Saturday, October 13th, 2007 08:23 am
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Entire class went out last night to eat dinner and drink. Went for the dinner, left before the actual heavy drinking session :P

Had a glass of beer last night (my first). I think that I actually prefer beer to wine -- beer is a bit sour, but wine is bitter, which I hate. The only other alcoholic drink I've had more than a sip of is vodka ice which I've been assured is pretty much like juice. Alcoholic content only 5% or something like that, but my face was bright red after just a bottle. I think that beer has about the same amount of alcohol, but it doesn't seem to affect me as much (or maybe I just didn't drink as much).

The beer tasted all right at first, but towards the bottom of the glass, the taste seemed to become stronger, and I couldn't stand it any more.

I'm vaguely amused at how solicitous everyone was. Maybe my face did turn red.
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
The boarding system here is a bit different. You get several flights assigned to one gate, and when you arrive at the gate, it's this huge waiting area with six different doors, none actually leading directly to an airplane. Instead, you board a bus, which will presumably take you to your plane.

One sucky thing about this airport: no free wifi :( You have to pay, and though I am bored, I am also cheap. But other than that, it's sort of nice: sleek and well-designed. Nothing too fancy but good enough. Too cheap to walk around and buy stuff, though, so I'm currently curled up in a chair, eating bread that I bought on-campus last night.

Taxi fare was really expensive (101 RMB -- that's more than what I've allotted myself for each day!). I am definitely going to investigate how to use the airport shuttle to go to school after I get back.

I'm not new to air travel. I've lost track of exactly how often I've flown, but at least fifteen times if you're counting both domestic and international flights (~thirty if you count the return trip separately). Each airport has its quirks, of course, but the basic drill is the same: customs, check-in + baggage, inspection, waiting, boarding. However, I've mostly flown in the company of seasoned travellers. This is only the second time I've flown without someone who knows what he's doing.

The first time, we were heading to the US -- I was twelve and with my two brothers. My older brother, then fifteen, took care of things and I didn't have to worry about silly things like passports and papers ;P. The airline had to be alerted (by law?) that we were a group of minors, and also kept an eye on us, so we didn't get into trouble. Come to think of it, that trip was motivated by medical reasons as well....

Anyway! So this is the first time I've travelled alone, and I must be honest: I really suck at this. I move too slowly for the brisk, efficient airport folks who are trying to get me out of the way so they can process the entire line behind me; I got the departure card form mixed up with the customs form and had to queue back up; I forget crucial things like an adaptor so I can leech of airport electricity charge my laptop; my passport has fallen to the ground several times, aiyayay. But things are not entirely lost. I made it to the boarding gate with all my papers in order (I think), and I am more than an hour early, so no stress/rushing.

One cute thing about the Beijing airport is that it has this system where you rate the airport inspector/worker who's doing your papers. The scale is from "Very satisfied" (hen man yi) down to, "Not satisfied at all". There are smileys even. They're cute! I think that they're training up their personnel to be quick and efficient in preparation for the Olympics.


So right now I'm in Hong Kong, waiting for the flight. Free internet; I love it. Bumming, lazy, etc. Tempted to get up and find something to drink, but I might as well just wait for refreshments in the airplane (did I mention that I was cheap? :)) Three hours until I get home! (An hour until the flight leaves, two hours on the plane.) Whee!

here at the dorm

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007 01:58 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Mmm, am safely settled in the dorm now, and have the internet connection in my room safely set up. China definitely unfriended blocked LJ; thank goodness that the tunneling works, yay.

It's late summer shading into autumn, so it's definitely not cool. In fact, it's just like home, but less humid, which is nice.

I have the vague feeling that I should be going out and making friends (hahaha), but I'm just not in the mood for company right now. I'll probably be online, lurking around and catching up, being unproductive and stuff. School doesn't actually start until next Monday, but there's a placement exam in two days. Given how much my Chinese sucks compared to almost everyone else here, I suspect that I will be in one of the lower ranked classes.

Classes are going to be six hours a day (from 8-12am, then from 2-4pm). I'm dreading the thought of getting up that early. The dorm is on-campus, but the campus is huge. It's beautiful, though. Sprawling grounds with plenty of fields and gardens.

This weekend has so drained me (additional bit of information which I just remembered: it's the fifth vertebrae that was fractured? I don't know if that's good news or bad news. Also, lumbar drainage = taking pressure off the spinal cord = making things better?). I shall maybe take a nap until my roommate gets here.

Take care you all (Pretty fucking please?) <3
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Yay, finished packing. It took a bit longer than I expected, but still managed to finish it in an hour. Then I proceeded to clean up my room *g*. That took a bit less time than I expected. (Twenty minutes to move all my books from where they were piled beside my bed to the newly vacated shelf space where my clothes once were! I'll have to figure something out when I get home in five months, but at least no one is in danger of kicking them over or anything like that.

Speaking of books, Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels look gorgeous. I think I'll bring it along for airport reading, and general reading if I get bored over there. How one trilogy is going to last me five months, I don't know, but eh.

