There are certainly good reasons for forgetting to take pictures almost all week. There are exciting things coming about, here as well as at home. I will tell you later how these issues proceed. Let’s just say that there are future-defining things going on as life goes on at Luojia-shan. I visited the old dorms some days ago. My friend, “Semipermeable Membrane”, is living there, and Wen told me that she used to live there as well when she was a college student. Nowadays they are reserved for PhD students. How lucky they are! The upward slope is apparently something the administrative board thinks only prospective PhDs can manage.

There was an interesting lecture earlier this week about 3D modelling, and all kinds of ideas started churning around in my mind. 3D modelling refers to using software to create a mathematical model of a 3D object. I also have started using a news service called the Chairman’s Bao, which is excellent for students aspiring to attain fluency in Mandarin. The articles are funny and well written (in Mandarin) and if you hover over a certain character, a translation appears next to the character, along with its pinyin form.

Things learned:

  1. If you leave your rucksack on the floor in a canteen, a random Chinese guy will immediately appear next to you, pull your rucksack from underneath the table onto his side and lift it up on the table. When you look at him reasoning what the purpose of this action is, he seats the rucksack in its own chair.
  2. There are shops selling whole bamboo sticks for food, either raw or cooked.
  3. When using public washing machines, people might randomly toss in their clothes with yours. It saves money (each wash costs 2-5 yuan, about 30-60 cents, which can be a lot of money for some students).
  4. If you think 30 people in a classroom is a lot, you need a Chinese reality check. There are people sitting on windowsills, personal mats on the floor, each other’s laps, and outside in the hall peering in from indoor windows. I estimated that one class has, on average, 50 participants in a classroom designed for 30.
  5. Every student has a specific electricity quota. When you’ve used up all your electricity, you need to go downstairs to the service center to buy some more. The “refill” costs 100 yuan, about 12 euros, and lasts from a week (major indulgent consumption) to three weeks (regular people). I had my power-off when I was taking a shower. Luckily, you get used to washing yourself with glacial water in total darkness, at least if you’ve been a scout for some time.
  6. The people living in this dorm are surprisingly unalloyed. During my power outage, I took my charger and phone and left them in the hallway — which is probably the busiest place in the building — for a day. I had my GPS tracking system on, in case somebody would suddenly feel the need to obtain a seemingly abandoned phone. The phone stayed in its place for seven hours, until I went to retrieve it.

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There’s a good article about English language lessons published recently, if some of you can read Chinese.

I was invited to have breakfast with an all-women expat group in Hankou next week. It will be interesting to hear about how women from other countries and occupational backgrounds have found their way here. I think I need to put the Xi’an trip into practice later this month, perhaps as a birthday present. Let’s see if I get anyone to go with me!

Mili

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