First off, before I get to the rugby, I need to take a few moments to explain the complete and utter inanity that is Chinese bureaucracy. I thought that after getting registered for classes, taking the HSK exam, getting my internet up and running, and being set up in a dormitory, I would be done with standing in ridiculously long lines for some random person to stamp some papers. Of course not. Last week, I had to hop a bus over to a nearby hospital (a service I had to pay 50块 for by the way) in order for them to "verify" my physical check-up. Incidentally, I had already gotten all the scans and tests and exams done that I had to get done in the USA. I also still had the paperwork from said procedures. What this process actually entailed was going to the hospital, standing in line, having some lady tell me to go stand in another line, have some lady stamp some papers and send me to yet another line, pay 60块, and then finally stand in yet another line and hand all my paperwork to someone from BLCU to take care of. Being in this hospital, incidentally, is probably what got me sick for all of last week.
Now this was only the first step in a much more horrific process which continued today. After class, I had to go down to the my department's office to pick up the "results" of the physical verification yesterday and then stand in line for some guy to vaguely scribble some details about my existence onto a stamped piece of paper. This did not take so long, maybe 20 minutes. However, I needed this paper to apply for my visa extension/residence permit thing. Because of course, it is not enough for me to have shelled out $140 for a visa which I had thought would cover the whole "I'm staying in this country for six months" thing. Instead, I got to stand in line for two-and-a-half-hours to apply for this particular permit. Then, naturally, when I got to the front, problems arose and as it turns out, there were some issues on my forms because while my passport is American, because I was born in Poland, about half of my documents said that I was actually Polish. One of these documents was the temporary residence permit my dorm had given me on my very first day here. So they made me run back to my dorm, get a new temporary residence permit that stated that I was, in fact, American, get it copied, and then come back to the International Students' Office to finish the whole process. Now, the fun thing is that because this is essentially like getting another visa, they take away your passport. However, unlike your visa, they do not get it back to you in 4 days. In fact, the standard would be to get it back to you on October 10th. Note that this is after the week of October 1st, which is commonly known as October Holiday because we have no class and most people choose to travel during this time. However, as a foreigner in China, you cannot buy train tickets or fly or anything really without your passport because it's your only valid form of identification. See the dilemma? So basically, I shelled out an extra 100块 on top of the 460块 I was already paying in order to *cross your fingers* get my passport back on September 30th. Basically, I am giving all of my money and all of my time (waiting in lines) to the Chinese government.
ANYHOW, enough wanking. This was supposed to be a post about rugby, so here it is! I am playing sevens this season with the lovely ladies of the Beijing Devils Rugby Club. We had our first matches this past Saturday (against each other though, so it was really more of a scrimmage), and it was superb. The weather was ridiculously fantastic, including a gorgeous clear blue sky, a rarity in Beijing, and there could really not have been a better day for rugby. Here are some shots from the games:
Afterwards, we headed over to the team captain's apartment over in the nice part of town for cocktails, champagne, and good old fashioned team bonding. Her window was a lovely lens to a hazy sunset over Beijing:
Then we headed to the Den, a local 三里屯 sports bar and restaurant, for beer, rugby, and general merriment. The cool thing about the Den is that it is actually an official sponsor of the Devils Rugby Club. I'm not entirely sure how they scored this, but part of it definitely comes from the fact that half the team seems to live there. In any case, all Devils players get 50% off on pizza and beer, and the restaurant pays for and maintains the bus that takes us to and from practice twice a week as well as to matches on the weekends. The team is definitely the most social team I've ever been a part of, so beyond the case of beer that is purchased every practice for the bus-ride home, in general, about 10-15 people always stay behind after practice to grab dinner (and a pint, duh) at the Den, at a discount of course. Basically, it's a really good group of people, even if it's not the most experienced women's rugby team in the world. :P
That's all for now. More pictures soon!
hearts and stars,