Maria Holland

Finally Getting Settled

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I decided to move in today. I’ve been living here for close to a week now, but my stuff was still in a pile in front of Lenira’s desk. It is not a very comfortable situation.

I began by moving her stuff from my desk to hers and my closet to hers. Then I went shopping for some homemaking items. I bought hangers, another trashcan, garbage bags, etc. I got a little set of shelves for my desk – they say:

“FLOWERS ON THE HILLS: Sprinkling sprouting flowers a rather rainbowish sort of garden”.

And the cup for my toothbrush sports a jump-roping bear and the words:

“I’m happy to share the time with you-friends”

Despite what these examples may lead you to think, there were actually some items that I refused to buy because they were too cutesy. Sometimes shopping in China is like shopping in a life-size Barbie world, where everything is made out of low-quality plastic and has flowers and cheesy words on it.

I met a new Chinese friend, Joyce, the other day on the campus tour, and we had lunch together at CaiQingJie today. She wants to learn English so she can go to America, where her boyfriend is studying at the OSU. When I met her today, I asked “我们去哪儿?” (Where are we going?) and got the Talking Muffin look for the first time since coming to China this year. (For those of you who don’t know, the Talking Muffin look is the one you get when you speak Chinese to someone who isn’t expecting it and they regard you with the same mixture of emotions as a normal person would a talking muffin. I was a frequent recipient in Hunchun.) Throughout lunch, we spoke a mixture of Chinese and English, although the balance was slightly more in favor of Chinese than last night’s conversation with Jamie, because Joyce’s English isn’t as good. Carlos joined us, which led to an interesting conversation in which he tried to explain why he is a vegetarian.

Joyce was very excited to hear that I play the flute because she is a music major. Apparently she knows some people who have a private music instruction company and she wants me to teach the flute. We’ll see.

I put a load of laundry in and then it was time to check the class postings. I’m in 一年下,B班 (second semester of first year, class B). I was a little disappointed not to get into the second year, but from looking at the textbooks, they teach different vocabulary here. Also, the less time I spend learning Chinese for class just means the more time I have to learn Chinese in other, probably more fun, ways. The schedule isn’t too great, so I’m hoping to change to class A so that I have more afternoons free. Regardless, I’ll have class for 3 hours a day.

After meeting my teacher, I went to buy my books. As a scholarship student, I’m not supposed to pay for my books. The general idea behind these scholarships, however, seems to be making it enough of a hassle to get what we’re owed that we’ll just give up and pay ourselves. I don’t even know how many flights of stairs I climbed as I was given the run-around. The books were only 107 yuan (about $15) but it’s the principle of the thing. I ended up paying myself, but supposedly will get my money back soon.

I was 累死了(tired to death) when I got back from that. I really wanted to stay home for the night but made myself call Joyce. We went off campus to look for a place to eat, and ended up at a DongBei (northeastern) restaurant on the recommendation of some other foreigners we ran into. The street that we were on looked interesting, so we walked up and down it. There are a few hair salons, bakeries, and juice places, as well as a shaved ice shop, random plumbing supply shop, and a bunch more restaurants. My favorite finds were a nail salon (where you can not only buy nail files, but you can also get a foot massage) and two enormous book stores. I managed to walk out without buying anything, because their selection of books with pinyin was rather lacking. (They have altars to Obama everywhere, though.) The highlight of the night was bonding with Joyce over our mutual favorite book, Pride and Prejudice.

On the way back to my room, we caught up to Antone, a student from Ukraine. He doesn’t speak very much English, which sets him apart from the other foreigners, but he also doesn’t speak any Chinese! It must be very hard for him right now . . . I can’t wait until he learns more Chinese so we can talk.

I’m a little bit sick right now. I’m coughing a lot and having difficulty breathing. Everyone here says it’s from the air conditioner, but I don’t know exactly what that means . . . is it the change from hot to cold, or is it the fact that my air conditioner is pumping dirty air into my room?

Also, is my English getting simpler? I feel like it is . . .

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