Maria Holland

Posts Tagged ‘World Cup’

冠军! Champions!

In Uncategorized on July 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

I woke up at 5am this morning to watch the USWNT in the final of the Women’s World Cup.  Unfortunately, the game didn’t start until 7am – I had miscalculated the time difference (I think because the previous game was in a different time zone in Canada?  Or I’m just an idiot).  

I was too irritated at myself to fall back asleep, so I left the TV on CCTV5, the sports channel, and watched reruns of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (Usain Bolt winning the 4×100 relay!), an interview with a doctor about reducing oil in your diet, and a ribbon dancing exercise program.

I had committed to helping a few days at an English summer camp for rising sophomores in the school of Aerospace Engineering, working on their technical English and presentation skills.  Today was the first day, and we were scheduled to talk about air pollution, so I did some reading while I waited for the game.  It was pretty depressing . . . a lot of really high numbers and pictures like this, which is just about the worst thing I have ever seen.  What have we done to this world?  

The good news about being up so early is that the internet is fast.  At Stanford, the internet is robust enough that I’ve never really sensed heavy traffic, but here at the hotel I am painfully aware of everyone’s else’s browsing/downloading habits.  It’s nearly unusable in the evenings, but mornings are at least not terrible.

The game finally started at 7.  At like 7:03, we got a corner kick and Carli Lloyd nailed a perfect shot into the goal, and I probably woke up my neighbors.  The next goal came so quickly afterwards that I’m not really sure what happened; I was just posting something on facebook about watching the game, which I quickly changed to reference last year’s Brazil-Germany World Cup semifinal.   Serious flashbacks to that day, that joy and that confusion – are they just replaying the same goals over and over, or are these happening live?  

One of my EAPSI friends showed up a few minutes later, and was massively disappointed that he’d “probably missed the only two goals of the game.”  Haha . . . not.  The third goal was the most ridiculous, a lob from just inside center field that somehow went in.  Jesse: “That’s gotta be demoralizing – I love it!”.  After that, we had to wait a few boring minutes before the fourth goal.  Jesse: “At least I got to see two goals.  Haha, who just says that about a soccer game?!”

The worst part about miscalculating the start time of the game was not the two missing hours of sleep, it was that I had committed to being at Tsinghua at 8:30, before the end of the game.  After the Japanese managed to get two past Hope, I was so annoyed at missing such an exciting game.  As it was, we scored again to bring it to 5-2 as I walked out the door, and I ended up getting to see all of the goals.  I was kept up to date via WeChat as I biked to Tsinghua, although nothing major happened.  We won!  Congratulations, team!  

 

This English summer camp got off to a rough start, because I am an idiot.  (Definitely a theme here.)  I had put the location information, building and room number, into my Google calendar, as is my habit.  But when I got to the building, whose name I had remembered, I had no way to look up the room number.  Nothing Google syncs to my phone, I couldn’t get the VPN to connect on mobile data, I didn’t have the login information for the internet account I’m going to use for the rest of the month, and my own internet account was out of money.  I was actually sitting on the steps outside the building when I learned that we won.  Ugh, what an idiot. 

The students all heard some opening remarks about the purpose of the camp and tips about making good presentations, I guess, and then I was able to get a hold of my contact and find my room.  I’m working with a Romanian Masters student who will be there for the whole two weeks, and we have 12 students.  We did introductions, asking each of them to say their name, their hometown, and what they like to do.  Lots of ping pong and badminton, but my favorite was the guy who said he like to read science fiction and that his favorite book was Ender’s Game :)

We have one guy in the class who is a real character.  We decided to go by English names if they have them, and this guy is named “Ancient”.  In his introduction, he gestured to the two people before him and said that “unlike them, my grades are very poor.”  He ended up being the most active participant in today’s group discussion, which was interesting because I don’t think his English is necessarily the best.  Unlike everyone else, though, he seemed reasonably at peace with the possibility that he was going to do or say something stupid, which in my experience is one of the best things you can do when learning a language.  

A few other conversational snapshots from the class:

  • on the topic of air pollution, I asked if anyone had seen 穹顶之下, or “Under the Dome”, the recent documentary about air pollution in China.  A few hands went up, and I asked them to tell me about it.  Ancient shrugged and said simply, “It tells the truth, so it is forbidden.”
  • when we were talking about biking (perhaps asking about helmet use?  or green transportation?  I don’t remember.), one guy started talking about a bunch of people riding bikes in Poland without clothes.  This was one of those situations where what I thought I heard was so strange that I didn’t dare assume that I had heard correctly.  I felt bad, because he actually spoke well enough but I asked him to clarify four or five times before repeating it back to him.  Yes, something about a naked bike ride in Poland.  
  • I tried to introduce the concept of negawatts, which completely failed, but first took us to a discussion of watts.  I kept saying the word “watt” and “kilowatt”, and my coteacher jumped in with “joules per second”, but we just got blank stares.  Finally, I went up to the board and wrote “1 J/s = 1 W” and everyone immediately “aaah”ed with understanding.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we were doing a summer camp to improve their technical English speaking skills.
  • They have to give presentations every other day on a science or technology topic of their choice.  While brainstorming ideas for these presentations, I said that they could talk about the science in some science fiction book or movie.  三体, for instance, I suggested (this is the Chinese science fiction novel I’m reading right now), and wrote it on the board.  I had told them that I speak Chinese, but maybe they didn’t expect me to be able to write, because they all flipped when I wrote those characters on the board.  Never mind that 三 is literally the third easiest character to write, and 体 was among the first 100 I learned as well.  I felt like the winner of America’s Got Talent or something.
I had lunch with my coteacher.  (He was surprised that I had gotten up so early to watch the game today.  I asked him, if the Romanian women were in the World Cup Final, would you watch it?  “But this is science fiction!”, he responded.)  He’s here writing his Masters thesis at Tsinghua and seems about ready to leave, although he doesn’t until September 1st.  He doesn’t speak Chinese, doesn’t like his project, and his labmates work 12 hour days 7 days a week and he has nothing really better to do than join them.  He remarked incredulously that he had a few friends who were studying Chinese at Peking University and that they love it here.  This made me realize how much different the life of a language student is than a graduate student.  I am so fortunate to have spent my first times in China the way I did, with so much freedom to learn Chinese in the way I wanted, and beautiful places to do it in.  I don’t think I would I have loved China if this had been our introduction, so I guess I can’t really blame him.  In an attempt to point out some good things, I said that China was cheap so it’s easy to “treat” yourself.  Except, apparently China is more expensive than Romania.  (He’s also getting gouged for student housing, paying 80元 per night.)  And he drinks coffee, which is an admittedly huge stumbling block that I just happen to not have.

