Trip Start Jan 16, 2009
52Trip End Nov 20, 2009
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When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I usually see through my window is a group of about five people practicing taiji, which is supposed to be good for your yin and yang. I should also try it myself one day since my yin and yang are obviously totally unbalanced. However, instead of taiji, I've been going to the campus area running track even in the morning time. On my way there, I sometimes see and hear some Chinese students walking around and practicing their English by reading aloud some English texts just by themselves.
The running track itself is also some kind of a surprise. It is a completely normal sports ground with a football field and a running track but the popularity of the track in the morning time sticks into your eye. There is so many people there but most of them are just walking around the track (a few of them walking backwards as well). It may be difficult to understand why would you go and have a morning walk in the boring running track instead of a park for example, but it's actually true that the nearest park is not so close after all. It's also funny that most people there don't wear sporting clothes so some Chinese men are for example just walking around the track with a suit on. I'll probably go for a walk in a park very early in the morning some day and see how crazy are the Chinese going there.
After my morning jogging, it's time for a shower (Yes, the time is between 6am and 9am as warm water is cut off in our dorm between 9am and 11am) and then the lessons of this crazy language. After the lessons I usually have lunch and take a nap. Unlike some locals, I like to take my nap in my bed instead of sleeping on the grass. Sometimes you can also see people sleeping while they are "working", like the guy at the quiet fruit section of a shop in the campus. The atmosphere in some working places is certainly different and perhaps more relaxed in China as every now and then you can also see waitresses enjoying their break and playing badminton in a front of their restaurant.
Although you can find almost everything you need on the campus area, I usually go outside the campus about once a day to eat, to buy something or to go out in the evening. The first thing you see outside the university east gate are the mothers with their babies. It took me a while before I asked anyone what are they actually doing there, as they are hanging out there every day after all. So I was told that they sell all kinds of fake documents, for example university degrees. Maybe I should have asked if they could have made my visa extension as well? The babies themselves are as well a kind of a speciality as they don't seem to wear diapers, but their trousers have a big hole in the crutch instead, so sometimes you see babies pissing or taking a shit on the street next to a small bush and they don't even have to take the trousers off. Brilliant! Or is it actually?
Nightlife is also worth mentioning as for example the popular bar among foreign students has all-you-can-drink night on Wednesday. There you pay about 9 euros (girls pay 4€) and can drink as much as you want, so apart from a few Chinese girls who are probably there eager to find themselves a western boyfriend, this place is crowded with foreigners excited by the "free" booze. Of course, the trick here is, that the alcohol they are using is probably cheaper than the cola or orange juice or whatever is used for your drink and there is also a huge queue all time while you can only order one drink at time. In the beginning, by the way, I was convinced that the local street food after a night out is way better than McDonald's, but I have to take it back as western junk food every now and then appears to be almost mandatory to a foreigners' system, either right after the bar or the next day at latest. Or both. Also going to McDonald's at 5am and seeing all the Chinese people sleeping there by the tables never stops to be funny.
So China is definitely interesting but there is still something wrong with my exchange period here and that's the same thing that I've been writing about before. It would have been so much easier to come here in the autumn, when all the others came as well because now I'm kind of lacking company for all the activities the others have been doing during autumn semester. It's also a fact that most of the old students already have the people they hang out with so they don't really have the need to socialize themselves with a new student. Also the system here doesn't support any kind of social life as the floors in the dormitories don't have any kind of common rooms where people would go hang out, watch television or drink beer. And as I wrote in my previous post, we neither have any tutors nor arranged program on the behalf of the university.
However, although it's a bit boring every now and then, I do like to be here after all. I'll also have more active time when I go to Shanghai to see my dad next Saturday and will spend there nine days. I'll also probably go visit cities of Hangzhou and maybe Suzhou near Shanghai. After that, I'm going to Hong Kong in mid-May to celebrate my and my friend Tommy's birthday with my old friends Jenny and Liza. It's actually mine and Tommy's third successive birthday that I'll be celebrating with the girls - each time in a different country (before this one in Saint Petersburg and Helsinki). Jenny and Liza will also follow me back to Beijing and good old Aapo will join us as well. So that'll be the time for trip to the Great Wall and the other must-do sights as well as hard partying. Right after my friends leave, my mum and sister will come to see me and it's already June. I'll finish my studies by the end of June and I have some plans to explore the Asian continent, but I'll be writing more on that later.