I've been living in Beijing for a year and two months now. In that time, i've had to learn some Chinese. It's inevitable. But in these past two months, i've moved from just getting by to learning Chinese. Taking classes has been amazing. Ace and i have both been going twice a week for 90 minutes each class. It's one on one, and we both love our teachers. I've learned more in two months than i did in 1 year. Here's why this is so exciting to me, courtesy of Many Eyes:
By the time i leave Beijing, i will speak three of the top four most commonly spoken languages in the world. I'm not planning on learning Hindi anytime soon, but i can still communicate with 2.5 Billion people, over 1/3 of the worlds population. Pretty sweet. I'm definitely planning on an extended stay in a Spanish speaking country (Honduras? Chile?) to bring that back to to foreground. It will be a lifelong struggle to remain tri-lingual, but it's nice to know i have it when i need it.
Bad - Electricity Bills
Or rather, lack thereof. Ace and i came back from the Great Wall last weekend to a powerless house. In China, you don't receive a bill every month, there's no automatic payment, no warning that your power will be shut off. You prepay and it shuts off when you have no credit left.
So we come home Sunday night to no power. I grab the special card and run to the bank. Which closed 30 minutes earlier. We make the best of it and treat ourselves to a long dinner out, and, since we just went camping, have our headlamps all ready for when we get home. We light a few candles and suffer the consequences of spoiled food in the refrigerator and no air con for one night. We eventually got it working Monday night, and it turns out there's a kiosk where you can add credit anytime, but it's all in Chinese. I received help from a nice young couple that was confused why i could tell them what i needed, but couldn't do it myself.
Neutral - Fruit
In my previous G,B and N, i ranted about the steady availability of strawberries, and in hindsight, strawberries were a very good thing, not neutral after all. Since then, strawberry season has come to a crushing halt. No more strawberries, and my smoothies are hurting thusly. The pineapple selection has also dwindled; there are no longer vendors on the street hawking them for 50 cents apiece, peeled and ready to eat. Now you pay $1.50 AND you have to do it yourself. What a rip-off.
But every season brings a new variety of fruits to the street corners. Late spring was cherries. They were delightful and, yes, very cheap... and also dwindling. Mangoes are starting to fade, but i overdosed and had my fill for now, no harm there. Papaya and banana are still around, and for that i am thankful. Summer has brought us mangosteens and lichees; both need to be peeled before eating, and both bear inner fruit whose size and texture are vaguely reminiscent of a testicle. Er... not that i'm particularly well versed in testicle texture. Set, spike anyone?
I can't wait for strawberry and pineapple season again.