Tuesday, May 27, 2014

First day of class

Today was my first day of class.  I'm registered for 6 credits - 3 credits of Intermediate Chinese, 2 credits of Chinese Conversation, and a 1 credit Tai Chi class.  Between the two language classes, I have class every day from 9am until noon.  The Tai Chi is only two days per week and it starts tomorrow afternoon.  The language classes are going to be a little intense - my Intermediate Chinese has 6 people in it right now.  I think the conversation class might only have 3 (it meets for the first time on Thursday morning).  No place to hide in such small classes!

This morning I had a successful venture out to get food for breakfast.  There's a little bakery just down the street and I randomly point at something and tell them how many I want and they weigh it and tell me how much to pay.  This morning I ended up with something that tasted little like coffeecake.  Two big pieces cost me about 65 cents.  There are a couple of convenience stores right here too, so picking up a cold drink is pretty quick and easy too.  Those cost about 50 cents each.  It's easy to spend a lot on food if you go to fancy restaurants, but we've been discovering lots of little places nearby where the food is really cheap.  Of course, we often have absolutely no idea what we're going to get.  I managed to purchase what looked like a grilled cheese sandwich at a cafeteria on campus for lunch - it turned out to be a combination of french toast with syrup, and grilled cheese with pickles inside.  I shared that one with some other students....

Campus is a very busy place.  It seems to be a community gathering spot as much as anything else. 
A view looking down one of the main thoroughfares through campus.

People relaxing in one of the parklike areas on campus.

 A little group tai chi with fans going on here.

The little girl in the yellow was fascinated by the women doing tai chi.

Along with a soccer field and track, basketball courts, and tennis courts, there are also outdoor ping pong tables.  There are probably at least 20 of them here and they were all being used.  There's also a court nearby for a game that looks similar to croquet.  No one was playing tonight, so I didn't get a picture yet.

There are also a lot of students moving out and they've been having little sidewalk yard sales every afternoon.

I thought I'd also provide you with a list of rules for our portion of the international student dorm for your reading entertainment.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hello from Chengdu

Hello from Chengdu!  After a few issues with my flight from Shanghai to Chengdu (they claimed my ticket for that flight had been cancelled), I made it here very early Saturday morning.  After a couple of hours of sleep, I started to get myself oriented to the campus.  One of the staff from the study abroad program (USAC) gave a couple of us a tour around campus.  It's not terribly big, but very busy with people everywhere.  I don't think all of them are students - it looks like the community uses  parts of campus too.

Saturday afternoon a group of us went to a large grocery store (it was similar to a Target or Walmart store) to do a little shopping.  Some of the students were buying sheets and towels.  I didn't need those things, so my focus was on toilet paper (they don't provide it anywhere) and snacks.  The tp was easy, but the snacks were a bit more work.  There is plenty to choose from, but my Chinese is pretty basic at the moment, so I had to rely on pictures to figure out what things were.  It makes for a much different trip to the store than if you can read everything!

I went to dinner on Saturday with the resident director, Wentao, and her husband and daughter, and a visiting professor and her parents.  The parents didn't speak any English and I don't speak much Chinese, so it made for interesting attempts at conversation sometimes.

Sunday was orientation day.  In the morning we had a long meeting and then a group lunch. Then we got into small groups and had to go to an assigned location in the city by bus and return by subway.  That was a lot of work!  The bus and subway systems are actually really good, but when you don't speak Chinese, it makes for a mental challenge, especially the first time.  We were all successful and got to our locations and back without any major incidents.  Our group went to a major shopping district which was very busy on a Sunday afternoon.


A sight on the way to our destination - a major shopping street in the city.

The subway was very crowded!

I have to put in some construction pictures too!  This one is just showing a lot of scaffolding which is all made out of pipes connected together.  Even the steps are just pipes.  This would definitely not pass OSHA in the US.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Almost time to leave!

Hi, I'm Kirsten Davis and I'm an Associate Professor in the Construction Management Dept at BSU.  I'm heading to Chengdu, China for a study abroad adventure plus a bunch of travel afterward and I leave tomorrow morning.  I've spent most of the day finishing up all the last minute errands and the last 4 (yes, you read that right - four) hours trying to fit everything into my checked bag and carry-on (and eliminating a lot along the way).  I think I'm finally done packing and I hope I haven't forgotten anything important!
Tomorrow will be a very, very long travel day.  First, a flight from Boise to Seattle, then to Shanghai, and finally on to Chengdu.  I'm supposed to get there in the middle of the night Friday night/Saturday morning.
I've done a fair amount of international traveling, but I'm still a bit nervous about this trip because I've never been on a study abroad before.  I'm looking forward to the adventure of it though.  I'll be taking Chinese language classes and a Tai Chi class as well.