XuLei teases me sometimes about how comfortable my life is here at XiaDa. But I’ll have you know, it’s not always easy being me. For instance, today I couldn’t just sleep in however late I wanted. No, I had to be up and ready at the crack of 9 to go for a massage. I know, I know, life is tough.
Kristina and Nathalie took me downtown to the Center for Blind Massage where you can get an hour-long massage any morning for 38 kuai ($5.50). I feel a little cheated because my woman could actually see, but overall I was immensely satisfied. We staggered out of there after our hour was up, feeling incredibly exhausted – a little strange when you consider we’d been laying down for the last hour, but apparently normal after an intense massage.
I had class all afternoon, which was boring without even anything worth commenting on. I’ve realized that, while studying Chinese in China is definitely more social and possibly more fun than studying engineering in Tulsa, studying engineering at TU is infinitely more interesting than studying Chinese at XiaDa. In comparison to the drivel produced by the Beijing Language and Culture University, my statics book was riveting. I fondly remember days of homework that required me to calculate the stress in each member of a complicated truss, which is less mind-numbing than making endless sentences in the structure of “不但…而且…”. After today’s class, in which I had to listen to each classmate explain how they would handle a child who refused to do their homework, I long for a Constanda or Tipton lecture or even an extended derivation of engine-balancing with Dr. Daily.
But class only lasted for so long, and then I was free. I had dinner with XuLei and Lester, and we pumped her for information on the 高考, the national college-entrance test that finished up today. I guess I thought senior year was a little stressful for me, dealing with the insane amount of mail, visiting colleges I was interested in and visiting colleges that were interested in me, filling out 10 applications, waiting for replies, and then finally choosing.
But man, today I thank God that I’m an American – because it’s much worse in China.
The 高考, unlike our ACT and SAT, is offered exactly once each year. Students have one chance, and one chance only, to take this all-important test. The test is such a big deal that construction in Beijing was temporarily halted to better allow students to focus on their studies!
They’ll get their results back in a few weeks, after which point they will have about a week to decide where they will go to college – choosing from, of course, the 5 or so universities determined by their test scores.
But it’s not over at that point. Then they apply to their chosen school, and hope that they’re accepted because their application becomes measurably weaker (by docking points off their score) if it gets sent on to a second-choice school.
After hearing all this, I’m amazed that anyone makes it into college here in China. I don’t know how she did it, but I’m so happy that XuLei ended up at XiaDa, because things wouldn’t be as good without her.