This past week the Chinese celebrated their 1911 revolution (similar to 4th of July in America) by having a school holiday for the whole week. I sure didn’t complain about that decision. After just one week of classes, I realized that this semester will be a taxing one. Having to memorize 15 new characters each day is not the easiest task in the world. Then there’s the pronunciation part where you’re forming sounds that you never had to form in the English language. Yeah, not too easy, I would say. I still do enjoy Chinese classes, but they’re no push-over by any means.
If any of you were wondering how I spent my holiday, I could give a brief synopsis. Most of it was spent overcoming a nagging cold that couldn’t seem to leave my nose alone. Either it would be running like a faucet or clogged like a cork stuck in the mouth of a glass bottle. Aside from that, it was a nice week for some mountain climbing. On Tuesday, Steve and I went to the outskirts of Qingdao, surveyed the various mountains, and picked one we wanted to climb. I think half the time we were climbing through farmers’ terraced fields, which may very well have been illegal, but at least we didn’t steal any vegetables. Regardless, the climb was worthwhile, because we had an expansive, scenic portrait of the valley beneath us at the peak.
Two days later, we climbed Laoshan Mountain with some friends from school. Apparently, Laoshan Mountain is more of a mountain range than a single mountain itself. So, after the first arduous, uphill trek, my classmates decided they had exerted enough energy on Laoshan and voted to head back down the mountain. Tracy, Steve, and I though decided we mine as well climb the rest of the mountain. And after about another 5 hours, we had reached the summit of Laoshan. The Chinese people seem to enjoy carving stone steps into mountains here, which is precisely what they did at Laoshan. From the beginning of the ascent to the end, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of stone steps carved into the mountain. Now that may seem like the preschool version of climbing a mountain. But I would suggest thinking of it in this light. It’s kind of like doing stair exercises at a stadium, hundreds of times, while you’re a couple thousand feet up in the air. Needless to say, we were all thoroughly exhausted after we reached the summit of Laoshan. But the view was spectacular, despite the cloud cover lingering over some lower mountain peaks. And I must say it was much more enjoyable going down the stone steps than up.
Despite the holiday, the Chinese school system can’t seem to relinquish its hold on its poor students because they decided to have classes this Saturday and Sunday to compensate for missing five days of classes. I can’t say I like that thinking process at all, but it’s not like my vote matters anyways. So I have the unusual opportunity of having 7 straight days of classes this week. I think I may very well be dreaming in Chinese characters by the end of next week. Well, I think that sufficiently sums up my first holiday in China.