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April 3, 2014 / windlessly

China Chronicles 4.3- Time Flies When You Don’t Prioritize

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That’s going to be my catch phrase when I become a parent and want my kids to be responsible with their time. Plus, it rhymes, so who can say no to that?

It’s already been a week since I’ve arrived here in Beijing, where immediately I’ve met a ton of new friends and explored a lot of new activities and experiences. Between scheduled tours, class introductions, trips to WuMei, trying all the different dining halls, going off campus to eat, relaxing in the dorm, skyping home, hanging out with PKU students, going to the gym, running various errands, studying, and going on random adventures, I’ve felt like I’ve barely had any free time. But of course that’s not entirely true. Time is always elusively spent. And I’m just writing because I want to reflect a little on this past week.

I guess I came in with a couple of goals, in no particular order of importance: improving Chinese, making friends, having (lots of) fun exploring Beijing culture, resting and reconnecting with God, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and continuing to pursue my passions. I’ve covered some of those somewhat but have fallen short of others. I’ve felt like I’ve just been running around this past week, with nothing “figured out” and no set lifestyle, which I suppose is hard to recreate when you’re abroad in a new environment and being bombarded by a whole slew of new stimuli. I’m managing day by day, but I haven’t done a very good job of prioritizing my goals, which leads to a very haphazard sense of accomplishment. To be fair to myself, it’s only been the first week. To be honest to myself, it’s been 168+ hours. I don’t think there’s any real excuse because I feel like I’ve just been lazy in my prioritization. I take on any goal or inkling of a desire that I have at any given moment: buy supplies from WuMei. Participate in this fun event. Find a way to relax (aka YouTube/Facebook/blogging/eating). But I still feel like I’ve neglected something big. Like you know when you have this huge paper to write, and you procrastinate by doing all the other homework assignments that you have? And then instead of approaching the big paper then, you go do laundry, then check all the emails in your spam filter, then color code all your class materials, then clean your room, then build a start-up with your friends, then vacuum, and then clean your roommate’s side of the room? (jk I’ve never been that desperate to procrastinate.)

Back to my goals. I think the simplest (albeit a bit blunt) way to explain it is that my identity right now is placed on three major things. First, my faith and religion (being a Christian and trying to exhibit Christ-like behavior), secondly, my passions and goals (I run. (not because I like to, but because my larger goal of staying healthy is supported by that)… I flute. (making that a verb because it sounds cooler. Unfortunately this is something I’ve been lacking)…. aaaaand I blog. (in occasional spurts of sporadic madness (in which I sometimes insert multiple nested parentheses (I never know how to spell “parenthesis”) for the fun of it ((hashtag)parantheception) )), and thirdly, my Asian heritage(coming to Beijing to learn Chinese and experience the culture).

If you could follow my thoughts in the previous paragraph, props to you! I felt like I was doing some bad coding exercise trying to close up all my parentheses (which, btw, is the final component to my identity- career- that I’m totally neglecting by choosing to spend this quarter abroad =D). Anyways, my point being: my time spent in the last week is not reflective of how I prioritize the areas in which I build my identity. I think everyone could use a little improvement in this thought, lest they die on their deathbed feeling like their life was not reflective of what they wish it was. It’s true that your actions should speak more than your words. And in turn, more than your thoughts (which can’t speak anyway). I wonder what people would think of me if they only saw my actions for the past week (and if you’re back home, I guess only from my blog and Facebook posts).

I posted earlier about not “feeling the presence of God” while abroad (such a buzz phrase and something that I’m in the process of trying to figure out), but in reality it’s because I haven’t prioritized that area of my life. I actually do place a lot of emphasis on my identity as a Christian (something that brings me freedom and joy, meaning and purpose), but I can’t expect all that without actively seeking it (for SpringCon people, this is totally a SotKog moment). I’ve neglected it in favor of experiencing new things, having immediate fun, and fulfilling short term (and probably less important) goals. For non-Christians who may be wondering what in the world I’m talking about, it’s like this: if you always quench your thirst from drinking from a particular fountain, and that fountain gets shut off, you go thirsty. If you’re a marathon runner and you build your identity on that, and you haven’t trained or ran at all for a while, you’ll feel like something’s missing. Your identity can be built on a number of things: occupation, hobbies, people even… I decided a while ago that mine would be built on Jesus, who to me is a constant and consummate source (someone please call me out if I’m using the word “consummate” wrong… I skimped on SAT vocab studying).

