Hey, everyone! This is my first update from China.

Well, it really has been an eventful day, so I'll try to keep it interesting. First off, the flight.

Yes, very long, but not that bad. I found a very nice Chinese couple to talk to and who encouraged me to study. The rest of the time I spent watching the cloud forms, reading, playing, and randomly nodding off. That's pretty much it.

On a side note, I noticed that because of the manner in which we flew, we were in perpetual sunlight for the whole flight. Which means that I spent about 22 of the last 24 hours in sunlight. While cool, it was a bit disconcerting. My body did not know when to recognize fatigue (I had not slept the night before the flight), so I was randomly falling asleep.

Fortunately, that cleared up when I got to the airport. Unfortunately, I forgot to pay the school to pick me up. So I had to resort to a taxi.


Worst part of the trip solely due to the cost. Due my circumstances (stranger in a strange land across the globe where I only have minimal grasp of the language), I basically paid an exorbitant amount of money to assure that a) I'd arrive at my destination, b) that I'd arrive with all my belongings, and c) because I'm a stupid, rich foreigner.

Regardless, I arrived at Beijing and the school, and the first thing to strike me? The air.

It's thick. I saw people cut out blocks of it to use as footsteps. No, really. It's crazy. I'd read that it was impossible to see a blue sky, but I took that to mean that it meant a dark blue, or murky blue.

This is the color of coffee with lots and lots of milk. Range of vision is compromised after a certain distance. This smog covers the city and extends to the clouds and a little beyond, where only the highest clouds poke through, like puffs of cream floating atop a sea of coffee.

I do note that there is a copious amount of trees, and assume that this is belated attempt to clean the air for the 08 Olympics.

I do not notice an effect on my lungs.

Second thing that I note is the heat. It's 91 degrees Fahrenheit and I'm wearing my warmest jacket. I suppose this'll soon end.

Well, upon arrival at the school, I realize something awesome. It's Sunday. The administrative offices are closed. Yikes.

So I wander from building to building with map in hand and finally stumble upon a place where they contact the foreign student, errrr, manager, and he immediately arrives to aid me. The man takes me to my lodgings and informs me I have 3 days to pay it in full.


Well, after many explanations of what to do, I enter my dorm, and it's a nice dorm. The bed is decent, it has a TV, and a bathroom. With a Western toilet, score. After unpacking, I decide to see what's on TV. Hey, Chinese TV, how can it fail to amuse? It can't.

Except that, for some bizarre reason, the TV has a Western style socket, which clearly will not fit in the Chinese socket. This means that none of my devices (DS, Wii, camera, TV) have a place to charge, with the sole exception of my computer and, by extension, my iPod.

Speaking of odd, I check out the bathroom, which is not bad in itself. Except... it's missing a shower. I don't want to pollute the air further, fellas. Then I glance up, and I realize that the bathroom is the shower. And then I spy the curtain hidden next to the door. Efficient, really, and quirky, like I like it.

So. I do what I can to fix things up, place my things around the room, wrestle with the lock on the door before realizing that I have to lock it before I close it.

Then, I go out and begin my hunt for a telephone card. The helpful young lady at the front desk only speaks Chinese, and only speaks it at normal speed, which is to say, really really fast. So, I nod, say my thanks, and walk out. The campus is very nice, although this is dusk, so I'll see what happens when daylight drapes it. No, I did not pay attention during the day, because I was focused on having a roof over my head.

To my great pleasure, during the evening the students like to go out and eat, play basketball (I maintain that soccer would be better, but I guess the ball would get lost), and run on the track, in addition to just walking out and about. Rather nice, and I see the chance to socialize once I can actually string more than ten words together.

By this time, I'm parched, not having touched water since the airplane, which is about 4 hours. So, I pay what I assume is a reasonable amount for a bottle (and, being the cheap bastard I am, I'm going to keep this bottle and refill it) and resume my search. Nada. I look for something that yells "BUY YER PHONE CARDS HERE" with the image of an attractive girl with a phone card in hand, but no dice.

Drinking water all the while, I suddenly feel the effects of hunger. I drink more water, but all this does is wet the stone that whets the sword. So, I stop and order a plate that looks like it'll have a decent amount of meat in it. Thankfully, the waitress seems to understand that I'm a poor foreign buffoon and smiles and nods and keeps it simple. Of course, life is not that easy. The plate arrives, and it looks delicious. Just two problems; it comes with chopsticks (like hell I know how to ask for utensils) and it's covered in peppers everywhere. It's like a cow ran into a pepper field and was tragically harvested along with the peppers. Did I mention I'm absolutely terrible with anything remotely spicy? Also, please recall that I've been depleting my one source of water this entire time. I now stare at my half-empty bottle (half-empty, damn it) hoping that a raincloud will manifest itself, pure and white, and drain itself into my bottle. No such luck, I play a game of "How many delicious, burning pieces of meat can I take before drinking a sip of water?" The amount was surprising, although I felt bad leaving an entire plate of pickled peppers. Inspiration struck me, and I asked the kind waitress where I could purchase a phone card in what resembles Chinese.

She kindly gave me precise instructions which I did not understand. After being subject to one of my favorite phrases (Sorry, I don't understand) she pointed out the window towards a kiosk filled with magazines. I thanked her and made my way to that blessed oasis across the street (which, even in a one lane university street protected by guards, is an adventure in itself). Upon arriving, I again stumbled all over myself, and the kind couple there understood me and even gave me a discount.

Elated, I returned to my dorm and here I sit after giving the shower a whirl (the two knobs, identical twins, are of identical temperament; cold and cool) and giving the room a once over. While I wish I could post this on the web right freaking now, I cannot, as I have to purchase an internet connection.

Of which is another tale, probably which will ensue tomorrow. As a brief preview, I must mention that universities here bleed you to death. Dorms not covered? Ok, understandable. Wait, I have to pay for the gym, too? Wait, the internet is on a per hour basis? Tomorrow, on Stick-Man's Adventures In China:

-Will he find an ATM/bank that'll accept his ATM card?
-Will he annoy FIU into giving him is money?

Stay tuned!

P.S. I miss my family and friends. : ( I had this huge urge to call it quits and run back, but that ain't my style.

My style is to fly back. xD