Saturday, October 6, 2007

On My Own

After two days of near-constant orientation, touring, and wining and dining, I've been left entirely to my own devices today; and while I appreciated all the hospitality, I'm finding it refreshing to fend for myself. The campus is sprawling, many of the buildings look alike, and I haven't seen a map and can't read the signs; so I decided to spend a good chunk of this morning wandering around and learning the lay of the land so I won't get lost on my first day of classes. After circumnavigating the campus I decided to broaden my horizons and stroll along the sea for a bit, following the route that we took to the nearby town of San Zao on my first day. But even by midmorning it had grown uncomfortably hot and humid, so after about an hour I headed back towards the campus.

The other day I was taken to a grocery just outside the South Gate of the campus (the entrance closer to the faculty housing), which I managed to find on my way back. I discovered that the grocery is adjacent to a brand-new strip mall (the cement is still blindingly white) that consists mostly of small eateries of various sorts. Most of them look a little dodgy, and they don't strike me as being very conducive to non-Mandarin-speakers; but I suspect that they'll offer a welcome respite from the campus dining hall, and I can use the standby "I'll have what he's having”gesture.

Spent the afternoon watching one of the DVDs I burned off Turner Classic Movies before I left (if they run out, I saw that the campus bookstore—more like a newsstand—has an assortment of bootleg DVDs for sale, although most of the titles are nothing I'd watch back home),practicing some of the Mandarin phrases that I failed to master when I took classes years ago(maybe this time they'll sink in out of necessity),and doing a load of laundry (now I feel like I'm a genuine resident here, with clothes stretched on a line across my balcony like everyone else; no one in China owns a dryer).

I even squeezed in a run before dinner on the athletic track that's across from my apartment. I cut it short, though: Even at dusk it was miserably hot and sticky, and it wouldn't do for me to succumb to heatstroke when I couldn't tell anyone what was the matter with me.


J said...

Gordon --
Where are the photos you're supposed to be taking of EVERYTHING! Carry camera at all times, shot, and post please!

J said...

Gordon -- sounds like your leitmotif is "hot and sticky", "hot and humid", "muggy", etc. Is the sea there called the South China Sea? Send photos of people you meet, who fete you, students, street folk, etc.