This morning was a pretty lazy morning, although I did have to be up by 10 to text my teacher that my temperature was below 37 degrees Celsius.
As I was catching up on the news (mainly, that Patrick Swayze died!), I was distracted by a new discovery – Google 音乐. It’s China’s version of Google Music, so of course you can not only listen to full songs, but also download them in mp3 form to your computer. If you try to access it (www.google.cn/music) you’ll get a message saying music streaming is unavailable in your region, but that’s what I see when I look at almost any other site, so I guess it all pans out in the end.
Around 11:30, my roommate came home! I already knew a bit about her from living amongst her things for several weeks and from some mutual friends, but here’s the basics: Her name is Lenira, and she’s from Capo Verde in West Africa. Her native language is Portuguese, but she speaks English and Chinese really well. She’s studying Biochemistry here at XiaDa and she’s been here for one year. She seems really nice and not annoyed at me being here, which is a plus. She’s also a treasure trove of useful information, like where to put the garbage (it had been piling up), how to get new (clean!) sheets, and where there’s a printer on campus (the big supermarket by the cafeterias).
Major downside, though: she turned the air conditioner OFF and OPENED THE WINDOWS. It is so freaking hot and humid that I can barely breathe. After making it up several flights of stairs, carrying laundry, no less, I am soaked through my shirt and shorts. I’m sticking to everything and am disgusted by myself. At least it was only while she cleaned, though, and now our room looks beautiful. I’m glad to see both sides being lived in! We bought a small water dispenser so I don’t have to buy bottled water anymore (which was expensive and inconvenient in addition to being something I am morally opposed to), and are planning to buy a refrigerator tomorrow.
I had class in the afternoon. The first hour was 口语 (oral), but I still haven’t figured out in what way it differs from the main lecture class. The second class I had was 听力 (listening), and we had a new teacher today. I’m not a fan. We spent the entire 1 1/2 hours (no breaks) listening to 10 sentences on repeat as we wrote them down in Chinese. An hour and a half of listening to “My class has 18 students, but only Molly is American” or “Last month I went to Sichuan and came home very tired, but I like to travel, and want to go to a different place next month” over and over and over and over and over again. I think it’s much easier than the stuff we were doing in 听力 but I don’t get the point. It’s not preparing us for real life or the HSK; it’s just boring.
This evening, Lenira continued teaching me about the campus where I’ve been living for almost three weeks. She took me to the third floor of Furong CanTing, which is my new favorite on-campus eating spot. It’s like ACAC at TU, but on a much larger scale. Three walls of the dining hall are occupied with different small vendors. It’s actually very much like Bonici Brothers, in that most of them sell personal noodle dishes. You point to the things you want (I got chicken, beef, sprouts, hard boiled quail eggs, and scrambled chicken egg) and they toss it all together with your choice of noodles and, of course, some 辣 (hot stuff) and MSG. My meal, including a can of Fanta, was 14 kuai ($2) and quite good. In addition to the appeal of good food, some of its popularity is due to the fact that it is open really really late. Good to know!
Dinner was especially welcome after two unpleasant eating experiences earlier in the day. First of all, I had my worst meal since coming to China. It was in a little dump of a restaurant, the only one on that street that I hadn’t eaten at yet. Just to give you an idea, the rice was so bad that I had to drink the pig heart soup to get it down. For a snack during class, I decided to try one of the less-conventional potato chip flavors – Lime! It was very similar to my experiences of eating banana-flavored cheese puffs, in that my mind could not reconcile the expected and actual tastes. The texture was genuine Lays, but the taste and smell were an extremely odd combination of fried potato and Key Lime Pie. 真奇怪 (very strange)!