A Travellerspoint blog

Traditional Chinese Medicine

A violent illness turns into a valuable learning experience

As mentioned above, I became violently sick after eating dinner Thursday night. I had gone out alone to a nearby restaurant and ordered sweet and sour chicken and hot and sour soup. It was WAY too much for just one person to eat, but I esteemed myself up to the task. I ate all the delicious chicken and about half the massive bowl of soup until I really couldn't have eaten a bite more. I walked back to the dorm "puffed up like a tick," as my dad is wont to say, with my leftover soup. I studied a bit for my test the next day, but was feeling very tired and more than a little bit queasy and so went to bed at nine o'clock, planning on waking up early to finish studying.

My plan was ruined, however, when I awoke at midnight knowing that a fit of sickness was imminent. I made it to the bathroom just in time, thank goodness. I will spare you the gory details, but I will say it was a rather loud business. At about one or two o'clock, the noise attracted the attention of one of the Chinese roommates, my next door neighbor. This roommate happened to be a traditional Chinese medicine major obviously eager to put into practice his classroom learnings, and I was desperate at this point for some chance of relief via any means necessary, and was pretty intrigued besides.

First, he prepared me a delicious glass of warm salt water, which I sipped very slowly. While I drank the water, he placed on various parts of my ear little bumps with some sort of adhesive to make them stick there. When he was finished his precise, careful placement of the bumps, he pressed down on them. I guess it is a traditional Chinese belief that the ear is connected to every part of the body or something. I think he was trying to explain to me in Chinese, but I was in no state to try to figure out what he was saying. All I know is that it hurt and I really could not speak to its effectiveness, and that all the salt water came back up minutes later and it was awful.

Even though I was feeling horrible, I also found the situation a bit humorous as I mentally juxtaposed Western and Chinese medical practices and ideology. And despite my misgivings as to the effectiveness of his remedy, I thanked him profusely for his kindness and concern once it was obvious there was nothing more he could do for me. Who knows, though; maybe I would have returned to bed later than four o'clock without his help. Regardless, I was truly grateful for his help. If nothing more, it made the experience less lonely.

Moral of the story: if you see a restaurant called Shui Ju Yu, steer clear. Trust me on this one.

Posted by Kevin Deese 04:26 Archived in China Comments (0)

USNA Style

Thoughts on the "Gangnam Style" Spirit Spot in relation to Chinese culture

I showed my Chinese roommate and a friend of his the USNA "Gangnam Style" Spirit Spot that was uploaded to YouTube less than forty-eight hours ago and already has over 500,000 views - possibly making it the most viewed USNA spirit spot of all time - because I wondered what they would think of members of the U.S. military goofing off in uniform and publicizing it online. As I expected, they were fairly shocked. I asked if they ever thought members of the Chinese might appear in a similar video, and almost needless to say, they could not see it happening, ever. I jokingly said, "We have no freedom."

The funny thing is that normally when I say that, I mean it. I suppose it's a lesson in perspective. A USNA midshipman looks at his or her classmates from high school and moans about how little freedom he or she has compared to civilian college students; however, is it not more appropriate to compare our lives to those of other officers-in-training, whether at West Point, USAFA, or even the naval academy of another country? They could surely be said to be our peers more than could our friends at civilian schools.

Of course, this experience begs another comparison: between the American military and that of the Chinese; however, that topic probably deserves the attention of one more acquainted with both of those entities than I am. There is another comparison that can be made, though, and that is between American and Chinese perceptions of their respective militaries, and also the expectations associated with the behavior of servicemembers. Of course, as a midshipman, I was not at all shocked, but rather very entertained, to see other mids dancing around in summer whites. However, reading the comments on the YouTube video, it is evident that there are mixed feelings, ranging from, "awesome!! Yes baby...men in uniform are SEXY!! this is a cool video," to "To be seen in their uniform doing this is a disgrace! They should be reprimanded. Never disgrace the uniform." It is my personal belief that the midshipmen in the video were not "disgracing the uniform" (with the possible exception of the lead mid wearing his SDB jacket with spirit gear), and that we all deserve to blow off steam every once in a while - and let's face it, it would not have been as good or as interesting had they not been in uniform. So although some people would have these midshipmen punished for their creativity, I, for one, say "good on 'em." As for the Chinese, I cannot say for sure what kind of response there would be to a similar video made with Chinese midshipmen/cadets, but I can guess that it would also be mixed, and that the division would likely take place along generational lines, having seen such a difference in outlook between Chinese adults and youths.

