Happy to be back in Beijing

Hello friends.

Students watch as Allison tries out a Segway at the China Open venue. No, we don't get to use them for our jobs here.

Students watch as Allison tries out a Segway at the China Open venue. No, we don’t get to use them for our jobs here.

From the moment the wheels lifted up from the tarmac at the Beijing airport last year, I knew I wanted to be back here this year. My excitement for being here for the 10th anniversary China Open overshadows my general fears about being in a country where I don’t speak the language and I stick out like a sore thumb.

We have been out to the venue and received all our clothing for the tournament: two shirts, socks, and what can only be described as a sweat suit. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you the colors, I’ll have a picture soon.

I will tell you, though, that even size 3XL is small by American standards. And apparently quality control and consistency is not high on the list for the manufacturer. Zach tried on four or five different L and XL shirts before finding one that fit.

So far in Beijing:

• I’m trying to convince the students not to assume anything about anything. Most American assumptions just don’t hold true in China. Everything from: “I assume the Red Bull is the same here.” It’s not. Here, it’s not carbonated) to: “I assume they’ll take American money at this store.” (They don’t.) America is such a dominant country in so many ways, but not in China. America is dwarfed by the sheer number of Chinese and the political system changes the whole landscape. Throw your American assumptions out the window.

• I never used a power converter on any of my three trips here, so I didn’t even bring them this time. Now, of course, my curling iron won’t fit into the outlets and I swear I brought this same curling iron last year, so I’m not sure what’s different this year. I’ll have to go buy a converter — I can’t go for two weeks without the curling iron.

• In addition to the ATM, there is also a money conversion machine at the hotel, which they did not have last year (and a CVS store around the corner!) So $180 US converted to ¥1,083. I feel so rich over here. My Coke Zero costs¥1.20 at the RT-Mart — that’s about 20 cents US.

• Traveling here might as well be time travel. I’m having a hard time with the time conversion (even though it’s a very simple +13 hours time difference.)

• I was in my hotel room with the cleaning lady came by at 4pm. I tried to turn her down but she wasn’t buying it. She had a job to do! (Yes, I had the do not disturb sign on the door.) She one of the first things she did was give me a pair of slippers because I was walking around the room in my socks.

• I don’t understand Mandarin and talking to me louder doesn’t help. Xiexie.


3 responses to “Happy to be back in Beijing

  1. Dear Karen: I look forward to reading your posts! Hope you and the students have a memorable and meaningful experience covering the China Open!

  2. Consider putting a Go Pro on your head- if you already stick out then that won’t matter, and you know we all want to see that footage around the kitchen table!

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