When I went into work in the afternoon, I found that something must have been percolating in the back of my brain over the weekend, because a few more things made sense.  Eventually I found a minus sign that I’d misplaced, and successfully derived the Euler equations that I had struggled with last week.  Yay!!  

I rewarded myself with a break and went up to the top of the building to take a panorama on a mild pollution day.  According to different accounts, the AQI was either just above 100 (the point at which I generally wear a mask) or around 160 (on the low end of Unhealthy).  

100 East

It was far from the worst I’ve seen (which is over 300) and looked only drab, instead of desolate, but it took a little bit of conscious effort to find the mountains off in the west:

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which had been so clear on the horizon last week:

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Over lunch, I told my coteacher that I think there’s something stifling, mentally and emotionally, about the gray Beijing sky and the way it shrinks your world down – lowers your eyes, restricts your gaze to the things near enough to be seen clearly.  There’s something aspirational and inspiring about looking up to the sky, I think.  Am I just being dramatic?  These pictures make me think not.  Today we’re missing the mountains for the smog; perhaps the forest and the trees as well.  I’m sure that there are long-term physical effects from this pollution, but I think there must be psychological effects as well. 

I stayed late at the office and got lunch with GuoYang and Zhao Yan.  I asked them for the name of 伟花’s “zhāngfu”, a question that was met with blank stares.  (Story of my day . . . )  I tried again: “zhángfu . . . zhāngfǔ . . . zhāngfù . . . “  Finally: “husband!”  “Aaaaaah, zhàngfu!”, they exclaimed.  Yes, that, of course that!  I allowed myself to complain to them a little bit – how was I supposed to get “lùchī” out of “nùchī” but they couldn’t figure out “zhàngfu!” from “zhāngfu”??  They all agreed that it was a bit unfair, but what can I do?  Tones are more important than consonants.  

I think I’ve been a little heavy on the “Chinese is hard” side of things recently.  I generally like to balance it out with some aspects of Chinese that are easy, so I told them that I have pity on students learning the English names for the days of the week and months of the year.  Neither of them could spell February or Wednesday – such horrible words those must be to learn, although I don’t personally remember what it was like.  They agreed, suggesting that English start calling months “Month Number One” and “Month Number Two” like they do in Chinese.  It would be nice, but again, what can I do?

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What Was On My Mind (III)

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm

The end of the year, captured in facebook statuses:

 

Maria Holland heard someone say “Not gonna lie” today and, not gonna lie, it made me realize how long I’ve been away from America.
May 12 at 11:35pm

Maria Holland is still delighted every time I realized I can speak and read Chinese. Does it ever get old?
May 15 at 12:36am

Maria Holland It would have been nice to know we were climbing a mountain after Mass today, because the clothes I usually wear to Mass are generally not the best for mountain climbing. But, I’ve now climbed a mountain in peep-toed sandals and a skirt and feel more Chinese for the experience.
May 16 at 10:00pm

Maria Holland is spending the night at the church on Gulangyu. I’m planning a peaceful and quiet night, praying for Uncle Daniel and Robert, Nick, & Lonnie on the anniversary of their deaths. Glad we got to know you, Daniel.
May 18 at 5:12pm

Maria Holland had a beautiful night on Gulangyu. I took in a violin concert, savored the silence of the island broken only by piano music, slept three doors away from the choir loft of a century-old Catholic church, went to morning Mass, and had porridge with the bishop.
May 19 at 9:46am

Maria Holland got a SEVEN on the HSK!!!!!! I could theoretically go to college in China . . . but I think I’ll head back to TU and finish up there.
May 19 at 11:55am

Maria Holland it is May 2010 and, just like May 2007 and May 2008, I am making my way to the northeast of China. It’s almost like going home . . .
Meat sticks, I’m coming for you. Get ready!
May 20 at 2:54pm

Maria Holland is in Hunchun, the (0,0,0,0) coordinate of my life in China! I’ve been living with Xiao Zhang and Xiao Li, visited Mob Boss and MacGyver, eaten at DongFang and am currently preparing for an epic Shell birthday dinner complete with my cake and homemade dairy products like you wouldn’t believe.
Be jealous.
May 23 at 4:43pm

Maria Holland is in Hunchun at the farm today, for the third anniversary of my first day in China, and the third International Day of Prayer for the Church in China. Please join me, il Papa, and Christians around the world in praying for love, mutual understanding, and unity (both spiritual and political) between all 基督徒 in China.
May 24 at 8:34am

Maria Holland met up with Zaibin, my very first Chinese friend, today and we went to see Goose Lady!
May 25 at 8:52pm

Maria Holland has spent nine months in China!
May 26 at 10:31pm

Maria Holland is going to Xiao Zhang’s to learn how to make jiaozi and sugared potatoes! This means no internet ’til Sunday night though . . .
May 27 at 3:21pm

Maria Holland it is 10 a.m. in China and I’ve already stolen someone’s identity and broken the law. I’m currently sitting in what seems to be a love motel that I have rented by the hour. This has been a great trip . . .
May 30 at 10:39am

Maria Holland is back in Xiamen, happy to be out of Jilin but already missing Hunchun.
Also, how is it almost June??
May 31 at 10:52am

Maria Holland I live on a tropical island. Today is the 2nd of June. I wore my winter coat to go to dinner. One of these things is not like the others . . .
June 2 at 9:42pm

Maria Holland taking advantage of the rain to have the laziest day ever. Entire day spent in pajamas – check. Lunch delivered – check. Dinner delivered – check. Four seasons of Psych on DVD – check.
June 3 at 8:38pm

Maria Holland found out that Chinese people think mixed-blood babies are exceptionally beautiful and smart. Whatever. It’s when it turns into a matchmaking service designed to match me with a Chinese husband that I start to mind. Also, does EVERYONE have to participate? Random old man on the street last night, I’m talking about you . . .
June 5 at 2:56pm

Maria Holland watched Iron Man 2 (钢铁侠2) in theaters today and then bought both 1 & 2 on DVD immediately afterwards, for less than the cost of a movie in America. Sweet!
June 6 at 8:49pm

Maria Holland enjoyed an hour-long massage for $5 this morning. Yeah, I’m doin’ alright.
June 8 at 11:09pm

Maria Holland has still not bought return tickets. Maybe I’m not quite ready for that step . . .
June 10 at 12:52am

