You know it’s a bad week when you really want Tuesday to be Friday. Today, we did a lab for circuits, and then I worked on homework until lunch. After lunch we came back and I worked on some more homework before our visitors came. Today we had a visit from a local international high school. Lauren and I showed them the circuits lab. They seemed to enjoy it. After that I worked some more until it was time for project management. After that I went home and attempted to finish the thermo homework. I got it figured out just before I went to bed, and decided to finish it in our philosophy class break.
Today was a typical Monday. In thermo we told him about our situation, and he gave us until this evening to finish it. As a side note, we’ve decided that he’s a grad student. Other than that nothing exciting happened today. Lauren, Gonzy, and I all went to Subway for lunch because we wanted to stay in and work on thermo.
This evening, the Internet in the apartments was down. None of us could get it to work properly. When I turned on the VPN, the Internet wouldn’t even start. However, when I turned it off, the regular China Internet performed exactly how I expected it to. So we ended up deciding to wait until tomorrow to email our thermodynamics projects. This evening there was a Skype session between most of the Americans and the upper-level UDCI administration (Skype works fine on the Chinese Internet) to clear up some unresolved issues. Some got resolved satisfactorily, some did not, as is to be expected from such meetings. After that, I got some of the thermo homework for Wednesday finished, as well as some more of the thermo take-home test that’s due Friday.
Today we had to be checked out of the dorm by 08:00. We put our stuff on the bus and headed to breakfast at one of the school cafeterias, which turned out to be equivalent to a high-school cafeteria straight out of the mid twentieth century. Breakfast was good, though. I tried some kind of soy milk, which was served warm just like everything else in China. It didn’t taste good. Vee told me that Chinese parents tell their children that if they drink cold milk their stomachs will be upset. Actually, in this case, the US is the odd one out because most places, including Europe, drink their milk warm. We’re just weird that way.
After breakfast we headed to Liying Temple, a Buddhist temple. It was quite nice. The temple occupies one side of a small valley with a stream down the middle. On the opposite side is a ridge perhaps 200 feet in height, into the side of which are carved several statues. One of the main attractions is a large cave. After visiting the cave, Vee and I walked a little ways before coming to a bridge across the stream. We crossed and began to head up the valley on the other side. When we came to a set of stairs, we decided to go up. The rest of the group just sort of followed us. We eventually made the summit, then took a short rest before going down. I enjoyed it, but then again I enjoy hiking and have hiked up to the top of several ridges.
We went down and saw the temple. It’s an active temple, and on the way in they give you incense, which you are supposed to either place at the feet of one of the many Buddhist “saints” (I don’t know the actual term) or burn. There are statues of past famous Buddhists, and each one is supposed to have special control over a different part of life, similar to Catholic Saints. You make a wish for one of them to give you fortune in their part of life, or you simply make the wish while burning incense, and the wish is supposed to come true. If it does, you’re supposed to come back to the temple to thank whichever “saint” or deity did you the favor. After the temple, we took a drive around West Lake, a large scenic area. Apparently, you can get from Taihu Lake (west of Suzhou) to West Lake via a series of canals and the Wusong River. It was quite nice, and I’m sure it would’ve been nicer without all the smog, which was bad this morning.
Two of the main scenic spots around West Lake have to do with a Chinese love story. A young aristocrat and a woman fell in love on a bridge, but it turned out the woman was actually a giant snake. In order for her to remain safe from the world, she had to remain inside a large pagoda for the rest of her life. After it snows in winter, when the sun comes out to melt the snow, the parapet on one side of the bridge they met on shields the snow from the sun, causing one side of the bridge to be clear and the other snow-covered, giving the appearance of a long white snake on the bridge.
As we drove around Hangzhou, we also noticed several expansive tea plantations, all still worked by hand because a machine hasn't yet been invented to do the job well enough. Hangzhou is famous for its tea, we were told, and in the ancient times it was the emperor's royal tea.
After our bus tour of the lake, we stopped at McDonald’s before heading back to Suzhou. After our return, Jason, Lauren, Gonzy and I all sat down to try and work out the thermo project. Then we went and got dinner before sitting down and trying to work out the thermo project. After that, we gave up trying and just decided to turn in what we had. Then we went to bed.
We started out for Hangzhou around 13:00 and arrived around 15:30. We checked into the “hotel” and dropped off our luggage. I think this “hotel” could be better classified as a “visitors’ dorm”. The whole place was straight out of the ‘90s, and looked kind of like it could be the set of a horror film. The beds were the hardest I’ve slept on so far. The hot water had obviously been off for some time, so at first we got muddy water, but after a while it turned clear. We couldn’t get to Wi-Fi on Jiliang University’s campus, but there was an Ethernet cord in a desk drawer and a socket in the wall. Too bad, that didn’t work either for any of us.
Anyway, we dropped off our things and headed for an introductory presentation. There were several JU students there already. We found seats amongst them, and sat through several presentations about JU and its affiliation with UDCI. After that, the visitors were told to find JU students to be their campus guides. I got lucky, because one of the students came up and asked me if she could be my campus guide. As a side note, Joe and I were both happy we got pretty campus guides.
