First days in China
I know I have been MIA. It has been a crazy few days. I arrived on Saturday, July 11. It was absolutely crazy. I will give a very short version of it since this is not really the exciting part of my time thus far. I do not recommend 14 hour flights to anyone. The flight in general was uneventful and not very exciting, but it is difficult to not feel cramped by the end. I barely slept since I was anxious and nervous about catching my connecting flight. Thankfully my plane arrived 40 minutes early, because it then gave me 1 hour and 45minutes to catch my next flight. This required going through customs, catching a terminal shuttle, going to a different terminal, recheck my 50lb behomouth of a bag, go through security, and then find my gate. To my own surprise, I made it. So after travelling for approximately 20 hours, I finally got in my room and showered then slept. We had a meeting the next day at 9:30am.
Let me tell you… jet lag is REAL. That is no joke. I had never experienced serious jet lag before, but with a 12 hour difference, I guess it is inevitable. I was so incredibly tired all day. I took a nap, but it is hard to show-up and do a fairly intense meeting the next day.
But to the more exciting part… I will give my first impressions and observations about specific things and write more in a later post about my field work so far. I will start with food and write more when I have time. They have been keeping me busy! One example of my time was I numbered an entire survey incorrectly and had to redo my entire database. The life of a grad student.
The food is very good. It mainly composes of a meat with many types of vegetables. Yunnan Province, where I am, is known for their many varieties of mushrooms. I appreciate that there are so many vegetables in the food. Since it is not good to drink the water, it makes it difficult to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. All of the Chinese food I have had is cooked so that makes eating much easier. All the food is very warm and there are rarely cold drinks at the table. I am unsure if this is because the Chinese enjoy drinking tea a lot or it has to do with sanitation of food and drink. It is not a problem until I get very hot and want a nice cold drink. In this region, the food is very spicy.
Meals take a very, very long time. Since the food is very communal, it means you do not have your own serving of food. Instead, you use your chopsticks to pick what you want from the center plates to put into your own bowl. They mainly use bowls over plates as well. Another note is chopsticks are the only form of utensil so I highly suggest practicing before you come.
The Chinese also like to make noises when they eat. This means smacking the lips and slurping. I believe it is a sign the food is good. Also, many times, you are supposed to bring your face to the bowl rather than the bowl to your face when eating. I think part of it is they eat very quickly after the food comes out so it is hot so chewing with your mouth open helps.
Below is traditional Chinese hot pot. So essentially there is charcoal in the middle. A waiter/waitress brings out a steel pot of boiling water with broth which is mostly meat-flavored. For example, this one had half a chicken (head and feet included) in it. You then slowly add the vegetables as you see on the right. It is a process to eat the food, but it is very good!
It is very bad to not finish your food. It is expected that you finish what is in your bowl so beware of how much you take!
My biggest regret is not learning Mandarian before coming. I know it would have been difficult, but it would have been a more enriching experience. It is difficult to even “wing it” because Mandarian is not similar to any language I know. I am hoping to pick up more and more as time goes on otherwise it is going to be difficult to order food which generally is my top priority.
I apologize for the scatter-brained blog, but I thought it was important to tell everyone how I am doing which is very well!