Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dear Blag

Yes, I called it a blag. It's an XKCD reference for you nerds out there.

For what it's worth, I'm no blogger. I find the whole thing to be an annoyance. Nevertheless, I expected to keep to it as a way to chronicle my (mis)adventures in Beijing. Of course, it turned out that I merely became a chemistry zombie, working long hours in a disgustingly hot laboratory all in the name of science. Without a doubt, I'd do it again in the name of science. That's what I'm here for, is it not?

Being in China has been pretty fun. My work day was typically between 8am-10pm, M-F and Sunday. Saturday was our day of rest, as they liked to call it. Regardless, a fair amount of people showed up on Saturday and some Saturdays I too had to come in to finish hammering out a purification or a presentation, maybe sift through some publications.

The issue with blogging all of these interesting occurrences is that I rarely bother to turn on my personal computer. With such long work hours, I attempted to speak to random Chinese people in various settings on my time off. My experience with the language, however, has been a bit of a mixed blessing. I've studied it for about an academic year with very little practical use, but somehow I managed to get the pronunciation down pretty well. The end result is that rapid-fire Chinese usually comes at me in a very excited manner when Chinese people see that this blue-eyed, curly-haired student from France (Most people here assume I'm from France for some reason or another) is speaking Mandarin. As a result of my smiling and attempts at speaking Mandarin, I've often received free food and occasionally gifts.

Nonetheless, I've found that it can be quite hard to understand some people. People have all different sorts of accents on their Chinese, and this is further complicated when Mandarin isn't even their first language; people from my lab often tell me that their hometown has its own native tongue and that Mandarin is simply their common language for communicating with other Chinese. As far as accents go, I find thick Beijing accents to be harsh sounding and they ruin whatever clarity or beauty the language might have had; to imitate, try to curl your tongue and then attempt to swallow it or gargle while adding 'er' to everything.

At any rate, that's all the blogging I can handle. I only have a few notes left. None of my email accounts have been working so I haven't received any email for several days. Also, private information doesn't belong on blogs, especially not on ones regarding a research experience in a foreign country. I do not appreciate private matters being extended to the vast openness of the internet. It is, at best, inappropriate.

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