But then again, such a video would never reach hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens like it has reached so many American citizens without the unlikely consent of the Chinese government - and that is only one reason why, given the choice, I would choose to live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave over China, any day...and on that note, dear USNA: please do not censor these mids' hard work!

Posted by Kevin Deese 04:22 Archived in China Comments (0)

Getting Around

From cabs to bicycles, getting from A to B in Beijing is fraught with peril!

First, I'll touch on getting around via cab, before launching into my bike story. No two cab rides are the same in Beijing, and you never know which moment might be your last. Traffic rules do not apply to Beijing drivers, and cab drivers least of all. Every Beijinger drives as if he or she has the right-of-way all the time. Oddly enough, I have yet to see a collision, or even a dent in a fender. I would be very interested to see statistics regarding the frequency of traffic accidents in Beijing and accidents in New York; perhaps there is reason to believe that a less rules-oriented approach to traffic control is more safe, though I doubt it.

An interested cultural tidbit regarding traveling by cab is that the quickest way to offend a Chinese cab driver is to buckle your seatbelt. It says to him that you do not trust his driving, and it really ruffles his feathers. I personally think that that is literally the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, but I am trying to be culturally sensitive to this quirk. The thing is, though, that if there is any cab in which you want to buckle your seatbelt, it's a Beijing cab! It is interesting that we have collectively decided to forswear safety in this situation to adapt to this cultural norm.

Cabs and the subway aren't the only way to get around, though. I went with four other midshipmen and a student in our program from another school to purchase bikes. Bicycles are probably the most popular way to get from point "A" to point "B" in Beijing. All major roads have a separate lane for bicycles (although bicyclists feel free to ride in any part of the road they want). We all wanted some rusty secondhand bikes that would make us feel like "真正的北京人" ("zhēnzhèng de Běijīngrén" - that is, "real Beijingers"), but there weren't enough at the secondhand "store" on the side of the street where we were looking, so I forked over more money for a new one at a different store. We had taken the metro there, but now it was time to test our new purchases with a ride back to school on them.

The road back home was a perilous one, indeed. As Beijing drivers have the right-of-way at all times, there were more than a few close calls with cars and other bikers as well as pedestrians, all trying to avoid cars. Our journey back was as fraught with misfortune as it was with peril. One of us accidentally made contact with a (parked) car. He went back to see if there was any damage where he thought he'd hit it, and seeing none and hearing other Chinese people around us to just move along, we continued on our way. At the next big intersection, while we were trying to get our bearings, a woman on a bicycle starts talking to us. We originally thought she was trying to help us out with some directions, telling us to turn back around. But after a time, the other student who was with us, whose Chinese was better than ours, realized that she was talking about the car. We were confused and thought she was trying to scam us - if it were her car, then why was she now on a bike? - but when we tried to leave, she grabbed the handlebars of the other student and held on tight. Eventually, a man, presumably her boyfriend or husband, came up on a moped and also started yelling at us. Now we definitely thought we were being scammed; why did he have both a sedan and a moped here? As the excited talking and confusion mounted, a crowd began to grow around us where we were at the corner of the street, observing the commotion between the two Chinese people and the five foreigners. We tried to leave a couple more times, but they both held on to the handlebars of two of our bikes and demanded we give them some ridiculous sum of money to compensate for whatever damage we had done to the car. Since we did not even believe the car was theirs (when we asked to see the car keys, he had none), we refused. They dialed a number and showed it to us - we correctly took this to mean they were calling the police.

At this point, we called our program's Resident Director, Andria, requested permission to speak in English, and relayed her the events of the last half hour. She told us to wait for the police to show up, which was what we had planned on doing anyways. The arguing continued while we waited for the police, with the crowd around us (which had been growing this whole time) chiming in and offering their two cents. When the cop arrived, both sides of the situation were explained to them (though how well and articulately our side was presented, I could not honestly say). Eventually, after everyone had their say - including the numerous spectators - the police officer directed us back to the "scene of the crime," where upon further examination there was found to be damage to the bumper, not where the one who had hit it had looked.

Here, we got to witness firsthand Chinese justice being done. Absolutely hilarious.

