I am very sorry it has taken me a whole month to write my first post on China. The first reason it has taken so long is that there is just TOO much to write about that I don’t even know where to start. Second, I have been very busy, stressed and unsettled and am just started to get used to living here now. I want to try to keep this blog focused, but I really just need to spew a bunch of words in this first blog, otherwise I will feel like anything I say will be indicative of only a small slice of what I am going through in China. As the suggestion of Jill (another American with CIEE here), I am going to make a gigantic list:
1. Nothing in China is organized. As a pretty laid-back American, I can’t believe how much I have had difficulty adjusting to the fact that schedules, communication and organization in general is very haphazard in this country. Living in Holland and just getting used to the “scheduling culture” there, China has been a big turn in the opposite direction. Now that I am settling in here a bit, organization woes seem to be getting easier, but organization does not seem to be a word of value in this country. There are positives to this as well. In Holland, it was very difficult to make arrangements with others, because everyone would be scheduled a million days in advance. Here, I can have a class cancelled and five minutes later call someone to see if something else is possible. But still, it is something I am not quickly getting used to.
2. Spitting. Chinese people spit everywhere. In Kotzebue and Mt. Edgecumbe, people spit all the time, but this is not Alaska spitting. This is Chinese spitting and it’s a whole different story. It involves clearing your entire throat, nostrils and making the world’s loudest most obnoxious loogie-creating, mucus producing full body moving noise, followed by a swift, loud spit onto the sidewalk, street or bench. Make sure never to spit in the many plants or bushes along the street, or god forbid a trash can. Everyone does it too. Old men, old women, bus drivers, people on buses, middle-aged women, poor people, rich people. Everyone, it seems besides young people. I have not seen any college-age spitting, which is okay with me.
3. The pollution here is not as bad as it was in Hanoi or Shanghai, but it’s still bad. Some days there are blue skies, other days the skies are a pollutiony grey. This has already affected my health. I caught a cold last week, and although I am mostly better, I have had a sore throat and possibly the worst congestion I have ever had. Now I am understanding the spitting better: People just need to get the pollution-induced mucus out. I have been spitting all the time now, although I shoot for the bushes rather than the skybridge steps.
4. The food here is absolutely amazing. Needless to say there is nothing that even resembles American Chinese food (which is mostly southeastern flavors), so everything has been pretty new but very good. I really like the Qinghai style lamian (拉面) “pulled noodles”, many different types of Chinese pancakes (饼), and basically everything that gets put on my plate here. I really am liking the Korean and Russian influenced here as well (love the Korean stove pots and the Russian-style bread.
After here is where my blog didn’t save, and I am to tired to write it out all over again. Hope you enjoyed reading what little that did get saved!