Study Abroad Series: FDOCIC (First Day of Classes in China)

By Morgan Fretwell, Contributor

Photo courtesy of Morgan Fretwell

You would think that waking up for class might be a bit easier with an extra three weeks to mentally prepare.  Unfortunately, getting out of bed on the first day of classes is rough no matter the date.  Though FDOC in China is quite different from that in America, waking up Sept. 9 is no better than Aug. 23.

It was 7:30am and I was surprised to find myself out of bed and getting ready for class. The toothpaste I used that morning was army green and labeled with Chinese characters that shed no light on the reasoning behind its unique color. I used the hotel issued hairdryer to dry my jeans that remained damp from being washed the night before. The hotel manager had given me a strange look when I asked where the clothes dryer was located.

My efforts were in vain because I stepped outside into what I can only describe as a torrential downpour. I walked with the group of Furman students to the international student building where we would have our first day of classes. The old building is beautiful and made of stone. It is surrounded by tall skinny trees that make Izzy Snyder, sophomore, feel like she is “in Forks, Washington.”

As we walked the path to class, we were perplexed by the hundreds of mopeds speeding around campus. The moped drivers all wear poncho’s that cover themselves as well as their entire vehicle. The distinct rain suits made them all look like characters out of E.T.

After our day full of mostly typical classes, we decided to celebrate by going out with our Chinese friends to KTV. KTV is a huge building full of private rooms where you go with your friends to sing karaoke. It is truly difficult to emphasize how huge karaoke is in modern Chinese culture. In China, there is no shame in being tone deaf.

We were waiting for our cabs to arrive to take us to KTV and we noticed that there were three young boys around six years old lurking around our group. One of them wore a Nike t-shirt that said “RUN LIKE A HONG KONG JOURNALIST.” The boys live in the apartments above their family-owned restaurants that surround our hotel. It was surprising for me to see young kids out playing in the street after 9:00pm.

Emily Harris, junior, smiled and waved at the little boys at which they immediately screamed and ran away laughing. They hadn’t gotten 50 feet away before they quickly turned around and approached us again. This time, several of us played along and chased the giggling boys down the street. Their parents watched out the windows laughing just as hard as the boys, and us, as we chased each other back and forth. Almost nobody wanted to get in the cabs when they arrived 20 minutes later. Our new friends, with whom we had shared only laughter and no words, chased us in the rattling cars until they disappeared from sight.

At KTV I quickly learned that there is, in fact, shame in being tone deaf.

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