Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weekend Update

Hello again, I hope you' all had a great spring break last week!  This post is going to short and sweet since nothing too new has happened this last week.

The week started off pretty cold and rainy.  Wednesday was a great relief when we were finally able to go outside and enjoy playing some sports again.  One student went back to the States for his sister's wedding and brought a frisbee back with him.  We had a blast playing that with a Chinese student that came over when he saw us playing.  We also had two exams this last week that kept us pretty busy.  For one, we didn't really know what the exams would be like since they were written by Chinese professors.  It turns out that they weren't too bad.  Now we have a few weeks without exams until the next round rolls though.  It's really weird to think that, as of Monday, we'll only have five weeks of class left.  Time is really flying by here, it's crazy!

That's pretty much all for now.  We're going to they Yellow Mountains next weekend so there will be a lot more to update you on.  Till then, stay classy Indiana!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Laser Tag 激光标记

Hello again!  It's come time for me to type up another one of my updates.  This last week has been pretty normal.  If you talked to me you probably just heard about one thing, thermo.  There was a lot of it.  Apparently our professor thought we new how to use a specific program for our homework, but we didn't.  So instead the 6 hours of work turned into 20 or so.  Not fun.  Fortunately we have it down now and the homework shouldn't be too bad.

As for a finger update...I got the cast taken off.  I'm so glad to have the majority of the fingers on my right hand back.  I can write and use chopsticks again, happy day!  I can' say much else was too exciting about this trip.  The subway ride was long and the time at the hospital was short.  I did get some time to walk from the subway to the hospital, it was gorgeous outside and I got to enjoy the weather.

The main source of excitement this last week was an invite we got from Chris, a Chinese student we met who will be at Purdue next fall.  He and a bunch of friends were getting together on Sunday to play laser tag.  Mike, Tori, Bailey and I were able to make it.  We really had no idea what to expect so we went into it with open minds.  It turned out to be a blast, we played for 4.5 hours  We couldn't understand the guy explaining it all, but Chris and a couple other students helped in translating for us.  We had "vests" that we wore, hats, and giant guns that made it a lot of fun.  It helped a lot that it was really well put together and ran well.  We really enjoyed interacting with some of the Chinese students here.  We took some group pictures, one of which makes me look pretty crazy.  We all decided that it would be great if there was a company around Purdue that set up the same thing too.  I'd definitely want to do it again!

That's all for now.  To all of my Purdue friends, have a fun and safe spring break.  And when making your brackets, be sure to remember one thing, Syracuse is the worst ever!

Minhang Photos

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hospital Run

Hello again!  I hope everyone is doing well back in the States.  We're beginning to manage here at our new location.  For the most part, this last week has been pretty normal.  Besides missing my first class last Monday due to our Beijing trip, we've begun to get into the swing of things.  Classes have started to pick up and most of us are starting to get back into the routine of an engineering student.  This has been the case for me with the exception of my new hand jewelry.

To make a long story a little less long, we were playing (American) football last Thursday and while tagging someone down I got my hand wrapped up in their shirt.  I didn't notice it immediately, but the last knuckle on my ring finger was bent down slightly (with the joint) and I couldn't extend it.  After going the next couple of days with the finger braced with popsicle sticks and a shoelace I decided to get it checked out.  That's where the fun part begins. 

I started off Saturday by going to the Med-Check on campus to see if they could help me.  They didn't speak any English but I met a couple friends who interpreted for me.  The nurses said that I needed to go to a hospital in Minhang where they could tell me if it was broken or not.  If it was I needed to go into the city to get it fixed.  If it wasn't, then they could give me water to sprinkle on it.  As it turns out, one of my new friends needed to go to the same hospital to get blood work done so they offered to drive me there.  Once we got there they helped me fill out paperwork and get me to the right place.  My friends left to get their stuff done while I sat in a waiting room by myself for what was supposed to be an hour wait for the doctor.  I got called in sooner than expected and my friends hadn't come back to interpret for me yet.  That was when another woman who was with her husband stepped in and helped me.  Seeing the doctor was very different because the room contained him, a desk with a computer, me and my new friend, and about 10 other people listening in.  It seemed like this was the normal procedure for everyone, much different than the States.  This doctor said I needed an x-ray.  By then my original friends came back and I left with them.

While we were waiting for the x-ray to print we went to get lunch which they refused to let me pay for.  After we ate we went back to get the results of my x-ray.  The x-ray itself turned out to be about $20 and I got to keep it, souvenir!  After that, I went see another doctor in the same building.  Again, there were a lot of people crowded around and what I think was an operating room adjacent to where I was standing.  This doctor told me that I would probably need surgery and that I needed to go into the city.  I left pretty quickly then and took the metro into the city where the doctor gave me a cast saying that it would be all that was necessary.  I go back Friday to find out if it was.  Needless to say, only having two available fingers on my right hand is a big pain.  I'm looking forward to being done with this thing.

