Thursday, June 15, 2006

Greetings from Beijing! We arrived wednesday night after a relatively comfortable 17-hour trip (JFK-tokyo-Beijing). CET picked us up at the airport and after a 45-minute bus ride to campus, we moved into our rooms, which are simple but very comfortable. Our roommates haven't yet arrived, but we will meet them today (Friday) and become acquainted. Since we arrived, I have split my time between orientations, placement exams and neighborhood exploration.

From what I've seen so far, Beijing is an amazing city. The smog is heavy and the weather can be a bit warm for my tastes, but everyone is very friendly, the food is excellent, and the city is very inexpensive...a 1.5 liter bottle of water, for example, costs roughly $0.30. Best of all, bargaining is rarely, if not never, taboo. Case in point, while shopping for cell phones, a more fluent member of the program helped my friend bargain down the price of a phone for nearly 2 hours! Not once did the store workers become annoyed or irate...it is just a normal part of the beijing shopping experience. Electronics, unfortunately, are the one exemption to the usually reasonable prices, although phones, cameras etc. are usually imported from japan, so they are generally much more advanced than in the US.

I'm having a great time so far, and I can't wait for the start of classes, and especially, the implementation of the language pledge, both on monday. I'll post again soon with more details about my roommate and my adventures in Beijing!