Maria Holland has pancake mix, dried pasta, marshmallows, chocolate, nutella, condensed milk, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and most of a bottle of gin . . . . and I am determined to use all of it before I leave this country, despite lacking an oven or any discernible kitchen.
June 10 at 5:41pm

Maria Holland had a great time watching the opening game of the World Cup. It’s a weird feeling, though, probably like what Harry Potter felt upon discovering this whole other world that only cares about one sport, a sport that you’ve never heard of.
June 12 at 1:01am

Maria Holland US vs. England in our first World Cup appearance – at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday/school night? Why certainly!
June 12 at 11:12pm

Maria Holland needs more soccer-related vocabulary if I’m going to continue watching the World Cup in China. Tonight’s 生词: “draw” = 平. 我为美国加油! (I’m cheering for America!)
June 13 at 5:01am

Maria Holland Tomorrow would be the perfect day to leave Xiamen, because I just had the perfect Last Night in Country: singing French drinking songs on a bus that we flagged down at 2 a.m. and convinced to take us to a bar.
June 18 at 3:39am

Maria Holland is gearing up for a showdown between America and Slovenia – basically, me vs. Kristina. 美国 para ganar!
June 18 at 8:41pm

Maria Holland is really getting this football thing. Not getting the whole sleep thing, though. The two may or may not be related.
June 19 at 3:19am

Maria Holland is ready to go home, I guess. Everything is moldy and I’m tired of it. 30 days seems just about right!
June 21 at 11:06pm

Maria Holland has the Stomach Clench of Death. Come on yogurt, work your magic . . .
June 22 at 2:23pm

Maria Holland and this is why I’m loving the World Cup: sitting in a coffehouse, watching the England-Slovenia game and reading updates on the US-Algeria game, with friends from 3 of the 4 countries next to me. The US goal in the final minutes to win the group didn’t hurt either, of course!
June 24 at 12:38am

Maria Holland This may be the best line of its kind since “save a horse, ride a cowboy: “Although I’m a cowboy, I only drink milk in bars. Why don’t I drink beer? Because it’s bad for your health.” Courtesy of a Chinese cowboy song, “Cowboys Are Very Busy”
June 25 at 2:52am

Maria Holland taking a nap in my U.S.A jersey before the game. Sorry, Africa, but I hope Ghana’s out after this . . .
June 27 at 1:08am

Maria Holland Xiamen has a way of making up for Bad China Days. I had a very successful trip shopping for gifts this morning, spent a beautiful afternoon on the beach, and am headed out for dinner and the game. NEDERLANDS!!!
June 28 at 6:59pm

Maria Holland plans to enjoy each of my remaining days in China as much as I did today. Lunch with friends, afternoon on the beach, winning two games of 6-player Catan tonight. Spain and Holland play this weekend and we’re celebrating the Fourth on a boat, then I go to Hangzhou to see Matt Thomas! 挺好的 :)
July 1 at 1:38am

Maria Holland has a plane ticket! On July 20th at 8 p.m. (Beijing time), I will begin my adventure towards home. Expect me around 9 a.m. Central on Wednesday, July 21st at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport – allowing, of course, for 48 hours of possible “adventure-related delays”.
July 1 at 12:20pm

Maria Holland is feeling far from home right now. Didn’t realize how important the internet is to keeping me connected, until they shut off our electricity today and I missed the news of my aunt’s heart attack. Please pray for my Aunt Cathy!
July 3 at 9:34pm

Maria Holland This was the best Fourth of July ever . . . if I do say so myself. Wait for pictures if you don’t believe me!
July 4 at 8:34pm

Maria Holland is not quite caught up from an amazing Fourth of July weekend but, ready or not, I’m off to Suzhou and Hangzhou tomorrow afternoon!
July 6 at 12:07am

Maria Holland Spain vs. the Netherlands in the World Cup final: two countries with the best-looking football, the best-looking footballers, and some of my best friends. I cannot lose!
July 8 at 4:29am

Maria Holland had Papa John’s delivered and ate it with an old friend from elementary, middle, and high school. BTW, I’m still in China. That’s crazy, right?
July 8 at 9:20pm

Maria Holland returned to Xiamen for the last time. The next time I return somewhere, I will be returning to the United States. 11 days . . .
July 9 at 8:55pm

Maria Holland will miss many things when I leave here – but not The Key anymore, and never the giant kamikaze bugs.
July 11 at 2:00am

Maria Holland is getting ready for three finals: the World Cup at 2:30 a.m., Listening at 9:00 a.m., and Grammar at 10 a.m. I predict domination in all three!
July 11 at 9:31pm

Maria Holland AAAH. This morning was amazing, between the game, the glorious sunrise, and the celebratory s’mores that we ate (possibly for breakfast). No longer tired. Two finals in three hours.
July 12 at 6:06am

Maria Holland is so tired. My sleep schedule has been messed up by constant goodbye parties and the month-long World Cup, but if I can keep it up for 8 more days maybe I won’t have jet lag when I get back home?
July 13 at 1:58am

Como España, No Hay Ninguna

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

I took a short nap but was up at 1:30 (a.m.) to go to the game with Carlos.  We got there nice and early to take our seats at the front tables, one reserved for the Dutch and their groupies, and one for the two Spaniards and their supporters.  The trash talking started early (below, Carlos and Jelle show with their hands how many goals they think their teams will make). 

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I had very carefully chosen a white outfit tonight, to avoid any semblance of partiality between my dear Dutch and Spanish friends. 

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But there were more Dutch than Spanish (and I’m not-so-secretly completely infatuated with Iker Casillas, the Spanish goalkeeper) so I ended up more cheering for Spain.  Also, Carlos made cute Spanish flags with a picture of Paul the Octopus wearing a crown, which was a major plus.  (But the Dutch had a really cool cheer for one of their players, Elia, that made me wish I was on their side sometimes.)

It was an interesting game, but also a dirty one; especially worth a mention was the roundhouse kick to the chest of Spain’s Alonso.  I have absolutely no grasp of penalties, and am never sure if something’s okay or if the ref just didn’t see it.  Like that one time it looked like Sneijder was making out with a Spanish player?  Nothing.  But when any player kicks a ball at the same time as another player, one of them is bound to get called on it. 

There were apparently a record number of yellow cards for a World Cup final.  I didn’t know that at the time, but it was pretty ridiculous.  It was looking like the game was going to consist of one or two guys running around the field by the end!

There more yellow cards than shots – by far – and thus halftime found us still at 0-0 (so Diederik and Carlos were still friends).

