Thursday, October 10, 2013

Regular life on campus

It was a gorgeous fall day today in Beijing and as we were walking on campus,  I thought it would be fun to share the regular things about living here on The B.I.T. campus.

We have quite a few dining halls/restaurants on campus and we've been going to the staff dining
hall and the picture above is the reason.  Picture a medium mixing bowl full of noodles they are 
making when you order them.  Then add what you want from quite a few choices of vegetables, 
beans and meat.  The young man always laughs nicely when he sees us because we can tell him what we want in Chinese, but he knows if he asks anything else we have no idea what he is saying.  That bowl, by the way, sets us back 8 RMB, which is $1.31 U.S.  Today was special, three male teachers joined Glenn and I for lunch and we had fun getting to know one another.

You make friends with so many different people here.   Most Chinese people are very kind and they are very relational.  We go to the fruit and veggie market and they want to talk to us and when you keep going back to the same vendors they usually give you a free treat every now and then.  Today it was two small clementines.  Oranges and clementines are so good here!  Very, very juicy!

This evening after getting a few groceries and fruit at the market we went around the corner to a small vending area of street food.  There is a vendor with two young men that have a freezer full of frozen meat kabobs and a big open fire going with a grill top.  You pick, they cook it as spicy as you want it.  This sets us back 3 RMB (.50 U.S.) and it's so delicious!  Next to them is a noodle vendor.  They have two different refrigerators, one of meat and they other full of trays of different veggies.  You pick a basket and put all the meat and veggies you want in it.  You give this to the waiter, they weigh it, you pay and in a few minutes you have hot steamy noodles for about 18 RMB ($3).

One of the things I really like about China is all the vending on the streets.  Everyday there are all kinds of vendors mostly anywhere you go.  They are selling a variety of nuts, foods, phone cases, journals, clothes, socks, slippers and yummy drinks.  My favorite is a cold green tea that has such a good flavor.   It's fun to be able to make purchases without going in an actual store.

The little convenience store on campus is handy for our staples and a few sweets that are familiar comfort foods.  Tonite we picked up a few packs of mini donuts, bread and oreos.  The downside is they only sell bagged milk, which for us is great for cooking and not so much for drinking.   There also we can get any sewing done that we may need, copies made for Glenn's students, money put on our phones, and watch repairs done.

So to wrap up, I want to share something that hopefully will at least make you smile.  There is a very common saying in this country:  "It's China", meaning anything goes in China.  We laugh because it's true.  We see everyday things here that would definitely cause a second look, but here it doesn't attract any attention.  In China, it's so much about relationships and not appearance.  You can wear the same thing everyday and I really don't think it would be noticeable.  You do what is necessary here.  You have one bike and a family of three?  You all, in some way ride that bike. You meet someone and you are both hungry or it's time for a meal?  You go eat together and you'll get to know one another over that meal.  You like a striped shirt and a flowered skirt?  Wear them together, here it is not a faux pas.  And here is the smile (or laugh) part: You want to show your friends/family a squirrel you saw?  You put it in your fanny pack and take it to them on the subway!  Yep, anything goes in China and most of the time it doesn't even get a second look!