The end of our fall semester was celebrated by a punishing trip to the far north, near russia. It was quite cold. The train was tiring, but eye-opening. Talked to a woman who works in a kitchen cupboard manufacturing plant...heard about the low wages, >12 hr shifts with no sitting, the rising cost of living, etc. Her husband was deceased, and she was still raising a son, so it struck me as odd that she would be taking the train somewhere far away alone. Turned out she was going to take care of her sister who had fallen ill in a different province.
It continues to be a very interesting place to be, and I am learning all the time. Sometimes I am optimistic for the country and people. Other times, it seems that the more I learn, the darker China gets. I realize that while I may live here, I am a world apart from most Chinese people. It's not a simple communication gap that can be solved by more hours in a classroom...and I find myself uncomfortable and evasive when they ask about tuition, rent, etc. for a foreigner.
The ice castles were impressive.
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