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The second half was more of the same, sending us into a half hour of overtime.  The Dutch remained confident that there would be no penalty kicks, because they were going to score shortly. 

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But either way, I had already won.  I was tied for third place in the World Cup pool heading in to the final, and since neither Jimmy nor I had called the game as a draw at the end of regulation time, we finished in a tie.  This left me with half of the third place pot – 20 kuai!  Exactly what I paid to get in!  I didn’t make any money, but since this is ME we’re talking about, breaking even is some kind of miracle.  I beat Carlos, which was both my goal going in and basically the highlight of my life. 

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I don’t think Carlos was too worried about the 20 kuai he’d lost, though.  He watched in agonizing suspense as the overtime passed.  They switched out some players, sending in Cesq and Torres and Jesus – smart move, getting God on their side! 

And then finally, 15 minutes into overtime, Iniesta scored.

      IMG_3168

Carlos and Carolina were kind of happy.  And when they won the 2010 World Cup, Spain’s first Mundial, they were slightly more excited.  (Honestly, there were only about 30 people in the bar at that point, but I have never heard anything as loud as that Spanish goal.) 

Everyone was hugging everyone (or offering consoling shoulder pats), mostly joyous but one definitely bittersweet.  Jimmy had an early flight and headed to the airport directly from del Mar.  Bye, Jimmy – see you in the US sometime maybe.  Or Sweden.  Or China?

We went out into the street by DaxueCheng, where a beautiful sunrise was waiting for us (as it was, by the way, almost 5 a.m.).  It was streaked with red, which Carolina interpreted as Spanish colors – although honestly, if the game had gone the other way it still could have been congratulatory for the winners.

There were still some barbecue vendors, so we commandeered one guy’s coals and started roasting marshmallows for s’mores.  It was the perfect snack, just what the occasion called for!

But after such a high comes a crash.  Maybe football fans are used to this, the four year cycle of elation and depression, but it’s new to me.  I walked into this whole thing blindly, only to realize a month later that I’ve watched 16 football games, half of those in the wee hours of the morning.  And what now?  We talked of returning to normal sleep schedules, but also discussed having 2:30 a.m. parties every now and then.  I feel like I should find a club to support but my heart’s not in it.  I liked the Spanish and Dutch national teams; Real Madrid, Ajax, and even Barca don’t have that allure.  Yet.  I guess we’ll see, won’t we?

Suzhou, As Seen Through A Window

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm

We began our tour of Suzhou with the North Temple Pagoda for Repaying Kindness. 

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We climbed up to the top for a stunning view of smoggy Suzhou.

Matt - 1772

There actually was cool stuff to see at the top, but most of it was written on the pagoda.  Despite many signs “strictly forbidding” the painting or carving of messages, the top floor of the pagoda was covered in wishes and messages. 

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These were fairly typical: “The Zhou Peng family was here!” and “I wish my parents health, all the best, and a life of peace”.  You really get a feeling for how filial the Chinese are from these messages!

I was in an artistic mood, so I took most of my pictures framed by windows.  I like how they look . . .

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From the pagoda, we walked down the kitschy street outside the Suzhou museum towards the largest of the city’s many gardens, the Humble Administrator’s Garden.  It was beautiful, and there were lots of windows.

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It was hot (although I told Matt it wasn’t nearly as bad as Xiamen would be) so when we discovered an air-conditioned visitors’ center at the end, we went in to check it out.  They had a video about the garden, which we watched.  It was a great video – completely unintelligible even to me, but still very cool.  (And by ‘cool’, I am obviously referring to the air conditioning.)

We went back to our hotel, grabbing Lanzhou pulled noodles on the way to eat lunch in our room.  We unanimously agreed to take an afternoon nap, sleeping for a couple of hours before going back out in the evening. 

The Lonely Planet failed us here again.  I really shouldn’t be that surprised; Emei Shan was basically one big epic LP fail and their maps are clinically proven to suck.  Every time I take it out to plan a trip I remember how stupid it is that you have to haul the entire brick-sized China book every time you go to a city covered in a few pages.  On my last trip to Jilin, I just tore out the map I wanted and left The Brick at home.  Also, what’s with recommending Ajisen Noodles in every city in China?  It’s like mentioning Chipotle in every American metropolis; it’s not a local specialty of anywhere, especially since the food is freaking Japanese.  They just miss so many little details, like the area code for Hangzhou in every single phone number they list for the city.  Oops. 

End rant.  Let’s just say I don’t think I’ll ever buy another Lonely Planet.  But, you have to start somewhere and, having already spent the $30+ on The Brick, I usually start there.  So we headed for the port for a 35-kuai, 80-minute boat tour of Suzhou’s canals, only to end up with 120-kuai tickets for a 60-minute tour.  It was nice, but it was a 350% increase from the price we had expected!

Matt - 1885 

We dined at Pizza Hut, sharing a dinner for two that included all of Pizza Hut’s usual specialties – you know, a meat pizza, thai curry wraps, beef croquettes, pancetta, and tiramisu.  Pizza Hut in China is an experience, for sure.

We both wanted to stay up to watch the semifinal between Spain and Germany at 2:30.  It began with some excitement when a fan ran onto the field, but the late hour and all conspired against us.  Matt fell asleep at halftime while I struggled through the rest of the game.  I did notice, in the quiet hotel room, that I understand quite a bit of the commentary – on soccer, in Chinese.  (Well, a lot more than the garden video we watched this morning, for sure!)  Anyway, my perseverance ended up being worth it, because not only did Spain not allow four German goals as seems to be popular this year, but they WON!  I celebrated by sending a delirious congratulatory text to Carlos and immediately falling asleep.

Beach Football is the Best Football

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2010 at 3:55 am

I heard a rumor last night that they were shutting off our electricity today.  Why is that the bad rumors are so much more often true than the good rumors? 

The electricity stopped at 7 this morning, and didn’t return until after 8 in the evening.  Yes, that’s right – as if it weren’t bad enough that they were cutting our electricity during the hellishly hot days of July in Xiamen, they also conveniently arranged it on the weekend and during the scorching daylight.  Thanks, guys. 

We drew the curtains before going to bed, so the room stayed reasonably cool until we got up.  But then Leinira left the balcony door open for a half hour while she cleaned and all the pleasantly cool air fled the room.  By staying in bed and lying perfectly still, I managed to pass the time until about 2 in the afternoon.  At that point I got up, immediately started sweating, and decided to get the heck out of my room.

Apparently most of campus and some other parts of the city had lost power as well, so every place at West Gate with air conditioning was mobbed with sweaty patrons.  Eunice and Andreea somehow found a table at McDonald’s, and I joined them there for a few hours of studying.

