China/PKU: Day 4, Classes and Olympics
Dragon Boat Festival - celebrating the suicide of some warrior or something who refused to surrender to some army. This warrior jumped into the water rather than surrender and so was the birth of this holiday.
We had Friday off; we have tomorrow (Monday) off as well because of this Festival. I have not been updating as frequently recently simply because of time: I haven’t had any. Last night I got back at 1AM, the night before I don’t even remember. I will make a post about the 4 day weekend soon. Since I’m lagging behind a bit, here is Day 4 - Thursday, 6/21!
I had two classes on Thursday. 9:00a-11:30a. It was on the environment.
The classroom is interesting. We don’t have individual seats with those desks like we do at UC Irvine. It’s one long table with individual seats, some straight rows in the center and around the outer edges are half-circular/quarter-circular tables with individual seats.
Back to the class. It was rather technical. We learned about PM 2.5 and PM 10, and other ways of measuring air quality. We learned about some causes of pollution in the environment and the growth/change in pollution, but we just touched those topics. There were some questions I wanted to ask. For example, the fuel used in cars here is much cleaner. They use 92/95 for gas, as opposed to the 87/89/91 we see in the States. Why is the environment so bad still? I mean I know some of the older cars are very dirty and pollute, but isn’t the fuel burned rather clean/refined? I wanted to ask that, but the topics at hand were not exactly relevant, so I decided not to ask.
A few of the Irvine kids ate lunch together. We headed to the dining hall my cousin-in-law recommended. It was more “western” - there was Asian food (fried rice, noodles, etc), there was Western food (burgers, fries, wings), and more Asian food (dumplings, shumai, buns). It was a rather nice dining hall, I think I will be eating there again.
Came back to the dorm to rest a bit, then off to the 2:30-5pm class! It was on education and the education system. This class was rather interesting. The professor made comparisons with our Western system of education. Primary school here is grades 1-6, junior high school is 7-9, and senior high school is 10-12. To get into college, you have to take the nationwide college placement exam. That exam is do or die. You take the examonceand depending on your score, you are automatically placed into a college. You have so much riding on that one exam it’s ridiculous. Very interesting. Vocational school is pretty popular here too, apparently. Similar to regular universities, you have to take an exam to get into those schools as well. Adult education here is not uncommon either. During the Cultural Revolution, there were people who were around 18-19 and should have gone to pursue higher education, but could not due to the Revolution. Thus they now pursue higher education, having been denied that opportunity many years ago.
Following class, I believe we ate dinner at the restaurant in our hosing complex. We proceeded to go to the Olympic Green after dinner. It turned out to be a rather interesting trip. I love going there at night time, because of all of the lights. The Water Cube and Bird’s Nest are nice to look at during the day, but night time is when the two buildings truly stand out, illuminated with all their lights.
Upon getting off the subway, two of us realized we had to use the restroom. After searching to no avail, we decided to use this bush in a darker part of the Olympic Green. We took turns (I went first thankfully) and that was that - bathroom trip complete. We found an actual bathroom shortly after passing the security check. Sigh.
Upon hitting the Water Cube, a giant gust of wind hit. It was nonstop for a while and the wind grew stronger. We followed suit of many people around us and we began walking back toward the subway station, going with the wind. We decided to hide behind a pillar so the wind wouldn’t hit us. After 10 or 15 minutes, the wind died down, and we continued our journey. The place we waited was practically at the security point we entered from, so we practically walked back to where we began. We made our way back to the Water Cube, took some pictures, then it began sprinkling. The Water Cube/Bird’s Nest is right in between two subway stations. It was decided that we would keep going forward and just hit the other subway station and take that. Well, the sprinkling turned into rain, which turned into thunder and lightning, which turned into us making a run for it. I was the only one with an umbrella, but the wind kicked up too! We were going against the wind this time, so there was no chance for the umbrella. After running out in the middle of the Olympic Park, we found several covered tents to run to and immediately dashed there. We had to make some choices. Would the rain die down? Nope, not to my knowledge of Chinese storms. Could we wait it out? It would be at least an hour. Can we make it to a subway station? It is a possibility. It was the only likely option, so we began making our way under the tents to the subway station.
Long story short, we were drenched when we hit the subway station. We then had to take the 8, transfer to the 10, and then transfer to the 4. I will make a different post about the subway system…hah. We came home tired and wet, but the trip was worth it. I was with good company, good friends, and trying to outrun a rain storm is something that is seldom possible in Southern California weather.
Having had such an interesting day, sleep was welcomed with open arms.