September 16 – Classes Continue

Woke Up at 7am again for chinese class. my notebook situation worked out quite well, and class was good. I had no problems keeping up with the new words today, and seem to be handling the material reasonably. There’s a dictation quiz tomorrow, but I don’t expect it to be that bad yet.

After class I was quite tired, and walked back to the room to take a nap in the early afternoon. I managed to transcribe all of the characters from class onto a new sheet, which is my plan for the semester before napping though.

I got up for a slightly late lunch, and went over to the baozi place for a couple pork baozi. I also reloaded my meal card with 100 kuai, which should keep it going for a while. I ate lunch with sarah and alice, and we spent most of the time discussing what we were planning on doing for our research projects. People seem pretty impressed that I’m doing a math disp, but the other things sound pretty interesting as well.

After lunch we walked over to the classroom, there was a DISP meeting at 2, where we would all present and talk about first our experiences on the scavenger hunt, and then what we were hoping to do for our disps.

I helped Prof. zhang set up a laptop and projector in the conference room for a while before everyone came in. Prof. wang mentioned that they were looking for a graduate student to work with me on my math disp, but the concept didn’t translate exactly and they might end up going with a math professor.

The scavenger hunts were pretty much as expected. They also did a good job of highlighting some of the culture aspects, although probably not for everyone. One group got suckered into buying art from an “art student” and spent $150 per painting. They felt they had gotten a good deal since they had bargained down from $200. Some of the tutors looked amazed, which they took to be a good sign, when in fact the surprise came from the things only being worth $30 or so. My group was funny, they felt that the highlight had been the hutong and the conversation we had with a few guys. I thought the hutong we went to was actually pretty boring. It certainly wasn’t well known, as none of the tutors had ever heard of it. The conversation wasn’t that exciting, and since neither of them spoke any Chinese, I don’t know how it could have left that much of an impression on them, but so be it. They had also put together a power point. I hadn’t helped them saying it was completely uncalled for, and I remain convinced that you could have talked much more eloquently without needing to show random pictures. However all the groups used PowerPoint, even the ones that had to show theirs on small laptops screens because they didn’t bring adapters for the projector.

the disps were interesting. A lot of people want to learn instruments, which is apparently worth credit. Others want to learn cooking, or make documentaries. My math class is probably way more work than any of the other things that are being proposed, but will be a bit more personally fulfilling to me. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but the basic outline is this: I’m going to do the homeworks, read lecture notes and the book to fully take an equivalent to the mudd course. I’ll meet once a week with someone, (either grad. student or professor) once the program gets organized. In that session I’ll go over homeworks and questions I’ve had in the material, and also ask about how this sort of material is taught in china, and learn some of the vocabulary associated with it. When I get back to mudd in the spring, I’ll take the final associated with the class, and all things going as planned waive the class.

My second project will be something more standard. I want to look at intellectual property rights, probably surrounding movies. Take a look at distribution and the various methods, and how it varies between us and china. I’ve already got connections at KG, and it might be interesting to do some sorts of comparison between all of these various distribution models.

After the disp presentations it was basically time to do taiji again. I stopped by a store and got a bottle of water on the way over. Taiji was better this time, although it’s still quite tiring. We cut class short a by 20 minutes or so because it was threatening to rain again.

I walked with steven and jeremy over to the cafeteria area afterward to get some dinner. It was starting to dribble and was very windy when we got there, so we purchased umbrellas and got jiaozi (pot stickers) to go. The cafeteria was pretty full, and a nice contrast to the blustery weather. There was a long line to get soups (wonton soup it looked like), but not that long of a line for potstickers. They seemed to only have one type, but that was fine with me, I got the same number as the first time I was there, two liang, however many that is, and asked for it to go. The server was embarrassed to give it to me to go, but eventually did. The problem was the cardboard boxes didn’t have a way to fasten, and wouldn’t stay closed. It wasn’t that big of a problem though in comparison to the fact that if you put wet dumplings into a thin cardboard box and then take it out into the rain it starts to loose shape pretty quickly.

The walk back was more windy than rainy, although it started to rain pretty good in the last couple blocks. I managed to get the dumplings back to my dorm safely though, and they tasted great; especially for 3 kuai.

I got back to the dorm at 6:30 or so, had dinner, and studied a bit more language stuff. I spent about an hour and finished my first week of math homework, and caught up on correspondences.

My last task this evening is to pack everything up, since we’re moving into our permanent dorms tomorrow.