Eating Chinese Breakfast

Getting used to our new life in Nanjing

Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 2:24 am

 

Today is day 4 in Nanjing and we are beginning to know our way around.  We are staying in the Nanyuan Conference Center of Nanjing University, which is essentially the hotel for the school.  (For those of you who are former Nanjing fellows from Grinnell, we are not in the foreign scholars house, as it was full.)  Since this is a hotel, the rooms are not designed for a long stay. They are well appointed and comfortable, but not very big, so they have given us two rooms.  We use one as our bedroom and Don's study, and the other as my study and dressing room.  It works out quite nicely if one of us is up late or up early. 

The conference center provides breakfast with the room, so each morning we walk to a dining room and have our Chinese breakfast:  various spicy things that we don't eat, buns (plain or filled with pork or a sweet vegetable filling), rice with scrambled egg (which we both really like), pieces of corn on the cob, braised bok choy and other greens (which Lesley really likes), watermelon, and various sesame and other small sweets.  The drink offered is warm, unsweetened soy milk.  We usually have had tea in our room beforehand.  It's not our usual breakfast, but it's satisfying and interesting.

We have a number of people available to help us.  Don is hosted by the Art Department and one of the PhD students, Mr. Qian Bozhong, serves as his guide and translator for class.  I am hosted by the History Department.  Professor Luo translates for me in class, Miss Zhao Feng is the very able office assistant and all-around problem solver, and Miss Wang Li (or Lily) makes sure I get to and from class, and is eager to assist in any way she can.  The Office of International Cooperation has a another graduate student, Miss Shi Jia (whom we call Cici) who has helped us in all sorts of ways already.  Yesterday at the bank, where we set up bank accounts, was particularly memorable as she helped manuever the bureaucracy. And of course Cong Cong and her staff, Melissa and Sophie, make sure all is running smoothly.

Like our Chinese breakfast, nothing is quite what we are used to, but everything is working pretty well.  We are finding our way to restaurants good and so-so in the neighborhood. We now have a cell phone, and hope to have money in our bank account soon.  And we have both taught our first classes.  Don's went smoothly, though it's disconcerting to lecture with translation and figure out a good rhythm.  My class started with a real tussle with technology but we finally began class without the images, and added them in later once some issues were sorted out.  I was really pleased to find I had at least 8 students willing to ask questions!  And there is a museology program here, connected with the archaeology department.  Neither of us is quite sure yet if we are hitting the right tone and level with our students, but we'll see how we feel on Day 2.