Friday, June 16, 2006

It's around 8:00 am here, and I've been noticing that people in Beijing seem to start their days very early. Apparently, the sun rises a bit earlier than in the states, but I haven't been able to fully confirm that yet. Yesterday morning, I awoke to a man doing Taiqi outside of my window which was an apropos greeting to the city. The time difference to Eastern time is exactly 12 hours, which actually works out quite well communicating with home, but I'm still fending off the lingering effects of jet lag. It's kind of strange, one night I feel great and ready to explore Beijing's nightlife, and the next, I can barely keep my eyes open. Hopefully I'll finish adapting soon.

Our roommates moved in yesterday, which provided some fun, yet extremely awkward interaction. My roommate, Zhang Zi Tong, is from Beijing and is studying marketing at a nearby school. Unlike a lot of the others, he has no classes this summer, and his other dorm room is only about 2 blocks away. Hopefully this means I'll see a lot of him. In terms of communication, it's kind of touch and go. I can almost always communicate my thoughts, albeit on a basic level, but understanding on my part can be difficult. This is how it has been in general so far, so I hope and expect that my listening will improve quickly. Another interesting note is that my roommate speaks in a very typical Beijing accent (somewhat mumbled with lots of 'r' sounds), which is kind of tricky to understand right now, but I think it will really help me pick up on nuances among different dialects.

A big part of life here has revolved around food so far, which is fine by me. In short, Beijing food is amazing. While some say that the food in northern China is very greasy and salty in comparison to some of the lighter, spicier southern foods, I have no complaints so far. A few nights ago we went out for Korean Barbecue. I've had this in the states before once, but it was on a different level here. The way it works is that you order raw meat, mainly beef and lamb, and they set up a small charcoal bbq on your table. Usually people at the table cook their own meat as they eat, but for some reason, one of the waitresses took a liking to us (or maybe was just amused and frustrated by our incompetence at grilling), and stayed at our table for most of the meal, cooking for us. We were with about 10 other students from our program, yet only we received this treatment...strange, especially since she wasn't fishing for tips, which are taboo in China. In any case, it was delicious. Last night, I went out for Hotpot with my roommate and some friends with their roommates. Hot pot is a very popular meal in China, and it consists of a pot of boiling water brought to your table, in which you cook sliced meats and vegetables. It was great to try "Shuanyangrou" - thinly sliced mutton, which is one of Beijing's most famous foods, along with Peking Duck. The dinner conversation was at times slow, but we had some good laughs nonetheless.

Alright, I'm going to head over to breakfast. We have a scavenger hunt planned for today, which will hopefully help us get to know Beijing a bit better. The city is huge, much bigger than New York, and we've only seen a small part so far. I'll post again soon with pictures, thanks for reading!