Lunch time is much more fun when eating with other people. When I came downstairs after class today, I joined the gaggle of 外国人 (foreigners) and ended up going to lunch with some of them. We went to “the dumpling place”, which I had somehow never been to. It’s a little place (and I mean “little” literally, as the tables were about knee high and we sat on kindergarten-sized stools) that mainly does 饺子, or dumplings. I highly recommend the fried ones :)
After buying a new kind of milk tea to try (caramel; most excellent), I walked back to my dorm. On the way, I stumbled upon a small gathering of tents, which of course called for exploring. It turned out to be a sort of student activities fair. Yes, it’s almost two months into the semester, but better late than never! The first booth I visited was the XiaDa Mountaineering Association! They had pictures of their members hiking through snow, which means they don’t just hike around Xiamen! I’m pretty sure either ‘Tibet’ or ‘XiZang’ was said at some point, which makes it way cooler than any mountaineering club that TU ever had (or didn’t have, as it were).
Next there was a 古琴 (traditional Chinese instrument) club. It would be really cool to learn, but they meet on Saturday nights, which are not so good for me because of Mass and dancing. I mentioned this to the guy I was talking to, and it turns out that he goes to my church too! He may or may not have said that it could still work . . . this all took place in Chinese and, contrary to what Chinese people tell me every day, my Chinese is not 很厉害 (terrific).
There was a creativity and entrepreneurship club, a “practice union” club (?), and then an environmental club! I got into a long conversation that may or may not have been about the recycling habits of Chinese and American college students (see previous paragraph). Actually, it was more of a monologue than dialogue, until the student started asking questions and realized I wasn’t catching too much of what she said. I was so happy to find them! October 24th is a big day for 350.org, and there just so happens to be an event in Xiamen! I wanted to go, but was hesitant to go alone, so I asked the students if they were interested. We connected on QQ and are making plans for Saturday! I’m very interested to see the state of environmental organizations in China, so I think the day will be an interesting one.
I spent a lot of time on QQ this afternoon, but it was a happy occasion because I only talked to people I knew! I swear, if another 29-year-old man adds me on QQ, I’m going to . . . well, I don’t exactly know, but it’s not going to be pretty. I talked to Zhang Lei, the son of Xiao Zhang, who was the foreman on the biogas project last summer and my first Chinese ‘teacher’. I talked to Huang laoshi, the calligraphy teacher that I keep not having time to call. We made plans to get together on Monday, so hopefully I’ll finally get to use the calligraphy materials I bought!
I also made a quick run to the upstairs building, to register for a track meet. I know this is even more surprising than my snake dinner to those of you who know me, so I’ll say it again: I registered for a track meet. Why? The same reason I do things that I don’t really want to do in America: a free t-shirt. When I started at Tulsa, I collected about a dozen shirts during Welcome Week alone, but I am almost two months into my year at XiaDa and there is no evidence in my wardrobe that I ever attended this school. Crazy! Anyway, you supposedly get a t-shirt and a thermos just for participating, so I signed up. My first choice was a 30m relay – I’m not totally sure what it consists of, but it’s something vaguely related to jumping. My teacher referenced “Australia’s most famous animal” in her description, and the email sounds like a sack race. It’s the shortest (and hopefully easiest) event, but you need a team of 10 for it, so if that fails I’m doing the 100m race. My main concern is that the registration date (today) is over a month before the competition date (Nov 27 and 28), which I hope doesn’t mean it’s a really big deal . . . Despite being an intramural co-rec flag football champion (!), I must confess that I’m not a super athlete. Shocking, I know.
Yesterday and today have been too reminiscent of September for my taste – only mid-80’s or so, but I feel hot and sticky because we haven’t turned the AC back on. The sun is setting earlier and earlier, which doesn’t seem to fit the still-warm temperatures. It’s pretty dark by 6, which says ‘fall’ to me, not ‘summer’.
This evening I went out to walk around a little bit. I went to ZhongShan Lu and started exploring from there. My method was, whenever faced with an intersection, to go down the smallest street. I saw a lot of places I had never been and happened upon some good purchases, including 100 Bobing dice for $2!
Back at home, my good QQ streak was broken. I was added by someone named 可以抱你吗, or “Can I hold you?”; I blocked him. Another responded to my question (“Who are you?”) with “现在只能告诉你是网友”, or “Right now I can only tell you that I’m your internet friend”; I blocked him as well. Does that ever work??? I don’t know if this is a symptom of the imbalance between men and women in this country, or if it’s typical of this kind of internet communication (which I don’t use in America), but it’s really unfortunate.
I just finished another batch of postcards that will hopefully go out tomorrow. The lucky ones this time include my favorite Vanderbilt student, the current TU SA Vice-President and his predecessor, the current Newman Center Peer Ministry president and her predecessor, and two young men discerning religious vocations. The rest of you . . . be patient! Anyway, I’m waiting for the post office to restock on the beautiful XiaDa postcards, as the ones I have right now are of random bridges from throughout China.