Many people had followed from the big intersection back to the car to see this whole tale play out. One who had been very vocal at the intersection, henceforth known as "Striped Shirt" because he was, well, wearing a shirt with stripes, was among those who followed. He continued to be a very vocal presence at the car, and as he argued with the car owner (it turned out it was his car), we realized that he actually was on our side. The crowd now not only included most people who followed from the intersection, but also countless other passersby who apparently had nothing more important to do with their lives that afternoon than to stand around and listen and contribute to this ruckus. I cannot place a number on how much the crowd swelled, but it got so ridiculous that the policeman alternated between listening to everyone voice their opinions on how much should be paid and directing the traffic around this enormous throng of people.

That's the thing, though; he allowed the mob to haggle out a price like we were at the Silk Market bargaining for a pair of shoes! In the US, I feel a police officer would never have stood for the chaos that happened here, so I was very intrigued by the way this was playing out. I was also very surprised to see that most of the crowd actually had our back. Among these was an outspoken lady in a pink shirt. We called her "Pink Lady" - we're a creative bunch. She came into the picture halfway through, but she would make her voice heard, darn it! She led the charge in persuading everyone that the fee ought to be one hundred yuan (about fifteen US dollars), as opposed to the thousand or whatever that the car owner wanted. Theo, the other student with us, at one point yelled out in Chinese, "Everybody! One hundred yuan?" to which there was nearly unanimous consent. In the end, we settled on two hundred yuan, there was a quick exchange of money, no paperwork, and we went on our way.

Except it did not end there. The police officer came back, had the car owner return the money, and told us to follow him to the police station; though puzzled, we obeyed. When we got there, three of us waited outside while the car-hitter and Theo went in with the officer and the car owner. While we waited, confused, none other than Striped Shirt and Pink Lady showed up, having walked the entire way from the accident scene to the station! I guess they supposed that since they devoted their entire afternoon to this fiasco, they might as well see it to its conclusion. They tried talking to us, but without Theo, it was a struggle to understand what they were saying. Eventually, though, we came to understand that they were telling us that this car owner was not supposed to be driving a car in Beijing because he was from a different part of China - and a light bulb went off.

In one of Shen Laoshi's (Professor Shen's) classes on Chinese culture, we learned about China's "hukou" system - essentially a residency registration system. It's a way for the Chinese government to regulate the flow of people from place to place within the country as well as allocate money, services, and resources. One's hukou determines where one can have access to public education and healthcare and other resources. This system helps keep people from leaving the countryside, where people are needed to grow food and produce other goods, for the city, where the quality of government services is much higher, but where their hukou does not allow them access to these higher-quality services.

So if this car owner had been a Beijinger, with a car registered in Beijing, everything would have been fine once the money had exchanged hands. But since his car was not supposed to be there in the first place, paperwork needed doing - and when our friends finally came out from the police station, we ended up not having to pay any money at all! Of course, this begs the question: why did he dare call the police in the first place? Perhaps he didn't know, perhaps he thought it wouldn't come up. I do not have an answer, but once we were free to leave, we were eager to get back to school; the whole ordeal lasted about five hours - no kidding - and we were starving. We thanked Striped Shirt and Pink Lady for their help and support, took a few pictures with them, and went on our merry way.

I am happy to report that no more cars were damaged on our way back home.

Posted by Kevin Deese 04:21 Archived in China Comments (0)

Where to start...

...the beginning, of course!

overcast

What a blur these past seventy-two hours have been. We landed in Beijing after a fourteen-hour flight at 2:30 China time (yeah, the whole country is in the same time zone). All nine of us that were on that flight packed our luggage and ourselves into a cab, which was a VW Shagvan from the '70s, and went to the Hilton in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping district, which is a very upscale, touristy place.

We're staying in a hotel for now until our program starts tomorrow. The reason we got here early was so that we could go to a brief at the U.S. Embassy (which never actually happened...but more on that later). I am guessing that we were put up in such a swanky place (this hotel is by far the nicest I've ever stayed at) so that IPO would not be worried about our safety. Whatever the reason, I'm very glad for it, because the Hilton has treated us very nicely. Most of us got room upgrades for free and we have all been living in luxury these past few days.

We've done all sorts of cool stuff so far. The first night we toasted our arrival in Beijing with a hotel room "brobe-out" to which we all wore the nice robes from our rooms. It was a good bonding experience, and a great way to kick things off.

The next morning (Sunday) we walked around the Wangfujing area to survey our surroundings. We found a cheap place for lunch and I had my first Chinese restaurant experience. We couldn't read anything on the menu, so we used the pictures to pick out some tasty-looking dishes. Three of the four dishes were great, but the fourth was almost too spicy to eat, and plus, there were still bones in the chicken, so it was too hard to eat on top of the spiciness - overall, it just wasn't worth the effort.

