I feel like this program is almost over and I still have so much I want to do! It often doesn’t feel like I’m far from home. Just like I went away to college or something. Skype has really helped me stay connected with people. I love calling my friends cell phones and hearing the surprised, “this is Paige?!”
Ashe and I were eating in the cafeteria and talking about how this whole experience has been a lot more comfortable than we expected. We haven’t had much of the cultural frustration (other than our miss of cheese & any dairy product). The language barrier is still a problem. I very much desire to talk to the people and hear their stories, but it’s never much more than smiles and pointing.
Saturday we went to one of my favorite parts of Beijing. Beihai Park is a beautiful lake area with gardens. We wandered around with a great group of CAAS students. They were a lot of fun. My favorite part is Hohai, which is an older part of town. There are tons of restaurants, bars and shops. Please check out the pictures! The Hu Tong area is full of old people loving life. They stay active and work out, play ping-pong and board games. Last time I was here we saw a bunch of old men in speedos swimming in the frozen pond…crazy!
A group of us went back to check out the night scene. We brought our good friend Andy and had a great time. The atmosphere is really fun. All of the bars have big cushy couches to hang out on and chat. We went into one bar and the first song was Soulja boy (apparently no one there knows the dance…we were the only ones on the stage!) Then there were three college-aged girls and a guy that entertained us with basically glorified karaoke. I mentioned to my friends that this kind of entertainment would never be cool in the states!
Sunday, Juan, Ashe, Amanda, Jessica, and Mark came with me to chrch! We had a great time and were bombarded by Chinese students that wanted to talk to us after. We then met up with Elaine to go wedding dress shopping for Amanda’s wedding. The dresses were really cheap…a lot under $100! They were all basically the same size (understandably). We saw a lot of couples…in China the groom comes with the bride as she picks it out. I can’t picture that in the States! This was her first time shopping, so she didn’t really want to buy anything. Trying on a dress was a crazy experience!
Monday we had two classes. They are almost finished. We talked about the poor areas of China and farming. Wow, a lot of their income is around 1000RMB a year. I cannot imagine. I hope I get to see these areas one day. There is just no way to comprehend. After class we took Andy to a farewell dinner at McDonalds. It was his first time going…I think he liked it!
Tuesday was our Great Wall adventure! I am so thankful the weather was cool; I have NEVER climbed that many steps in my life! A few of the people in the program and I had been training for the past week by climbing the seven floors to our rooms instead of taking the elevator. I felt pretty fit! There is no way to explain how steep it is…it really is climbing a mountain! It was really fun to be there with all the Chinese tourist. We got many request to have our picture taken with people!
I woke up early and had a nice walk and quiet time this morning. How freeing to have my Best Friend with me everywhere I go! This afternoon as I was climbing the steps I heard some singing in one of the top floors. I stopped as I recognized the tune…as the deer panthe for the water so my soul longs after you…I was sure that it was this song. I slowly made my way up the stairs. I saw an older man kneeling with several books around him. He heard me behind him and I started to tell him I knew the song. It turns out John (as he would like me to call him) has been to Ohio State. He even wondered when he saw our group if there were any true belivers in the group. Tears came to his eyes as we spoke. He carries a wonderful light. I asked if we could sing the song together before I left. It was beautiful. We are getting dinner hopefully with a few students tomorrow. I was sure giddy after that, Papa is so faithful!
Well, I’m off to bed. I can’t wait to wake up in the morning. Andy moves in the morning, which I’m sad about. But he gave me his bicycle!!! It is horrible shape. He hasn’t ridden it in three months! It has no breaks and the wheel is a little shaky…a TRUE Chinese bike! He remembered Lightning (my bike’s name) and named his BMW (like the car company he said). BMW and I will be off for an adventure in the morning!