Saturday, September 1, 2007

What a Day

So I feel like talking about my day, as I found it somewhat amusing.
1. Getting to the university

I carpooled with a family friend because he does research at the university. I woke up at like 5:45am and got to his house around 6:30am, as he had a lab meeting today at 8am-ish. He drives like a madman. It's not very reassuring to know that his driving hasn't improved in the last 2 years, the last time I rode in a car with him. I must admit though, I'm quite impressed that (to the best of my knowledge) he never got a ticket nor ever got into an accident. So yeah, got the university at 7:50am or so, with nothing to do until I took my Chinese placement exam at 1pm.

2. The morning
So I wandered around central campus for a while, just enjoying being back (however briefly) and appreciating campus with almost no one around. As I approached the heart of central, I ran into a friend (I'll call her AG-F) who just so happens to be working in the med school lab I also worked in (this lab is different from the lab I work in during the summers, as that's at a different university). So AG-F was apparently on her way to that lab actually (at 8am?!). She works with a really nice Chinese grad student whose lab bench is right next to my researcher's. We'll probably be working next to each other at times throughout the year, and I'm excited about that.

Then after she left, I wandered around a bit more and took 2 pictures of campus; I was going to take more but didn't get around to it. I really do love how the campus looks in the early morning, though I'm almost never awake that early to enjoy it. I love the way the sunlight floods across the grass, and there's a deep golden glow with long shadows. Also, the cool morning air is refreshing, and only serves as a harbinger of autumn - one of my two favorite seasons. I can't wait till the trees start changing colors and everything will be in hues of red, orange, and yellow. It's really pretty, and kind of poetic; apparently, autumn is a very poetic season in literature (especially in Chinese poetry).

3. Visiting a friend
And after 2o minutes of that, I got bored and went to a friend's apartment (I'll call her SR-F). Her apartment is actually quite nice for two people. Though SR-F and her roommate, JW-F (who vehemently professes atheism), are both Jewish, they have more Asian stuff in their apartment than I ever intend on having in mine. They have a Japanese fan hanging from the corner of the ceiling, bamboo mats, a bamboo screen, a sake set, two bottles of sake, and a sushi set. And a rice cooker larger than mine, granted I'm really the only one in my apartment who'll use it whereas they'll both be using theirs.

After the run-through of the apartment, we sat down on her couch and watched some episodes of the animes "Bleach" and "Naruto Shippuuden" that I had downloaded onto my laptop. Then we went out to see if we could buy some of our books for classes. I got my book for my journalism class that I'm taking to fulfill our university's stupid upper-level writing requirement. The book is quite small, so I was surprised that it costed $14.95. Price gouging!! Ugh, I hate buying books at campus bookstores. Oh well, at least I got my 2 biology books for my 2 biology courses online for much cheaper.

Then we went to Borders and walked around, commenting about our "some day list" of books to read. I kind of want to read "The Tales of Genji," the world's first novel. But it's huge and like many books, probably requires knowledge of either the folklore of the area and/or the historical time period. There were some other books that we encountered that looked interesting, or books that we had read and either hated or liked. After that, we went to eat lunch at Potbelly's, a sandwich place that I think is only in the Midwest (if not only in my state), and Starbuck's after that since I had a strange craving for coffee the last 2 weeks.

4. The Chinese placement exam
At about 12:50pm, I went to the designated lecture hall to take my placement exam. The place was packed, almost entirely of Chinese students, but there were also some Caucasians and Koreans. The proctor of the room was quite funny to listen to. He was like, "Everyone who is taking the placement exam for 104 or 204 should get up in a moment and go to a different room we set aside. You are taking that placement exam if you can speak Chinese, but maybe can *barely* read and write, or only a little." He was going to say "can't read or write" and the brief hesitation caused everyone to giggle. Then he said, "Everyone else stays here. You'll stay here if you can't speak fluently, but can read and write some. This includes people whose parents are Chinese but can't speak, read, or write but still call themselves Chinese." This elicited an uproar of laughter. It might be an inside joke of sorts, but you're not really considered Chinese if you can't at least speak the language, even if you're ethnically Chinese.

So the 104/204 exam wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it might be, nor as long. The reading passage was doable, and the first translation from English to Chinese was not overly difficult, though I forgot many characters. The second translation was impossible, so I just turned my exam in and took a number for the oral interview.

The oral interview was amusing and surprisingly short. The interviewer had me read a sentence or two from the beginning of the 104 book (which I could read like 90% of), a sentence from the middle of the book (maybe 70%), and a sentence from the end (now down to 40% or so). She was like (in Chinese), "Clearly your level is higher than 104. But not high enough for 204, though you've already learned most of the characters in 104 but just can't remember them. I suggest you take 104 and if you find it too easy/waste of time, drop it, self-study the book if you have the motivation, and we'll give you an override into 204 next semester." In my head I was like, "I knew my level was right here. And easy works for me, I'm NOT dropping 104."

5. Turtle tank
After the exam, I went back to my friend's apartment as I left all my stuff there. We went to a pet store to buy all the stuff for a turtle tank, since JW-F got 2 small turtles for their apartment. We went outside and picked up rocks for the tank; that must've looked weird to all the people driving by as we took rocks and put them in a bag. I arranged the rocks and gravel in a Zen rock garden-like arrangement. It was really cool and was terraced on one side. But when we added the water, we realized that it was too low so we added more gravel, which covered up my nice rock arrangements. Then the water filter was noisy as it wasn't fully submerged, so we added yet more water. Then just a bit of tweaking after that. I hope the turtles will be happy in their new tank. I love turtles.

6. Visiting brother's dorm and dinner
Some time after that, I visited my brother's room in his dorm. He was all over the place with friends, as he knew a lot of people from our city who's going to the university, as well as people he met during orientation. His dorm room is smaller than mine was, but it's certainly not small nor bad. I love his hallways, they're so wide and spacious. And clean. If his dorm wasn't so far away from many of his classes, I might've been jealous.

My parents came down to drop stuff for my brother and to pick me up. Honestly, my brother is really book-smart but very not street-smart. He just doesn't know how to interact with random strangers and forgets random things, like a towel, laundry detergent, and his alarm clock. It kind of sucks being the oldest, as my parents expect me to watch over him and check up on him so he isn't completely lost and overwhelmed on campus. I'm of the opinion that he'll be just fine, if not better off than me, but my parents have their worries.

So then we all went to dinner at this small Chinese restaurant that we ALWAYS go to when my parents are in town. I first went there freshman year with some friends and recommended it to my parents. It is good Chinese food, and now we've been there so often that the waitress that almost always takes our order has memorized what my parents usually order. My parents have also become friends of sorts with the owner. They recognize us instantly when we go there. Once the chef himself personally came out and talked to us, that was pretty cool. Personally, I'd love to have this kind of relationship with a place some day, that'd just be sweet.

1 comment:

W said...

I recently took a French Placement Exam at my school, and our proctor was very funny as well. She said something to the effect that only those students who didn't know how to read, write or speak any French at all,not even bonjour, would qualify for French 101! This last bit caused some confusion and led to some consternation.

Hope your med school apps are going well. My grad school apps will start once I am decided on the ones I want to apply to. Boo!