Wednesday, February 27, 2008

First Impression of Dalian

So I just arrived in Dalian this afternoon, and I miss Shanghai already.

Besides the fact that I have friends and family, and it's uber metropolitan; Dalian pales in comparison. I feel like Shanghai is actually a country on its own, and Dalian is being in actual China. I'm guessing it's comparable to living in New York City and then suddenly moving to like Lancaster. Still a happening city, but nowhere near as fun or exciting. Maybe Dalian will prove me wrong though.

I mean, there's not even a subway. The main mode of transportation I was told is the Bus 23, which will take me pretty much almost everywhere I want to go around here. The weather's been nicer lately (today is quite warm for what I was expecting of a northern city) and the beach is maybe a half hour cab ride away. It's a growing city, and I have heard nothing but good things about Dalian, but the expat community is much smaller, though maybe that's a good thing for me.

I also feel like I came the wrong year; Danny the director told me that 90% of the students have been moved to the new campus, a 20 minute cab ride away, and that my school is mostly the international students and uh, not as smart students/night class students. So basically, like, the leftovers go here. Next academic year is when the schools will be switched apparently.

My dorm is very simple (read=crappy), but I love the fact that each floor has a "dorm ah-yi" or someone to take care of the floor. Like if your RA was a housekeeper. I'm guessing, of course, I just got here.

Also, Dalian is on the seacoast really really close to North Korea, so like Shanghai has many signs in Chinese and English, Dalian has lots of signs in Chinese and Korean. Japanese is also somewhat prevalent. My roommate, I'm told, is Korean. I have yet to meet her though. Danny told me the Koreans have now switched their top investing country from the US to China [that sentence is really awkward but I don't know a good way to write it]. Maybe I'll get really hooked on Korean dramas while I'm here. That seems like a popular thing among the Chinese anyway.

So later in the semester we're taking a trip to Beijing, and then there's a toss-up between the Three Gorges and a trip to Xi'an and ...Pinyao? I forget the name. But I think I could actually convince them to take a trip to Shanghai; I pitched the idea to Danny and he said to bring it up to the other 5 people (Yes, that's right, there are only 6 of us here in the BCA program) so I could possibly be headed back to Shanghai earlier than I expected :)

So the next few days are Orientation, getting my visa switched, a health exam, whatever and then classes start on Monday. While I definitely miss Shanghai, I'm totally open to spending the next four months exploring the 'truer' side of China, I guess. Plus I want to make a trip out to the North Korean border (200 km away!), maybe Taiyuan to visit Sigma, and Beijing on my own maybe when Dr. K comes with the Etown crowd (roomie reunion!).

For sure when my 19th (or by Chinese standards, 20th) birthday rolls around, I'm heading out somewhere awesome and celebrating -maybe even take the time to go back down to Shanghai and get an awesome ridiculously decorated cake and celebrate with some relatives...I don't recall the last time I did that, if ever. I feel just like I did when I left for Shanghai - excited, but nervous thinking about how much time I'm going to be spending away from 'Home' -but this past month seems to have just flown by, and I'm sure the next four will as well.

(and yes, I will write all about Shanghai later.)

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