A Travellerspoint blog

"I'm going to do better...."

Oh, well. I lived in the "now."

snow

It turns out, blogging's just not my thing.

I just finished my final exam, which means that this blog experiment was a total failure. I have not posted since who-knows-when, and I will make no whiny excuse. It's just that writing down my thoughts takes a longer amount of time than I actually had this semester.

But that doesn't mean there haven't been thoughts. I've observed so much of this different culture on the other side of the earth! It's a truly fascinating culture, in both positive and negative ways, and I'm so glad to have been exposed to it over the course of four months or so.

With exams done and with only three full days left before I leave for home, I now commence a period of rushing around for last minute Christmas presents as well as a last-ditch effort of seeing the cultural and tourist sites I've missed while being a "real Beijinger." On my short list are the Olympic facilities such as the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, the Forbidden City, and other lesser-known places. Due to my heel injury earlier, I missed the group visit to the Great Wall, so I'm beyond bummed, but it looks like that will have to wait until my next trip to China, as it's not something you can really do with just yourself, and everyone else has already gone and is therefore unwilling to come again with me. Alas.

I can't guarantee that I'll find the time to put down in writing my reflections on Chinese culture - one lesson learned from this blogging venture is not to make promises I can't keep.... But I would be more than happy to talk with you about the things I saw and did while over here. It's been a whirlwind adventure, but I am so excited to come back home to Christmas time.

再见!

Posted by Kevin Deese 17:32 Archived in China Comments (0)

Quick Update

The Cripple of Wenxing Street makes a rare gym appearance

That's right, yesterday I tried going to the gym for the first time since being injured. I rode a shipmate's bike because mine is currently unusable until I figure out how to remove my lock (the key has gone inexplicably missing). I can walk short distances as long as I don't put any weight on my heal. I'm sure I turned heads as I biked down the street - I could just feel people staring and thinking, didn't I just stare at him on his crutches this morning?

When Chinese people aren't staring at me, they're asking how my leg is doing. Instead of reminding them that it's my heal, I usually just say something quick to appease them and get on with my life. In America, strangers mind their own business with stuff like this. Not here - inquiring minds want to know! Well, they can want all they want, but it won't make me stop wishing they'd stop asking. It'll be better when it's better, geez!

Tomorrow, after our big midterm, is the start of our week-long fall break. I'm going with a few other mids and other students in the program to Qingdao, or Tsingtao, for beer-lovers who would perhaps recognize that name. It's not too far from Beijing, and I'm not sure what's there besides a brewery and I guess some beaches (cool, it's not chilly or anything), but that's where some people were going, and it was cheap, so I said why not. The original plan was to go to Xinjiang, which is China's northwestern-most province, and ride camels and other neat stuff, but I guess that was too expensive. Oh, well. I'll post afterwards about the trip as well as other things I do over the rest of the break and a few other heavier things I've been wanting to write about. Gotta go give the gym another shot! 再见!

Posted by Kevin Deese 01:42 Archived in China Comments (0)

An Apology for Sucking

May the blog gods smite me until the end of time

It's official: I am the most pathetic excuse for a blogger, EVER. I set out with this goal of posting about all the interesting things and experiences I see and do while I'm in China, but after making two entries, I neglected to post for over a month. Sir, no excuse, sir!

Alas. I will make no excuses. Life here has been busier than I had anticipated, this is true, but not so busy that I could find no time to read two whole Game of Thrones books (obsessed) or spend ungodly amounts of time on Facebook.

Luckily, however, I have had to send weekly reports back to USNA, with an "interesting experience" section, so I have posted what I put in those sections below in an effort to make my transgressions slightly less grievous. Don't be fooled: I marked them with the dates I sent them to the Academy, but I literally just put them up, because I'm a low-life of a blogger. Some of them are long, particularly the one about the bike hitting the car, and are in desperate need of pictures to spice them up a bit, but if you've got the time and care to spend it reading some out-dated but nonetheless interesting stuff, knock yourself out.

From now on, I pledge to do a better job about posting frequently. My posts won't all be long or deep; I hope to post about little random things I notice when I go out and about. With my foot injury putting me on crutches, I don't go out and about as often as before, but I'm now accustomed to using crutches, and the sides of my body just below the armpits are so bruised and rubbed raw by now that they barely even hurt now! Yayyyy....

