Now, I realize that the mundane life of a student surely can’t be that intriguing. However, in China, even the mundane and commonplace can be eventful. For instance, today was an exceptionally dismal, gray and rainy day. Not much motivation for learning a new language. Regardless of the bleak weather, my roommate and I hopped on bus 31, got off before the tunnel, and changed to bus 4, which takes a leisurely 40-minute ride to the Sifang bus station. From there, I have the option of either taking a bus for 10 minutes to campus or walking said distance for about 20 minutes. Being the tightwad that I am, I religiously opt for the walk to campus.
Since I forgot my umbrella, my only protection from the elements was a blue-gray Jack Wolfskin raincoat. With the rain steadily falling, I stared at the red tiles on the sidewalk and tried to avoid getting poked by various umbrella spokes along the way. The day may have been colorless, but the umbrellas helped replace the void. There were bright greens, reds, purples, light blues, and yellows. Someone even managed to match her purple umbrella with her purple rain boots. On the last part of the walk, there’s a fairly gradual uphill climb leading to the university. Usually, there’s some street food vendors with their portable restaurants or meals on wheels for lack of a better expression. Some sell hot bread rolls, and others offer Chinese breakfast sandwiches with eggs, carrots, cabbage, and spices. Today, though, the rain kept them inside. The street workers were still on the road, sweeping the city’s detritus along the curb. Not a desirable job, but an essential one for maintaining cleanliness in Qingdao.
I made it to kouyu (speaking) class late, but with only three students there, someone else didn’t like the rain besides street vendors. We finished two 50-minute sessions with 10-minute breaks. Nothing much to see outside, but there were some pretty pink, purple flowers on some of the trees in the school courtyard. Some people complain about the rain, but without some precipitation, spring would be a much duller season in China. After general Chinese class began, some stragglers showed up, and we finished class with seven. As class ended, I’m sure I had already begun to forget the 36 new words for class, but we all remember xia ke (class is over). Not so useful in daily conversation, but truly a comforting sound when my stomach starts to rumble.
As usual, I went to the Muslim restaurant with two Russian friends for some decent, cheap food. It’s a small, cozy place with little orange stools for seats and complementary broth with your choice of fare. For 8 RMB ($1.50), you get a plate-full of noodles with garlic shoots, meat, peppers, and onions. You can even watch the chef prepare homemade noodles while you wait for your food. Maybe I’ll try a different restaurant some time, but if you know something’s good, why go somewhere else. After finishing our meal, we talked about some classic college pranks (putting flour in a hair dryer, stuffing sheets under a mattress) and then went our separate ways back home.
Another two hours later, I was back in Huangdao once again. It’s nice having an MP3 player for the bus rides. Something to while the time away. However, with the bus speakers announcing each stop along the way, listening to podcasts becomes a bit of a challenge. Maybe I’ll purchase those noise-cancelling headphones that cost more than my audio player. On second thought, I would probably be so engrossed in the podcast that I would miss my stop every time. At any rate, if there’s no friend to talk to, an e-reader or MP3 player is a good companion.
Tonight, I have an online seminary class on Old Testament Introduction, a study of the canon and various critical methods used on the OT. There’s a significant amount of reading required for the class, but at least it’s in English. No translation required, at least for most authors. Looking ahead, I do not know if I will continue to study or even be in China, but I have found that learning itself is an enjoyable process. At times, it is arduous and tiring, but sometimes it can be exhilarating and enriching. And if I’ve learned anything from my stay here, it is that life in China is anything but boring.