Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peparing for China

I leave for China in less than a week! I have all the paperwork, plane ticket, reservations all taken care of so now all I need to to do is pack and hop on that plane. As D-Day approaches, my excitement is slowly turning into nervous anxiety. I have never really traveled to a foreign country and now am about to spend 9 months in a language and culture completely different than my own. What I am most nervous about is the language pledge I have agreed to once I arive in Harbin, China. For the duration of the program I am not allowed to speak English, even away from the school. Currently, my Chinese is nowhere near that kind of proficiency so the first couple of weeks are going to be extremely difficult to handle. I anticipate a lot of confusion, miscommunication, me feeling stupid and being very frustrated to be in my near future. But at least I realize that now. I probably should have studied more Chinese this summer, I anticipate regretting this soon upon arrival as well. This trip will definitley be an experience.

My first meeting with my Chinese roommate has also been on my mind lately. Apparently it is customary to exchange gifts after meetings like this so I just imagine it being funny and awkward. The ritual will go something like this: I will extend my hand wrapped present with two hands, not one, which he will accept with two hands and wait until later to open it. Then he will give my present in the same manner and I apparently have to wait to open it as well. I read in a book that it is rude to open presents immediately because you will appear greedy. But I think putting it aside like that in American culture means you dont really want it. Am I right? I guess we will play it by hear and I dont commit any major Chinese cultural faux pas. I still need to figure out something to get him, I really have no idea, something Alaskan probably. I was going to get him a cool Native Alaskan cutting knife but I also read that giving someone a knife in China means you wish them dead! So that gift may send the wrong signal. Hopefully I will think of something.

Anyway, I do not want to ramble in these postings. China is coming soon and I am very excited! I certainly hope the experience lives up to expectations.