(The title is based off the expression “food for thought,” isn’t that so clever?!? …I really ought to keep thoughts like that in my head if I want actually anyone to read these posts…) Anyway, these are a bunch of random thoughts I’ve had over the past week or so:
I reside in an international dorm, and often hear several languages on my way to class. I found something rather interesting, though not necessarily out of the ordinary: international students from different countries often speak together in English. This made me feel somewhat better about the fact that I am very likely never to be fluent in any other language. Moreover, it made me think that the world is so much smaller than I thought.
Random factoid: my language partner is studying English, Japanese, and Spanish. I received sufficient kicks from helping her with her Spanish homework.
To go on a brief tangent on the language barrier since I haven’t written about it seriously in a while, I would like to say that things here really aren’t that bad. I’ve been learning Chinese for about two months now, and can walk into any restaurant and can order food rather easily. Of course, if I am in anything other than a dumpling restaurant, I’ll require a menu. Pointing and nodding are universally understood. It’s been rather humorous seeing new words in each day’s lesson that are actually applicable. On more than one occasion, I’ve flipped to a page and found the English equivalent to a word I’ve heard over fifty times in restaurants or other places in Beijing.
[Insert your own transition here]
Ever since my trip to Qinghai, I find myself considering the outrageous differences in costs of living between certain different parts of the world. For example, I was told that the workers at the monastery in Qinghai that we spent two hours helping in construction were only paid 18 kuai each day (about $3 US).
An average meal in Beijing (or at least on my budget) is about 15 to 20 kuai, but if one wanted to buy a pizza, composed of imported ingredients like cheese, one would have to pay between 70 and 160 on a single pie depending on the size and number of toppings. Now I understand why in so many countries’ histories have rural people flooded cities: for a chance to make a decent living. The income inequality disgusts me (and there’s probably a similar problem in the States).
Not going to lie, the first meal I want when I return to Pittsburgh is a Milano’s buffalo chicken pizza. It costs $20 (US) which, I admit, is terribly expensive, but I’ve been craving this pizza like a pregnant woman; however, this makes me feel horrible/makes me put things in perspective because it costs approximately 128 kuai, which is more than I spend on food in two days in Beijing.
I do believe I have learned a lot from this trip, but I want my buffalo chicken pizza…