Things are all and all going really well here. I've been doing so much that I haven't had time to write and in fact I have class in 40 minutes so I don't have much time to write now either. Here's a highlight of the most recent events since my birthday on Friday.
1. On Sunday afternoon I went to Gongbei which is an ENORMOUS shopping center right on the border between Guangdong Province and Macau. It was really interesting. We took the bus for an hour to get there and it was packed and a girl in front of me got carsick and puked and it was a little smelly. Overall though, I find bus rides pretty entertaining. People watching here is the best. They are all crazy...and I'm so special that as I watch them they watch me back. Now it is pretty entertaining, soon I'm afraid however, I will be wishing I could just blend in with the enormous crowd I see. Here is like being the odd man out, except instead of being one in one-hundred I am one in one-billion.
At Gongbei I bought a pair of Birkenstock knockoffs for $4(but they have already given me awful blisters so it might not have been worth it). We also ate traditional Sichuan style food which was really good, but really spicy. It was awesome while I was eating it but later not so fun. That's how most of the food here is though...every other day my intestines go on a roller coaster ride. It's part of the abroad experience I guess. Also at Gongbei we got half hour massages, which also was awesome at the time, but the next day did me in. It seems I had a lot of stress built up in my muscles that once let out, made me incredibly sore the next day. This "awesome at the time, but I pay for it later" seems to be a theme in my time here thus far. Hopefully there is a learning curve.
2. I started my chinese classes this week and my prof is pretty cool. It's really grammar intensive so that has helped a lot and my Chinese is coming along ok after forgetting all that I learned while canoeing and not studying this summer. :) :)
3. I've gotten to know all my profs pretty well and all of them are really awesome. Especially my social policy class - that Prof is a genius from Austria (Austrians really are smart...it's not just a stereotype) so I'm looking forward to working with him and maybe getting his input on my Senior Project one day down the road. (nerd alert!)
4. There's these kick-ass construction workers all around campus working on landscaping and stuff. They are all 5 foot tall with only a few teeth and super tan and wrinkly and ripped. Everyday I walk out of campus something new is getting done. It's awesome. They should come and work on road construction in MN, then maybe they would get a decent wage and decent housing for all of their work. So anyways, last week I got in the habit of saying hi to them because they always stare at me. So now I have some "friends". The best part is how embarrassed my Chinese student friend got when one of them waved at me and said hi. I think I'm gonna try and get one of their sweet straw hats to wear around. That will really make my student friends squirm. The labor situation and the rural/urban segregation here is just so ridiculously enormous and really interesting...I don't think some of my friends have ever talked to the same construction workers that they see every day. I can't imagine not saying hi to someone I see every day, no matter who they are. Quite different from home....
5. Yesterday night I went to dinner and shopping at the strip a few blocks from campus near another Chinese university next to UIC with my good Chinese friends Sherry and Catherine. After we ate Taiwanese Fast Food(never again, yuck), we went window shopping and stopped in at a store of Sherry's friend who has a shoe store. I got the SWEETEST pair of shoes. They are nike free hiking shoes and they are mostly black with hot pink and neon green highlight and they are AWESOME. Sherry's friend has a friend who gets the discontinued brands from the nike factory for cheap and then sells them in his store and online. So they were $30 bucks (yay). I checked the style out online so I'm pretty sure they are legit and they are an AWESOME addition to my running shoes collection...now just to get into running shape again... And the coolest part is that this guy has been to the factories so I may be able to get a tour at some point. When I found this out I got super pumped and begged him to get me a tour. He was going to check into it, so I'll be stopping by again very soon to see what he could find out about it. I can be very persuasive. :) haha. and so can my friend Sherry. So that was a highlight of the week...pray he takes me on a tour...pray...
6. Free downloads. Of everything. All my textbooks cost a total of $25. No copyright laws here. Easy fast downloads of anything. Slightly feeling guilty, but AWESOME.
7. I'm going hiking up a big mountain in Guangdong Province on Saturday. I thought my outdoor adventure days were over for a long time when I boarded the plane. A bit unreal to be thinking about hiking in China but it should be fun!
Well thats all. I miss people from home a lot already. I'll try to keep in touch better in the future.