So busy I can’t remember the day I last made an entry. Keeping up with a daily log has been impossible.
On teaching days (MW&F), I arrive in the classroom between 7:15 and 7:45 for 8 am class. Class 1 goes from 8 to 11:30. Break for lunch until 1pm. Class 2 goes 1-4:30 pm, but it’s identical in content to the first class, so it’s not TOO bad, all things considered. By the time it’s done, though, I’m pretty spent.
The first day… did I give a review of the first day? I think I did. Day 2–oh yes, my last entry was before the orientation. Well, it took us a while to get down to the second campus, which is actually about an hour’s drive away, and we used campus transportation to get down there en masse, a group of the foreign profs. The rest of them had extra paperwork to complete for their living arrangements, among other things; although we’re here on the same assignments, and guests of the same international program, and living in the same building, some of us have different visas. I didn’t have to complete any additional paperwork or applications; my visa, classified as “F”, is good for multiple entries into the country as a guest lecturer, which left me free to open a bank account at The Bank of Beijing and see a little of the campus with my Student Assistant.
There was a meeting with the Associate Dean, a very lovely woman who is also an English professor, which included a brief orientation, which included some information on conscriptions. As we were completing her presentation on the university and some relevant social and cultural aspects, we were joined by the rest of the visiting faculty. Introductions were made, there was a little chit-chat, and then we were invited to be the Associate Dean’s guest for dinner, which surprised and alarmed me not a little bit, let me tell you. I wasn’t prepared to have a formal differ in professional company and didn’t feel at all capable of not insulting everyone with my American ignorance, but it actually turned out very well. There were 8 of us: 5 professors, including myself, the Dean and her assistant, and my student assistant. I was the only new professor. Everyone was very down-to-earth and the food was magnificent. It went pretty late though, and it was almost 9 pm by the time we headed back to campus, with still an hour to drive. I had class at 8 am the next day. I was in bed by 10:30 or so, but up at 4 to make sure I had time to prepare. It’s become my routine to rise at 3 or 4, work until 6, shower and get ready for class, leave by 7 or so, and get back to my rooms at about 5:30. I crash before 8 pm.
So today’s my first day off since I got over the jet lag. I slept in, then spent all morning working. Had lunch at the “canteen” about an hour ago — pointing at whatever looked good (not always a successful enterprise… thought I was getting a steamed bun with something inside it today but ended up with what was basically a plain gigantic roll instead) and apologizing for not understanding anything; I hate doing it but it’s that or starve and for the most part people are tolerant — then ventured down to one of the dormitory convenience stores where I scored what I think might be a couple of versions of Gatorade (can’t tell because the labels are in Mandarin), which I have been desperate to find (more on that soon)and a sun umbrella, which absolutely everyone on this campus seems to carry, even guys, and for which there is a real need because the Beijing sun absolutely fries you (I’ve been burned in less than 15 minutes more than once. I’m getting better about remembering sunscreen.) The umbrella was a find; walking in that sun is punishing hell and none of the public buildings is air conditioned. When I get done in the afternoon, the day’s temperature is invariably at its hottest and I feel like keeling over during that ultraviolet assault for an uphill mile.
Other solitary excursions into campus marketplaces resulted in purchases of some kind of individually packaged picked eggs, a couple of rolls of toilet paper (not provided anywhere; one carries one’s own), orange juice, a can of diet coke (“Coke Light”– which is not, in fact, Diet Coke at all), and another bottle with the same design as the Coke Light that looks like Diet Coke and tastes like Diet Coke, and professes to have 30% fiber in it. Don’t ask me. I saw the fiber part after I got it back to the apartment. I have not opened it yet.
The rest of the day will be spent doing class prep and staying off my feet. Standing in front of a class for 7.5 hours is not easy. Between that and the punishing melanoma slog, I have blisters and sore feet.
Upcoming posts will cover Beijing heatstroke, my personal water filtration system, and urban famine.