24 Sep 2014

Let Me Entertain You

Hello again!

It's been a week since you last heard from me, so time for another update from China.

Classes have now well and truly started. We have four hours of classes every day, starting at 8 and ending at 12. There are five different 'subjects': listening, speaking, writing, reading and general (this is most like normal European language class). Most of the teachers are very nice and competent and I can actually understand their Chinese *_* There are a lot of Koreans in my class, who can speak very good Chinese, then a few Europeans, most of which have already been mentioned in a previous post and quite a few people from Tajikistan. So all in all, so far, I'm pretty happy with my classes.

Last Thursday I had some very important business that kept me away from university: I had to get my health checked. Every foreigner that comes to live in China has to prove that they are not bringing any diseases that could threaten the people's wellbeing with them. So you have to have your blood tested, your eyesight tested, your blood pressure measured, get an ultrasound, ECG and X-ray. Fun for the whole family. It took two hours to finish the whole thing,  a lot of which was spent sitting around and waiting. First of all, waiting for the doctor to find my vein ( :'( ), then waiting half an hour for the electricity to come back on in the X-ray room and finally waiting half an hour again for a blood pressure measurement. Let's just say, I think I've had enough of Chinese hospitals for a while.

Luckily Friday was a much more fun day, we went to a karaoke bar. Now for those of you who are only familiar with European karaoke bars, which I am going to assume is most of you, I will give you a short introduction to KTV, which is the Chinese name for karaoke. A karaoke bar in China is usually a huge building. You usually go there with huge groups of people. You then rent a private room for however many hours you want. Then, paradise. These places have giant collections of songs and the best thing is, you don't have to sing in front of complete strangers, you're singing in front of your friends who, ideally, are shouting the lyrics out along with you. 10 stars out of 10. The only downside really is that the drinks there are astronomically expensive, but it's also very easy to smuggle some in with you :)
 The mascot of the KTV place we went to.

So after getting to know 'young and modern' China on Friday, I got to experience 'old and traditional' China on Saturday. I was invited by a friend to join her family for a barbecue. Her father drove us to where the dinner was to take place and I honestly had no idea what to expect. I imagined we would be sitting in a small garden, somewhere in the city. But the actual place was a thousand times better than what I had expected. We drove for about an hour, leaving the city behind us and driving through a few villages that consisted only of around 10 houses. Then we left those behind as well and started going up a very steep mountain road with VERY sharp turns. The place we finally arrived at was a small farm on top of a mountain from which you could see for miles and miles. I don't think I can accurately convey how happy I felt. The air was clear and the sky was blue (!!). The family had prepared an amazing dinner, consisting of about 15 different dishes, each one of them absolutely delicious. They made me feel very at home, despite the small language barrier and I am so grateful to them! Later at night, we could even see the stars. One of the best evenings I've had in China so far.

On the weekend I also did some sight-seeing around Xi'an with my roommate, the Italians and the Austrian. We went to see the Small Goose Pagoda, a very beautiful place. From the top, you had a great view of the city, which was sadly clouded in smog. Yes, it's starting to happen. As soon as the rain stopped, the smog came. It's not that bad yet though, so don't worry about me.

That's about all I got :) Take care you guys! (Also, if anyone would want to send me some Nutella, I'd be so down for that)

Chinese Word(s) of the Day: 梅花 meihua, 黑桃 heitao, 红桃 hongtao, 方块 fangkuai
clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds (Kreuz, Pik, Herz und Karo)
I successfully taught some Chinese friends Skat. Achievement unlocked.

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