This post marks the first entry in a blog that I will be keeping during my stay abroad.
Before I left for China, I told my mom that there were a few hurdles I had to jump through before I could relax in my new home. These were: make it through the plane ride, successfully get to my hotel (without getting overcharged or kidnapped, as my father feared after several viewings of the film Taken), get to my school, and register. I made it all the way to “get to my school,” but was checked at the “register” section of my goal list. Rather than register when I arrived at the international studies building, I was told by the international studies coordinator, Jerry, to “wait one moment, I just have to double check that you will have to be quarantined for seven days – someone on your plane had H1N1.” This news was, of course, jarring (to say the least). Though I hoped for the best – and by this I mean that I hoped Jerry would come back and say, “just kidding! Welcome to China, MoLi (my Chinese name)” - I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to jump through all of my hurdles quite as smoothly as I had originally hoped.
And I was right. As all of you reading this blog most certainly know, on Saturday, August 29th I was relegated to my room for seven days. I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs during the three days that I’ve been in my dorm room (which features two single beds, a flat screen tv, two desks, a private bathroom, a screened porch, and a land line), and I don’t think I would have been able to get this far had it not been for my internet connection in the room. On an average day, such as this one, I wake up at an ungodly hour, at around 4:30 am or so and spend some time skyping my friends and family. I’m twelve hours ahead at the moment, so 4:30 pm is a good time to talk to people at home (right?). After skyping for around seven hours, ending only because everyone in the U.S. starts falling asleep, I eat lunch (I have to order in all of my meals, as I am not allowed out of doors) and then perform my daily exercises, which consist of crunches, leg lifts, push-ups, jumping jacks, and running in place. When my workout is over, I take a shower in my gray-slated bathroom which is designed so that the water from the removable shower head sprays on the toilet which is located directly across from it without a door or curtain to separate the two. Following my shower, which is actually quite pleasant, I tend to watch a few movies or read a bit out of one of my New Yorkers or novels while eating my dinner, which consists of chicken, rice, and vegetables – the only three ingredients I’m willing to eat at the moment. I’ve been falling asleep between 9:00 and 9:30 pm lately, as there’s really no reason to stay up any later and I’m thoroughly exhausted from a whole day of video chatting.
As I said, I’ve had a few ups and downs since beginning my quarantine. First off, I should be out of quarantine by the beginning of Thursday, since Disease Control (China’s CDC) requires anyone who has come into close contact with H1N1 to be quarantined seven days after being exposed. I left the States on Thursday, August 27th, so I should be released from quarantine on Thursday, September 3rd the latest. While I’m pretty sure this makes sense, I’m under the conviction that Jerry thinks I should be quarantined seven days after arriving to Jiaoda (as Beijing Jiaotong University is colloquially called), which would be on Saturday, September 5th. I made it pretty clear to Jerry today that I think I should be out by Thursday, so we’ll see what happens with that. On another note, and this is perhaps a disclaimer, my temperature has been normal every time – the six times, I should say – I have had to check it since I have begun my quarantine.
Other down moments have come from the food that has been delivered to my dorm room. My first meal was a miss. It was vaguely titled “Chicken on Rice” and consisted of breaded chicken swathed in a cream substance with sprouts and carrots thrown in on top of rice, as one may imagine. My second meal was better and was aptly titled “Teriyaki Chicken on Rice.” While the dish did not have the teriyaki flavor I anticipated, it still had a kick and was quite enjoyable. My third, and worst to date, meal arrived today. I have no idea what the title of this meal was because I ordered off the menu that did not have any English on it. I knew I wanted noodles and beef. I thought that I had ordered a lo mein, but was seriously (by “seriously”, I mean I was literally brought to tears) distressed when I found out that what I had actually ordered was spaghetti, beef, and oil in a thin plastic bag (check out the picture if you’d like a visual). I ended up eating a bit of it and then throwing it out. After that experience, I decided to continue ordering off the menu that offered an English translation for most of the food. I’m sure that once I practice my characters a bit more, I’ll be able to order anything off one of these take-out menus. Also, to end that story on a better note, I ordered a
delicious dinner for tonight: pineapple beer (which is literally pineapple juice and beer mixed together), grilled chicken, and french fries (which was an accident – I meant to ask for a receipt, which in Chinese is shou tiao, but I must have use the wrong tones,as the person on the other line thought I said french fries or shu tiao.) Eh, I still have a lot to learn.
This post is really long. I don’t expect them to all be like this, but if I have a lot to say and to show, I’ll definitely write a post worth my experience’s weight.