Chinese word of the day: 自行车 zì xíng chē. I will tell you what it means momentarily, but since that's the most exciting part of my post, I will bait you along for awhile with other things.
First, my apartment. The rooms are getting slightly less empty, and I've found a great place to sit and work, read, and pray:
Here are the other rooms in my apartment, with a little more TLC than when you last saw them, but still pretty empty:
One major adjustment for me has been living alone. I have lived in close quarters with other people for the past 7 years, sharing a room for most of that time. I remember times in grad school, especially, when the only times I was ever alone were in my car or sometimes in my office, which I also shared. But now, in spite of never having wanted to live alone, I have this big apartment all to myself! It has its benefits, but I'd rather have roommates.
Now, a random shot of my teammate Lisa and I on campus, drinking soy milk from baggies:
And a shot of the classroom I will be teaching in tomorrow morning:
I haven't actually been in the room, but I stood on a chair and peeked in the window so I had some idea what I'd be working with. University students in China are split into classes based on their major (e.g. Junior English majors class 1, 2, 3, and 4). They stay in these classes all four years, and also stay in the same classroom for many of their classes. So they'll stay put, and I will rotate to the different classes I will be teaching. Interesting!
Now, finally, the 自行车 :
My new bike! Hooray! These are the people at the bike shop that helped me get my new Giant bicycle ready to ride. Most Chinese bikes are one-speeds, but this shop sells bikes with gears, and they even have helmets! I'm so excited for the blessing of having this mode of transportation to explore my city and get around campus faster.
My teammate is the one who took my to the bike shop. We collected stares as foreigners riding through town Chinese-style, with me perched on the back of her bike. Then, once I got my bike, we went exploring and collected some more stares as the foreigners with the funny bikes and the helmets on our heads wending our way through bumpy, muddy streets. It was great.
Dear people of Qufu, please don't steal my bike!