Friday, August 29, 2003

Comments, Links

The last couple of days have been very busy, meeting people, exploring places, and ingesting a lot of information.

Yesterday morning I walked to campus to take care of some banking and campus business. Timing the walk, it is 15 minutes of tree-lined road with country homes and big yards, 15 minutes of city blocks, stores and cafes, and another 15 minutes across campus to the School of Social Work, where the International Institute is headquartered. When renovation is finished on the Frieze building and space made in it for CCS MA students, the cross-campus segment will shorten. Regardless, I need a bike.

Looking lost, I headed across campus looking for the Michigan Union, where there is a food court in the basement with computers for student use. Luckily, I was approached by a couple of fellows from the Harvest Mission Community Church who were inviting people to the service, and since they happened to be both from Orange County and nice guys they gave me a quick and effective tour of the campus: the Fishbowl computer lab, the UgLi (Undergrad Library), the Dental building (in shape of a tooth, from a crow's eye view), and the elusive Michigan Union. Afterwards we went out to lunch, Chinese.

Dina and Michael, a guy who is working on house, made dinner. After dinner I did a little review for the Chinese placement test on Monday. Everybody I've talked to it nervous about it. I'm not so nervous, considering I studied for two years, did a summer program where I repeated second year, and then lived in Tianjin for an academic year. I'm aiming for the third year course.

This morning I arrived five minutes early (second person there!) for the International Institute orientation. The first session was for all new students to the institute. There were students present from all of the area studies programs, including south Asia, southeast Asia, eastern Europe, Japan and China. Many people have asked me how big my department is; the answer is that last year there were four entering MA students, this year there are six (or seven) entering MA students, and three entering PhD candidates - so I would estimate about twenty China students in all, and an equal number of professors. The professors, though, are mostly in other departments and "members" of the Center for Chinese Studies.

I found it much easier than I had imagined to meet people, no credit to me certainly. All of the CCS people are very friendly. See what names I can remember: 1st year John, 2nd year John, Dwight, Ann, Helena, Lei, Ying, Alyssa, Jacqueline. I also met professor Albert Park, head of the MA program, who I'll be discussing my class schedule with tomorrow at 2 PM. Dr Lee is out of the country, and will be back on Tuesday. He and prof Park will be co-teaching CCS 501, an interdisciplinary China seminar with major reading load. First semester will be social sciences (Park) and sociology (Lee), while second semester will be humanities and art, taught by two other profs. Prof Park says this is a very innovative course, to have two profs from different departments co-teach a seminar course.

Note: when people ask what my focus is, a code word for "I don't know" is interdisciplinary. Example: Well, my interests are mostly interdisciplinary. So far, I've been telling people that I'm interested in economics and education.

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