Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In Preparing for Travel (a Preface, an Introduction, a How-Do-You-Do) - written in haste

"I could pretend that nothing really meant too much." — David Bowie, "China Girl" from Let's Dance, 1983 (see also: Iggy Pop)

The flight I'm taking to Beijing departs in t-minus five days, and I have yet to pack, I have yet to have one last meeting with my advisors, I have yet to move stuff from my apartment to my parents' place, and I have yet to say my goodbyes. Some folks like building up to a trip, packing and planning for months in advance, and while I have been planning this whole studying abroad thing for quite some time, I can't say I've been packing and preparing like crazy (I will, though, soon, I swear). Instead I have been reading, going to a lot of movies, running, singing karaoke... Procrastinating. If anyone asks, I'll just say I'm avoiding the build-up — waiting until the last minute so that the change from North Dakota to Beijing is drastic and uncomfortably sharp — real culture shock. That's not true, though. I'm just a terrible procrastinator.

Lest I get all Sedaris-y on you and continue writing about my personal habits, let me just throw a few pieces of information your way, dear reader: I'm a Senior at the University of North Dakota; I study English and Chinese; in five days I'll be in Beijing, and I'll be blogging here for the University, for my friends, and for anyone who really wants to read this.

I've always believed that writing about oneself requires a certain level of egotism, of self-interest, of (maybe even) self-righteousness — after all, a lot of people claim that they have all the answers or that their way of living is the right one (selling snake oil to readers), and they'll gladly write all about it — yet that's what I'll be doing here for the next four months, in some form or another. I'll try to mask it, though, I promise. I won't write about my knee-jerk reactions — no reality vs. expectations stuff — and I'll avoid going into detail about how I'm feeling. I don't want to essentialize, pigeonhole, reduce, sell-short, exoticize, lie about, or otherwise do injustice to anything I'm writing about; rather, I hope to present and explain, to analyze, sure, and to comment (without imposing my opinion) on what I see, hear, feel, and experience (as I'm sure Study Abroad directors around the world would have me say it) in Beijing. I can't promise no tangential writing, though; by my very nature, I will ramble about some piece of entertainment or popular culture or literature as I see appropriate, so be prepared, friend. I don't exactly know what this blog will contain or to whom it will pertain, but I can assure you that, at least once a week, I will write something on it, and that thing I write, whatever it may be, will be, I hope, both interesting and insightful. 

If insight is missing, please, feel free to add your own.

Be safe, 


A bad photo of a portion of my messy pied-à-terre

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