Today has been the last day of my quarantine. I’ve spent all day watching the series Breaking Bad. I know I should be watching Chinese television or watching the world go by fifteen floors beneath, but I wanted the day to go by as fast as possible. And it really has.
Earlier today, Jerry called me asking for my temperature, which I gladly gave to him (my usual 36.7 degrees Celsius), and a reminder that I would gladly be welcomed back into the international studies program tomorrow at 8:00 am. I kind of feel like I did something wrong and I was a bad girl, locked in timeout for five days. It reminded me of a video clip I watched while doing research for CSAAH – the Center for Asian American Health at the NYU medical center – on Hepatitis B. A college student was complaining about being rejected from a prime institution because he had the blood disease. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyyW2GfMgvY. I’m not saying that Jiaoda would have sent me home had I had H1N1, but if I had AIDS, I’m pretty sure that I would not have been a. given a scholarship or b. granted a visa. I get this feeling because during my scholarship and application process I had to prove to the government (in myriad ways) that I did not have any major infectious diseases. Now, without even showing symptoms of a disease, I have been isolated for over one hundred hours.
Having said that, I do understand why people are being isolated in China. On CCTV 9, China’s English language channel, the news on H1N1 is being conveyed in a similar fashion to the States’ news coverage in April of this year. Public health professionals are saying that the virus can spread to an entire population within six days. Moreover, though there is a treatment for this flu, many victims of the virus must be treated in the ICU due to severe respiratory problems, which costs a lot of money. If Beijing were to have an outbreak of H1N1 (Jerry has told me that there have already been 80 reported cases in one of the surrounding universities), the hospitals may not have the capacity to handle such an influx of patients. So, China’s motto seems to be “better safe than sorry,” and I’ve just become a part of their safety protocol.
All in all, this period of quarantine hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. The internet saved my life (thank you, Internet!) and I have been able to make a friend out of my favorite restaurant’s delivery man. Also, the experience did expose me to the fact that bumps do happen when your’e on your own studying abroad in a new country, abiding by another nation’s rules and regulations. I don’t welcome any more frightening situations, but I am certainly braced for them.
Today was a day of highs and lows. It started, as all of my days do, at the very crack of dawn. I went to sleep on Monday at 8:30 pm and woke up at 3:30 am, then slept two more hours until 5:30 am. I then began a 6.5 hour skype-fest, which included an extensive viewing of high school
How I dressed on an average high school day
photos via a screen share with Sarah Chapman.
At around 12:30 pm, a sprite and a yanjing beer arrived at my door, thanks to my recent best friend, the local takeout’s delivery man. Unfortunately, the person on the other line heard me say er jiu yi rather than er jiu liu during my order, so I received two drinks instead of a drink and a meal. In order to compensate for my lack of sustenance during the afternoon, I munched on my leftover rice from last night’s dinner.
At 1:00 pm, my internet cut out because the account I was using ran out of money. I really can’t explain the situation further than this: I was using someone else’s account during the interim before receiving my own account, and because many students bought internet access today, this person’s account ran out of money. Perhaps one day I will understand the complexity of this situation. As I usually do when I lose an internet connection during a quarantine stint, I panicked. I called Jerry – who probably hates me by now – and explained the situation to him. He told me that I would have to wait until my quarantine was over on Thursday (hurray!) before I could get an internet account. I have been trying to have patience through most of the crappiness this week, but I really was not about to not have internet access for two days, so I pleaded with Jerry and he conceded to working it out. Jerry ended up coming by and grabbing my internet account fee and passport to take to the computer center. [The meeting was really funny. In order to prepare for my visitor (I really don't get many), I vigorously washed my face before Jerry's arrival. When I opened the door, Jerry recoiled and said "Your face is red!" I quickly explained that I had just washed my face and was not fatally ill. In order to prove to him that I wasn't sick, I put my arm out for him to touch, just to feel out my temperature. This made Jerry recoil again. After a few seconds, though, he decided to gingerly place his finger on my arm, and was visibly relieved at its temperature, saying "Ah yes, it's normal."] Long story short, I got an internet account today.
I then ordered dinner and was able to order successfully, as I had already told the delivery man what I wanted before he went back to the restaurant. I thought I’d give “Hamburger Set” a try, because then maybe
My burger set
I’d get shu tiao, right? What I ended up getting was a slab of meat drenched in marinara sauce and soaked lettuce, along with the standard fried egg, salad, and rice that comes with all of the sets. In all honesty, the burger wasn’t bad. It was just strange eating it with chopsticks.
It’s around 6:26 pm now, and I’m thinking about venturing out tonight. I forgot to mention that I received a door card that actually works today; it turns out that the one that didn’t work was given to me by accident…I wasn’t supposed to be locked in my room, I suppose. Liu, Jerry’s sidekick, said that I can go to the supermarket at night. I guess this is because I will be less likely to contaminate people during the dark hours.
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
Noodles in a bag
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.