Sunday, February 26, 2006

Second Semester Registration

I returned to Beijing last night after a two week vacation in the States. Classes start tomorrow, and I hadn't registered yet. I was expecting a huge headache when I went today to do so, but I was happily surprised to find that the process was streamlined and - dare I say? - efficient. It was at least efficient for Beijing, and that is plenty for me.

I am registered for another 20 hours per week this semester, and I am now in the intermediate level. I think what that is ultimately going to mean is that I'm going to drown in confusion and long hours of trying to understand on my own what happened in class. I have 10 hours of required courses, and three additional courses that I chose.

I decided to take another reading course because I struggled with reading comprehension last semester, and also because I would like to be literate in this language one day. I am also taking a grammar class, which is different from the type of grammar class I've grown accustomed to in the past few years. The closest equivalent that I can think of is studying grammar like I did in English class in the States. It's presupposing knowledge and delving deeper. I'm hoping that will help me understand some nuances in the language that I'm missing. Finally, I decided to take a cultural geography course because I thought it would be nice to take a course with actual content in Chinese instead of constant instruction in just the language.

I am jetlagged right now. I've been fighting sleep for the past five or six hours in an attempt to beat this and get reacclimated to the time. I think I am about to give in and sleep now, though. 9.30pm is a decent time to go to bed, right?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Goodbye, Personal Space. Hello, Asia.

I'm in the process of travelling back to Beijing from my break in the States. I just got off of the longest leg of the trip, and I am very happy about it. The flight from Detroit to Tokyo, where I am currently, took over 13 hours. I was seated in between a Korean guy my own age and a Japanese man who appeared to be in his early thirties. As the Korean guy on my left, who had a window seat, fell asleep, he gradually slumped toward me and onto my shoulder. I let him stay for a minute, and then realized that he wasn't getting up. I shrugged him off of me, and he moved. Eventually, I fell asleep for a while, though uncomfortably, because his elbow was far over his armrest. I don't understand it. He had a wall to lean on.

When I woke up, he was asleep on my shoulder again. I honestly don't know if he was doing this on purpose or not. When I was on the rail in Tokyo people fell asleep on me, and on a bus in Utsunomiya people did the same. I don't know if I should be shoving people or just getting over it.

[Regarding my lack of vacation posts: I have some work to do, but the photos are being posted, and the entries will come. Check backwards on my blog because I will be backdating them.]