Day 11

9:52 A.M.

I've been awake for quite a while now; I have learned that I wake before the sun rises. It is too dark to see my watch in the dark, and too warm a bed to get up, walk 10 steps to turn on the light. Night breaks around 5:50, which is when it was light enough to see my watch.

Regardless, here I am, and today is registration day. It came one day faster than I anticipated. I was wholly convinced yesterday was Monday, not Tuesday, until someone set me straight. I've been scurrying back and forth for an hour now, getting papers I keep forgetting at my dorm.

It's very interesting to see all the nationalities involved there. Even more surprising is the languages that these Chinese teachers are able to speak. I, being of Colombian nationality, was assigned to a teacher that speaks Spanish. Incredibly well, might I add. I half-expected a small latino to pop out from under the desk and say "Ha ha! Te hise el truco!" (Ha ha! I tricked you! [I probably wrote that completely wrong; writing is not my forte in Spanish])

This concerns me a bit. While my spoken Spanish is decent, and I can understand it well, I was anticipating a teacher who would know some English. Oh well, I do prefer a teacher with excellent Spanish to one with mediocre English.

I'll be returning to the fray, but not without a couple of things to say:

Yesterday I witnessed free-play soccer; anyone could join. I was rather enthusiastic, until I noticed that the men there were rather good. I'll probably have to work out a bit so I can keep up.

I also saw a small martial arts class. Could not have numbered more than 8. It appeared to be Tai Chi. I sat and watched for a while. I did not approach them; my Mandarin probably isn't good enough to communicate well. Best I can manage is "I want to learn martial art" and that'd be it.

Two more Chinese men approached me, at different times of the day. The first one was older than I was, and... well, he gave off a rather odd vibe. He was polite enough, and seemed to be the eager student, but kept mentioning he wanted to play, and that he was making a film as well. Not to mention he wanted my phone number, email, and address.

Odd. Very odd.

I said I did not have a cellphone (true) and that I did not know how to operate my dormitory's phone (partially true) and that I forgot my address (partially true). Then I started to question him about the film and see if he was of the same school/group as those students from a few days ago. As we fumbled about in each other's languages, I finally go the message through that I really had to go somewhere, and he parted. He got my email in the end, but... Eh. He got nothing else.

The second one was a vast improvement over the first. He was small, wiry, and a freshman; someone I could beat up if things got tricky. More over, he did not give off any suspicious vibes at all. He approached me as I watched the martial arts students in the approaching dusk, and began to converse with me. My Mandarin is as good as his English, so it was good, learning from each other. He was a great help, correcting my Mandarin frequently, and explained that I was using words no longer in common use today (great). He traded email (everyone seems to have it, but no one seems to use it) addresses with me, and parted.

Damn. The first one wanted to go out with me, the second one took me a remote film location, the third was vaguely creepy. The fourth one is the first that I'm not afraid of in some sense.

Not to mention the random stranger who approached me outside yesterday at night, sat at my table, asked where I was from, and whether my people regularly drank tea. Huh. After saying "No, we do not" he hastened away. I have no idea what to make of that.

While it is very neat that so many Chinese people are trying to approach me, it's kind of disconcerting, too.

The last thing (I swear) is that these will probably be posted in the mornings at 8(for me)/ at 8 at night (for you). The way my schedule is going to shape up, I won't have time for this at night, except to write it up. That, and I keep having to write about what happened the night before, and that's stupid. A day's contents should be contained within a day's entry. So, today, you may not see it, but never fear; the schedule has changed, that's all. And you'll get the same amount of updates.

6:00 P.M.

Well, registration is over, for the moment. However, I have lots to do over the coming week. I have a medical exam tomorrow after 1 P.M.(and I can't eat breakfast... I hope I don't wither and die before I get there), along with an exam on Friday and class schedules are handed out on Saturday. And classes, I take it, begin after next Wednesday, when Orientation is to take place. Madness. Suddenly, the gears shift into motion, grinding and clanging to life, and I can only hope I won't be crushed in the process.

Reading through all the material, and speaking with so many foreigners, makes me realize that my planned stay is really short. Perhaps -too- short. Everyone is staying for a year, if not more. Most are staying for 4 years or more. Only person that I know what is staying less than I am is the person that (I think might be) coming from FIU. She's staying for 3 months and leaving at the end of December, to avoid complications with the Spring semester (sigh). I would honestly consider staying till June, if only to avoid Spring complications, should they arise. Only thing that is keeping me back would be the cost and complication of staying another 5 months . Visas, and tuition, and... perhaps I'll just miss out on the Spring semester altogether or something. : /

I'm going to go beg the main office to give me a guide to classes that is in -English-, if you please, so I can know what I'm reading. Should anything else happen, I'll let you guys know.

Oh, and news today: The Wall Street Journal wrote that the Executive Branch should be, and has always been, stronger than the Legislative Branch? What? Since when? And they argue that the Attorney General should be the Executive Branch's puppet, while condemning Congress for trying to take back rights that were originally theirs, along with limiting Executive Power and prohibiting presidential acts that broke the Constitution. Were they always this fucked up, or is this Rupert Murdoch's (guy owns Fox News, bought WSJ recently) influence?

Christ, I leave the country, and things go to pot. : p Well, except for the sacking of Gonzalez. That was a good thing. Lets hope they find someone competent.

?:?? ?.?.

Well, I am technically writing this the next day, but eh. I studied last night, so I didn't have time to write anything up. I met one of the foreigners that went with me to the Olympic filming the other day. He, too, did not return. Regardless, he said he found a study partner for me. Her English is as good as my Mandarin, so we'd be able to benefit mutually. He gave me her number, and after realizing I probably didn't know how to work a phone, he said he'd give her mine. So, I might have two suitable study partners.

He also filled me in on a couple of things by accidently. Namely, without a cell phone or a service called "QQ," I'm no one and unreachable here. People don't really use email here, and have one more for having one than actually using it. Which would explain why no one has gotten in contact with me through it.

What is QQ, you may ask? Well, I'm right there next to you, asking. From what I understand, it's like a cross between email and AIM. Huh.

I also changed restaurants last night. Since I cannot eat today (Thursday 30) in the morning due to my medical exam (grumble), I wanted to eat late last night so the meal would, theoretically, last me longer. My usual restaurant was already half-dimmed, so I did not want to trouble them. As I walked around, thinking of where I could eat, I walked next to the Muslim restaurant again. It didn't look too busy on the outside, so I dared to wander within.

Holy cow, it's really, really nice. Very clean, lots of Islamic rugs and various tapestries depicting scenes from Arabia. Their writing, which they consider an art just as the Chinese do, adorned the walls. The main room was divided in two by a row of tables joined together. This is meant for people who come by themselves or in groups of two, and is a sort of communal eating area. In the two halves of the room there are tables for four, for groups of friends and the like. There were adjacent rooms, which looked to be for large groups of friends, or people who wanted a bit of privacy. There was also a set of stairs that went upstairs, up I dared not venture forth. I'd assume more rooms for private parties.

And, to top it all off, there was a massive chandelier above me, elegant, with crystals dangling like pears.

And the service was excellent. The waiter took time to explain to me what everything was and what it cost. Although he spoke only in Mandarin, he spoke slowly, bless him, and chortled frequently. And the food was plenty and rather cheap, too. I now have two restaurants to frequent.

It is now 11:34 A.M. on the next day, and I must be going on the bus. This update will come ever later than usual, since I don't know when I'll be getting back. I haven't eaten, cannot eat, and they'll drain my blood. :(