This weekend, I went to Beijing to help my sister move into her dorm at the university where she's taking advanced Chinese language courses this summer. I came to two realizations in the process:
Realization #1: Chinese dormitories are . . . special. Really, really special.
Although my sister's program promised her a single room or double suite in a modern dormitory, no one seem to have told the buildings management at the university of such a "promise." This was what she got instead:
A dark hallway. All the better to hide the rats with.
A shit hole. (For some godforsaken reason, the most popular type of toilets in China are the squat-and-try-not-to-fall-in variety. And, yes, that is what you think it is in the toilet.) As an extra element of surprise -- and I had to find this out by reading an article about the dorms online -- there is only hot water a few hours each day.
BTW, I made the photos black and white so as to make them a less horrifying.
Instead of the single room or double suite she was promised, my sister gets to share a 12 x 6 cell with a roommate who, from all appearances, is a hoarder with a love of stuffed animals.
Literal shit holes aside, I suppose this dorm is not too much worse than what I lived in freshman year of college. No, we didn't have to bring our own toilet paper to a shit hole to do our business. But I shared a suite with 8 girls in a concrete-bunker-like facility that was the butt of campus jokes (or just the butt of campus); our four bedrooms off the common room were so small we couldn't actually fit two beds and two desks inside. All of us shared one bathroom, which was not only cramped and kind of dirty, but was also always occupied by the boyfriend of one of the roommates. It was not in anyway an ideal living situation.
But I put up with it with few complaints. Just like my sister is now.
Which leads me to . . .
Realization #2: I'm too bourgeois and curmudgeonly to slum it.
I've lost my sense of can-do-ism. I'd choose comfort and security over adventure and possibility.
Oy. I feel . . . old. Very, very old.