While we sitting there, the day got even better.  (And of course by “better”, I mean “worse”.)  Two girls came in and stood uncomfortably near our seats, causing Eunice to protectively move her purse to her lap.  I, not being from the Philippines, didn’t think much of it and we all went back to reading.  Then all of a sudden there was a commotion and we looked up to watch Andreea nearly tackle a girl to get her purse back.  While we were figuring out what the heck was going on (and trying to think of the word “thief” in Chinese), the three of them got away.  No one so much as looked at us afterwards, and they barely reacted even when we finally started yelling 小偷, 小偷! 

That was the first time I witnessed an attempted theft.  When people warned me about thieves in China, I guess I always figured it would be more of a pickpocketing thing.  Anyway, with how easily I lose things I didn’t worry about it too much.  Why fear a thief I’ve never seen when I’ve lost more cameras than some people have ever owned?  But this, this blatant grab-and-run, was scary – and the complete apathy of everyone around us was even more so.

I wasn’t feeling like showering in my dark bathroom, so I went to get my hair washed instead.  It’s been far too long since I indulged in this luxury, and the scalp massage was even more amazing than I remembered it.  The lady next to me was so excited to see me, and said that she’d always wanted to wash a foreigner’s hair.  I’m not one to disappoint, so I’m planning on going back there once more before going home – #48, your time is coming!

I went to church in the evening and, thankfully, got home after the power had come back on.  I was able to get online after an entire day without internet – while it is kind of a long time for me, it really wouldn’t have been that big of a deal on a normal day.  But the first email I saw was from my parents and ended with “Still awaiting news on Cathy” and the second email was titled “Prayers needed”.  They had both been sent 16 hours earlier, when my aunt suffered [basically] two heart attacks and was put into a drug-induced coma to minimize damage to her organs. 

I was upset and scared to hear this news, and even more so because it seemed like so much time had passed without me knowing.  Let’s be honest – 90% of my communication online is not time-sensitive at all, and only a fraction of a percent is truly urgent like this was, but almost all of my communication over here is internet-based in one way or another, and thus it is all – important and trivial – subject to the whims of China. 

 

A little later, Eunice and I went to the beach party.  We arrived a few minutes past 10 to find an entire beach full of people focused attentively on the Germany-Argentina match being broadcast on a white screen that swayed gently in the breeze.  We had already missed one German goal but it turned out to not be a big deal.  We settled down in the sand to watch the rest of the game, all four German goals of it. 

One thing I’ve been a little annoyed about during the World Cup is the way everyone gets so worked up when a team loses.  I mean, everyone except one team goes home a loser, so it seems like it shouldn’t be such a big deal.  But I’m starting to see that it’s not so much the losing as the way it was lost.  France was an obvious disgrace and apparently (though I’m not clear on why) Italy was as well.  While I want to remember the awesome 91-st minute goal, everyone else is remembering how tired the US team looked when we lost to Ghana.  England’s Rooney was so hyped that a 4:1 loss is kind of bad (although, really, everyone and their mother has allowed 4 German goals, if you think about it).  South Africa didn’t live up to expectations/hopes as the host nation, none of the other African countries stepped up either, so that every African loss felt like a continent-wide failure. 

And then tonight – Messi, Maradona, que paso? 

While I don’t relish the idea of an entire country in mourning, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this match.  Cafe del Mar has been a nice venue, but nothing can beat cool sand and a fresh breeze after a hot day.  The sound of waves over there, the moon shining through clouds, and stars visible in the clear sky overhead – they helped, too.  And when they celebrated Germany’s victory with fireworks – well, that was almost too perfect. 

I also had a burger.  They were too small, the buns were sweet, and they cost $3 each (a fortune!) but they were still the best burgers I’ve had in nearly a year.  (It’s kind of fun to be able to say that.  Almost makes up for having to go nearly a year without getting to eat stuff like hamburgers.  Almost.  But not quite.)  It kind of felt like the Fourth of July!

I danced for a while but went home because I had to cook while we still had electricity.  The good news was, there was a match on – Spain vs. Paraguay – to keep me company.  I was hoping to watch it with Carlos, my favorite Spaniard, but he was sick.  I found him in his room, huddled under a blanket and asking me to bring him mine.  I would have stayed with him, but his AC was off and his room was so hot I started sweating immediately upon entering. 

So I sat on my bed, slicing tomatoes and cheering for Spain whenever I remembered to look up.  The game was 0-0 for a long time, and the thought of Spain losing made me cry.  Come to think of it, it might have been the onions I was chopping; really tough to say.  I washed spring peas and diced garlic and cut up hot peppers and finally Spain scored and won.  Around 4, I finally went to sleep on a bed that smelled of salsa, under the blanket I had reclaimed from Carlos.  Germ warfare using blankets – that is just like the Spanish, isn’t it? 

Please Close the Door Behind You

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2010 at 10:47 pm

I was so tired in class today.  It wasn’t so much that I didn’t have any energy – more like I had never had any energy, ever.  I sat in class and, as much as I wanted to return to my bed, dreaded the thought of the three flights of stairs I had to descend, the 100 meters I had to walk, and the three flights of stairs I had to ascend in order to get there.  The very idea exhausted me.

It might have been the heat.  The classroom was alright, but outside was oppressively hot and muggy in that special way that only Xiamen (and, I suppose, particularly warm saunas) can be.  I could feel my internal heat trying to escape from my body, only to find out that outside was even worse and return to me.  In this way, the several inches around my skin seemed even hotter than ambient air, occupied as it was with these comings and goings.

I managed to get myself back to my room, where I collapsed on my bed and slept for four hours.  It was magnificent.

The only thing that could get me to go back outside was our dinner plans.  We went to a restaurant serving food from China’s northwestern Xinjiang province, which has the distinction of being my favorite place in China that I’ve never been to.  If you ever eat their food, it will be yours, too!  Yerkin, our Kazakh buddy, was our guide through dinner.  Their food is apparently quite similar, which makes me even more determined to go visit him after we all go home.  Basically, each dish is some combination of meat, bread, and onions, occasionally with other veggies thrown in for color, often doused in flavorful sauce.  We started with a huge plate of chicken and onions in sauce, then had a huge plate of meat and bread and onions, then a huge plate of meat and bread and veggies in sauce.  Then a basket of bread, some bread stuffed with meat, and some other bread stuffed with other meat.  Amazing. 