Basically, time is going by way too fast here. I want to figure out my priorities so I can make the most of my time here. Each day is precious and I want to be grounded in myself and connected to God for the duration of the program. I want to enjoy the trips and sightseeing and fun, but not to have that become my life here. A lot of what I’ve been feeling this past week is having too many new things to do, and so pushing my faith to the side.

I was warned about feeling spiritually isolated when going abroad. At the moment it’s not so much lack of community, but surplus of distraction (even when those distractions, by themselves, are all good!) that is distancing me from my faith. I recognize now that I need to prioritize that area of my life better, which when settled, will pour into all the other areas of my life =] Areas like playing the flute, doing sports, blogging, connecting with people back home, and drinking boba (one of my other passions that I forgot to explicitly state). But I don’t want to be a debbie downer for this whole post! I am so grateful and so happy to have experienced everything that I have this past week. Especially if you’re a person who’s here in Beijing with me… I especially value people and relationships. I’m also eaten so much good food. And tried new things. And seen really cool sights.

Like this: actual blue sky here in Beijing!

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As for the whole music thing, one of the PKU students is trying to figure out if I can get connected with someone to teach me traditional Chinese dizi next week! Also by next week I should have my classes finalized, and my Chinese studying schedule at least somewhat cemented. (As for my career, I made my decision Winter quarter that it could wait, so I’ll be trying to experience this Spring quarter to its fullest).

I don’t know why I’m suddenly so much more deep and reflective when it comes to these things only late at night and I’m really tired. It started out as a post to catch people up to what I’ve been up to these past few days, but then I got carried away. Here are the photos I wanted to post initially:

New food: this is dining hall food. You better believe it. They call it spicy hot pot, and it’s 100% authentic and cooked in a wok, with spewing fire and everything in the kitchen… pretty intense to watch.

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Oh yeah this is not so impressive after the hot pot, but what I had for breakfast the other day:

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Numb and spicy hot pot flavor Lay’s (snacks come in so many more creative flavors here in China):

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MASSIVE lazy susan table at this fancy restaurant on campus:

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I stole the above photo from Bryson so here’s one with people in it:

 

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And the funny photo of the day: Bryson trying to beat the computer in Reversi and not doing too hot… though it was close in the end. The best part was that he was playing on the television in our room of all things.

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Other fun things that I’ve been up to:
-Getting my first haircut here in Beijing! Super cheap, and I felt pretty proud for walking off campus, finding the place, and talking to the people there all by myself.
-Being misunderstood by the dining hall lady, who gave me 2 massive orders of noodles in a take-out bag instead of one small order
-Feeling overwhelmed in 3rd year Chinese, but our teacher is really cool
-Playing badminton with Bridget (my PKU ambassador student) and her boyfriend and one rando today! It was fun. I miss net sports.
-Changing my bed sheets by myself (getting the comforter into its sleeve is always super hard), and also doing laundry here!
-Reading over letters that friends gave me before I left (so heartwarming!)
-Running outside sans mask for the first time probably ever…. the sky was SO blue today
-Watching anime in Chinese. Really trying to get more immersed, which is hard when we live in international dorms and our classes are in English =[

I totally didn’t foresee that this would be such a long post. Also I’m pretty sure I went overboard on my usage of parentheses today… brownie points to the person who goes back and counts how many I used. Just kidding, don’t do that- listen to this awesome song my brother introduced me to instead:

I guess blogging helps me to sort out and realize my own thoughts sometimes, too. It’s just a bit ironic that I talked mostly about neglecting to actively pursue my relationship with God, when blogging itself may be one of those distractions. In which case I will hold off on posting anything new until I re-sort my priorities. Tomorrow’s another organized field trip to The Forbidden City and Jingshan park! And the weekend will hopefully be filled with firstly, lots of quiet time with God, my bible, and journal, and secondly, lots and lots and lots of new Chinese characters I have to learn. Peace.

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One Comment

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  1. dmonopoly / Apr 6 2014 10:51 pm

    Whoa that song “Born” is so good! So glad you shared what your brother shared, haha.

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