Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I haven't blogged in almost a month. I'm terribly sorry. Many things have been happening lately, and I haven't had much time at the computer. I've had even less time at the internet. Allow me to give you a brief summary of recent events.

Wuyi: Wuyi is what we call the week-long break I had the first week of May. Wu stands for wu yue, which is May, and yi stands for yi hao, the first of May. Wuyi is International Labor Day. There were also several holidays within that week in China, such as Youth Day. During this week, Andrew and I hung out a bunch in Beijing. (He got here on April 30th.) My biggest triumph in this time was facilitating Andrew's cell phone purchase. I feel much more confident about my Chinese every time I have to do something real-world like that.

Andrew is going to be here until June 10. He's studying Chinese at PRC Study in Wudaokou. I checked it out ahead of time for him, and it seemed pretty legitimate. He started yesterday, and seems pretty happy with the program so far. I'm interested to see what four weeks of Chinese does for someone who starts at zero-level.

Apartment: I searched for and leased an apartment for Andrew's time here. Apartment hunting in Beijing is a real pain when you only want the place for a month. Keep that in mind if you're coming here. No one wants to lease for less than 6 months, and it took a lot of arguing for me to work this out. Luckily, the place is pretty nice, and not too expensive. The downside is that there is no internet because of the short lease period. No, let me correct that. The downside is that there has been terrible communication on the part of the woman leasing me the place on behalf of her friend, and that I was extremely angry for a while.

The day before moving things over to the place from the hotel, I still didn't have the key. I was supposed to have the key a week prior to that day. I couldn't get a hold of the leasing woman. I started to panic a little and called my teacher, the person who told me about the apartment. She gave me an alternate number to try the leasing woman at, and so I finally got a hold of her. When I did, she said that my teacher will have the key for me to pick up. (Did my teacher know this ahead of time? Of course not.) And then she said (and I translate):

Oh, Ding Mei, there's one other thing. Sorry to bring this up, but, well, I talked to my friend a while ago, and I originally thought the leasing dates we agreed on were fine, but it turns out that she's leasing the place to someone starting on June 1. So... that's how it is.

I couldn't really start screaming on the phone when she told me that. I mean, yes, she unapologetically tore 10 days off of the lease we agreed on without any alternative and without offering to lower the price, but at the same time, this is Beijing. I've come to expect problems, and take them as they come. Furthermore, I would be ruining some guanxi (roughly: relationship. It's more complicated than that, though.) with my teacher by yelling at this woman, so I had to bite my tongue and be reasonable. I'm going to approach this like I approach the market. I'm telling her the price to be paid now, and that's all that will be paid. If one month was 2000, ten days less will be 1600. The end.

Scholarships: Barring the apartment hassles, time has been quite good lately. Back over winter break, I applied for a scholarship at IU that I forgot about, and then I ended up winning it. Many thanks to the College of Arts and Sciences for awarding me the Abels Scholarship. Furthermore, a couple of weeks after that, I received an email from the Department of East Asian Languages and Culture to inform me that they were awarding me the department's Uehara Prize. I am greatly honored, and very thankful to EALC. They've been wonderful to me throughout my undergraduate career.

Internship: On a whim, maybe a month ago, I sent a sample of my photography to That's Beijing, local arts and entertainment magazine, for review for a freelance position regarding an upcoming city guide. I forgot about that because I knew nothing would come of it. I just thought it would be good to put myself out there. However, about a week later, I received an email from the editor of city guide informing me that although I had inquired about a photography position, he felt that they had a different project that I would be perfect for. We corresponded via email about it, and I ended up being hired as an intern in a writing position.

I'm going to be working with another girl, and we're going to be writing a 4-page spread for the Insider's Guide to Beijing regarding Chinese language instruction at universities in Beijing that have high foreign student enrollment. This means we're going to be going to those campuses and interviewing students, administrators, and teachers, and eventually coming up with a profile for each of about 5 schools. I'm really excited about this. I met with everyone yesterday in Chaoyang, and the people who are providing the support for the project are really great. We've got a kind of tight deadline of less than a month, and that makes me extremely happy. I love working with deadlines like this. I think this is going to be a good experience.

Again, I apologize for the lack of updates. Homework on top of everything is making my life very busy. I'll be sure to try and get better about this.


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