Day 4

7:42 A.M.

-Things are steadily improving, although lacking food within the dorm itself is starting to affect me. I wake early now, around 6 A.M. (let's hope these good habits carry over when I return to... whatever school I return to), but that's far too early to go out and eat. So, I'm going to have to buy some milk, at the very least, and use that as a place holder for some real breakfast.

-I fell asleep around 9-9:30 last night after being unusually tired for the last two hours of the night. I have to say, it's like the campus randomly exploded with activity last night on my way back to the dorm. There was a soccer team training, some people practicing martial arts, lots of people walking around the track, lots of people playing tennis and basketball, too. This bodes well, since it means I'll have something to do once I resolve my troubles.

-Two things stick out to me, though. Children. Children are always on campus, and it puzzles me. Are these the children of students? I doubt it. Children of the staff, wouldn't surprise me, but that'd mean lots of families live on campus. Or do families just go on outings and decide that BLCU is the nearest place with a park?

-The second thing is foreigners speaking Chinese, especially African exchange students. Not African-American, but African, period. It's so odd to hear Chinese, which is a nasal language, being spoken in a baritone voice. Then again, I suppose it's no more odd than a Latino trying to speak the language.

-Well, now it's time for me to head out. I'll probably resume studies today and stalk/find a Mr. Ma today so that he can help me with the whole exchanging currencies thing.

1:02 P.M.

-It has been a good morning overall, with various successes and pleasantries. The weather continues to hold up nicely, and I hope that the foul weather earlier was an aberration. I have found out that the local grocery store opens at 11:30, and I suspect the place where I eat breakfast (tried a new, beefy meal today and have discovered a surprising talent with chopsticks) opens at 10, so I'll have to plan accordingly.

-Since there was nothing to do so early, I just returned to my dormitory and read. On my way back, I was pressured by my landlord to pay my dues, which I tried to placate as best I could. She was understandably worried, but if anything I can tell them to call Mr. Ma and ask him to help sort things out.

-I went out again, ate, then proceeded to study. While my reading has returned at a marvelous rate, it is not without it's cost. Simply reading for 90 minutes has caused me a headache, and so I set forth to wander some more.

-Emboldened by my discovery of a "How to exchange money" entry in my textbook, I went to the local Western Union. I went, prepared to exchange money, but I saw no evidence of being able to exchange currencies. Perhaps I should have asked the guard for help, but I'm a man, and that's not how we do things. So I observed what people did, and what they did wasn't really helpful. Western Union apparently doubles as a sort of postal service and most people there were there to send things within the country. I find a store with more power strip adapters, but until I get my scholarships and pay my rent, I won't test them out. I'm not even sure they'll work.

-"Why don't you just look at the shapes of the sockets?" Well, see, the sockets are very weirdly shaped. It looks like they can accommodate both Chinese and American plugs upon close inspection, but I can't be sure. And there are no helpful diagrams to look at.

-I decide to register myself with the school (I am already a student, I just have to declare that I'm, well, there) and go to the office (I arrived during a school holiday, so I couldn't earlier) and find that it's closed (figures [parenthesis are fun!]). Opens at 2, so... eh.

-I continue to wander about, exploring the inside of a few buildings (most classes are designed for 24 students) and see an ATM I hadn't seen before. Mind you, I've passed through this particular area several times, and I hadn't seen it before. Maybe it leads to the Chinese Ministry of Magic? I go inside, and see a familiar symbol that means "Holy god, your ATM card works here!" I close the door behind me, and start to fiddle with the machine. I inquire about my account and find out I have 5 CNY (???). Then I realize that CNY must mean USD, and that I'm staring at my savings. I quickly switch to my checking, and see that I really have 1,000,000 CNY.

-Just kidding.*

-Anyways, I try to withdraw money, and lo and behold, I HAVE MONEY. Well, money that I did not bring with me on my person. I still have to figure out how to exchange money. Maybe I'll ask the guard next time, in the manliest fashion possible.

-Well, that solves the biggest problem, which is access to my money. Now, I just need money in that account, or enough so that I can get this dormitory off my back.

-Elated, I walk back to my dorm and look around on the way, and see that a lot of people are playing basketball or tennis. I note that mostly older people play tennis, and the younger ones basketball. Since I'm trying to avoid my landlord, I hang around in the midday heat and stare that the people playing either sport.

-Then I remember that I need milk to sustain me in the morning, and since I have more money (I love money) I decide I can afford this extravagance. So, I go in and ask how much the carton of milk is in rather good Chinese. The attendant looks for a price tag as I had and I tell her, in rather good Chinese, that I had also looked for a price tag and there was none. She did a price check (by yelling) and told me that the price was 9 RMB (1.18 USD). Grinning like a madman on the inside (probably on the outside, too) I went and bought it.

-Of random note, there are a good amount of birds out and about now. These birds have very different plumage than the ones I am used to. They are also much louder. I have also spotted larger birds in addition to the miniscule ones. This is good, because it means that the environment is healthy enough to support larger animals. Smaller animals ingest smaller amounts of toxins, and process them faster due to their higher metabolisms, and thus the toxins have less time to integrate and collect in the body. Larger animals have slower metabolisms and tend to collect toxins, causing their demise.

-In short: Big birds = good.

-I have also been thinking about the winter here, and I don't know what to make of it. I'll deal with that when it comes, but I'm thinking I'll have to buy an electric blanket.

-* :(