My guide introduced herself to me as Vee. I can’t remember her Chinese name, but she told me she goes by Vee. We went out of the presentation hall, and headed to their school museum. JU specializes in measurements and measuring devices, so that was the main focus of the museum. UD has a small school museum housed in its own small building between St. Mary’s Hall, Chaminade Hall, and the Rike Center. I’ve never seen this building open or people in there, but to be fair I don’t haven’t been by there often because I almost always pass through that part of campus on the south rather than the north. China Jiliang University’s campus isn’t terribly different from many city campuses in America, and is essentially a large green space and lake surrounded by academic buildings which are encircled by dormitories and the rest of the city. In a way, it reminded me of a tiny Ohio State.
After the museum, we all went to dinner. Dinner was very good, and the conversation covered a wide variety of topics, from ice hockey to how to use chopsticks. One of the girls at my table was going to need to teach foreigners how to use chopsticks, so she asked Dan and I for advice on how to teach them.
After dinner we all went to a school-sponsored party. It was good, clean fun. We played a couple of games, did some karaoke, and then did a few line dances before it just turned into a normal dance party. After the party our guides walked us back to our dorm, and then most of us just hung around our rooms talking for most of the night because we didn’t have sufficient will power to do homework and the Internet couldn’t be accessed. However, a few people went out and a few more managed to be productive. At some point we all went to bed.
I can’t believe it. Ten weeks in China! Today had nothing out of the ordinary, though. The thermo professor gave us more helpful hints, because we’re having such a difficult time understanding how to do the project. Today in philosophy we had our usual Friday class discussion. The professor splits the class into three groups, and then everyone is supposed to discuss a certain set of topics. It’s difficult because the Chinese students don’t like to participate. Other than that I worked on more homework today.
Today was another bland day. We had pizza as our weekly Western lunch again. We’ve had pizza the last several weeks in a row, and probably will again next week. I know the only options for us are Subway and pizza, but I’d like to change it up and have Subway. UDCI used to do Subway and pizza on alternating weeks, but now it’s only pizza.
My only class on Thursdays is circuits lab, and after that I spent all day doing homework. Then I went home, rested, ate dinner, and did more homework. All of us in thermodynamics are concerned that we won’t be able to finish the project by Monday, because we have a visit to Hangzhou and Jiliang University, on of UDCI’s partner universities.
Nothing unusual happened today. I went to philosophy, then circuits, then lunch, then thermo, and after thermo I stuck around to work on the thermo project. Luckily he was kind enough to grant us all a project extension until next Monday, and also gave us some helpful hints. Everyone got to class on time and we had a fair-size group for lunch. After classes, I went home and relaxed until I went to the food court for dinner. After dinner I did homework before going to bed.
St. Patrick’s Day is the national holiday of Ireland. In America, it’s treated as an excuse to pinch people, wear otherwise unacceptable green outfits, and drink. Thus UD campus. It’s actually not as bad as people think. The “riot” a couple of years ago, I gather, was somewhat blown out of proportion. But people still get up to start celebrating at midnight, and the high point of the early morning celebration is “40s at 4”, where theoretically the whole campus comes together in the Ghetto (the South Student Neighborhood, lovingly referred to as the Ghetto because it used to be) and each person consumes a 40oz beer. Then around 7 or 8 everyone who’s still awake heads to the dining halls for food. A lot of people skip class to get drunk, and there is revelry around campus all day. There are also many students who go to class drunk. The administration tries their best to combat whole-campus drunkeness with alternate activities, which do seem to have an effect. But if someone’s already planning on spending the whole day drunk, there’s not much to stop them. However, the flow of people and goods onto campus is highly regulated, and the campus police, assisted by outside law enforcement, crack down more on illegal drinking by patrolling more thoroughly and checking ID cards more often. Also, the building entrance restrictions usually only in place on weekend nights are in play for the whole weekend through the day after St. Patty’s. I basically celebrated by having a beer with lunch and dinner, which is legal because I’m in China.
Other than that, nothing too interesting happened today, and classes went as usual. I did typical Tuesday things, and after I got home I took a rest before dinner and homework.
Today I woke up and went to philosophy. On the way to the bus I stopped at my now-standard breakfast place to get breakfast. Basically, there is morning street food that makes a killing off of people going to work and class. I always get two steamed meat dumplings. They’re quite good, and just the two of them keep me awake and full until lunchtime.
Today after philosophy I went to circuits, then lunch, then thermo, then project management. In thermo we discussed the part of the project we were all confused about, and then went on to talk about vapor cycles (mathematical representations of what happens in a steam-powered electrical power plant). Other than that, nothing out-of-the ordinary happened today. It’s been nice and warm again recently, with high temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Tomorrow is St. Patty’s Day, so I used that as an excuse to go out and buy a case of Tsingtao. I don’t plan on drinking all 12 bottles tomorrow, but maybe two. I also don’t plan on doing “40s at 4”, mostly because getting up at 4AM for the sole purpose of getting drunk first thing sounds like too much work and a bad idea. I got pizza from Joy Chew for dinner, and then worked on homework until I went to bed.
Today I woke up late again and Skyped my parents before getting down to work on my homework while doing my laundry. This evening we had our next-to-last floor meeting. We all went in and discussed a few details of upcoming excursions and activities. Then the Chinese students were sent off while the Americans got to hear a very brief public service announcement. Anyway, after the meeting we all went back to our apartments, and the four of us in thermo tried and failed to work out the part of our project we’re confused about. Luckily, we got the professor to move the due date back to next Monday. After we gave up I went to bed.