, , , ,

Hey All! Spenser here. Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written
anything up here. Also, sorry I haven’t been able to put up any cool
pictures; the “Great Firewall of China” (GFC) blocks wordpress.com, so
Adrianna and I are writing through Adrianna’s mother, Terrill. Many
thanks, Terrill! Because of this intermediary situation, we’re also
not posting pictures for a little bit. Once we get to Shenzhen we
should have better internet and I may even buy a VPN, which should
help my circumvent the GFC. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand
words, so without pictures it is hard to describe to you the
intricacies of life here in Beijing. Hopefully, I can form a rough
sketch with only a couple hundred words.
        1. It’s hot. Our hotel room has A/C, and so does one of the
classroom’s we take lessons in, but every other class has no A/C, is
full of people, and is SO hot. When it rains everything cools off for
a few hours, but by tomorrow it’s another scorcher. My Chinese
teacher, Ma Laoshi, claims that it is unusually hot in Beijing this
year. Even the food tends to be served very hot, both in temperature
and flavor. This makes for a rather sweaty experience.
        2. It’s busy. We have two hours of Chinese Language class every day,
three hours of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), and one
hour of teaching every day. On top of that, we have to make a lesson
plan every day that coordinates with five other teachers, and study
Chinese. Which also reminds me, though I am rapidly increasing in
proficiency, menus suck. Imagine going to one of those kitchy
restaruants, where every dish has a special name (the BIG BANG for a
random menu item, stuff like that) and then trying to read it in a
foreign language the doesn’t even have letters. It sucks. I can pick
out words like chicken, lamb, beef, pork, vegetables, cucumbers, rice,
etc., but most dishes have weird names, and I don’t know the
characters, and I’m doing a lot of guessing. Fortunately, where we
are, a lot of the menus have pictures or English so even if we don’t
know what we’re ordering at least I know what it looks like.
        3. It’s big. Beida (pronounced Bay-dah) or Peking University, has an
enormous campus, and even though I’m one of the fortunate few teachers
who stays in a pretty small area, I still do a lot of walking. Beijing
is a city of around 17 million (officially) and probably closer to 22
million when you include migrant workers, immigrants, etc., and the
size shows. We live within the fourth ring road of the city, and it is
about as busy here as it was in New York during my brief stay there.
Lots of traffic, lots of people. Adrianna and I have done a little
wandering, but we’re hesitant to hop in a cab and go because we have
soooooo much to do every day. Our short walks did produce some
exploratory gold, especially when I found a tiny guitar shop. I played
a little bit, and the man working there seemed happy to see me.
        4. It’s great. Perhaps I’m just in the honeymoon phase of living
abroad, but so far this city is a wonderful mix of New Orleans (wet
all the time, crazy traffic, lots of tourists), the absurd (Adrianna
saw a naked child pooping in the street), and the delightful (though
the food has been hit and miss, some of the dishes have been
A-M-A-Z-I-N-G). We’re busy, but it’s busy in a good way. After
languishing in the sensual abbatoire that is New Orleans, living for
experiences and enjoyment, it’s nice to change pace. Here, though we
experience some great foods and really beautiful sights (I promise,
you’ll get pictures later), they are backgrounds to progress-oriented
living. We walk around a beautiful lake on campus, but we do it in a
hurry between classes.
        Ok, I’m going to wrap it up here. I know many of you have questions,
and I promise, if you ask them on this website, we’ll get to them
eventually. There is also a lot more that I’m hoping to write in the
next few days, but I don’t want to overload anyone with a vast,
incomprehensible wall of text. Just keep in mind that I literally am
incapable of seeing my own blog for the next couple of weeks. In the
mean time, best wishes, and lots of love from China. Zai Jian!