Week 3 – Nov. 5-11, 2016

Nov 16, 2016
Rudi Kiefer

Saturday, Nov. 5 – Awww, shucks. Twenty-two degrees (Celsius, of course. It’s 72 Fahrenheit) again today, but the forecast shows 100 percent chance of precipitation for Monday. That’s walking-to-class day, as are the other four work days. See where the green line (dew point) meets the red line (temperature)? That’s French for “100 percent humidity.”

I’m still trying to figure out the weather pattern here, anyway. The websites are very frugal with satellite and radar images (translation: “there are none”), and I have to get a Google Earth image via some detours. The easternmost yellow dot with text labels marks Wuhu. All I can see is some coastal system drifting into Bangladesh. It looks like a tropical storm, but doesn’t meet the wind speed requirements for one. The jet stream is clearly dragging it eastward into China. So in all likelihood it’s that big blob of rain that we’ll see here on Monday. Neat, though, how it swerves around the Tibetan Plateau, right? In the summer it would be north of there, but not in November. The Plateau is an 18,000-foot-tall roadblock for storm systems coming from the Indian Ocean. So they seem to dump all their rain into Anhui, Hubei, Hebei and other surrounding provinces. In the spring we got rain from the Pacific Ocean via Shanghai (see the bright blue spot near the right edge of the image? That’s Hangzhou Bay and the City of Shanghai).

Traffic can be remarkably light at times, no comparison to Hefei, where every hour is rush hour.

Rudi Kiefer's classroom in Wuhu, China on the sixth floor.Coba Pyramid, Yucatan, Feb. 2016So, Monday promises to be a walk in the rain. Not bad, this time I have a knee-length raincoat (highly recommended!) and waterproof shoes (also recommended). My classroom is 611, across the hall there’s Mandy Bartlett’s 609 (see Blog 2). You guessed it: sixth floor. I haven’t seen an elevator, but it’s really healthier to go up the stairs. Only at the beginning does it seem like climbing the Coba Pyramid, back in February, on a Yucatan trip with Jessi Shrout and Louise Bauck. The Pyramid actually didn’t seem to have as many stairs as the way up to the classroom, but that’s probably an illusion. Anyway, I made it to the top on both Coba and the AHNU Education Building.

Mercifully, on the new campus, the classroom is located on just the second floor. Small climb twice a week, big climb four times a week. It’s good exercise.

The admissions people were exemplary again by supplying me with “swag” to give as little friendship tokens – ballpoint pens, luggage tags and Brenau whistles. In addition, I picked up some t-shirts and ballcaps in Gainesville, whatever I could find at a low price that was joyful, not political, and in colors popular in China. This means avoiding black, white (both having a “death” connotation… so much for my cool New York-style black suits and black shirts), and in the case of hats, green. A green hat marks a cuckolded husband, I was told last year. For shirts, red is best, followed by orange, pink and green.

Christmas and Wyoming giving peace signs.
Wyoming and Christmas have been so nice to me, treating me to that gigantic gourmet meal last week, that I give them first choice of the hats. Christmas (right) got a pink hat, it only looks white in the bright sun at the Foreign Languages Building. Too bad I don’t have a shirt or hat for every student. But buying 44 of them would break the bank.

Portrait of a Brenau Alumna

Emily Bruce WC’16

Instructor at Anhui Normal University
Wuhu, Anhui, China

Emily Bruce

Few alumnae of Brenau’s Women’s College would have the chutzpah to sign up for a one-year teaching commitment at a major Chinese university, let alone immediately after graduation. Emily Bruce did. A native of Gainesville, she majored in English and is currently teaching English as a second language at Anhui Normal University in Wuhu.

“It seemed like a fascinating assignment to do for a year,” she said. “It also supplies me with ideas for writing fiction, which is something I enjoy doing.”

Her academic interest is focused on British literature and phantasy fiction. No doubt this will lead to a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, and a colorful career in a university setting. “I would definitely choose Brenau for my bachelor’s degree again,” says Bruce. “Brenau has a unique atmosphere, which makes it a good place for young women to develop.”

For the current students at Brenau, she offers advice: “Find an activity that’s not related to your studies. Have a hobby. Mine is writing. An outside activity allows you to refresh your focus, and explore other options. Be creative.”

While the sky is clear, a geographic observation from the balcony. Old, low-standard living quarters are being phased out. This one looks vacant. Modern apartment buildings are coming up all over the city, see background.

This building boom is generating some truly unique shapes… I now understand the meaning of “mushrooming development”… or the “Golden Age if Construction,” which makes it so much more surprising to find Spanish Mission style architecture, with maybe a hint of Russian Orthodox. Or vice versa. And there’s always room for the whimsical. This stainless steel handbag, seen at Sculpture Park, is 10 (ten!) feet wide.

Image from China Daily of building and smoggy sky at night.I can really taste the morsels in it. My pictures are unaltered. Anhui Province seems to be better off than places farther north. An official news site reports: “Tangshan in north China’s Hebei Province has ordered local steel-rolling, casting, cement, glass and coke factories to halt production immediately in an emergency response to the country’s lingering air pollution. All coal-fired boilers except those for heating must be turned off, while production and transportation in all surface mines will be stopped, said an official statement released Saturday. Construction sites and concrete mixing plants across the city were also ordered to stop work. The decisions were made on Saturday as China renewed its orange alert for air pollution that has lasted for days.“ (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2016-11/05/content_27284863.htm)

I retreat into a nearby shopping mall, where the air is better. Wow! Another giganterrific supermall. Those pictures can only begin to show the dimensions of this super modern shopping center.

Burger King and Papa John’s Pizza (really!) compete with clothing stores where one can spend a thousand bucks in a heartbeat. I successfully fight that temptation, and instead watch a bit of the First Wuhu Internet Celebrity Contest, for free.

Steam buns in package
Sunday dinner is commensurate with my cooking skills: 3-minute noodle soup (quite good), and one of these unremarkable looking steamed rolls. I’m getting hooked on these. They are absolutely delicious, and just about identical to the ones my German mom used to make on special occasions: “Dampfnudeln!” I keep saying it, China and Germany have an awful lot in common. 7.80Y is about $1.15.

Monday, Nov. 7: Totally irrelevant observation from the classroom window, while the students are working on something:

Qiangli PipaluFriday, Nov. 11: Most of this week has been a blur. I came down with a head cold on Monday, runny nose at first, then morphing into a cough that wore me down to exhaustion. No class sessions missed. But nothing else accomplished, either.

With some help from student Skylark I got some cough syrup, Qiangli Pipalu, from a pharmacy. It’s a traditional Chinese medicine, herbal-based, not a chemical concoction. Four bucks for 6.75 oz., not bad, and besides, it’s a choice of one. No Robitussin DM on the shelf, or any other Pipalu varieties.

One blogger states that the stuff tastes revolting, but I disagree. It’s got a mild, herbal flavor, not unpleasant.

Now, on Friday, the cough seems to be letting up finally. Three days of Qiangli Pipalu, combined with Tylenol PM that I brought to China with me. Which works better? Who knows. Most patients get better all by themselves.

Could be that neither medication had an effect, or that western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine are equally effective. Whatever. I just want to be running on all cylinders again.