Today I 考试-ed my 汉语水平. That’s Chinglish for: “Today, I tested my Chinese level”. Yeah, that’s right – I just turned HSK into a verb; deal with it.
The test started at 8. We put on headphones, they turned off the lights (??), and the recording began. There was some music and a nice woman welcoming us to the HSK and wishing us success, and then the Listening Comprehension section started. This was then followed by Grammatical structure, Reading Comprehension, and Comprehensive Fill-in-the-Blank. The entire test fluctuated between the delightfully easy and the despairingly difficult. (This is basically the entire story of learning Chinese, though, so it was a familiar roller coaster.)
Unlike every other test I’ve ever taken evAr, I never once finished a section early enough to put my pencil down. The spare 23 seconds or so before beginning the next section were instead used to make sure all my rectangles (not circles or ovals!) were perfectly filled in. There was no time for napping, which is okay because I didn’t need to!
When the test was over, the main emotion I felt was an overwhelming need to look at things further than 8 inches from my face. I met up with Hu Jing, her boyfriend Handsome (well, 帅, but it means “good-looking”), and Aleid to go to a new hotpot place. The weather was a little bit cold and a lot bit rainy, making it perfect weather for hotpot. (I remember someone, maybe a month ago, proclaiming the end to hot-pot-eating season. If only we knew then what we know now . . . )
The restaurant that we went to is all-you-can-eat individual hotpot for 35 kuai ($5). We ordered our own hotpot stock and mixed our own sauces at the bar, then waited as various food items came around on a train!
We ate until we were full, then used the separate ice cream stomach compartment for dessert. When Hu Jing told me there was ice cream, I assumed it was going to be typical buffet ice cream – soft serve with a variety of sundae toppings. Hahahahahaha no. There were two big tubs of ice cream, offering the two tantalizing choices of taro and canteloupe. Yum . . .
Since doing anything fun outside was totally out of the question, I went back to my room. I had just over three hours until my evening plans began, which was the perfect amount of time to watch Titanic! Pun found out that I had never seen it, so he gave it to me for my birthday, and I decided that today was the day to join the rest of the developed world by watching this classic. I feel cultured now, or something.
This evening I went over to watch a movie with the international film club thing that Paloma started on campus. It was La Ley de Herodes, a Mexican political satire about corruption and democracy. The movie was funny until it got gratuitously violent, but it did make me think about democracy and its limits. I also got to practice my Spanish 听力 (which, unlike my Spanish oral skills, are not yet a lost cause).
When Aleid and I went to CaiQingJie for a late dinner – I had steak just the way Mom makes it, with spaghetti and a fried egg – we ran into Liz and her family. Her parents, sister, and brother came over from Belguim two weeks ago to visit, and were supposed to go home from Beijing a few days ago. But then a volcano erupted in Iceland which – like a butterfly flapping its wings in the Indian Ocean – has managed to affect airborne things all over the world. So, faced with the prospect of staying alone in Beijing where they don’t speak the language, they opted to return to Xiamen, which has a) Liz, and b) good weather. They’ve booked new tickets for as soon as possible, which happens to be MAY FIRST. How would you like to spend an extra two weeks in China?!?! Crazy stuff, man.
Back in my room, I was talking to a friend online. He’s back in Tulsa, and mentioned wandering over to QT to grab a drink. A wave of jealousy overtook me until I realized that West Gate is within wandering distance of my home here and has a broader selection of things, including real food, cheap scarves, and weight-lifting equipment.
But then he went to brunch, and I don’t really have anything to compete with Belgian waffles embossed with the letters ‘TU’. I guess we’ll call it even.