Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's Warm Outside, But It Gets So Cold In Here

One interesting fact about China is that buildings in areas above the Yellow River are heated, while those in areas below the river are not. So here we are in Chongqing, well south of the Yellow River. The temperature is significantly warmer than in Beijing. The foliage is bordering on sub-tropical. Yet, as I type this, I am wearing my fleece pullover, sitting in an apartment that is much cooler than our place back at Yan Bei Yuan.

In Beijing, the situation somewhat resembles what we have become used to as Americans living in the mid-Atlantic. It is freezing cold outside, and you really have to bundle up. Yet, when you come home, it is to a house that is snug and warm. (Well, my definition of "snug and warm" has no doubt changed this year, since we have no control over the amount of heat that gets pumped into the apartment.)

Here, though, things are reversed, in a way that just feels odd to us, given what we have experienced during the course of our lives. As we walk around campus, we see so many green trees, hear the birds singing, and enjoy the mild weather. (Today, apparently, is actually cool by local standards, though it feels nice to us.) Then we return to our on-campus housing...And the sweatshirts do not come off! Although this is probably not right, we are thinking that it is actually warmer outside than it is in here.

So, once again, a premise that we have always taken for granted (the cozy house as a respite from the cold winter) gets turned on its head, and we are left to ponder just how different life can be, not just in those big, earthshaking ways, but in those little moments that color our everyday lives.

~Steve

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