Back on the street, we had the pleasure of experiencing the unique Chinese custom of men beating the heat by folding their shirts up to expose their bellies. I meant to discreetly snap a picture of this so that I could share, but I forgot. I'm sure, though, that there will be plenty of opportunities to do that in the future, as I can assure you, it is a very popular activity. All the guys in our group jokingly tried it out numerous times, but never lasted for more than thirty seconds out of embarrassment and modesty. On the same subject of modesty, we saw while we were buying our el-cheapo Nokia-type cell phones a little boy with a long slit cut into his shorts, I'm guessing to facilitate urinating. Another baby we saw being carried in the street totally without shorts or pants of any kind. Perhaps I'll find later on that there are cultural reasons for this difference between American and Chinese standards of modesty.

Later that day, a large group of us took the metro to the Silk Market, and that was QUITE the experience. Haggling is a must here. They start out the transaction by giving a ridiculously high price and you have to work them down to like, a fifth of that price. I knew that I had to bargain, but I didn't know exactly how much I had to, so I got totally ripped off when I bought my first purchase, a pair of shoes...we won't even talk about exactly how much I paid for those knock-off Toms. It was so hard to hear them give a really high price and come back with a comparatively really low price, like, a tenth of what they originally say. It was hilarious to hear their reactions when people did that. They would have certain English phrases (they all spoke somewhat decent English) that they would say, like "Are you DREAMING?!" And they were also really physical; that is, the ladies would hit us when we drove a hard bargain. It was all so funny. But anyways, once I found out how badly I'd been ripped off the first time, I was so mad that I had to go try to get another pair of shoes for really cheap, so I did, and I felt much better. I guess retail therapy is a real thing!

That night, we took the metro to one of the most popular club and bar streets, Sanlitun, which was fun, but I think I should talk a bit about the metro. You really have to forswear any previous notions regarding personal space if you're to utilize the Beijing metro system. When we used it, we were packed in like sardines, and those of our group who had already been to Beijing told me it wasn't even as bad as they've seen it.

That reminds me of something else. I happen to be one of only two people in our fourteen-person group who has never been to China before now, and the only one who is participating in the intensive language program with the language pledge. I feel like I'm already playing catch-up, because everyone else has been here and knows of all these places to go and just how to get there. They also can draw on the language skills they learned over their previous LSAP summer training. I honestly feel really dumb around everyone else, because they are already familiar with ordering food, asking for directions, and paying for things in Chinese.

The next day (yesterday), we had our embassy visit, so we got all dressed up...and ended up having nowhere to go! Apparently, our point of contact, the naval attaché, left in June and during the turnover process, the details of our visit got messed up, and besides,the new attaché was on vacation. So when we got to the embassy the Chinese guards had no idea why we were there, and they didn't let us in. Eventually, some Marine lieutenant colonel came out and explained this all to us and told us we could go. Most of us then went back to the hotel, changed, and then walked about thirty minutes to what the people who did LSAP last summer refer to simply as "Hutong," which means "alley." There are tons of hutongs in Beijing, where you can find restaurants, shopping, and drink stands, but this was apparently the oldest and one of the most popular, and the LSAP group had particularly fond memories of it.

After grabbing some lunch and wandering around the hutong, a group of us went to get massages at a place near the hutong, which was also great. We took a cab back to the hotel, and I went with two other people to a Korean restaurant, but I was so tired that I was practically falling asleep at the table. After dinner, the plan was to take a power nap and then go out and maybe do some karaoke, but I ended up sleeping through the night, and apparently everyone else ended up doing the same.

It is now 1:00 on Tuesday afternoon (1300 for you military types), and after posting this entry, I will go grab a quick lunch and work out for a bit in the hotel gym. Then, I plan on studying all the Chinese I've forgotten since my FC202 final in April or May or June or whenever that was until dinner time. I think we may be going out to Hohai, another popular club/bar area, tonight.

Tomorrow, we go to our school and begin our program! I'm so nervous and scared about the placement test and starting the language pledge. Just thinking about not being allowed to use English to communicate gets me so nervous, because I can't imagine going through the last three days having to do all my communicating in Chinese. I also want to do as well as possible on the placement exam, because I want to be challenged as much as possible this semester, especially since my grades won't really matter. The goal is fluency by the end of the semester, and I'm not going to achieve that in beginner's level. But I'm still more excited for the opportunity and challenge than I am scared or nervous. Tomorrow, the real journey begins, and I am so pumped for it. It's all happening.

