Tuesday, December 21, 2004

And what my friend Ben means to say is.......

....We are two college juniors about to depart on the trip of a lifetime: a 6 month stay in the People's Republic of China.

This January, Ben and I will be living in Beijing. We will explore this northern capital city's crowded market stalls, ancient back alleys, and nearby Great Wall, while attempting to master the tricky Beijing accent. After a week-long break that conveniently coincides with the Chinese New Year Festival in early February, Ben and I will move our base of operations south to Hangzhou, a "mid-sized" city of about 6 to 7 million. There we will study at the Zhejiang University of Technology and frequent the beautiful West Lake district situated on.... well, West Lake.

For Ben and I, though, this trip is much more than just a semester abroad and began much earlier than three months ago when we applied for our student visas. Two and a half years ago Ben and I sat axiously in a dusty old classroom in Middlebury College's Munroe Hall awaiting our first day of Chinese 101. After arriving several minutes late, our teacher entered the classroom, slid his briefcase across the front desk, and without saying a word began scribbling chinese characters across the blackboard. In his notoriously brusk manner he said, "If you can read this already, you're not meant to be in this class and you should leave." Later we would learn the meaning of the unintelligible chalkings in front of us:

A journey of 10,000 li begins with one step.

That warm autumn afternoon in Vermont was our first step, but there have been many others along the way: tingxie, wenzhang, koushi, dakao. This Tuesday Ben and I embark on another step when we board our non-stop flight to Tokyo and connection to Beijing.

It was Ben's idea to write this as a joint-blog. Perhaps it is because we are so different. My music tastes are wide and varied, including rap, the one kind of music Ben despises. Ben's a morning person, I most certainly am not. Ben's from Northern California, I'm from Southern Jersey. Ben's a geography major, I study politics and economics. Ben is tall, and let's just say that I'm not as tall as he is. And we're different people on a deeper level, too.

But we share a common interest in Chinese, and those 10-15 hours per week we spent studying for Chinese 101 was at least where our friendship began. So we cordially invite you to follow us, our friendship, and mastery of the Chinese language as we trek across Asia for the next 6 months.

Friday, December 10, 2004

four stars

i thought this was an appropriate way to start our china blog. it's slightly out of context, but you get the idea.

an official introduction will be coming soon.