Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting Lost in Snowy Beijing

It snowed today! When I walked out of my apartment this morning, there was a slim coating of white on all the cars. The snow was nothing like it is in Boston, it was just flurries. It was still exciting though. My host brother Jimmy told me Beijing gets 1cm of snow the entire winter, and this was about that. Luckily, the Jingshan kids were in America for that huge snowstorm in December, so they got to see what real snow looks like. 

School today was less exciting than it was yesterday. My first period was math, and again I didn't understand anythg the teacher said. I did recognize an equation he wrote on the board though. It was x^2+1=0, x=i. I do remember something from high school math!

The American students then went on a tour of the school while my class took a 1.5 hour long chemistry test. We walked with Ms Zheng and Wang laoshi (Wang laoshi came to America last semester-she worked at North). They took us to several places. We went to a relatively small computer lab where they use the internet to communicate with students and classes from around China and the world. She told us that sometimes a classroom in China won't have enough resources, so the Jingshan School will include them in their classes to give them the resources they need. It was very cool. We visited a biology hallway full of gourds on the ceiling and butterfly carcasses on the walls. We saw elementary schoolers learning how to write characters-they were so cute! We went to the swimming pool. It's olympic sized, so it's very very large. Wang laoshi said the swim test is to make it across four lengths of the pool anyway you can (doggy paddle allowed), so I'll obviously pass. We went to a gym area where there's a rock wall and badminton courts. It's where we'll have our martial arts class.

After the tour we returned to our classes. My class took an English test while I read a book (they had two tests in a row on the 2nd day of school-ouch!). After that was lunch, which wasn't very remarkable. We did meet another foreigner-a woman named Maggy (I think, I know it started with an M) who's from Maryland. She's been here since 2008 and she'll be here till July. I know she was here for last year's Newton group. She lives at school along with a few other people. It's nice to know we're not the only non-Chinese people at the school.

Next came physics, which was extremely boring. At this point in the day I'm sick of doing the things I have been doing to keep myself busy, and I just want to go home. The teacher talked and talked and talked to the class non-stop. I think even when I'm not paying attention, just having my brain hear Chinese makes me tired. For the last block of the day we had a "class meeting" with our homeroom teacher. He talked with the aid of a powerpoint. One of the slides had a picture of Michael Phelps posing with his 8 golds on the left side, and a picture of him smoking marijuana on the right side. Another slide had pictures of movie posters for the Shawshank Redemption. I have no idea what the teacher said about these pictures, or why he talked about them.

The way home was eventful. While I do know how to get back to my apartment on the subway, today I did something different. Instead of transferring from Line 5 (the line to school) to Line 10 (the line with my stop on it), I continued on Line 5 to the station my host brother said had buses to take me to my apartment. I got on one of the buses he told me about, and saw where it would take me. After 15 minutes, I realized I had no idea where I was. I got out and hailed a taxi (getting a taxi in Beijing is as easy as getting one in NYC). I told him Shaoyaoju, which is the area that I live in. Several times he said something in Chinese, I think he was asking me which way I wanted to go. All I said was "correct, correct". After awhile he turned the mirror to make eye contact with me and said "Ni shi meiguo ren (你是美国人)" or, you're an American. It wasn't a question. I smiled and said yes. He finally got me to my apartment, and after spending 20.40 yuan (almost $3) I was home. Normally it costs just 2 yuan to get home ($.30). Oh well. Next time I'll wait for Jimmy before I take a different route home.

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