Friday, December 12, 2008

Halfway Home

I arrived in Beijing 3 months ago, and my plane ticket home is 3 months from today.  Halfway home.  I feel like I've been here for ages, and it's hard to believe I still have 3 months before I'm home.  I know it will be fun and all, but it gets me a little down thinking about it that way.

I only have one more week here at Tsinghua before my family comes to Beijing and I run off with them.  I would be pretty happy staying here the whole year, but I'm also ready to move on and try new things.  The people I've met here are fantastic, and I really like my work, but I don't think I'm ready to be a Beijinger quite yet.  Maybe post-doc.

Some more little notes about Chinese-isms.  India.  It's seems like Chinese people have a similar idea of India as most Americans do about China.  To them, it's dangerous, poverty-stricken, unstable, and generally scary.  Several people have warned me that I shouldn't travel to India.  It's a little strange, because I feel like until recently, most Americans didn't differentiate between China and India.  Those two Asian countries with scads of people, non-potable water coming from the taps, and millions of out-sourcing beneficiaries.  

People here press the close-door elevator buttons frantically.  As if each event counts for speeding the door shut and getting you to your destination 1.5 seconds earlier.  When 
Chinese student groups hold a "party," it doesn't involve going to a local bar to hang out and talk with friends and maybe play a round of pool (though they do love pool here).  I means sitting in the Tsinghua auditorium and watching your classmates sing to karaoke, perform dances, act out skits, or do kong fu.  Wednesday night was the environmental department's party and I sang a song with one of my labmates.  The rest of the show was pretty funny and very Chinese.  I couldn't imagine American students getting up in front of their classmates and singing pop songs or dancing somewhat erotically.  The best performance was a cosplay of Super Mario Bros.  One person in red overalls jogged in front of a black sheet and other people moved by carrying clouds, baddies, money boxes, and other things Mario encounters in the game.  It was pretty clever.

My mom successfully sent me a birthday cake and cheese from my favorite holiday catalog, the Swiss Colony.  So last night I shared them with friends and also cooked knoephla soup (creamy chicken soup with egg-flour dumplings) and cornbread.  It was fantastic.  In addition to requiring a trip to the grocery store (which I love to do), it was great to see all my friends and fill their tummies with delicious foods.  It's hard to believe that my birthday will come next week, with Christmas hard on its heels.  Everything here is so non-holiday.

I hope you all are having a lovely holiday time, with more tinsel and holly than me.  

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