27
May
08

Finding more than just home, in 6 weeks

Hello again readers, guess who is back from China? Yes, after 6 long weeks away from blogging, I have finally returned to my haven on the net. It has been a fulfilling and quite short 6 weeks for me, and I wholeheartedly regretted leaving the university.

It has been quite difficult not to blog about each and every experience I’ve gone through while I was there. All the people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned and all the new places I’ve gone to see during those 6 weeks. And I feel that now, despite it being over, I find it quite difficult to convey to all of you what I felt during all those times. I never expected myself to fall in love with the environment and the people, and I never expected myself to become so attached.

I will not try to outline all the things that have happened since I arrived in China, nor will I try to remember and try to describe my exact feelings in those moments. No. That is an impossible feat. Instead, I will try to recount some things that I’ve learned while I was in the university.

1. There’s a saying that goes “Don’t air your dirty laundry in public”, or something to that extent. The definition for such a saying is that you shouldn’t proclaim one’s secrets for the whole world to know about. And it got me thinking that such a saying would have an origin related to the saying itself, which would mean literally, that one should not show their dirty laundry to other people. I find it quite fascinating though that everyone in China, airs their laundry in public, for everyone else to see. The best part being, there is no malice or embarrassment in such an act. In places like the Philippines where most people live in houses protected by walls and a large gate or fence, the possibility of seeing another family’s laundry is virtually impossible. To make matters worse, we feel embarrassed if anyone other than family sees things like our undergarments and such. In China, things like that don’t garner any embarrassment. Everyone does it, everyone hangs their clothes in their “patio-like” area, whether it be in the dormitories, or in houses and such.

After spending a few days there, I realized that I shouldn’t be embarrassed to hang my own undergarments out to dry. Should I have to deprive my clothes of sunlight because I was embarrassed that the other sex would see it? I realized that in my university, boys and girls dorms were in alternate terms next to each other (girls dorm – boys dorm – girls dorm – boys dorm…and so on and so forth) which would mean that each sex would see the others’ personal items, yet they find no shame in such things. If they can do it in there without malice, why couldn’t I myself do it? Such a practice should also be done here, I believe. There is nothing to be ashamed about, in regards to one’s laundry. It’s as simple as this, you either have female belongings or male belongings.

2. I will continue to outline this train of thought that has nagged me since I first went abroad….the transportation system. I’m not only talking about the trains and such; I’m more inclined to say that I simply bow down to the bus system that some countries like China and Singapore have. They are very much disciplined and concise with their schedules, as compared to the bus system in the Philippines. Of course, this isn’t meant to flame the bus system in the Philippines, for all countries have their own transportation problems one way or another. But I believe that we should slowly come to terms with the fact that a disciplined bus system would make things a whole lot easier for a lot of people.

In ZhuHai City (2 hours away from Guangzhou), there are about 100+ bus numbers, each number corresponding to a certain area in which the bus passes. And for each number, there can be up to more than maybe 7 buses, with a new bus coming every how many minutes (depending on how large an area the bus travels through. And the amount you pay is simple, based simply on the bus either having air-conditioning or not, and you can either pay in an exact amount or through the card (which stores money). So everyone just heads over to the bus stop, waits for their bus and gets on. No other problems. To add to the user-friendliness of such vehicles, the bus number can be clearly seen from afar, to give way to people getting on the bus. Not to mention the audio and video signs that indicate which is the next destination, as well as a map that indicates the area which the bus number travels to.

3. It’s great when everyone else lives on campus. If you have work to be done, you can just text your friend or knock on their dorm door to tell them you have to do that project the prof has been reminding everyone to do. There’s no hassle in having to travel all the way to their house/apartment because everyone lives on campus. Probably, the only problem you’ll ever have to encounter with those sorts of things is if they decide to go home for the weekend. That’s when you have to worry, but if informed before hand, those kinds of situations can be avoided.

