Saturday, June 21, 2008

Etude: Nuts and Bolts

Finally I am able to log onto my blog. I wrote a test message lest my entire entry gets deleted by clicking on "Publish Post."
The Ministry of Public Security in China has changed their internet traffic monitoring methods over the past year. I am not only hopping over the Great Firewall, but over three other hurdles, collectively coined "The Golden Shield Project." From DNS address redirecting to mirror sites to site-by-site regulation, the government is really bottlenecking the flow of information. I can't help but think of Professor John Wargo in the School of Environmental Sciences ingraining the adage "Whoever controls information controls fear and security" when I think of the measures that the MPS has taken to prevent me from accessing this blog.
For any Light Fellows and Yalies in China, this is how I am accessing the internet:
1.) Download and install the Cisco VPN Client (Ver from the Yale Software site.
2.) Connect to "Yale resources and home networks." You may have to log onto your school's network site before you connect through the VPN Client.
3.) In the statistics box, you should see no packets discarded under "Packets" and Transport Tunneling "Active on UDP Port xxxxx."
To test, I've tried Wikipedia, BBC, NYTimes, Facebook, Youtube and other sites traditionally blocked. I haven't had a hiccup.
This entire week I've been in transit or in bed. My flight, though long, was merciful. Every few hours, I looked outside the window to see the world below - Canadian forests, Alaskan mountains, Siberian tundras, Japanese islands, Chinese farm fields - and looked around the plane, which was filled with anxious high school students wearing bright orange shirts reading "Explore China Camp" and sleeping tourists from Philadelphia and San Francisco.

At Tsinghua, I've run around all over the campus, the Haidian area, and Wudaokou to get a cell phone, books, toilet paper, medical checkups and a bike. Yes, a bike. Last summer, I thought bike-riding was suicidal in Beijing because of everyone's disregard for traffic regulations (imagine a taxi skimming your back wheel while a pedestrian walks across you and a bus honks at you to get out of the legal crosswalk area). However, Tsinghua's campus is at least five times the size of Beijing Language and Culture University's, which hosts HBA. Granted, I've gotten the cheapest strolling bike I could find and had to repair it twice already (the damn seat kept bending and pushing into my thighs). I've been hit by a taxi and hit a few old ladies because the brakes are a joke, but the bike is wonderful. I'm not quite ready to hold an umbrella in one hand and talk on the cell phone with the other, but I'll get there.
The students at IUP are all, to some degree, crazy about Chinese culture, philosophy, history, literature and/or food. I'm one of the very few who's interested in public health in China and North Korean refugees, but even so I find myself enlightened by conversations with my classmates over meals. Almost everyone has just graduated college, is pursuing a M.A. or Ph.D., or already in the workforce as a journalist, film critic, historian, lawyer or consultant, looking to refine their Chinese skills. Though we are all united by our love/hate relationship with China, our life experiences define us individually. One guy who was in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan had to work at a U.S. Air Force Base as a head chef when the government failed in 2003. He didn't have to know how to cook - he just had to keep the Kyrgyztani ladies away from the American soliders, and vice versa. Another classmate, a recent graduate from Georgetown's famous International Relations program, has traveled the world, has no upper tolerance for spicy food, and knows more about the Korean media star Rain than most Koreans know.

For now, I can't wait for classes to start. My textbooks, called Thought and Society and Frankly Speaking, seem very interesting. My room still needs some furnishing, but whenever I'm in here I feel like I'm in jail, with the cold floor, hard bed and stale air amplifying the sense of entrapment. I'd rather be outside, bike around town and breathe in polluted air. Unfortunately, a sore throat from the pollution and a night of karaoke with Yalies leaves me no choice but to watch some Chinese soap operas and chew Vitamin C pills.

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Michelle said...

Hey you. I went to the county fair today and boys to men were performing....and of course it was damn intense. I wanted to go up the stage and rip their shirt off... but the security was tight and i was just one small woman on the mission hence, i had to abort it... anyways. Miss you homie g.

Fern said...

was it difficult to get a cell phone? i'll have to do that when i get to japan. your room looks incredibly similar to the place where i will be staying.

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