I can catch up on 3 months of lost sleep
CET is officially over (and actually has been since last Friday). The Spring semester at Beijing University doesn’t start until February 10th, which means I have almost 2 months before I have to step inside a classroom again. I genuinely miss studying a chapters’ worth of grammar and 50 new vocab words everyday, but catching up on 3 months of lost sleep has been a great consolation. As great as it is, though, I’m not exactly on vacation seeing as I’ve still yet to find my own apartment or a paying job. Good times.
CET jiéshù yǐhòu
The end of CET and after
Like I said in “Sharpening My Haggling Skills At Silk Street“, the last week of the semester wasn’t all that busy. Our final written exam, which covered everything we learned in the second half of the semester, was last Thursday. The thing about studying a language is that everything you learn relates to or is based off of something you learned before. While there are some exceptions, for the most part, every time we stepped out of the CET gate and had a conversation with someone, we were reviewing our Chinese. (Cliche but true.)
Our final oral exam was on Friday. As part of our weekly oral exam, we had to write a roughly 500 character essay which we were supposed to memorize and give as a small oral presentation 报告 “bàogào”. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the last time I actually memorized my baogao, but it was more so because it took me so long to write it that I just ran out of time to memorize it. Our final baogao was a 10 minute oral presentation of an 800 character essay we had to write earlier last week. Mine was on internet freedom, and I actually memorized the whole thing. Had my teacher pretty impressed too (although my joke about Al Gore inventing the world wide web elicited zero response from her).
In case anyone was interested, I annihilated both the written and oral exams.
The graduation ceremony
Our graduation ceremony was on Friday after we had all finished our oral exams. It was held at a pretty nice hotel within walking distance to CET, although I couldn’t tell you the name of it – I just followed the crowd walking in that direction. It was more on the formal side but not too over the top. We ate (buffet style), they handed out some awards (which I won zero of), and we got our diplomas (see first picture in post). Standard protocol at the end was to say goodbye to our teachers. I was a little overwhelmed and my brain wasn’t really functioning at that point, so although I tried to get to everyone, unfortunately I’m sure there’s a few people, teachers included, that I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye/thank you to.
Because it was a semi-formal event, I had planned on wearing my blazer that I had brought from the States. I knew it was too big, so I went to a tailor that Wednesday just to see if by some miracle they could tailor it in one day. Turns out I had lost so much weight that “tailoring” it meant taking it all apart and using the old material to make a new jacket. That was going to cost right around $45. The woman taking care of me told me they could make a new jacket from whatever material I wanted for around $70 – and have it done by the next day. She also said they could make me an entire suit from whatever material I wanted for around $100 – and have it done by the next day. So after a few hours of mulling it all over, I went with the new suit.
I went back the next day, and there was my suit hanging in the dressing room waiting for me to throw it on. It fit, I paid, and I left. Nowhere in America can you get a cashmere suit, tailor made, and delivered the next day for $109. While I do feel bad for the dozens of underpaid children who probably worked 14 hour shifts to get my suit done, I couldn’t hate the suit. And people wonder why I love this country.
Wǒ xiànzài zài zuò de shì
What I’m doing right now
While doing the job and apartment search, I’m staying with one of my best friends who you’ve probably seen in multiple photos in my posts since I’ve been in China. He works for CET, and as a program assistant, he actually lives in the dorm and has two rooms, one of which I’m currently writing this from. Believe it or not, I consider myself one of the luckiest people in China right now. I have a solid roof over my head, heating, an air conditioner, hot water 24/7, a laundry room, a lock on my door, and one of my best friends as my roommate. While I still plan on looking for my own place, I couldn’t ask for better temporary arrangements.
This has almost no relevance to anything I’ve said so far, but if you’ll remember my first post from CET, “A Day In The Life“, I mentioned Beijing’s poor air quality. While I gave up on caring about that, you should check this link out for some visual confirmation of what I was referring to. The picture with the air quality rating of 356, which reads “Dangerous”, corresponds to the last picture in the stream on that site.
A few people have asked if there’s anything they can do for me for Christmas, so if you’re one of those people, here it is. I’m assuming everyone’s heard about the Great Firewall of China. That Wall can often times make blogging pretty hard if you don’t have something called a VPN (virtual private network). Basically, in order for me to blog, I have to pay $10 a month for one of these. So if you’re feeling generous this holiday season, feel free to donate to the “Help Nate Sustain His Blog And His Life” fund by using the giant yellow button on the right. PayPal assures me no one can steal your credit card info. Together, we can beat the Wall.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below and I’ll get back to you!