Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 2 – Getting Acclimated

The second day in Beijing was eventful.  Most of us woke up early in the morning at around 4am Some students were able to sleep later, but most of us were acclimating to the time different.  Since the students generally didn’t sleep on the plane we were able to get a few hours last night.  Most were just a bit tired, but jetlag didn’t really set in which we are thankful for.

Since the cafeteria was closed last night we weren’t able to experience the on-campus food just yet.  So this morning I went around to all of the rooms to let the students know that we were going to head down to the cafeteria as a group.  We entered the area and quickly observed how to order and how to pay for our meals with our campus card.  The cards contain enough money for the students to eat all three meals on campus without having to spend additional money, but I think most will venture out on their own. 

Since it was the first day I wanted to make sure the students had a positive experience with the cafeteria and the local cuisine, so we jumped right in with ordering and eating local food.  The students were great – they sampled quite a bit of different food and we talked about how tasty everything was.  The response was incredibly positive, and now that they’ve had breakfast on campus, they are able to order and pay without issue.  I’m glad they explored the food and were able to find things they enjoyed for breakfast.

After breakfast we took a tour of the campus.  We were shown the libraries, media buildings, performing arts buildings, administration, classrooms and more.  Our contacts did a great job of showing us around.

Upon completion of the tour we had to go to a mobile store to get SIM cards for those that needed phones.  The students now have my contact number and are able to get in touch with me in case of emergencies.  I suspect though, with how well they are working together and how they’ve quickly learned to go with the flow, they won’t need to call much if at all.  They are a pretty self-sufficient group as a whole.

The University then invited us to the restaurant on campus for a welcome lunch.  We were able to sample many dishes including duck skin dipped in sugar, and duck meat wrapped in a thin pancake wrap.  We also had fried rice, chicken dishes and pork dumplings.  Students jumped right in.  We had great conversation and laughed a lot. Everyone was amazed at how tasty the food is, and they can’t get enough.  Their adventurous spirit is carrying them through just fine.

Once lunch was finished we headed out to a local bank to exchange currency. Everyone who needed local currency was able to exchange American dollars for Yuan also called RMB.  On our way back we stopped at a local shop and everyone purchased pads for their beds.  The beds were so hard it was like sleeping on the floor, but we quickly remedied that. 

After our purchase we headed back to campus to deliver the mattress pads to our rooms.  The students came back to the dorm while I went to deal with the internet situation.  We had to sign up for an internet plan for two months, so now the students have internet access in each room.  Our biggest complaint about the internet is how spotty and frustrating it is.  We can reach our email sometimes, but not other times. There are many restricted websites, and sometimes our email services – gmail and yahoo are inaccessible.    But I have reminded students to contact home as much as possible.

We had dinner at the cafeteria even though most students weren’t that hungry.  We sampled some simple things and called it a night. 

I heard some rumblings that students were going out to shop last night.  I’ll get an update as soon as we meet for class tomorrow morning. 

Until tomorrow…….

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