The past couple of days have been a whole lot less exciting than the my first Saturday day here, but what are you going to do. In reference to my last post and a very worried e-mail from my Mom, no I did not actually go diarrhea – but it’s the world’s most legitimate fear. Every afternoon, a maid sneaks into our hotel room and fills a canteen with tap water that has been boiled for safety… unfortunately it remains BOILING HOT! And in 35 degree Celsius weather (for those of you without calculators and don’t know the conversion that’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit) boiling hot water does not sound refreshing. So when you are walking out on the town, you have to buy bottled water. However, there is a legitimate and wide spread problem of people just bottling tap water and resealing the bottle for profit. And if you get one of these suspicious water bottles you are S.O.L… literally. But I dodged a few bullets by having the world’s most refreshing bottle of Coca Cola.
One of the cooler tidbits of the Chinese language that I’ve learned is that when translating business names, they don’t just throw in the English word. They actually make a new fictitious Chinese word for it. For instance Google has been translated to 谷歌 “gu ge” pronounced Goo guh. But this word is not always nonsensical. The cooler examples are Coke and Starbucks. Starbucks Coffee is 星巴克咖啡 (so thats xingbake kafei prounounced shing baa kuh kah fay). The last two characters mean coffee and kafei kind of sounds like coffee, right? And the first three is their translation for Starbucks. So Xingbake kind of sounds like Starbucks (baah-kuh = buck) and the first character means star. A way cooler example is Coca Cola or 可口可乐 (Ke kou ke le) And that sounds so much like Coca Cola! But even cooler, it literally means “With each delicious bite, you can be happy.” Yes. Those four tiny characters above actually make a sentence that says all of that. Nuts.Sunday night, I went out to dinner with some friends to a fish place and I did not enjoy my mysterious meal, but I took my time wander back to the dorm, and as I was finally getting back on campus, I noticed all of the lights go out. I thought, hmmm that’s odd. We get back to the dorm, and we hear from some random student that they do this every weeknight at 11 PM to encourage students to go to bed. Full power outage – no lights, no internet, no hot water. Let me tell you, world, I almost had a heart attack. My main time of work and activity is after 11. We (eventually) turned a bad situation into a fun one and went and played card games in a near by shopping district. When I got back, I took a shower penguins would shy away from – absolutely freezing.
The next morning, we had an orientation. We were then each assigned “language partners.” These are Beijing University students who volunteered to help us with our Chinese. However, watching them try to flounder in English and their interpretations of American culture are just as hilarious. My girl, who’s Chinese name is all but unpronounceable, said her English name was Hermace Silvers???? Equally fictitious. But she also was an environmental science major and was very stereotypically Chinese, as shown below… God, I love the peace sign. And look at my new sneakers!
After that, everyone was pretty drained so we all took a nap, which is very traditional in chinese culture and is called a 午休 (wuxiu). But mine started as a 午休, became a siesta, and bordered on full sleep and I didn’t leave my room until about 7. I had a late dinner at a tiny noodle place, watched Hero with Tomcat and went to sleep.
This morning, we had our first class. It’s four hours, every morning from 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM. The first two hours were with a tiny Chinese woman named Xu Chunfeng, who spoke level appropriate Chinese, but very slurred and with a slight accent so she was absolutely not understandable. The second two hours were with a sprightly young Chinese girl named Chen Fan who spoke as a clear as a crystal bell, but assumed we were PhD students and was also unintelligible. So yay. And now, me and my friends are getting ready to hit the city since my home work tonight was to write 50 characters… that’s two sentences.
See you tomorrow!