July 26th, 2004
Well off to the beginning of another school week. After being here for several weeks as if living here and working, it has already become the daily routine—wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, lunch, return to work. After work, even though ordinarily I would go home, since being in China for a limited time I just go walk around town in West Lake area with Kate. When I leave China, it is not a place I will be eager to rush to and visit again. This is not exactly somewhere I love being in that much. I did make a decision to come here, and experience another part of the world so far from my own, physically and culturally. All the culture shock hit hard when I arrived and started experiencing the way of life little by little. Some things I did expect, and others I did not see coming. It is very hot this time of year, the food is terrible, too many people and no standard hygiene, air and streets are dirty, no clean water and of course the government is totalitarian. However, overall I am glad I came. I am glad I only signed up for eight weeks, not twelve months. I kept all the negativity to myself as I expected it. Kate had a much harder time coping with this experience, she would express all the downs of being in China daily nonstop. I just listen and showed my support since I was experiencing the same thing. She really wanted to go home. Honestly, I was ready to go home myself. Luckily, we were about halfway through anyway. The Chinese people we work with are nice, even though it was quite difficult to communicate with them. Body language and gestures are impossible for Chinese people to understand; they just stand there and look at you with blank faces. Unfortunately, this happens with the ones who don’t speak English very well. Or, I also suspect they are just playing games.
Many parts of China does have the classic Eastern beauty; you need to look past the smog though. I try to visit West Lake daily just to enjoy being in this part of the world with the time I have here. The area does have its appeal. As I walk around it is nice to see little gardens off the side of the lake. It is relaxing to sit in them and look around to enjoy the views. Today, Kate and I went for a ride around West Lake in a beautiful Chinese tourist boat—which takes you to one of the two islands in the middle of the lake. I always see them as I am walking around and finally decided to just go for a ride.