I may have overpacked. Have one very full suitcase, full of clothes and assorted junk, most of which I probably won't need :-)

Three hours before I have to leave the house, so still some six hours before my flight. Might not see you guys until I get Internet set up in the dorm (apartment?). Hopefully the hotel will have wifi, in which case I will see you guys in a day or so (but I'm not getting my hopes up. Most of the time you have to pay for hotel internet; I'm too cheap to do so :P)

Here's the plan:
- flight leaves about 6 or 7 am.
- arrive in Hong Kong some 3-4 hours later
- spend ten hours or so in Hong Kong
- fly on to Beijing
- sleep! Then explore on Saturday ^_^
- enrollment on Monday
- move in to dorm some time after enrollment, but before school starts
- school starts on the thirteenth

PS. I just realized this is an extremely bad plan. I mean, I've graduated already. Escaped school! Why am I going back?
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
So I've split up what I'm packing into a few categories. These are:

  • things I could technically buy there but it would be embarrassing to be without (underwear)

  • things I probably need (clothes, shoes)

  • things I could buy there but it would be nice to have on the first day (pen, notebook, soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, napkins)

  • things my mom is making me bring (medicine, these weird plastic things I'm not sure what but I'll take it on faith that they'll prove useful)

  • the essentials (laptop, ticket, passport, school documents)

  • misc (money, ipod, camera)

Probably forgot something, but k.

Farewell party

Monday, August 27th, 2007 11:16 am
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Farewell party for me in an hour (and I'm running late *g*)
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
My mind is filled with China. I'm heading there to study in three weeks' time. The term starts on September 13, but I'll probably head to China first week of September to arrange for lodging and everything.

All my papers are in order, or have been submitted for consideration. I've been accepted into the school (just need to pay), and I have passed my visa application. At this point, all I have to do is arrange my plane tickets, pay tuition, and look for a dorm (unless I get an apartment?). I also have to pack, and I need to do so early because I need to figure out what cold-weather clothes I'm still lacking.

I am nervous, yo. I'm pretty much putting my life on hold for the next five months to go to another country and live on my own in autumn/winter, to study the language and culture. I know some Chinese, but not enough to hold even a simple conversation about basic ideas, and my accent is atrocious as well. I don't even know whether there's a Christmas break so I can head home for Christmas. I have the feeling there is one; the particular university I'm going to caters to foreign students, so probably? If there is no break, I'm going to spend Christmas alone in a foreign country away from family. (Unless they come over to visit. I don't know if they will).

I've never actually been separated from family this long before. I have gone on two study tours, but those lasted no more than a couple of months each. Also, the first time (to Canada), I was with my brothers. The second time (Taiwan), I was on my own, but it was a study tour so everything was structured and I pretty much had no time to miss anyone.

Also, I've never been anywhere where it was autumn or winter. The closest I have ever been to cold is spring. I did see snow, once, for two days. It was on the trip to Canada, April so summer for the Philippines, but late spring over there. We went to Whistler. It snowed \o/.

Trying to think of how I'll handle cold. I've been to hmm. Baguio and Tagaytay, high in the mountains here, where it gets pleasantly cool but not freezing. I've also been to California thrice (four times? five times?), mostly when I was a kid, and always in the spring. There was one time in late October, as well, for a week. I guess that was summer heading into autumn? And then there was the trip to Canada, which was for a couple of months, but again, spring heading into summer. Then Korea! During Holy Week, and it was pretty chilly, and it actually snowed in the country, but not where we were. In general, I like cool weather -- the cooler and crisper, the better. But mildly cool is different from bitterly cold. It's supposed to reach ten or fifteen below zero in winter in Beijing. WTF-ety fork?

My experience with the weather has generally gone: summer (hot). Rainy season (hot and humid). That bit where it's not summer and not rainy (hot, but less unpleasantly so). Oh god. Trying to think about how autumn and winter must feel like is about to make my head explode.

My relatives are just doing what they think is best for me, I'm sure, but their warnings about frostbite are beginning to freak me out. Nose, ears, fingers, toes. Nose, ears, fingers, toes. Also, people keep giving me scarves. I love everyone who's given me a scarf, but I'm not sure I can use them all. I have six now, and fast approaching the point where I could just wrap myself in all the scarves I own and stroll down the street without being arrested for indecent exposure.

And then, oh um cold weather stuff. Scarves I have plenty of. Layers of shirts and sweaters I hope I have enough *crosses fingers*. Pants I think I lack, and anything I can layer on under there. I have gloves! But not mittens. I have umm these fur-lined boots? Would I need indoor slippers as well? I'm not sure whether indoors is heated or not. Logic says "might be", experience has absolutely no clue. I have a hat! Maybe two. Errrrm. What else do I need?

Advice on what to wear is conflicting, by the way. Lots of warnings about wearing blah and blah and blah so I won't freeze, but then other people warn me that I don't need to wear so much because I'm going to be indoors all the time. I don't know, who should I trust? I can't trust my own experience. In my experience, layering clothes goes like so: put on several layers of clothing, stand for two seconds and admire self in the mirror, quickly realize that layers are hoooot and doff as many of them as possible.

Nose, fingers, toes, nose fingers, toes. Nose, fingers, ears, toes. Hoo boy.

INTERNET ACCESS, damn you Great Firewall of China. However, I have plans and with [ profile] ciaran_h's help, will probably be able to tunnel through, but shhh. Discretion, etc

I applied for thirty units of an advanced course which, when I think about it now, is probably insane, considering how little I know. Here's the thing, Modern Chinese pronunciation(?) is transcribed using pinyin (alphabet) instead of the guoyin(...Chinese alphabet?) I'm used to. Modern Chinese writing uses simplified Chinese instead of the traditional script I'm used to. And then there's the fact that my Chinese skills are shaky in the first place.

I shall be in Beijing, the northern city. I may visit the Great Wall. That would be cool.