Thursday, July 17, 2008

Getting a Physical

When your best hope for a passing grade relies on your perfect attendance, it's really frustrating to have to miss a day of class. On the other hand, when the biggest source of stress in your life is going to class, missing a day provides a nice break. I had to miss class today because the (seemingly only) place in Beijing to get physicals only does them in the morning.

Why get a physical? The answer isn't varsity ping-pong. My Chengdu residence permit expires at the end of the month, and as part of the expensive extension process, I had to get a physical to prove to China that I'm still healthy enough to live in their country for another month. Interestingly enough, if I were still in Chengdu I wouldn't need to do it.

But I was sad to miss the things we discuss in class:

It's hard to see in the picture, but our teacher found colored chalk and was giving us a color-coded explanation of the universe in Chinese. In red was the sun, in blue was the atmosphere surrounding the white earth, and in yellow was the ozone layer. He's about to give us a thorough explanation of how global warming works. What I find amazing is that everyone in China knows science and math. The other day my reading teacher wanted to explain a word that had to do with "rate" and she drew a graph on the board and looked like she was going to launch into calculus class for a few minutes.

The doctor's office was a slick operation. You signed in at a booth that had English, received a card with a lot of stickers, and then went to each of several offices to get yourself checked. Heart rate for one, height and weight for another, EKG (or a similar acronym that involves simulating the electric chair), vision, and so on. At each station the doctor takes one of your stickers to show that you've been taken care of. It felt strangely like a carnival. When I ran out of stickers, it was time to go.

I'm still healthy enough to not have China reject me. At the vision booth, though, they had the color-blind dot-test. On one of the circles the hidden number was perfectly clear, but the other one took me several minutes before I mostly guessed that it was 5 and ended up being correct. It reminded me of Little Miss Sunshine when the kid who's hasn't talked for several years to show his dedication to being a fighter jet pilot, and then realizes that he's disqualified because he doesn't have perfect vision. But being a teacher, a writer, and Supreme Court Justice don't take perfect vision, so I'm still safe.

After my physical (which, if anyone is curious did not include turning my head and coughing), I climbed a mountain with Suzie. And took pictures.

I think speaking in Chinese the whole way up and down a mountain must count for something, right? Because tomorrow's the last day before our finals, and I'm pretty sure I haven't done enough normal homework to make me feel comfortable. But at least now China is reasonably sure I won't die of discomfort. It's a reassuring thought.


Aunt Gwen said...

Suzie looks like a "nice" and cute girl! I still follow along everyday!

Sheri said...

i still haven't managed to figure out how you told you're entire chinese class that i'm retarded...

Mel said...

oops that was me...

Julie said...

will i have to say, i'm proud that you've seen little miss sunshine. excellent movie, no?

glad you're alive and healthy :)