5:02 P.M.

-Well, it's been a great afternoon thus far. I aided a student from Boston find his way to the Admissions Office. There I found out, after doubling back for the papers I forgot, that a) there's no need to go to the Chinese Authorities to register myself. Secondly, I needed to show up and register myself on the 29th. Of August.

-Regardless, I knew that I had to arrive somewhere between 2-29 or 22-29 of August, and I'd rather be on the safe side. My secondary reason for showing up early is working magnificently; I am picking up Chinese rather quickly, and I'm hoping that this headache, which has now subsided, will ebb and be replaced by a sudden and deep superhuman understanding of the language.

-Well, it won't, but I am able to communicate with more than gestures now. I've found a good method. Whenever I am by myself and talking, I translate as much of the sentence as I can. I also read from my textbooks as much as I can. Indeed, I am not so worried about the placement test now. I am getting really good at speaking and reading, but my writing is a problem, particularly because I have not practiced it. I can remedy that, so eh.

-A habit that I have picked up that I did not have before is to carry a bottle of water with me where ever I go, and it's not due to a change of mind or ideas. It is simply for survival. The one time I have gone out without it I was thinking of it every so often and I did not last long in the heat. It is a healthy habit, however, and one I hope will stick.

-As to the country and culture itself, there is not much of a problem for me to adapt. While a huge difficulty here is the language, and language is a large part of culture, the culture as a whole is not a problem to me. Not because I like it and I'll forgive or readily adapt to the oddities, but because there's not much different, to me, to begin with. Having both my native culture and my adopted culture behind me, I have readily found something to which I can relate. While an American might find the widespread use of the bicycle astounding, a Colombian wouldn't. What has surprised me on occasion is the condition of the bikes. Not to say that every Colombian out there rides the latest models, but some of the bikes I've seen look like they belong in a museum of a by-gone era. The style isn't old, but it looks like the bike has not been tended to in decades, with paint peeling off, the color since long gone before it. Rust constitutes a large portion of the body, compacted by years of use into a now stable frame. Wheels without air, composed of what I believe is solid rubber, or something else that keeps them from collapsing.

-The food has not been an issue. Aside from the occasional spiciness (I had a spicy chicken today, which was not so spicy since I asked for the peppers to be held... in prison), it has been good and plentiful and rather cheap.* The habits people have, such as walking around and actively doing sports instead of being inside, are no stranger to me. Or, hey, even walking around for the heck of it. I'd join them, but basketball holds no sway over me, and I'd consider buying a tennis racket if I had a means to get it back home.

-One thing that is starkly apparent and is different from both previous cultures, and, yet, the same, is poverty. While Colombia's poverty is readily visible (the shanty towns we flew over were no strangers to my eyes) it is constrained to certain areas and the people simply beg. In the United States, people have begun to see more and more of it crop up closer to home, but in the cocoons of their cars, they can don a blind eye and a deaf ear and blush with embarrassment, as if the person outside were blaming them or were in that situation because of them.

-Nay, in China, it's different. First off, and my experience is limited, I'll readily admit, the old are the majority of the poor. In Colombia, it seems to run through all ages. In the United States, it seems to abound with the young, or at least the not too old, perhaps due to the influx of immigrants. In China, it seems to lie on the backs of the old. Secondly, most of them have bikes and use these to collect bottles and other recyclables from the trash in order to sustain themselves. It was one of the ways I could identify them, or else I wouldn't be able to tell. They also frequently wander on campus. I wonder why? I thought that one of the benefits of the communist-based government was to take care of the elderly, but... perhaps they have slipped through the cracks. It was a problem, and it is a problem, I expect to see in the United States once Social Security and private health insurance companies take their leave.

-When the sun drops, I'll probably return to my dorm from my daily excursion to the computer place and study some more, particularly my writing. I'll have to resolve the whole "money in my account" thing now, especially since I have access to my account now. I'd rather have a small amount of money on my person than have the landlord asking me about every day.

Also, on a completely random note, there are a few things that I'd like to point out:

-My computer now runs for much much longer amounts of time since the wireless and video are switched off, and the brightness level is dimmed (I use it mostly at night to watch "TV" when I wake too early). I've seen it last up to 4-5 hours.
-I'm reading a lot more now. Since I do not have access to the internet, my two vices, online gaming and online nerd debating, have been temporarily broken. Thank god.
-I'm walking. A lot. Every day. Damn it, I'd rather be in the gym!

On that happy note, I leave you and I'll probably update tomorrow.

Again, any questions, suggestions, comments, donations? Send none of them, except that last one, my way.