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The staff at the restaurant are mostly Uighur, one of China’s ethnic minorities, and with some of them Yerkin’s Russian was actually of more use than our Mandarin.  Our waitress was a super cute young woman who said everything in the singsongy voice that we all used when we were just starting to learn Chinese.  There was a note of accomplishment in her voice each time she said something, as if “Shay-shay!” was an amazing triumph instead of the word for “thank you”.  But, you know, when you’re just starting to learn this language, it is an amazing triumph, so I guess she wasn’t that far off at all. 

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Despite Diederik’s constant fretting, we made it back to campus in plenty of time to stake out the best spots in del Mar for the football match.  The game started at 10, Netherlands vs. Brazil in the quarterfinals.  I watched Brazil’s first goal but by halftime was feeling so tired and weak (see first paragraph) that I had to go home.  This, unfortunately, meant I missed the second half – the fall of the Brazilian Empire, basically – in which one of their players scored an own goal and Wesley Sneijder, that lovable Dutch striker who stands shorter than me, scored on a header.  (Seriously, though, I do really like Sneijder.  He was the third player whose name I learned, he’s both good and good-looking, and he’s Catholic!) 

I saw the final score online but by that time I was already in bed.  I watched the new Karate Kid as I went to bed.  I thought it was pretty good but had a little bit of a hard time believing the aggressive young Chinese boys.  If Chinese kids are anything like the guys I see in their 20’s, there’s no way on earth that a gang of them would have confronted a young foreign boy for talking to a girl.

Also, I’m getting a little tired of the “China is so green” idea.  Jackie Chan shows Jaden Smith how the Chinese only heat water when they want to take a shower, slipping a comment in there about how “this saves the planet”.  That’s fine, but can we acknowledge two things?  First of all, 80% of the time complimenting China on how “green” it is, is like complimenting starving African children on how thin they are.  It’s not what they want, and they would change it in a heartbeat if they could.  Wow, isn’t that amazing how everyone takes public transportation?  Look how small their homes are, how high they’re stacked!  In fact, ‘as the living standards of Chinese have improved’ (which must be, by the way, one of the most-written sentences in the Chinese language), these “green” habits are going out the window

Secondly, I have a hard time drooling over the low carbon footprint of the average Chinese because I can feel wasted energy seeping through cracks and gushing through open doors.  Yeah, I think it’s probably a good idea to just air condition the classrooms and leave the hallways open to the outside – but if you’re planning on leaving the classroom door open, then any benefit is totally negated.  I like walking down a street and shopping, being able to buy things without having to go inside, but while the blasts of cold air may feel good physically, I actually feel sick when they hit my skin. 

It’s everywhere here.  Small restaurants are usually fairly good about keeping their cool air inside, and I guard the seals of my dorm like Gestapo, but everyone else seems to think they can combat global warming by air-conditioning the world.  Man, the Laws of Thermodynamics are a bitch, aren’t they?  I think the more energy wasted, the higher class or more expensive an establishment is; it’s gotten to the point that I know when we’re walking by they jewelry store on Zhongshan Lu just by the piercing 16°C air that billows around me.  (This store, as with many others, has no doors at all.) 

I hate it so much.  In America, I go around opening doors for people.  In China, I wait for them to go through and then I close the doors behind them.

Supply and Demand

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 at 2:43 am

We’ve put up with our share of crap from the weather in Xiamen this year.  For about five months, if you asked a Xiamenite when the rainy season is, they would respond, without fail, “n月和n+1月” (essentially, this month and next month).  And, from about February to mid-June, it was true.

But the blazing sun and brilliant blue sky have been out these past few days, and it has been glorious.  It’s been hot (35C or 100F) but not as deathly humid as before.  It reminds me of Texas, or (if the wind is blowing) Oklahoma.  Except there are beaches here.

I had my first final today, in newspaper reading.  I was really excited about the class at first but somewhere along the line (between the second and the third teacher) it became newspaper analysis and started to suck.  Glad to be done with it.

I rewarded myself by spending the afternoon at the beach with a book.  A book I’ve already read, granted, but that’s the reality of life in China for me.  I didn’t go in the water, just sat by the large concrete mice (computer, not animal) that are there for some reason.  I had the beach basically to myself, which would have made more sense if it had been during a downpour or a snowstorm or a tsunami instead of an insanely gorgeous day.  But this is one of the perks of Asians’ cultural dislike for dark skin – sometimes understandably mistaken as a downright fear of the sun.

I should admit – one of my purposes in sitting out there was to get a tan.  I feel slightly conflicted about this, because I dislike the importance attached to skin color in societies all over the world.  I guess I think I look better with slightly darker skin (hopefully to cover up those mosquito bite scars) but what I think is more interesting is the connotation that different skin colors carry.

Because of course, skin color is just a convenient proxy for the connotations associated with it.  This is why Americans love bronzed bodies and Asians treasure their porcelain skin.  (See?  Even the words differ; Americans would more commonly say ‘pasty’.)  In societies where many labor under the sun, skin untouched by its rays is a sign of wealth or prestige keeping it from a darker fate.  In societies where many spend their lives indoors, only those with the money and time to exercise, relax, or travel enjoy prolonged exposure to the sun. 

But over time, the connection between skin color and what it signifies becomes so close that the two are seemingly one.  And instead of that skin arising naturally from those circumstances, obtaining that skin color through alternate methods is a way to create the facade of that lifestyle.  So this is why my classmates at Coon Rapids High School were bright orange in the dead of winter, a physical impossibility using natural sunlight.  And this is why my friends who work construction in Jilin wear layers of clothing all summer, to preserve their white skin in spite of the reality of their jobs.

It all seems kind of silly to me; I’m not trying to fool anyone here with my skin color.  I want it to speak the truth – and the truth is that I live 3 minutes walk from a beach.  I want to have enjoyed this luxury by the time I leave, and my tan is just a convenient meter for measuring my progress. 

 

This evening, Carlos invited me to go out with his work friends to play Catan.  We had dinner and [two bowls of] shaved ice and fruit, and then went to their house to play.  Carlos won both games last time we played 6-player, so I warned them not to let him win.  They really believed me, so Carlos got crushed and I won.  I won the second one fair and square, though.  And things are back to how they should be :) 

Catan is such an amazing game, really.  I am continually amazed at how simple it is, how perfectly balanced the rules are, how many times it can be played without ever getting boring.  I want to do research on Catan – what kind of degree program would that be?  Supply and demand, game theory, statistics?  Sounds like economics to me.  Hmmmm. 

