May 15, 2008

CHECKING IN: Allison Raguse's China Trip Journal

May 15, 2008

MATCH REPORT: Northern Colorado Takes Down Beijing Sport University

BEIJING, China -- During my freshman fall at Northern Colorado, I had a favorite book called 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. In it, a woman wrote down 14,000 things that made her happy and compiled them into a large list, which made up her entire book. I was thinking of this the other day, and it inspired me to make my own list (I'm pretty big on lists). I call it 14 Things in Beijing to Be Happy About.

1. The random exercise parks and machines scattered sporadically throughout the city. I guess they are mainly used by the elderly, but I tried one out the other day and I had a blast!

2. Claudia. Probably the cutest tour guide ever. Plus she knows her stuff!

Her smile, jokes and helpful information have endeared tour guide Claudia to Northern Colorado's China travel party.

3. The orange bubble-looking tops that cover the public pay phones. So cute.

4. Buildings that have upgraded to real American toilets. I've only had two experiences with those squatter toilets and I do not want to have any more. I think Lauren Carter would have to agree with me on this one, too. :)

5. Catching a Chinese local trying to take a picture of you on their cell phone. Most are pretty obvious about it, but a few of them try to be sneaky, so that's when it's fun to surprise them with a big goofy smile.

6. The matching uniform of all the school kids. Each school has its own style of sweatshirts and sweat pants.

7. The mix of "Old China" and "New China." For example, you will see one of the old city gates right next to a highway and skyscrapers.

8. The mirrors in our hotel bathrooms. They are heated in a small square that never fogs up! You never have to worry about wiping it down after a shower just to see yourself.

9. The revolving circular glass in the middle of all the tables in each restaurant we've been in. Makes it pretty easy to eat family style.

10. The way the Chinese save electricity in hotels. Your room key is needed to light the room, so when you take it with you, you won't forget to turn the light off.

11. Beijing landscaping. I haven't gone anywhere in this city without seeing green. There are literally trees everywhere.

12. The countdown clock for this year's Olympics by Tiananmen Square. This place is excited to host the Olympics!

13. The fact that I can stare right back at the Chinese people staring back at me. It's not considered rude here, so it's a perfect place for a people watching.

14. Being undefeated in international play! GO, BEARS!

So, yep, another great day in China! It took us a little while in our match today to get warmed up and get used to the new balls, altitude, and style of play. But once we figured it out we actually played pretty well. Plus, we even got the most of the match by playing five full games! It's just a pretty cool experience playing internationally -- we are a very blessed team right now. After our morning match, we ate at an American buffet (Chinese style), stopped at a pearl factory, and explored the gorgeous Summer Palace. Another fun and busy day!