June 4, 2010 began with some exercise. Ray and I got up and went for a run to help us get oriented to PKU’s campus. Language class happened but it was cut short so we could go meet our professors for lunch. The Tsinghua students went to Tsinghua while the rest of us walked next door to the other chem building where a gaggle of professors and representative grad students were waiting. I’m working in the same lab as Andrew Bernier so the two of us stuck together as we went in murmuring to each other “Do you recognize these people? Is any of them our professor?” As people found their professors they sat down and talked amongst themselves while munching on some food that had been catered. Dr. Coppola and Zi-Cheng quickly realized that the biology professors were not there for lunch because they had never actually been told what time/place/day the lunch was going to be! They apologized to us profusely and said we’d meet our professors sometime the next week. So on the one hand we didn’t have to worry about keeping in contact with our lab just yet but on the other hand we still didn’t know what to expect while everyone around us was getting to know what they’d be doing and how their professors were.
Later on we all went out to HouHai (Back lake) which is a small lake in the middle of Beijing which is heavily developed with restaurants and bars. I and a number of others opted for dinner and a boat ride on the lake which was really nice. After dinner people were looking for places to go dance or drink or otherwise have fun. The bars at HouHai were deemed too expensive so we went to WoDaoKou (Whoa-Dow-Ko).
WoDaoKou is an area with lots of night life stuff going on. The sidewalks are teeming with vendors with clothing and other things laid out to sell, there are many bars, there’s some shopping and a couple karaoke places. Yun, Megan, Veronica, Lily, Taylor, and I decided we didn’t want to hang out at a bar so we went in search of Karaoke, or “KTV,” as it’s frequently referred to here. The first place we went to didn’t have a great selection of English songs but the second did and we proceeded to have a really good time. These karaoke places are not karaoke bars where there’s a room of people who go up and sing in front of everyone, rather, you rent a room and cram as many people in that room as you want and you sing amongst yourselves. The rooms are equipped with couches and a sound system with microphones and a tv and a computerized database of songs. It was really fun. The background music and your companions are loud enough that you can sing without feeling like you’re being completely put on the spot while at the same time you can hear your friends and there are microphones to make yourself even more heard. I have since gone karaoke-ing one other time which was also pretty fun. The whole thing is relatively inexpensive also. It was about 130 for the 6 of us for an hour. So just a few dollars each. I think that, like the movies, much of their money comes when people buy food and drinks there. They offer drinks which are quite pricey, but I was surprised to find that they allow you to bring in your own drinks if you want… I don’t really understand it, but it’s quite convenient.