We played until 1 a.m. but it didn’t even feel late.  I guess several nights of 2:30 a.m. football matches will do that to you, eh?  There is no football tonight, day one of a two-day break before the quarter finals . . . and its weird.  I haven’t watched every night, but I have generally known who was playing and looked for the results as the games ended.  I haven’t even been a football fan for three weeks, but when Carlos put his head in his hands, groaning “What will I do when it’s over?”, I kind of knew how he was feeling.  True story. 

 

I got home to a few messages on QQ.  Joyce, a.k.a. Worst Friend Ever, is trying to rekindle our friendship; I think she needs to improve her oral English for something.  Allen, a guy I met once at English Corner, is trying to take me to dinner before I leave.  Earlier in the year I would have tried to fit them in, but tonight I was honest and said I was going to be pretty busy until I leave China.  It’s not like I’m dying or anything, but the truth is that I only have a certain number of days left here and, after this long, I have a pretty good idea of how I want to spend them.  I’ve done the fake friend thing here; it has its merits.  But by the law of supply and demand, time with the people I care about has gotten infinitely valuable, and it’s hard to compete with that. 

Beach Bumming – Finally!

In Uncategorized on June 29, 2010 at 2:38 am

After spending an entire day yesterday trying to do something we’d been planning for weeks, today’s impromptu shopping trip went fabulously.  Well, the photography company has completely disappeared and no one sells piano music and my feet are still impossibly large, but still.  I got two things that had been specifically requested by people back home, and that’s kind of amazing. 

I took the bus back to campus, thinking only of a shower.  But then I got off the bus at Baicheng and one look at the beach made me forget about that.  I called Aleid, who just happened to be at the beach already!  I joined her as quickly as I could, and we spent the afternoon soaking up the sun, sea, and sand.

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When I found out I was coming to a tropical island this year, a few people made comments along the lines of “You’re going to be a complete beach bum!”.  That really took me by surprise, because I’m not really a beach person.  If I’m partial to any part of the US, it’s the Heartland, and I think I’ve only been to the ocean once down in Rockport, TX.  I can swim fine but I don’t adore it, and while I like my skin bronze I would never seriously devote time to getting it that way.  So yeah, sometimes I feel like Xiamen has been wasted on me.  I’ve had several memorable occasions on the beach, but today was my first time swimming in the ocean here and really my first time sunbathing. 

It was great, though.  I’ll have to do it again!

I cleaned up in time for a pre-game dinner with the Netherlands contingent, followed by the Netherlands-Slovakia game.  (Following quotes are from the NYT live updates during the game.)

Pre-game musings: For the Netherlands, as always, the question is when. When will it all go wrong? Fatalism and realism go hand in hand when it comes to Dutch soccer which, when played well, can be some of the best you’ll ever see. Every four years the Netherlands cobbles together skillful players and cheerful fans and high hopes, and every four years something seems to go wrong. Like the pre-2004 Boston Red Sox, the Oranje always seem to find a way NOT to win it all.

The first half wasn’t too exciting, with the Dutch basically in control but not doing much with that. 

Minute 29 – [The Slovakians] just won a free kick in the Netherlands’ half, however, so Stekelenberg has put down his drink and folded up his lawn chair just in case. He stands it next to the goal so he won’t have to go far to retrieve it in a moment.

One of the most interesting events was when they stopped the clock momentarily – a big deal in soccer!

Minute 35 – The game is stopped briefly to give the far-side linesman a new flag. But heaven forbid they ever stop a game to see if a ball, you know, crossed the line or not.

The second half saw another beautiful Dutch goal, and generally more action from their stars.  I’m learning them by name, under the tutelage of Diederik: Sneijder, Robben, and Kuyt.  Kuyt’s name is the world for the calf muscle, which apparently is pretty fitting. 

Minute 59 – Van Persie drills the free kick right onto the fists of Mucha, who is then run down by a charging Kuyt (is there any other kind of Kuyt?).

Minute 60 – Kuyt runs so hard he could play for the U.S. Except he scores from time to time from the forward spot, so maybe he wouldn’t fit in.

It was looking like a 2-0 finish, and Diederik was excited about moving up in the pool.  But the referee called a penalty on the Dutch keeper and (dictated by some logic I can’t grasp) this meant one of the Slovakian players got to kick the ball at the goal with only the goalkeeper to try and stop him.  He tried, and failed: 2-1!  This was the score I had predicted (using the very scientific method of writing “2-1” for every single game in this round), so maybe I’m beating Diederik again?  Even a broken clock is right twice a day!

One of the Slovakian players (Hamsik) had a Chinese-looking tattoo on his neck, sparking a discussion between Aleid and I.  I did some checking online when I got back and found some pictures to scrutinize, but I also accidentally looked at about 30 pictures of the neck of another Slovenian player (Skrtel).  Apparently he is kind of a beast, as evidenced by this list of Chuck Norris-like hyperbole

 

Also – as of today, I have been keeping a journal for 6 years.  If I were still using that old livejournal account, it would be 6 today!  This will be post #2,080 – covering 6 years, 3 schools, 5 countries, 3 boyfriends, and countless memories.  My journal is where I write about what makes me happy and complain about what stresses me out.  It’s where I write my plans for the future, and it’s where I look back on earlier entries so I can laugh about what became of those plans.

It’s been fun writing for people to read again, but my journal will be around long after I go back to the States next month.

Soccer: Likes and Dislikes

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2010 at 5:06 am

I went out tonight to watch the German-England game and was very glad I did so.  What a game!  Out of all the football games I’ve watched (haha), this first half was by far the most exciting.  In the space of 7 minutes, there were two German goals, an English goal, and two shots each – all alternating!  Basically, the ball crossed the entire field like every 4 seconds.  It was more like a basketball game than any football I’ve ever watched.  Oh, and to add to the drama, one of the English shots was a goal that was not called because the referee didn’t see it go in. 

I’m watching these second round games hoping to catch a glimpse of the still-elusive penalty kicks, when it comes down to sudden death by ball.  Not much chance in a 4-1 game, though.  I decided to watch the Argentina-Mexico game afterwards.  I haven’t seen Argentina (and the fabled Messi) play yet, and in an interesting coincidence the matchup is a reprise of my very first football game ever, the 2007 Copa America semifinals that I watched in Mexico City.  Mexico lost then, too (but at least they scored this time!)

