I had a Skype meeting this morning, so I had a late start to my morning. I left the hotel around 10 and went on a train-ticket-buying adventure. Huang Chong told me yesterday where the campus train ticket booth was, so I headed that way. I wanted to buy three tickets (Changchun-Tumen, Tumen-Changchun, and Changchun-Beijing) but the first two were sold out he told me. (Sold out!?! Who the hell is going from Changchun to basically North Korea and has already bought their tickets 3 weeks early??) I bought the Changchun-Beijing leg easily, though – it’s a 动车 line, the fastest, that just opened within the last year.
There was another Tsinghua souvenir shop next door, so I stopped by there and ended up getting some gifts, including something nice for Ellen, and 20 more postcards. I couldn’t help myself, they were so pretty!! (I later used this story to teach my labmates “Shut up and take my money”.)
I was in a great mood when I got to the office . . . until I discovered I’d lost the train ticket I just bought. I put it in my passport, and thankfully that wasn’t lost, but it no longer contained a ticket. Ugh. (I later used this story to teach my labmates “This is why we can’t have nice things.”) Anyway, it turns out I should be able to get a replacement ticket at the train station. I have to go anyway, to get the actual tickets for the other legs (which I ended up successfully buying online), but that adventure will be for another day.
In the afternoon, I met with Li Bo to go over some derivations. I was simultaneously comforted and disappointed that he had some of the same questions as I have. It was really helpful to talk through things, though, and we made progress.
One funny thing – we were talking about one equation, and I muttered to myself, 这个我不太懂 (I don’t really understand this). We speak English when we’re talking math (probably easier for both of us, and definitely easier for me), but this just came out in Chinese. Bo laughed, and I did too. I think I have so many ways to say “I don’t understand” in Chinese, and I use them so often, that it just came out. I don’t understand in Chinese a lot more than I don’t understand in English! I’ve also caught myself saying 怎么说呢？(How do you say this?) to myself in Chinese even when I’m searching for an English word, because this is also something I just say more in Chinese.
I went back to work after our meeting with renewed enthusiasm, and ended up staying past 9. I feel like I got something done today, but all of my labmates kept making comments like, I’ve been working all day and have gotten nothing done. I was happy to not share those feelings for once . . . During dinner, the guys brought up the English phrase “good good study, day day up”, which is a common, albeit terrible, translation of 好好学习天天向上 (study well, and improve everyday). We started joking that sometimes it felt like “good good study, day day down”. I said that the worst are those days where you end up back where you started – 好好学习天天一样 (study hard, every day the same). We all laughed – this is the life of a grad student . . .
Today I learned:
My dining card doesn’t actually have restrictions. (I was told I couldn’t swipe it from 11:45-12:30). I accidentally tried to use it within the forbidden time, and nothing happened, other than me successfully paying for my food. The cards just aren’t that hi-tech, Cheng said, which I should have known. Apparently it’s more along the lines of, the servers might see my card and tell me that they won’t serve me, which of course has never happened. Oh well, often I’m ready for lunch by 11:15, so I guess it’s okay.