Monday, July 2, 2007

Ups and Downs

Well, I've been living in Tianjin, China for a little over a week now. I've had many varied impressions of China since my arrival & with those impressions have come a wide array of emotions, ranging from smug self-satisfaction to down-trodden misery. Life here is such a massive undertaking that it makes the United States seem like a dream come true. However, in a strange way, I like it here: maybe because the challenge of getting by makes the accomplishment of everyday tasks makes me feel like a rocket scientist.

Anyway- a little about where I'm staying. Tianjin is a city of 10+ million people about an hour train ride south of Beijing. There are at least 10-12 universities here, and a lot of young people. Despite the city's size, the people are still pretty surprised to see foreigners walking along the street, especially tall blondes with big feet (yes, a lot of people have been staring at my feet).

I'm staying in the dorms at Tianjin Foreign Studies University. Before I got here, my idea of a dorm was Gilchrist Hall at FSU. Not a thing like my dorm here. At first I was shocked by the condition of my dorm room, but after talking to the Chinese students at the university, I realized that I was actually lucky to have air conditioning (the Chinese students have none) and only one roommate (they typically share a dorm room with 4 or 5 other students).

The city is a nice one. It's got a lot of European architecture and plenty of parks scattered around. I visited one last week that's just a few blocks away from the university. The large group of American students I was with soon attracted quite a bit of attention, and we were promptly invited to join a Tai Chi lesson with a group of elderly Chinese. It was quite amusing when they likened one "larger" African American young man to Ruben Stoddard and demanded that he sing for them (which he gladly did).

Last weekend we made a trip to Beijing with the group. Between Friday and Saturday, we visited the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Square, and the Summer Palace. I especially enjoyed the Great Wall, and we were able to take a lot of good pictures (uploading them has proven somewhat difficult, however). It had rained in the morning, but cleared up by the time we got to the Great Wall, so everything was misty and had a very "ancient China" feel.

The official trip was over Saturday, but Scott and I opted to stay an extra night and take in some more of the sights. This was my favorite part of the trip. We managed to get ourselves around the city all day without once taking a cab (we even rode the bus SUCCESSFULLY several times!) and bought our train tickets back to Tianjin IN CHINESE with no trouble at all. I was pretty proud of us. After our first McDonald's since leaving the U.S., we wandered around Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City Sunday afternoon before heading back to Tianjin on the train.

1 comment:

Cariffiths said...

jatley flatley!! China sounds really neat! G-Chat at work is so lonely without you, but I'm so glad you're doing well and adjusting. I still can't wait till you come back home (already, I know) and I can't wait to see pictures! Uploading blog pictures can take forever, I understand. You all should try Picasa, a Google product. I've heard great things.