September 18 – Perseverance

I got up this morning at about 7:30. It was nice that we’re now right next door to classes, because it means that you don’t end up at class tired, and you get an extra 30 minutes of sleep.

We’re switching professors for the rest of term, Prof. Zhang is too busy with the other duties of being assistant director to also have 10 hours of teaching a week, so my new teacher is Prof. Wang. (Wang Li). She seems to be stricter that Prof. Zhang, we’re going to have daily dictations, and she expects to to have learned the characters in the next days lesson before coming to class each day.

The class was fine today, we went over characters in the fourth lesson, and she quizzed us and had us make sentences around all of the grammar points.

After class I went back to my room, and wrote out all of the characters, and began to study them a little bit. I also took a short nap.

At 2pm we had our first core class. it was taught by Prof. Gong. He is a journalism Professor, who has been to America a couple times, and taught at Berkley for a couple years. He went through a brief history of china in the two hours, covering a little bit of Confucius, going through the opium and Japanese wars, and then looking at the reconstruction, formation of bejing daxue, and got up to mao’s rise to power. It was an interesting history lesson.

After that class one of the tutors came in to tell us what the deal was with the internet. It’s sort of an interesting situation. The basic deal is that for 30 kuai / month you can get internet access to the chinese web. For another 30 / month you get 80 hours / month to the english web, or for 90 / month you get full access to the english web. There’s a pro-rating discount if you wait until after the 20th of the month to sign up, which is why they’ve been telling us to wait until the 21st to deal with stuff. On the same note the ethernet port in my room got fixed after I complained yesterday.

My current plan is to stop by tomorrow, and sign up for chinese internet for the rest of the month. (that also includes gmail). Then I’ll get full internet starting in october.

After the internet discussion we walked over to taiji class. We went through the same exercises as before, and then got into the specifics of the first pose. Near the end of the session, there was a group of older chinese ladies in the next park over who were doing some form of taiji. One of the girls who didn’t speak chinese wanted to know what it was, so I asked another member of the taiji club who was practicing nearby. He didn’t know, but then as we were leaving asked me how long I’d been studying chinese. We ended up talking for quite a while, he expressed that it was really hard to explain this stuff in english, because while our instructor had just been saying to keep things level, or to stay straight, the real point was to keep various acupoints aligned. There was an older lady (an aiyi) who had also been following along with us during our lesson, and he worked with both of us in chinese for about half an hour going over the stuff we’d learned before.

He also spent quite a while working to express to me how the exercises related to yin and yang, and how you had to make sure that you’re movements didn’t go too far in one direction. There was a lot of vocabulary around the subject that I haven’t heard before, but it was still really interesting stuff.

We ended by doing a second pose, that I couldn’t really hold for more than a second. You squat down completely with all your weight on the heals, and your upper body rigid, which means that it’s quite difficult to keep from falling over backwards. Then, in that braced position you transfer all of your weight to one leg, and push the other out until the knee is straight.

I got back to my dorm at 7, did another crack at the homework (got through the writing and just need to finish learning characters.) Then I walked over to the supermarket and got some yogurt and crackers to snack on.

Internet, well, for now internet remains intermittent. I’m using an open wireless network that means I’m partially connected. The deal is that the port the wireless router is plugged into has been enabled, but since my computer isn’t logged in anywhere, I can’t theoretically access the internet. The trick is that you can access the .pku.edu.cn domain. One of the things I found there was that there is a second route out to the internet, one that you don’t have to pay for. The problem is that the second route is an IPV6 route. What this means is that I can’t access google.com, but I can access ipv6.google.com. It does mean I can’t access gmail, since there is no IPv6 address for it. For sites that don’t need authentication, you can also proxy your IPV6 communications through a service offered by sixxs.org, which is how I’m typing this. (my url is willscott.name.ipv6.sixxs.org). It’s a pain, but I really only need to get access to my email beyond what I’ve got now.

I don’t have class tomorrow until 10am, which will be nice to sleep in. I still have a bunch of characters from this lesson to learn, like ‘fence’, and ‘roof tile’, and ‘to renovate’, but I ought to be able to get it done. If all goes well, I’ll be able to post some photos tomorrow, but we’ll see.