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Friday, February 25, 2011

Hutongs

It's 8:40pm on February 24th and I'm in my room at the 161 Hostel in Beijing. I'm typing this in Word so I can upload it later because the internet here is not so reliable.

Anyway, things here have been way beyond what I expected. It was hard to even know what to expect because everything is so different here. The place where I'm staying seemed kind of sketchy at first, because it's in one of the old hutongs of Beijing, which are one of the most truly unique places I have ever been.

There is a sense of community here that is really cool, because they are mostly residences and family or friend owned shops and the streets are very smushed in together along with the shops/houses themselves (most people lived in the back of their shops). There is even a type of meeting place where the people of LiShi Hutong can get together and hang out and do whatever they like. It's really interesting, a lot of the older people literally just sit outside their shops/front doors and just wait for people they know to come by and engage them in conversation and just shoot the breeze. It's really cool.

These hutongs are a completely different place than the major streets that they intersect. There is little road noise and few cars in lieu of foot traffic, and the same people come up and down the streets every day, so naturally, I garnered a few stares, but with a simple "Zao Shang Hao" or something friendly along those lines, they would crack a smile and/or laugh amiably and go on their way.

I skipped other sites such as Mao's Mausoleum and the Summer Palace and others because I've taken quite a liking to these back alleys of Beijing. Many….well, a great many, of them have been demolished in favor of major roads like DongSi or Wangfujing and Chang'an. They won't be here forever, not at the rate China is growing, so I think it is more important to experience these types of unique places in lieu of the other attractions that will be around for years and years and years to come.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Senior Thesis and What I'll Miss

So, China is 2 days away!

I never talked about my Senior Thesis, which is the only class that I need in order to graduate. What I'm planning to do it on is China's Cultural Revolution and the role that Lanzhou University of Technology might have played in it. One of my professors, Dr. Summers, told me about an oral history on Lanzhou and the Cultural Revolution he and a colleague in China were planning on doing, but he suggested the idea to me instead.

Here's a link to some basic info on the Cultural Revolution from San Jose State University:

http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/cultrev.htm

Lanzhou University of Technology was one of a few Universities that was not closed during the Cultural Revolution and I want to know why it wasn't closed and how class sizes, curriculums, teachers, and the students themselves were all affected by the Cultural Revolution.

Below is the first video of my new YouTube channel. This video is basically going to be a video diary of my life in China, and it'll just kind of show you what living in China is like for a foreigner. It'll be a lot of daily life stuff, and I hope it'll be interesting!



I'll do my best to keep everyone updated with lots of pictures and videos, when I can do them.

http://www.travelistic.com/user/AustinDFTBA

Saturday, February 12, 2011

9 Days! And Really Important Info

WHOOHOO!!! Things are getting pretty close! I've got some really important info. (Followed by a few thoughts). I know these blogs are pretty much all the same info every time, but trust me, that will most definitely change once I'm in China. I think my next post will be something along the lines of "What I Will Miss Most (or Not At All)" in a video form from my Travelistic Account (will be mentioned soon)


  • This blog site IS currently blocked in China, BUT thanks to a tip from my buddy Kushal Hada,  I can actually update it through my email using mail2blogger! Thanks, Kushal!
  • If you are interested in seeing any videos I send from China, I have set up an account at http://www.travelistic.com/user/AustinDFTBA (WRITE IT DOWN)  :)  It's basically a YouTube that's designed specifically for people who travel abroad. It's pretty cool! 
    • This website is NOT blocked in China (as of 2 days ago, when I last checked), so I will be able to upload, read, and respond to comments and questions directly :)
  • My Skype name is acousticmusic10
  • My QQ number is 1400669014 - this is like China's AIM - everyone uses it! It also has a "Buddy Page" which functions kind of like a MySpace. My QQSpace is http://user.qzone.qq.com/1400669014 
  • I will have a phone in China, but will have to set it up once I get there, so I don't know what number I'll have. I'll relay the info ASAP.
So, for the past month or so I've been excited, but the idea that I was going to China was just that, an idea. Now it's beginning to register that it's coming. I'll be going by myself, no one else, to a school that has never had international students before in a city that is well off the beaten path and rarely sees Westerners and tourists at all. (Big run-on sentence)

It'll be really interesting to get off a plane in a country that I have a limited competency with their language in the middle of Beijing's 22 million people and navigate by myself. It will without a doubt be a scary 3 days, but it'll be a good test of my self-reliance and language ability. I'm not the kind of person who really wants to have a tour guide, so I'll be giving it a go by myself. It's just a strange mental picture of me walking down a street in China with some money in my pocket with my mouth hanging open for about 3 straight days. :) It'll be cool :)



It's exciting! I have a plan, but I hate excessive planning even more than being led around by a tour guide. (Unless of course it's Lynn Wartberg's tour of New Orleans ;) )



I'm coming, China!




Again, the links are 

Travelistic - http://www.travelistic.com/user/AustinDFTBA

Skype - acousticmusic10

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