Well, here we go.
I am now in Beijing. I arrived two days ago on a flight that left something to be desired, to say the least. Among the highlights were: 1) watching the JFK Airport security guys desperately try to wrangle the two hundred Air China passengers into something resembling a line for boarding, and 2) having the Chinese woman one seat down place her feet on my armrest. Also (and I know this sounds incredibly whiny) our plane didn’t have personal video screens.
But I am here now which is what matters. For the next month or so I will be living at Tsinghua University and training with CEI, the organization for which I will be working. Right now myself and the nine other American Fellows are living together in one of Tsinghua’s “foreign students dorms.” Those of you who have studied in China probably remember this invention–basically, a foreign students dorm is a large, usually fairly plush, building on the edge of a Chinese University campus where laowai (read: foreigners) can be kept away from Chinese students and off in their own little world. Not that I’m complaining. It isn’t that often in China that you get your own personal room with a western-style (!) toilet.
I haven’t really done much in Beijing as of yet. No market runs, no touristing, no banquets. Yesterday, I spent nine hours finding a suitable cell phone (although a sim card yet eludes me so no phone number yet), renting a bike, and subsequently repairing that bike. I start “training” about two hours and won’t have much free time until next week. Keep checking back though, as I have some interesting thoughts on the architecture at Tsinghua that I will try to post in the next few days.