Saturday, December 02, 2006

Weather Report

After a few dreary weeks of suffocating grey in Beijing, the wind picked up yesterday, and blew all that filth away. Not least among the boons that came with the sun were a few photographs that aren’t total crap. I went for a jaunt around Beida campus yesterday, accompanied by a few of my fellow CIEE students. So if you like pictures of people, commence scrolling.

Ben, left, and Ian pretend not to be cold.

My mother, who asks me every six months if I have an adequate winter coat, will be glad to know that I recently invested in a terrifically Chinese jacket, complete with “fur” lining, senseless English on the left breast, and zippers that don’t work. It’s warm, though, and was a bargain at just ¥100 RMB ($12).

Its purchase was necessary to combat the Beijing winter, with temperatures falling through the floor. It’s getting to the point that the highs are around freezing, and the lows are five or ten degrees below zero (centigrade, naturally). Ice is appearing, but no snow— aside from the light dusting I mentioned a while back, it has precipitated three times since I’ve been here, all in the form of a brief, light drizzle. It’s almost enough to make me long for soggy Boston.

Vickie thinks it's hilarious that her kite just crashed.

Speaking of which, departure is coming up fast, faster than expected, and I’ve got just two weeks of class left here. I can’t help but feel a bit like I’m copping out by leaving when I am, after just a semester here. I am really only just becoming comfortable in this place; only just figuring out what I like, who I like, where I like to go, and where to stay the devil away from.

A semester is not a long time, and I’m feeling the pressure to do and redo everything in these last weeks. Beyond all that, goodness knows my Chinese is nowhere near any “conversational” level, and could certainly do with another five months of attention.

Ben looks hard while Jay looks Korean

On the flip side, if I were planning to stay for the year, I might be filled with dread right now and anxious for some international incident to require my immediate repatriation. In any case, I am going home, and I’m confident it’s the right decision. I think I’ll probably be back again before too long.

You can tell this photo of Ian is artsy because it's out of focus.

Looking forward to my week of unbridled freedom after classes end and before I fly home, I’m considering a trip to Shanghai, to revel in the opulence and humidity. Chengdu is another candidate, but that’s kind of a hike from here.

Julie is Vietnamese, but she lives in Oregon. She laughs because that's funny.

This post is getting long, and I haven’t really said anything interesting yet, so I’ll close with a story. I went out last night with some friends for a dinner of Korean Barbecue. It was delicious, as always, made especially so by a grand gesture from some guy on the other side of the restaurant.

Apparently, this guy was in a really good mood last night, and as is the Korean tradition when one is in a really good mood (this according to my Korean friend, Jay, pictured above), he bought every table in the restaurant a dish and a bottle of Soujiu, Korea’s famously potent liquor. As a show of thanks, we sang him happy birthday, though I’m not sure it was his birthday.

The four CIEE men of Writing Chinese, level 6, have accurately been compared to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. From left, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo.


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