Two Weeks In

Jordan Meyers
June 20, 2013

It’s been two weeks, and I’m still a little dizzy. Each day here has been completely new. Not new in the sense that its date on the calendar is distinct from the others, but new in the way that each day has thrown something completely confusing or frustrating or intimidating, or just generally unexpected, at me to overcome.

Consider today. Today, at 8 a.m., I had my first test. I’m in the intermediate language class for students who have had two semesters of Chinese, and since last Monday we have (theoretically) learned one hundred and sixty-two new vocabulary words, at least twice as many characters, and about two dozen new sentence structures.

After fourteen years of school, tests are nothing new for me, though. Today’s challenge was the result of what I started yesterday by buying a mosquito net off Amazon China (more commonly known as 亚马逊中国, literally translated: inferior horse modest China). You should know that Amazon China is not like Amazon US. First, everything’s written in Chinese and things don’t always translate well. Second, the preferred payment method is with cash upon arrival rather than with credit card. That said, after some serious browsing, I bought a “Princess Palace Fun Dome Net” for 49 元 (about 8 US dollars). And although the name sounds questionable, the pictures were really promising, and the shipping was free.

So after my test this morning, I went down to the lobby to try to communicate to the woman at the front desk that I had a package coming today. Even after some charades, she thought I was asking her where I could buy bug spray in the city and kept referring me to a nearby supermarket. Fortunately, I found someone else who explained to me that the mailman would just call me when he arrived with my package. Sure enough, around 1:30 p.m., I got a call, after I had been napping, from someone who spoke very fluent Chinese. In my sleepy and nervous daze I could only blunder out a few choppy phrases. After about sixty seconds, he hung up on me–justifiably–and I spent the next five minutes flying around the dorm hall searching for him. Finally I found him on the stairwell of the third floor, clutching my Princess Palace, looking desperately confused.

In spite of all that, though, my Palace turned out to be a real find:

My pretty, pink-tinged Palace in my Kingdom of No-Bugs.


This is generally how things have been going: lots of trial-and-error with the occasional success story. And this weekend I’m gearing up for a lot more of that. We have Friday off from school, and Sunday is my birthday, so I’m going with a friend to the Beijing Railway Station and buying a ticket to anywhere. I have some general places in mind, but spontaneity is the idea. I’ve decided that’s how I want to live this summer in China: futzing around and learning the ropes myself.  Stay tuned! I plan on blogging about it all.

Jordan Meyers

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I&rsquo;m from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where I lived almost my whole life before I moved to Iowa to study English, East Asia, and pre-medicine at Grinnell College. I&#39;m a third-year now, and for me that means I&#39;m ready for a change in scenery. When I make the time, I like reading newspaper columns, writing, and hiking when it&rsquo;s sunny. I love eating warm chocolate muffins with milk. I&#39;ve never left the states before, so my head is full of what I&#39;m sure are one-dimensional impressions of Beijing. I&#39;m eager for those impressions to become 3D, and I can&rsquo;t wait to share what I learn living abroad this summer!</span></p>

2013 Summer 1, 2013 Summer 2
Home University:
Grinnell College
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