Posted by Kevin Deese 20:40 Archived in China Comments (0)

Departure Day Minus One

Excitement + nervousness = freaking out.

I feel as though I should put forth a confession of sorts before delving into the beef of this entry.

Until yesterday, I never really understood bloggers, and never in a million years could have seen myself becoming one of them. I do not mean to offend anyone by saying this, but I have always felt as though writing about one's life for the entire world to see and judge required a certain degree of courage, too much spare time, and sometimes an inflated sense of self-importance. That is to say that I could not fully understand why an everyday, ordinary, non-famous person would presume to think that his or her life is so interesting and important as to merit its own public website. And I'm not talking about Facebook users; I have used Facebook for years to keep up with friends, communicate, and let others know what I'm up to - not to mention the fact that privacy settings (supposedly) allow for users to share updates with only their "friends." Writing a blog is a different thing entirely. It requires one to sit down and put some thought and effort into telling the world at large what is going on in one's life, like anyone cares - kind of like Twitter, which I still don't quite get, but on a much larger scale.

So here I am, starting my first-ever blog entry by practically condemning writers of blogs as egocentric, and yet about to join those "egocentric" people by telling my friends, family, and the world at large about my thoughts and feelings heading into my first trip outside the continent of North America, which begs the question: What changed?

Yesterday, I had a sort of epiphany. It was nothing dramatic, but I realized that blogging may not be quite as conceited an activity as I had previously thought. Friends and family had been suggesting I write a blog ever since I found out I'd be having the opportunity to go to China for a semester abroad, but my prejudice against blogging had me on the fence. Yes, I knew that close friends and family want to see what I'm up to and keep in touch, but I thought surely the occasional email would suffice to that end. But after meeting with CDR Smith, the USNA faculty member assigned to mentor me throughout the semester, I realized that in order to get the most out of this opportunity, I need to be engaging in active reflection on my experiences. I don't want to just float through the semester just straight chillin' in China, partying, having fun, and relishing my time away from USNA and its rules and regulations. Don't get me wrong; I'm sure there will be plenty of fun to be had (and I will have it), and relish I will, but I have to remember why I am there, on the Navy's dime - and it's not to chill out and enjoy the civilian life. I'm going to Beijing not for my own personal, selfish benefit, but to

  1. represent the United States, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Naval Academy,
  2. learn everything I can about a different culture, language, people, and way of life than my own, and
  3. share my learnings with others in the Brigade of Midshipmen so that we might all become more well rounded and thus better equipped to serve as officers in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
All this is not to bore anyone who has read this far, but to explain the primary reason I have decided to keep this journal: to engage in active reflection on experiences and lessons learned while abroad this semester so that the reasons I have been afforded this amazing opportunity are never out of mind. The fact that it is online allows for a secondary end to be met: enabling friends, family, and shipmates to know what I'm up to while I'm not living the typical midshipman life in Bancroft Hall.

PHEW. Glad that snore of a novel is over with. Now for some of that all-important reflection!

It's Thursday, August 23, 2012, the day before I'm set to leave for "The Land of China," as I like to call it (Forrest Gump reference, anyone?). Words cannot describe how I'm feeling right now, and yet I will boldly attempt that foolhardy mission. I have been waiting for tomorrow since November, when I found out after a long application and interview process that the USNA International Programs Office had given me its approval to spend a semester in China. The IPO has been growing its semester abroad program every year since it began (not sure when that was, but it couldn't have been more than ten years ago) thanks to generous donations from Naval Academy alumni, parents, and friends, and thank God for that, because I think the growing size of the program - and the fact that I'm a Chinese major who's a few credits ahead of schedule - was my saving grace since I did not come out of my interviews feeling very confident I'd get accepted. But I did, and since then, this adventure has been at the forefront of my mind and has been a deciding factor in everything I have done since then.

