Friday, November 09, 2007

Rewards of Documentation

I'm not in China anymore. I feel bad that I didn't write about my last couple of experiences, but if I do it now, they won't be in the same spirit as the rest of these writing. What I want to mention right now is the feedback I got from this blog.

I wrote about my time in China for several reasons. I wanted a personal record of my time. I wanted to keep friends and family updated on what was going on with me in a way that would make them feel connected to me. I wanted to have something to which my professors could refer other students potentially interested in studying in China. Most of all, however, I wanted to make a reference.

When I was in the preparation stages for my trip, I could not find any information. I'm pretty decent with technology and the internet, and I could not find information about the school I was going to attend. Being overseas and wondering about basic things like where you will live in a place where you're not really sure you can talk is stressful. Couple that with going totally alone with no guidance, and you've got a real mess on your hands. It's not everyday that you run across something the internet is missing, so it's good to take your opportunities.

I'm so glad that I wrote as much as I did. Truly, even now, over a year after my return, I am still hearing from people who are going to Beijing, even to the school I attended in some cases. I decided to revisit this spot on the web tonight because I had someone contact me tonight. People have found this through several methods - google, flickr, facebook - and I hope that people continue to find it, and find it useful.

I've gotten the chance to correspond with many people because of this blog, and that's probably the most rewarding part of having kept it. So everyone, continue to feel free to get in touch with me. It's great to hear from you and find out who's interested enough in China to actually get themselves over there.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Chinese Herbal Cough Medicine

I'm still sick, and my cough is beginning to sound particularly ugly. I get this every so often, so it's not that big of a deal. I still haven't found a way to make it go away quickly, though, and right now I'm particularly desperate for it to stop. I want to be healthy this week because most of my friends are leaving at the end of it, and I want to hang out with them. So, today, against my usual course of western power-antibiotics, went for some Chinese medicine. I usually think it isn't going to be strong enough since my body is used to western medicine, but I really don't like taking the codeine cough medicine I have from the international hospital. It's overkill.

I went to a pharmacy today and bought Chinese herbal cough medicine called Nin Jiom Pei Pa Kao (It's from Hong Kong). So far, I like it. It tastes good. It's really thick and syrupy, so it was a little weird to have in my mouth and to swallow, but I got over it quickly. My mouth and throat feel pleasantly cool, I don't have any real desire to cough right now. My voice is also back because my throat is coated. It seems to be working pretty well.


Tendrilleaf Fritilliary Bulb
Loquat Leaf
Fourleaf Ladybell Root
Indian Bread
Pummelo Peel
Platycodon Root
Prepared Pinellia Tuber
Chinese Magnoliavine Fruit
Snakegourd Seed
Common Coltsfoot Flower
Thinleaf Milkwort Root
Bitter Apricot Seed
Fresh Ginger
Almond Extract

So good. I kind of wish I had candy that tasted like this. Anyway, I'm pleased so far. The little bit I am coughing now doesn't hurt, so that's better than I was doing.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Exams Are Over!

Today was my last exam. It can only be described as brutal. It was the one for my reading class, and did I ever get more than I bargained for. The first part of the exam was the fast reading section. For that section, we were given 15 minutes to go through 7 pages, reading and answering questions, and then it was taken away. The second section was handed out following that, and we were given about an hour and a half to finish the remaining 18 pages of the test. Granted, reading comprehension wasn't my strongest suit when I was taking English tests as a child, but wow. I thought I might have improved at least a little. Apparently reading comprehension is my weak suit in language.

Regardless of that how absurd the test may or may not have been, it's all over! I don't have to take any more tests. My friends and I are going to go out to celebrate tonight. I probably shouldn't because I'm not over my cold yet, but I don't care. Today marks an amazing day for me - I got through a year of Chinese school and exams. That makes me very happy.

In the coming days, I'll be buying a ticket for Inner Mongolia (Nei menggu) so I can hang out in the grasslands and the desert, living in a Yurt and traveling on camels, so long as I'm not allergic to them as my mother believes I might be. (Don't worry, I'll bring Benadryl.). I'm looking to dancing around a giant bonfire with the people who live there, and of course to taking tons of photos.

And once more for good measure...

Yay! Exams are over!!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Earthquake Update

Just to prove I'm not crazy, check out this article my dad sent me from the Khaleej Times.

BEIJING - An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale shook a large area of northern China close to the cities of Beijing and Tianjin on Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. continue...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Exam Update

I've taken three exams so far. The first was the speaking part of my listening and speaking class. For the most part, it went well. The only trouble with it was my story-telling section. She said in class that the stories shouldn't be long. Because we are in the room for the previous person's test, I gauged the time my teacher had the other student talk and told a story accordingly. However, when I was done, she said, "So short?" I might mention that this teacher is my one, "I'm watching you," teacher this semester. So I said back, "Oh, I can tell you more. Let me tell you about my birthday presents," and kept on going. I made some mistakes after that, though, so I was a little irritated. On the whole, though, it went well enough.

