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Day 24

Other than having to work on a Saturday, today was a pretty good day! Once I got to work, I settled in and started reading up on stuff for the big project/research paper my boss wants me to do while she’s away for three weeks on her business trip. Its pretty cool when you google search something, and the first couple things that come up (that are exactly what you are looking for) all come from VLS professors or VJEL.

For lunch, I met up with Kira and we headed to a restaurant down the street. On the way there we talked about my apprehension for meat here, and she totally understood. She said she tries to avoid it, but that there have been times when you just can’t, and she’s eaten some weird stuff. She told me about how her friend’s family was like “Oh i noticed you don’t really eat meat, so I made some fish for you tonight!” and it turned out they had cooked up some jellyfish and sea cucumbers. As someone who is completely appalled by slimey, mushy food, the thought of having to choke down either of those things made me almost want to skip lunch. But luckily I was really hungry, so I was able to eat. We got a bunch of dishes again: cucumbers, cabbage, cauliflower, and kung pao chicken. Kira said she judges restaurants on how good their kung pao chicken is, and she said she wasn’t impressed by this place. But I have to say, maybe since I don’t think I’ve ever had kung pao chicken, it was pretty good. The cauliflower was amazing as well…I am always so hungry but get limited by my food consumption because most of the food i’ve been eating is so hot (spicy and temperature). I could have eaten the whole bowl of cauliflower, but it come out literally still sizzling in the bowl and it had a good spic kick to it too. I had a little breakdown at lunch, telling Kira how overwhelmed I’ve been, but she said that’s totally normal. She said it is a weird place with weird people and she was totally overwhelmed the first year she lived here, and she spoke chinese before coming here. So that made me feel a lot better, and she said she would do a few things to hopefully help me out in the future (like write down phrases or things I might need to say, so that I can just show them to whoever I need to talk to). We made our way back to the office after a long lunch, and she (finally!) showed me how to make coffee using the crazy little machine in the office, so now I can hopefully be a little more lively in the mornings.

I spent the afternoon reading up more on Chinese laws. I know it shouldn’t but I still can help but be shocked and surprised at some of the thing that are or aren’t in Chinese law. The topic for my research paper will be super interesting, and will allow me to compare US/European/Chinese laws, which will be very interesting for me. Given the crazy confidentially agreement I signed (in which, among other things, I had to promise not to make a movie or write a book based on my experiences here… lame), I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say about it, but it will definitely be a good topic for me.  I got some feedback from my boss about an assignment I did concerning copyrights laws (after which I was more confused about what would happen than I was before I started it), but it turns out I ended up being right in my conclusion, so that always nice (and easy since my answer was “It depends,” which seems to always be right when it comes to the law). I also got some more explanation about my other big assignment, which will involve copyright, trademark, and other IP issues. Definitely not my wheelhouse, but it sounds like it could be every interesting and end up being helpful for the non-lawyers on the Greenpeace staff. Shortly after that, my boss ran over and told me it was supposed to start raining soon, so I should leave immediately to avoid it. I thanked her for letting me know and told her about how soaked I got yesterday in the rain, then I left.

I made it all the way home, even with a pit stop to pick up some dinner, without getting wet, so that was nice. Now i’m just sitting here, looking out the window and barely able to see the building across the street because its so foggy/pollution-y. After discovering that website that updates the PM2.5 reading every hour, I can’t help but check it a zillion times a day. It blows my mind how high its been today (over 250 most of the day) and even scarier are the “warnings” that come with each level.  According to that website, anything over 300 is considered “hazardous,” and EPA standards say that at this level, there are generally health warnings of emergency conditions, and the entire population will likely be affected. Awesome. Thank god I’m only here for 3 months, and not much longer because its scary the impact I’ve already seen, and its only been 3 weeks!

Anyway, I’m not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, but at least I have four days off after that. I booked a tour to go see the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall at Badaling (the most popular section), and the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday. Should be a good trip, and it will help me cross a few more places off my unofficial bucket lists that I keep in my head (one is to see as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites before I kick the bucket, the other is to visit as many Olympic Stadiums as possible). Its also hard to believe that in a week I’ll be off to my next and last apartment here in Beijing. Like a lot of things, its been weird time-warp of sorts… sometimes I feel like I’ve been here so long, and other times I feel like I just got here.

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