Throughout all of this I was amazed at how nice people were to me.  There was absolutely no reason for any of these women to help me out, yet they went out of their way to interpret for me and help me understand what was going on.  I can only hope that I would do the same for someone if I were in their position!

That's all for now!  I'll hopefully be writing you next week with a fully functioning right hand.  I'm attaching my pictures from Minhang again mainly because I don't have anything new to post.  Check 'em out if you haven't already!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beijing 北京

We made it!  (That comment will make sense later.)  Since I wrote last time the group has finished up our classes from the first portion of the semester, I've gone on a great trip to Beijing.  And with the beginning of a new week, our group has started the next set of classes.  Not much interesting happened between last Monday and Thursday besides a couple tests and making the decision to go to Beijing for the long weekend.  Grab a snack or something before you get too far, this is a pretty long one!

My sleeping location.
On Wednesday we finally realized that we didn't have class on Thursday or Friday and we felt compelled to take advantage of it!  Dan and I decided we'd try to get ticks for a train leaving Thursday during the day and meet up with another group of our friends that were also heading to Beijing for the weekend.  As it turned out, tickets for that train were sold out and the next train's seats were ridiculously priced.  We had decided that we were willing to do anything to get to Beijing that weekend so Dan bought us standing room only tickets...for a 10 hour train ride that started at 9:30 pm.  Another group had already traveled standing room only and said that they were basically in a boxcar with a bunch of people standing for a long time.  Regardless, we were willing to try it out for the experience.

There was some excitement getting to the train station since we thought that the train would be leaving from the same station we bought the tickets at.  With only 50 minutes before our train departed, we learned that we had to go to another train station 13 subway stops away!  To make a long story short, we got on the train less than five minutes before it left the station.  The standing room only situation didn't turn out to be as bad as we originally thought.  The three of us were able to stake out spots by some sinks and bathrooms.  I got to sit down and I even got to lay down a couple times before people woke me up to get to the bathroom.  I'm guessing that I was able to get about 2-3 hours of sleep that night.

When we got to Beijing we dropped our stuff off at our hostel and immediately left for a bus station.  I had read online that there was a bus that took people to the portion of the Great Wall we wanted to go to for 16 rmb (pretty cheap).  What the internet forgot to tell me was that the bus only ran in the summer.  This got me pretty worried since the weather wasn't supposed to be very nice the next couple days.  Fortunately we came across a woman and her husband that drove people out to the wall in their van for a reasonable price.  We bartered with them for a little while and eventually got a pretty good deal.  There's one thing I must say about the Great Wall, it's amazing and quite possibly one of the most spectacular things I've been to!  We also got to see some interesting things there too!.

The next couple days were a lot of fun as well.  We stayed in a hostel for $4.80 a night.  When I booked the place online it was listed as New Dragon Hostel, when we got there, it had been bought out by Motel 8.  But besides part of the ceiling breaking from water damage right over Jacob's bed, it was pretty nice.  It snowed the first night we were there which made the next couple days pretty interesting.  We got a trip set up through our hostel that went to The Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City, and The Summer Palace.  It was really cool to see all this stuff with snow covering it, but it wasn't cool for it to be so cold outside.  I managed to buy some authentic North Face gloves for 10 rmb ($1.50).  On Sunday we made it to Tienanmen Square and  Beihai park which, according to Wikipedia, is one of the largest Chinese parks.  Both of these places were really cold too, but it was still really neat to see everything.  Towards the end of the day at Beihai Dan and I started to get a little competitive with artistic photos, so that made it a little more fun.

I don't know if any of you have followed Chinese news this past week, but a few protests against the government were scheduled for the Sunday we were in Beijing.  Apparently a place called Wangfujing Street was a main center for these protests.  This part of Beijing was only a few blocks from our hostel and we were walking up and down that area the night before.  It only crossed our mind that something might be going on until we saw all the museums were closed by Tienanmen Square on Sunday.  It was pretty crazy to hear about that afterwards.

The train ride back was pretty uneventful.  We actually missed our first new class because they hadn't given us a schedule yet when we got our return tickets.  The classes haven't been too bad so far.  On most days we only have two 45 minute sessions with a ten minute break in the middle.  I also picked up my tailored suit today and it looks really nice, hopefully I won't gain too much weight when I get back to the states now!  Besides that, everything has been pretty uneventful here.  Everyone take care back home!  I've got A LOT of pictures below and a couple videos.  Don't watch the second one if you get motion sick.

Oh, and I had an orange tonight, it was pretty awesommeeee!

Pictures Form Beijing
Vendors on Wangfujing
Biking around Campus (don't watch if you get motion sick)