Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Triumph Resulting in Internet

My concrete slab of a bed isn’t too uncomfortable. I woke up around 1.30am and studied Chinese for about an hour and a half before I finally decided that I’d need sleep for more registration in the morning. I awakened again around 7am with quite an awful shoulder/neck ache. It hasn't gone away yet. Maybe I’ll just get used to it.

my bed

I got back to Run Run Shaw this morning about five minutes before registration opened. I was the first American there, so I wasn’t going to have a line. I needed to return some forms to further the progress of getting my student card and residence permit. I tried to give them everything today that they requested yesterday, but they didn’t want it all. I had to fill out a form twice, and I still don’t know what I’ll be using it for. I also don’t understand why photocopiers aren’t being utilized for duplicates when they’re sitting right against a wall.

I have to go to get rechecked at a health center tomorrow. I’m going to be boarded onto a bus with a bunch of other foreigners around 1.30pm. They haven’t told us if the bus will take us back yet. I get the feeling that it won’t. I’d better keep my eyes open on the way there.

While trying to find the College of Advanced Chinese Training today, a Chinese man from Vancouver stopped me and asked if I needed help. As we walked to find the building, he introduced himself. His name is Ping, and he is currently working in investment. He was very helpful on several topics regarding living in Beijing. He told me about cell phone plans, the wonders of calling the U.S. with Skype, and an internet café near the school.

We found the building after asking a few people for directions, and I got registered to take a placement in two days. I’m happy to say that I got that task accomplished completely in Chinese. I’m really excited about being functional in Mandarin. I didn’t know that I was, but it’s being proven to me over and over again with everything that I get done. I think IU must really have an amazing program for Chinese. I feel like I’m probably quite a bit further along than the people I’ve met who have had the same length of training that I have.

Ping told me that he’d take me over to the cell phone store so I could check out the plans. I needed to get my cell phone from my room, so I told him I’d meet him at the South Gate. On my way to the dorm, I ran into Ryan and invited him to come with. So the three of us went to the store, checked things out, and then headed to the internet café. I was so excited to have internet at my fingertips. It’s surprisingly fast here. The speed is comparable to cable internet in the U.S.

We had lunch about an hour and a half later at a place right next door to the café. Lunch was delicious. I had Mapo Dofu, and it was extremely spicy and wonderful. I loved it. The three of us sat eating and talking for about two and a half hours. I had forgotten how much of an emphasis my Chinese professors put on the fact that meals are a social time. Or perhaps I hadn’t forgotten: I simply didn’t fully realize how true their statements were. We talked for such a long time. I really feel like I learned a lot in the conversation, though. I’m looking forward to more meals with people here. I’m going to get a lot more out of those than any culture course I could take in the states.

After lunch, I decided that I needed to get internet today. I went to Cernet’s office on campus and laid everything out in Chinese. Let me tell you, I am extremely excited about how I did with this. I picked a plan, gave my information, scheduled an appointment, and paid for service without ever falling back on English or getting really frustrated. I even asked questions about my plan and when I pay, and what I needed to do at the installation appointment. This confirmed in my head that I’m functional speaking Chinese. That is really exciting. I can’t wait until classes start and I learn even more.

I have internet in my room now. I have a minute language triumph. This is something I need to remember on the off days I have in my studies.


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