你好(Hello) from Beijing, China—Week # 1

28 06 2010

The famous romance between Rainie and Kim (Taiwanese Soap Opera) “Starts with a Kiss”, my Global Health romance with Beijing started with a MESS!

Of course, before going into details, allow me to introduce myself first!

My name is Yuqian Liu, I am known as Dawa at Duke. I am a rising senior majoring in International Comparative Studies. This summer, I am working on my internship at the National Center for HIV/STD Prevention and Control. I am in the Policy and Information Division.

Yes, it started with a MESS! The night before my actual starting day, I got a phone call from my supervisor on-site saying that I should attend a very important meeting at “Long Z(h)ao Shu Hotel” and he gave me the name of the street the hotel is on. As soon as I hang up the phone, I went online and found the detailed directions to this place, including what buses I should take and where to get off. I went to bed without any further thoughts. The next morning, I got up at 6am and found myself at the subway station at 7am. The time between 7 to 8:30 is the busiest morning time at public transportation sectors in Beijing. One has to be really tactful and determined in order to get on the subways and buses successfully–I was told. Luckily, I landed my feet on the floor of the subway when the door closed on my back. After more than 30 minutes of hustling through the crowds in the subway, I found myself under the sun, but no bus stations in reach of my eye sight! I started panicking, I was getting late. Everyone around me looked so busy rushing through the crowds, I was intimidated to stop anyone for directions.

I decided to call my friend who is half local in Beijing. I asked him where I should go. I might have sounded very desperate because he started panicking. He thought I got hit by a car or something. After a long conversation, I realized, or rather, was told, that I got the address completely wrong. I misheard the name of the hotel— Do not think that everyone in China speaks exclusive Mandarin Chinese, that is the problem I encountered. I did not hear the “h” in “Zhao”, I only heard “Zao”, which makes the entire thing a totally different place. What my supervisor was trying to say actually meant ” Dragon Hand Hotel, but what I heard was, or at least I thought I heard was “Dragon Date (fruit) Hotel”— that has made all the difference!

Fortunately,  the taxi driver knew where I should go. So I hopped into a cab and made a U-turn. We drove and drove and drove until I thought we were in Shanghai or somewhere that is NOT Beijing– the drive was so long that it started freaking me out. We were surrounded by little shops that sold soups right next to shoe shops, bikes, pedestrians, motorcycles, even horse carts were passing by— this was NOT the Beijing that I am used to, and I was so amazed that Beijing was so spread out. Finally we reached the hotel. By the time I stepped into the conference room, everyone was already seated. The Chair of the office that I am working with has already started the meeting by introducing himself….

The content of the meeting deserves another blog article, which is coming up soon….

-Yuqian Liu

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