So I'm finally making my first post from actually inside China. A number of barriers have stood in the way of this post, including the overwhelming first week of classes, an inability to directly access, and a slow on-campus internet connection. Fortunately, I made it through the first week without dying, am currently using the Yale proxy server, and am now in an internet cafe/restaurant where I and a few other DSIC students have been camping for quite a few hours doing things that benefit from a far superior internet connection, including transferring actual photos:

Photo of China by Jon Gaulding

So the first week was crazy, sometimes very unpleasantly so, but I think now that I sort of know what's going on and how much time the academics are going to take, this next week will be much easier to manage. I never claimed to be the greatest Mandarin student around, but I'm definitely going to be a dramatically better one by the time I leave mid-August. I just need to stop thinking about each word individually as I hear it and start hearing the language. The oral component just isn't an area of giftedness for me, but what better place to force myself to get better at it than right here in Beijing?

It's hard to summarize the past week in the limited time I have right here... Beijing is a fascinating city... It's both stunning and repulsive at the same time. Parts look like Times Square, and it's not uncommon to have literally 10 or more full-size construction cranes in sight at once. But you only have to look at something about 10 meters away to realize you're walking in an endless cloud of smog, and sometimes at night the skyline fades out behind the smog long before it can disappear below the horizon.

Photo of Conclusion by Jon Gaulding

It's very nice to have air conditioning (a luxury not enjoyed by the local students at the university), but the plumbing has been somewhat undependable and the internet connection is a major blow to someone like me who needs to be well-wired for a number of reasons this summer. DSIC is obviously by far my major time commitment for the summer, but I also need the web for some other Yale-related obligations this summer. I think we'll be visiting this newfound wireless restaurant on a weekly basis.

In other news, I and a few other Yalies went and saw the Whiffenpoofs perform at a very nice hotel last night. It was a fantastic way to spend the evening, topped off by an invitation to join the group as they performed at a private party for some number of ambassadors to China from various countries. It's amazing to see how many Yalies are in Beijing for one reason or another, for study, work, play, whatever.

That only reinforces the sense I sometimes have that I'm not even out of the states. All I have to do is look for billboards in characters to confirm I'm still across the Pacific, but many parts of the scenery are right out of my neighborhood in Dallas. I even shop at Wumart, which is a great convenience with it's every day low prices:

Photo of Conclusion by Jon Gaulding

Speaking of prices, I don't mind getting a full meal for about $1 USD.

Photo of Conclusion by Jon Gaulding

The food hasn't caused me trouble yet, and I'm hoping to keep it that way, fingers crossed.

I was going to post some video on youtube and link it to the blog, but I guess that will have to wait for a later post. We may yet find a way to improve the internet situation on campus, but until then video and photo transfers are pretty impractical.



This post was originally published on Zai Beijing.