Archive for the ‘521’ Category

Olympic Park, 798, and life

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

We spent this weekend doing some touristy things around the city. The weather has been so beautiful (and clear!) so I’m trying to take advantage of that before it gets hot. I’ve been told that summer and winter are the longest seasons, and spring and fall last about two weeks each.

The Olympic Park is right next to my internship building, so we just took the same bus I take every week. The Water Cube is my favorite building… it looks like it’s made of bubbles. We didn’t go in, but apparently there’s a water park inside.

The Bird’s Nest, of course.

The torch:

On Sunday, we went to 798, which used to be an industrial district. In the late 1990s, some artists reclaimed the empty factory spaces as galleries and studios. It’s really really cool, guys. There are tons of shops, cafes, and innumerable galleries… way too many for one day. All of the art is very modern, very weird, and I didn’t really understand any of it. All in all a great place to wander around on a beautiful Sunday.

Click here to see my pictures!
(as well as more from the Olympic park) Be ready for some crazy art.

Next Monday through Wednesday is Qiming Jie Festival, which means we have no class. Because our language classes are only for exchange students, we don’t have to make up our classes on the weekend, as many Chinese students will have to do.  Kind of defeats the point of a break if you have to make up classes, if you ask me.

Qiming is “tomb sweeping day” where people travel to their ancestors’ places of burial and offer food or other tokens of respect. Many of the Chinese college students will not make the trip, but their families will. Read more about Qiming here or here.

This weekend, two of my friends and I will take a train to Qingdao (where they make the Tsingtao beer). It’s supposed to be very beautiful there, and you can tour the factory and try the beer straight from the production line. Then, we’ll take a train to Tai’an and hike Taishan at sunrise, which is a really beautiful mountain (pictured on the back of the 5 yuan bill… I have a goal to go to every place pictured on the back of the bills). Wish us luck! This will be my first hostel experience, not to mention first train experience. I’ve been told the trains get overbooked, so people stand in the aisles smoking, spitting, and generally being Chinese. I should have some nice pictures to post when I get back on Tuesday.

My Chinese gets better everyday. I think my listening has improved the most since being here. I think sometimes it’s mostly attitude that helps your listening. If you go into a situation thinking “I’m not going to understand what this person will say,” you will totally psych yourself out. But for example, I can order and customize my coffee really well, because I know all the questions the fuwuyuan will ask (what size, hot or cold, milk or sugar). It’s interesting how my communication skills in English (much better reader, writer and listener than speaker!) change when I switch languages… I’m terrible at writing and worse at reading in Chinese.

I love learning different idioms and weird nuances to the language. For example, the expression for flattering someone translates literally to “you touch the horse’s butt.” If you flatter someone, but they aren’t having it, then you say “you tried to touch the horse’s butt, but you accidentally touched his feet.” Too funny!

Another cool one is “521.” Many people sign texts with these three numbers. When said aloud, “five two one” is “wu er yi.” “Wu er yi” sounds like “Wo ai ni,” which means “I love you.” So 521 is shorthand for I love you. Cute.