Welcome to Chengdu

We arrived to rain.

The weather was familiar in the sense that in America I attend a school in a place that rains constantly but unfamiliar in that I was used to the hot Chinese weather thus far. It’s incredibly humid here. If I leave the window open, my sheets feel damp when I go to bed. I never seem to dress correctly. The hazy morning sky is tricky. Too many layers when it’s hot and humid, no umbrella and etc. when it rains. Chilly evenings, though. Today and yesterday presented lovely partially blue skies. It happens!

The campus is big and beautiful. There are two lotus ponds, and many brick buildings. Rickshaws and bicycles galore, although last night I almost collided with a man on roller blades. There are two places to eat thirty seconds walk from our dorm entrance, noodles and little hot pot. Lovely lady owners. They smile and wave even when we go to the other shop, which never fails to make me feel guilty as I wave back. (This rivalry may or may not exist outside of my mind). The Noodle Lady knows our faces by now. I arrived to dinner later than the group one night, and she smiled and pointed to a specific room. Noodles with a fried egg on top–delicious and cheap! 7 yuan for a “small” bowl. (Pssst. Guess what? It wasn’t small.) I ate a sort of lo mai fan for breakfast this morning for 2.5 yuan from a stall across from the noodle place. I’ve found my daily morning breakfast spot.

Fruit markets and baozi places are on every corner, it seems. I’ve been eyeing the watermelon, especially this small variant of Western watermelon. So far I’ve been going out to eat dinner in groups, so dinner always has variety for a cheap split price. Restaurant and clothing store employees are very active in recruiting people off of the street. I admire their ability to expel the air from their lungs for a long period of time, but it can become annoying after a while. The clothing store I bought my winter coat at (SCORE~) had employees calling out over the din of customers and banging clothing hangers on cardboard signs. This doesn’t happen in the upscale department stores, FYI.

Buys so far: two scarves, one winter coat, a ping pong paddle, an Ethernet cable, a cell phone (178 yuan including the plan)…the old unlocked cell phone I brought from America didn’t work.

It’s been a week now, or just over.

I can find my way to and from all four gates, and possibly to the mysterious Little North gate. I know where two markets are, and I know which bus line to take to Chunxi Road (massive shopping center where I bought my coat). My classes will be held in two separate buildings on the east side of campus. Those locations I’m definitely not as familiar with. I don’t have my class schedule yet, but my Chinese language classes are definitely every morning at 8AM for three hours. 2? 3, I think. Here’s what I want to take:

  • Intensive Chinese Language (12 weeks)
  • Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society
  • Daoism (and other religions)
  • Calligraphy
  • Western and Rural Minorities

The first and last listed are required for those on my study abroad program. Calligraphy doesn’t transfer, but who cares? I might not take it after all if it turns out my schedule is too packed. Contemporary Culture is on shaky ground, because the professor is apparently very sick. I took the placement exam for my Chinese class, and it was pretty laughable. That is, I left the last two pages of the exam blank. I don’t feel badly about not understanding any of the multiple choice options, because none of the other students on my program knew them either. The oral part of the exam was a lot simpler, although I suspect the laoshi was talking to me very slowly conscientiously. I’m not expecting much.

I got me a free Sichuan University t-shirt. I love freebies. Their female XXL was hilariously tiny, so I grabbed a male S instead. Shopping for clothing does a wonder for your self esteem here. Chunxi Road’s H&M had clothes that had a very good potential in fitting me, though.

Classes begin on September 16. Then I go to Tibet during their National holidays on October 1. Here’s the neat part: who really gets to say they celebrate a birthday in Tibet?

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