather, didn’t, as I’m on scholarship). I tried to get my health examination accepted, but I didn’t bring a copy of my chest X-ray (apparently I was supposed to; I walked in to see some official holding an X-ray of somebody’s chest up to the light). I got my student booklet thing, lecture permit, and a packet of information for new students. And a new 中国朋友, who wrote her name and phone number on one of my papers! One thing to note for future registration at Chinese universities – when they ask for passport sized photos, they don’t actually mean 2”x2” passport photos. They mean 1”x.5”.
But, basically, I registered! Take that, China!
By then it was their lunch time, so I went back to my room and then came over to the wang ba. My glasses fogged up when I stepped out of my air-conditioned room into the steamy hallway . . . Ugh. Two UNC students, Chip and Jen, just joined me, and Jen let me in on a site that lets me access my blog! Kinda. The music in the wang ba is back to Boy Bands, which is getting me fired up for karaoke tonight!