Let me tell you about what a hookup this is. Now, I know that it's all legit and has been approved by countless "higher-ups," but even so, I must admit that I'm a bit nervous to talk about how awesome it is for fear that someone with a lot of power will be like, "Nuh-uh, there's no way this is legit," and we'll all be sent back - just kidding...but really. However, in the interest of accurately examining and reflecting upon my thoughts and emotions at this point in time, I feel I must share all the reasons for which I am so pumped for this and rest comfortably assured in my knowledge that nothing gets approved at USNA without the say-so of numerous very important people. IPO is sending me and thirteen other midshipmen (the most it's ever sent to one place) to Beijing, where most of us will be enrolled in an intensive Chinese language program through a study abroad company called CET at the Beijing Institute of Education. Our airfare, room and board, and tuition are all covered, and we will each be receiving a sizable stipend to cover other expenses - in addition to our normal monthly pay, which in actuality will be more than our normal pay since certain expenses the Academy takes out of our pay (laundry, food, the darn cobbler shop, etc.) will not be taken out. I will not publicly post any specifics on how much we're being paid, but let it suffice to say that we will not be going hungry. So, not only do I not have to pay for this, but it's almost like I'm being paid to spend a semester away from the Academy. Um, yeah, I'll take it.

As I already alluded, I will not be in China in any sort of military capacity beyond the fact that I am still technically a midshipman in the Navy. I am going there in part to develop the "Midshipman Attributes," and in order to become more adaptable, it is important that I examine thoughtfully cultural norms of my surroundings and adapt to them. Naturally, it wouldn't do to have me walking around in the uniform of United States Navy or to limit me to the U.S. Navy's standards of grooming and what-have-you, if I should find that in China that cultural norms dictate something different, right? For instance, perhaps I will find that most males have long hair. In the interest of being more personable and adaptable, then if that is the case, maybe I should grow my hair out! I have no intentions of doing that, but it is nice to know that if I find it necessary and proper, I am not bound to "four in length, two in bulk." And let's not forget how sick it's going to be to be able to wear whatever I want to class. I'm thinking "winter working sweatpants."

Of course, I will not forget that even outside of uniform, I still represent the U.S.A., its government, its navy, and USNA, and will not do anything to discredit any of those, but still, it's pretty sweet that I'm going to be spending a semester living the civilian college life. That's right, I will be spending one eighth of my time at the academy, not at the academy, being paid more than I would be normally, and practically as a civilian.

Class, that is what we call gaming the system at its finest.

By now, there should be no question as to whether I am excited, or why I am excited, but let's talk about how nervous I am.

I'm pretty freaking nervous. The program I will be enrolled in is a very strict total-immersion type deal. Every participant is required to sign a "full-time Chinese language pledge." This means that we will commit to speaking Chinese all the time, with very few exceptions (such as writing home, blogging, "skypeing" with people from home and the like). We will be expected to think and dream in Chinese. I chose this program, so it's obviously something I'm excited about, but I'm not going to lie, it makes me very nervous. I'm pretty rusty on my Chinese after a summer full of training - and yes, I had about a month of leave, but my brain seems to have an automatic off-switch when I go on leave; my mother will attest to as much. So, clearly, it is not my fault that I haven't studied.

But I've talked to some of the other mids, and I'm somewhat comforted by the fact that I'm not alone in my lack of studying, and we are all planning on studying on the fourteen-hour plane ride (hooyah '14) and in the couple of days between when we get to Beijing and when the program begins. Still, though, I'm very nervous about being honor-bound to speak Chinese, even in difficult or stressful situations in which I feel it would be easier to resort to English. Thank God hand gestures are not prohibited.

With all this excitement and nervousness, one could say I am sort of freaking out - but in a good way.

And yes, I am very excited to be going away from the Yard, Mother B, and classes in Rickover, but there are a lot of things I will definitely miss while I'm in Beijing. As I write this entry, I am sitting in my favorite seat at one of my favorite places in my favorite city in the world (the cushy seat on the ground level of the Annapolis Bookstore on Maryland Ave.). Living downtown the past few days and walking around town in civilian clothes has made me feel more a part of this city, and I will miss it.

More than the place, though, I will miss the people. My shipmates in Third Company, my fellow clubbers in the men's club of glee, my classmates with whom I just celebrated our commitment of the next seven years of our lives to the Navy, and friends I've made outside of the Academy will all be sorely missed. I will also miss out on welcoming my parents to see a glimpse of my everyday life during Second Class Parents' Weekend, cheering on Navy, the Florida Gators, and the Buffalo Bills during football season, the shenanigans and music-making of Glee Club tours, and the first semester of being able to go out into DTA with my classmates on Friday nights. As much as I have looked forward to all these things, however, I know that I have been afforded the opportunity of a lifetime and with great resolve, I bid America "zaijian," say to China "ni hao," and go forward with no regrets, ready to venture out to broaden my horizons and live the dream in...The Land of China.

Posted by Kevin Deese 10:53 Archived in USA Comments (7)

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