So again, not that I am under the impression that this blog was a huge source of pleasure or entertainment to anyone, but I am sorry to those that liked what they read after the first two entries and then got nothing but those first two entries for over a month. The concept of blogging about my experiences is still something I care about, although I haven't made it a top priority like I should have.

Until next month! KIDDING.

Posted by Kevin Deese 05:11 Archived in China Comments (0)

Staring

I'd say, "Take a picture; it'd last longer," but I'm afraid they actually would.

Before we brave fourteen midshipmen left for China, we all took this online inventory of our current cultural awareness and acceptance. I would say that on the "continuum of cultural awareness" (I think that was what it was called), I am in the "polarization" phase, trending toward the defensive side; that is, I see differences between the culture in which I've been immersed and the culture I in which I was raised, and I have an attitude of "my culture's better." It's as though everywhere I look, I see a juxtaposition between Chinese and American culture, and most times, it results in my missing the United States something fierce. I miss American food, American people, American customs, and as this little rant pertains to, American courtesies.

Chinese people stare.

They just stare. Especially since ending up on crutches and with a cast on my foot, I feel eyes on me at all times. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that every time I pass someone in the street, in the subway, at a restaurant, or anywhere else, he or she stares for at least a solid five seconds. Even after passing, they keep their heads turned behind them just to watch me walk by. It is absolutely infuriating; I can't stand it. The worst thing is, even when you meet their gaze, they continue to stare, instead of politely looking away, or smiling, or doing something to diffuse the awkwardness they have created by their nosy gaze.

However, I must consider that if I am the only one who thinks it awkward, then it probably is not awkward in an absolute sense, but rather only within the context of my American culture and upbringing. Every American's mother or teacher told them when they were young, "Don't stare; it's not polite!" Obviously, this is not something the Chinese are taught when they are young. This is not to say that the Chinese are a rude people, without a sense of politeness or propriety; I am sure that there are things that Americans do or neglect to do which the Chinese would consider to be egregiously rude. For instance, in China, the polite way to offer money or other things to a person is with two hands, and the polite way to accept them is also with two hands. This is a difficult custom to get used to, but when in Rome, one ought do as the Romans do. So as for staring, although I find it rude and awkward, and it still makes me mad, I have to stop myself from snapping, giving dirty looks back, or offering a passive-aggressive "Ni hao" to the starers because I would probably just be rude without cause in their eyes.

Still, though...I long for the sound of an American parent quietly scolding his or her child for staring at someone, and cannot wait to teach my own children the same.

Posted by Kevin Deese 05:05 Comments (0)

Health Update

I will never again try to rescue a cat from a lofty place.

While in Shanghai with a large group of mids and other students for last weekend's four-day break in honor of Chinese National Day, I made an error in judgment Thursday night when I decided to try to help a cat stuck in a tree. I was unsuccessful, and as I made my way down, I lost my balance and fell about ten feet. I landed on my hands and feet, but ended up with a hairline fracture in my heal. The next morning two shipmates helped me get to the closest hospital, which was a Chinese hospital (as opposed to the couple of Western hospitals in Shanghai). They took an X-ray of my foot, which confirmed the hairline fracture, and set it in a cast. Unfortunately, insurance, or at least American insurance, is apparently not a thing here. I couldn't use Tricare or the HTH Worldwide insurance provided by our program, as they were either unfamiliar with the insurance claim procedure or the language barrier was too insurmountable to make any headway on that front. So I had to pay for everything out-of-pocket, but it was astonishingly cheap - only about $26 for the X-ray and $19 for the cast. The only expensive thing were the crutches, which cost $43. I am not upset that I spent $88 to pay for a stupid mistake; if anything, it reinforced the notion in my head against trying to rescue any more cats in the future.

The next day I went to a Western hospital to get a second look at the injury, this time somewhere that I knew I'd be able to use insurance. The doctor there told me that the doctors had done the right thing the day before, and prescribed Percocet for the pain. He told me I would probably be on crutches for only about four weeks, with little to no chance of long-term damage. I used the HTH insurance to pay for the visit and the medicine...that way, at least the U.S. government wasn't footing the bill.

I don't even like cats. What made me think it was a good idea to go up there after this one I will never know. For a few days after I fell, I had brief, fleeting flashes of thoughts like, Nah, this didn't really happen; no one's that dumb. But then reality hits me like a punch in the face, and I realize that I am, in fact, temporarily crippled. Oh, well. I guess I now know the true meaning of the phrase "Sorry for partying."

Posted by Kevin Deese 04:31 Comments (0)

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