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Margaret: 兴奋 – Xīngfèn – excited

December 9, 2011

I have ultra exciting news times about five and only about five minutes to write, so here’s the scoop:

1. After class today I’ll be jumping on a five to six hours train ride to the coastal city of Qingdao, we’re I’ll be spending the weekend with Michael, my cool Nebraska guy.  Qingdao is perhaps most well-known as the home of the Tsingdao (pronounced the same as Qingdao) brewery.  Tsingdao is the most exported Chinese beer, and apparently the street just outside the factory, literally called “Beer Street,” has some of the best beers in China, purchased in bags of course.  I’ll save the details for when I get back, but we’re looking forward to the brewery tour, the coastline, German architecture, and POLAR OCEAN WORLD OMG!  Going to see me some beluga whales.

2. Last night I just purchased airfare to…….. SEOUL AND HO CHI MIN CITY!  My friend Megan and I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out where it would be most cost effective to go during our break in January, and after many hours of trying to find cheap flights to Phuket, Thailand, we booked for South Korea and Vietnam.  As soon as we hit the button on my computer, we just turned to each other and said, “Oh my god, what did we just do!?”  It had only then occurred to us that we don’t know anything about either of these countries, only that South Korea has probably the best food in the world and Vietnam is that place the U.S. went to war in that Forest Gump movie.  At least I think it was Vietnam…  But anyways, I’m sooooooo excited!  Yesterday morning I could have told you with outstanding confidence that there would be no way I’d ever get to Vietnam in my life, and a few clicks later, it looks like I’ll be laying out on beaches and hiking through jungles in none other than Nam.  Wow is all I have time to say!

3. I finally went to see Peking Opera!  While I was on top of ChangBaiShan mountain on my trip over the National Holiday in October, I briefly met two young French guys who were doing stem cell research in a northern Chinese city.  We hit it off for a few minutes and decided to swap contact information.  Two months later they’re visiting Beijing and called me to hang out!  I took them to Quan Ju De, a famous Chinese restaurant founded in 1864, where I introduced them to Peking Duck.  Then it was off to Peking Opera, which is very strange to say the least.  It was the most touristy thing I’ve done since I’ve been back in Beijing.  The theater was literally in a hotel, and most of audience were either rich Japanese or what seemed like incredibly inept old rich white couples who obviously didn’t know anything about the culture and were just here to have the “Orient experience.”  The opera itself, if you ever get a chance to see it, is very strange.  The singing is extremely high pitched and odd, and the English translations splayed across screens at the edges of the stage too often do poor justice to the story.  I’m really glad I went with the French guys though.  They’re really entertaining and they asked me lots of questions about America, where they will be doing research next semester.  I’ll probably never see them again in my life, but it was fun to just connect with interesting people for a day or two just to enjoy the company.

4. We had a party in kouyu yesterday.  Many of the American students at BeiDa are here through a program called CIEE, which is a third-party, for-profit study abroad program organizer that sends about thirty students to BeiDa each semester for a whopping $20,000 a semester (I KNOW!  RIGHT!?)  Well, since it’s an American company, obviously it’s going to have its students home for Christmas, so they’re all leaving this weekend, despite the fact that our final exams aren’t until the 30th.  The assignment was for everyone to bring a food item to share that represents our home country.  I went to the Carrefour down the road and bought Twizzlers.  I thought they’d be a hit, but everyone in my class really went over the top!  We had Australian wine, homemade Japanese rice balls, really expensive New York-style pizza.  One kid went to his favorite milk tea shop and bought everyone individual milk teas, which was probably really pricey as well!  My teacher made a homemade pork dish, and my California pal Sam made his famous banana pudding.  I was really hoping my Icelandic classmate would bring something, but then it occurred to me he probably can’t access anything related to home while in Beijing.  We all sat around drinking, eating, and conversing in Chinese, English, Japanese, etc.  I love that class and those people.  None of them are my best friends, but I’ve seen them everyday and we’ve struggled through this insane language together, joking all the way.  It’s been an incredible experience, and it feels strange that some of them are already leaving.  I am insanely grateful that I am here for another semester, as I know that I am on the very brink of going somewhere with this language.  I really feel like I’m just about to be on the other side of a major hump with this, and I can’t wait for next semester to get me all the way there and to meet more amazing people on the way.

5. I bought fake Uggs for $5.  Any of you would swear they’re the real thing.

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