Archive for the ‘Bye China’ Category

10 Things I’ve Learned in a Semester

Saturday, July 14th, 2012
  1. As the obnoxious travel quote goes: you can’t travel happy, heavy, and cheap; pick two. I’ve done week-long trips with a light backpack. It’s the best feeling, knowing you can grab a few things and go wherever you want. 
  2. The more absurdly inconvenienced you are, the more important it is to laugh. Beijing is full of situations like this. Also, I recently found out that the city-wide shift change for taxi drivers is in the middle of rush hour. Why change all the drivers at once? And why at that time of day? 
  3. There’s a flip side to issues I once thought were incontrovertible. How China views Tibet. Whether  people should be able to vote to elect their president. I could give you a more rounded perspective on these topics in ways I would never have thought at the beginning of the semester. 
  4. Slightly related, but I found out the other day that only a little over 30% of Americans have a passport, which scares me more than the upcoming election, actually.
  5. Bring your own shower shoes. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. 
  6. Bargaining! I love bargaining. I want to write a book on the psychology of it. For example, if a vendor thinks you’re going to overestimate the price of something, s/he will let you speak first. So when you ask how much, the vendor will say “how much do you want to pay?” The lesson here: take the price that you were thinking and say 1/4th of it, because it’s probably not even worth that. Actually, just saying “5 kuai” ($.75) is a better rule. BUT here’s the tricky thing. If a vendor says the price first, she holds the power of suggestion. So if she says 500, you bargain it down to 100, you think you’re getting a good deal, because you think it’s worth 500. It’s not. It’s probably worth about 5 kuai. Don’t kid yourself.
  7. Lychee Martinis. 
  8. Communication isn’t based all on content. Context, gestures, tone of voice… all of these are ways I get around because, guess what…
  9. Chinese is really hard to learn, you guys. Even if you try to speak it for a semester and have a two hour class every morning. Two years of study, and it took me 3 tries to get the lady to undersand my pronunciation of the word “green” when I bought green tea yesterday. 很麻烦。
  10. Travel is for me. It’s an enormous, beautiful, gross, uncomfortable, lovely, crazy world. And I want to see more of it.

This will be my last post for this blog from China. It’s been fun to write, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading. And as always, I love getting comments. Even from you, Mom.

Also, if I know where you live, I probably sent you a postcard! I paid the lady at the post office for postage, she set the stack of postcards to the side of her desk without looking at where she put them and went right back to her computer without comment. I stood there for a second to see if she’d oh I don’t know, at least stick some stamps on them, but then I remembered that I was  trying to get customer service in China (in a bureaucracy no less! haha!) so yeah I  just left. Behind her desk were literally hundreds of overflowing sacks of mail. I sent the postcards about four days ago, so expect to get yours… never. Good luck.

Speaking of luck, I have an hour and a half to get off the plane in San Francisco and get on my connecting flight to DC. I say this only to leave you with the image of me, sleep deprived, busting it through the airport with a clanking tote bag full of tea. You’re welcome.

P.S. I’ve been using Google Analytics on this blog. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how many people from all over the word have read it. One side note. 25% of you are using Safari, and 8% are using Internet Explorer. Guys…