My second test was for my main class. I'm pretty sure I passed. I screwed up the dictation, but that's nothing new, and it was only 10% of the test. I'll consider any points I may get from that section to be a bonus to my score. Did you notice that I said passed in regards to this exam? This semester, my classes have been difficult. Having one test determine my grade is still an absurd concept to me - it tests how well you can cram, especially given the very limited opportunities we have to use the kinds of things we learn in class. So, realizing all of this, I decided that my main goal is to pass. Getting a 90% on your test here actually enables you to skip a level for the next semester. They are not expecting grades like that.

This leads me to the interesting issue, however, of how my classes and numerical grades are going to transfer back to IU. The grading system is really quite different. The number you get doesn't matter as long as you pass the test. That means that a 61% is fine for a score. The numbers don't actually mean anything. Classes are pass/fail. If you pass, you're good. If you don't, you don't move on. While a 61% may be fine here, however, back at IU, I think that means I won't get credit. I need some way of explaining this to whoever is processing my credit transfer. I don't know how much they've dealt with transfers from a Chinese university, but my guess is not much. Any suggestions?

My third test was for my grammar class. I think it's safe to say that there is no way I will be able to transfer credit for that course. I can say with very little doubt that I did not pass that exam. Strangely enough, I'm okay with that. Taking the exam, I know that there was no amount of extra study I could have done to make it better. I just need more time to practice and use what I learned in that class. It all hasn't completely sunken in. I think it will, it just hasn't happened yet. I'm sure small children continuously make mistakes with what I learned in that class this semester, and they have had years to keep trying it out. I had one semester and my brain is old. I don't really feel bad. I learned a ton from that class, even if it wasn't enough to pass; so I still consider having taken it a success.

I've talked to some Chinese students about not passing exams. They said it's a semesterly occurrence for them, and that I shouldn't worry about it. It happens all the time. It's strange, though, not passing a class. This is a new experience that China is providing me. I am humbled.

Speaking of new experiences, I apparently was in a small earthquake today. I didn't realize that's what it was at the time. When I got back from class today, I talked to a few of my friends and they asked if noticed it. I said, "Well, my chair did start shaking during the exam, but I thought the person behind me was kicking my chair." Stefanie replied, "Yeah, I was sitting at my desk and though Kate was kicking my chair, and then I realized she was across the room and it was moving on its own." Kate had been talking on the phone to our friend Oanh, and they both felt it at the same time. I've seen away messages of people around Beijing mentioning the earthquake. So, that was weird. I think it must have just been a tremor or something. However, that makes me a little glad to be heading back home. The idea of earthquakes kind of freaks me out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Winding Down

My time here is quickly coming to a close, and I haven't written much because I've had quite a bit to handle as of late. Today was my last day of class, and my first day of exams. The next two weeks will be spent studying until my eyes are dry and cracking into dust onto the pages of my books. Honestly, I don't know that I will pass this semester's courses. My entire grade in each class rides on one test for each. All of it. The Chinese testing system really knows how to put the pressure on. I'm going to try not to worry too much about this, though. I know I've learned so much this year, even if it isn't immediately apparent.

Originally, I was kind of heartbroken about returning to the states, but now that the heat and exams have settled in, I guess I can deal with it. Besides, it isn't China that I'm going to miss the most; it's my China-fam, as we've been calling it. I have met such amazing people here. Now isn't the time for writing a reflective piece because I have to go study, but there might be one in the near future. Until then, I am in studying hermitage.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hotel Construction

The hotel we moved Andrew into after the end of the shortened lease has become an old standby. He Jia Binguan is a pretty good, pretty cheap place to stay in Wudaokou, for only 158 kuai per night. Previously, all the rooming had been done in the main building, but this time they utilized the second building. I'm not entirely sure why they decided to do this, but I've learned that it's better to just not ask questions for some things.

There's alot of construction going on in that building, however, and it starts at about 6 in the morning. Today, it was particularly bad. I walked into the room, and the first thing I said was, "Wow, they've got quite the team of unskilled monkeys working around here, don't they?" because that's what it sounds like. It sounds like they've given monkeys hammers and let the banging commence.

We joked that there's actually a team of seals and babies working with them, too. Because of how Beijing businesses contract construction workers, however, a reasonable number of workers (5 monkeys, 6 seals, and 2 babies) would have to have give way to something ridiculous (30 monkeys, 20 seals, and well over 200 babies). That explains the noise.

I went to the desk and got the room changed this morning. I don't mind a seal in a hard hat even so often, but you've got to consider sleep quality sometimes.