 

As I’m watching, let me share with you some of my thoughts on soccer, organized by Likes and Dislikes:

Dislikes

  • Extra seconds – I don’t like how the games end at random times on the clock – 90 minutes . . . and 6 seconds?  What, did you just now glance at your watch?  That’s just bad form.  What if something happens in those 6 seconds, does it count?
  • Referees – They seem like a third team out there on the field, as crucial to the final result as the other two.  I think their job is incredibly hard, which seems a little silly when there are so many resources available to make it easier (this little invention called the video camera, for instance).  It also sucks for them because a good referee is basically invisible, perfectly forgettable – while a bad referee will be remembered for ever.  Coulibaly from Mali, I’m talking about you.
  • Grudges – I swear, I hear more talk about bad calls than good goals.  Yes, I’ve heard of the Goal of the Century, but before each match I hear a rundown of previous times these two countries met and what stupid thing the ref did in favor of one of them.  Rivalries and grudges seem to be based more on errors of a third party instead of any hard feelings between the two teams. 
  • Diving – I don’t like the idea of a sport that rewards players for faking injuries.  Why not just come up with a better way to differentiate real fouls from players falling to the ground of their own volition?  (See, “Referees”)
  • Ball design – When I saw the headlines about the official World Cup 2010 ball, and players’ complaints, I thought it was an Onion article.  (Interestingly, they did later run one!)  I don’t get the need for a tournament to create their own ball; I thought soccer balls were standard!  If they want to make things really interesting, they should just use an improv item for each game – and not necessarily a ball.  I would watch that. 
  • Goalie uniforms – I have a hard time figuring out which side they’re on because they don’t match.  Help me out, I’m just a beginner here!  Couldn’t they at least wear varying shades, complementary colors, something??

Likes

  • Goalie uniforms – While I think they’re confusing, I also think they’re super fun.  The English goalie looked like a banana today, long and thin and brown at one end.  
  • The game clock – I like knowing almost exactly how long a game will last.  None of this “15 minutes left on the clock, so maybe . . . an hour?” stuff.  Yeah, they throw a minute or three on the end for some reason, and there may be overtime (exactly 30 minutes) but there are no commercial breaks and even injuries don’t warrant a stop. 
  • The rules – I still don’t understand penalties and fouls, and I call offsides incorrectly so consistently that it’s almost amazing, but the basic rules of soccer are so much easier to understand than football.  They run, they kick, he blocks, someone gets a point.  Let me put it this way – I couldn’t have a conversation about any other sport in Chinese! 
  • Upsets – Maybe because of the low scores, there seems to be more opportunities for upsets.  It makes things more exciting and gives underachieving teams a hope before each game – a hope that I don’t see in my friends who cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions. 
  • Slow motion replays – So much better in soccer.  You see the flesh on their cheeks flapping up and down as they run, in that super dramatic way that just demands a soundtrack of “Chariots of Fire”.  You see the sweat shower of their heads as that header goes right where they wanted it.  And – unlike American football – you see the emotion on their helmet-free faces.  The joy of a goal, the despair of a bad call, and – my favorite – the joy of a goal followed by the despair of a bad call nullifying the goal.  Priceless. 
  • The players – I like that I can see them as people on the field, instead of helmets and jerseys with numbers on them.  It’s easier for me to remember faces than names, so I feel more of a connection with them.  Also, let’s be honest here – some of them have really cool hair and a lot of them are quite good looking.  It helps.

Hand on the Plow

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2010 at 5:14 am

Said goodbye to Kristina this morning.  There are no more Slovenians now, not until I go visit them.  It is a sad day for Xiamen.

I felt much worse this morning, so I spent the day in my room.  I finally finished a Chinese movie I’ve been working on, 非诚勿扰 (If You Are the One).  I can tell it’s funny (about a guy looking for a wife) but it’s much harder than the other trashy movies I’ve been watching, so I only pick up a third or so of the actual words. 

Today is my 10-month anniversary in Xiamen, but I didn’t do much in the way of celebrating.  Still, 10 months is a long time, isn’t it?  Most study abroad programs are for a semester – and a short one at that – so as far as study abroad goes, this year has been a marathon.  I’ve been in Xiamen longer than any of last year’s freshman have been at TU!

I did manage to get to Mass this evening, although the single apple I had eaten left me so weak I thought I was going to faint as I genuflected.  Today’s Gospel ended with “手扶着梨儿向后看的,不适于天主的国”, or “He who looks back while his hand is on the plow is not fit for the kingdom of God.”  Sweet, I learned the word for ‘plow’!  I also caught most of Bishop Cai’s homily and what he said really caused me to think about the things in my life that accompany me on the straight and narrow, and the things that try to make me turn back. 

After Mass, I got a mango fruit juice from my favorite juice stand.  It had been 5 days since I had tasted something so deliciously flavorful!  My stomach felt fine afterwards – but even if not, I decided it was about time my mouth felt good. 

I went dancing only because Lester leaves on Tuesday and it was my last chance to dance with him.  We did the cha-cha, it was good.  I also danced three other songs and didn’t even pass out or anything.

Now I’m back in my room.  I ate a banana and apparently not all fruit is okay with my stomach . . . Also, there’s a cockroach in my room and I’m afraid to go to the bathroom because he’s over there.  Seriously, though, I’ve seen smaller cats!  I considered calling a friend to help me but I don’t like to think of myself as that kind of girl and would hate for others to.  So I will just hold it in, I guess, and sleep with eyes open and mouth shut.

The Uruguay-Korea game just finished, 2:1 with Uruguay continuing on.  Great way to start off the final round, because that’s exactly the score I predicted!  I’m currently 5th out of 10 in the standings of our pool – while it’s true that four of them have been lax in submitting their brackets, I am legitimately beating Diederik.  Will wonders never cease?

 

Update: I woke up at 3:47 a.m., an hour and a half after my alarm was supposed to go off.  The US-Ghana game started at 2:30, but my alarm didn’t work and only the faint cheering on TV finally roused me.  It was looking like a typical American game – Ghana had scored first, but Donovan’s goal (which caused the cheering) tied the game.

No worries about missing the first hour of the game.  I got to watch the last half hour and, when it was still tied, got to experience my first ever overtime football match.  It’s kind of intense – they add 30 minutes to the game, which is 1/3 of the original length again!

They worked hard, but lost 2-1 and we’re out of the tournament.  I would like to extend a thank you to “the guys”, though: Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Bocanegra, Bradley, and guy-with-the-long-name.  You’re the first American football (well, American soccer?) players I knew and in fact, I learned your names right around the time I found out who Maradona and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were.  You played well, keeping me invested through four long (one really long!) games, cheering for you all the way.  Thanks for your hard work, and maybe I’ll see you on the field in the future? 

Especially you, Donovan – you’re cute.