And because everyone lives on campus, you have all the necessary amenities you’ll ever really need, or at least the basic ones. The campus I studied at for the past 6 weeks had a mobile shop, bike shop, convenience store, bookstore, barber, optical shop, souvenir shop, 3 canteens, a campus-campus bus station, a gym, pool, courts (for basketball, tennis, volleyball, table tennis) and even a small golfing range. My favorite shopping “mall” is a bit far away, since the campus is located somewhere in the outskirts of the city, but who needs a mall when you can be with friends everyday, plus you can even go drinking on campus since the convenience store sells alcoholic drinks. No problem age-wise since everyone is an adult when they get to college; this is due to the fact that they have 6 years of high school.

4. This is in some way related to the topic in number 2. Bicycles are a popular way of transportation around China. I guess I can say it’s a fairly healthy way of traveling, especially within the university…as long as you keep up with the pace of course. Occasionally, there are cars and buses on campus, but those are not used as often as here. Walking, bicycling, and using the small shuttle bus are the means to get around everywhere within the university. Outside of campus, there are of course cars, but bicycle lanes are made available to the students and adults who use bikes to get around. There are also of course the ones who use the bus or those who prefer to walk to their destinations.

Still, I do miss my bicycle a lot. It’s healthy and one can get a lot of exercise from it. It’s also quite safe to use within campus. Not only that, but it is a great deal pro-environment, with no cons to a massive use of such things. I wish my university would allow for a mass use of such items within campus. The excessive use of cars is not healthy, but the college area is small, such that using a bicycle will be too useless. Sigh~

5. Last but not the least. One of the things that most encompassed the weight of my trip..the Wenchuan Earthquake. A natural disaster hits a country at least once in a person’s life-span. Sometimes, it’s the kind of thing that people don’t take notice of…unless they’re the ones who are greatly affected themselves. Since typhoons frequent the Philippines, it’s something that we really don’t fuss over despite the damages it costs annually. Even natural disasters that happen in other countries, sometimes get pushed aside and are gone unrecognized. But being in China when the earthquake happened, has changed my views on a lot of apathetic behavior I have had or have seen in others over the years.

No, I am not injured in any physical way. I would say that I was quite lucky that nothing happened to me despite the enormity of the earthquake’s damage. In all honesty, I didn’t even feel the earthquake, and was busy shopping in an underground mall when it happened. Even when we were later told of the earthquake, it didn’t strike me as anything serious till I found out how strong it actually was.

Everyday on CCTV International, and many other local CCTV channels, I would watch to update myself on the situation in Wenchuan and other affected areas. It was really sad. I watched how in one week, the death toll rose from 8000 to 51,151 (the day before I left to come back home). It was more than just sad watching everything that was happening. There was even a 3-day mourning, with all available channels on TV tuned in to news about the earthquake. Most especially on CCTV International, there was always a live update on the situation in the affected areas. Sometimes, stories about saved survivors would pop up, and it would make me cry when I would hear their experiences and hopes while under the rubble. Most of the time though, you would hear how people lost their family members in that sudden magnitude 8 earthquake (it was first registered at magnitude 7.8). Eventually, my roommate got too tired from hearing me tune in to the news that during the time I set aside for watching television, she would stay in our friend’s room to concentrate on what she needed to do.

Many of the students in our university donated money. As well as many people from other universities, and adults on the streets, everywhere. During that time of need, people came together to help in any way they could. I even heard that those who volunteered to help the survivors in Sichuan Province had to make a will before they went, in case something happened to them. It’s really great how everyone is offering their aid to help the people there. The only sad thing is that I can no longer update myself as much seeing as we have no CCTV on our cable. I can only pray and hope that there are a lot more survivors and that everyone I love, and even those whom I don’t know, are safe in China.

I guess that’s it. Thanks for putting up with my really long entry. There’s a lot that I wanted to write while I was in China that I didn’t get to write about. Sadly, none of my China friends can see how much I miss them through my blogs since both this and livejournal is off-limits in China. Still, I wish them all good health and hope they know how much those 6 weeks has taught me, both inside and outside of the classroom.

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The Doll(dalera)

What lies behind the mask of a doll, kept sheltered and propped against the shelf wall. Beautiful and untouched for all to see, she comes unmasked in beautiful glory.

The Doll behind the mask

A fresh university graduate from the Ateneo de Manila University who loves to write stories, articles and poetry. Enjoys reading books - mostly fiction, and loves to play video games.

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