Remember when I was complaining how hot it was this summer? I knew at some point I’d be cold and dreaming of those stifling hot days… I just didn’t know it would be so soon. Southern China has had an unusually cold weather plunging the temperatures to freezing and creating snow storms all throughout the country (including where I live in Zhejiang Province). To make it even worse, drizzly wet rain has been falling almost every day for the past week.
It’s pretty miserable for us, but at least we have a heater in our bedroom and a heat lamp in our bathroom. I feel especially bad for the students. They don’t have heat in their dorm rooms, and worse of all, they don’t have hot water. There is no heat in any of the school buildings including the cafeteria. (You have to eat quick these days because your food gets cold in minutes!) This is based on an old government law which was written 50 years ago. Back then, China didn’t have theÂ infrastructure to move energy products (like coal and gas) around the country so they said that anywhere south of the Yellow River (which is pretty much anywhere south of Shanghai) won’t have hot water or heat.
Well, 50 years later they are still sticking to it, although of course now wealthy people can buy their own heaters and pay their own energy bills (for people who live north of the Yellow River their heating bills are subsidized by the government). Â But heating is expensive and most places, like our university, make do.
The students are surprisingly patient with the whole thing. Of course I’ve noticed that some of my classes have shrunk as some people want to stay in bed, but for the most part they seem just as cheerful as normal. I try to stay cheerful during class but I now teach class in a jacket, hat, gloves and a scarf. And I do a lot of jumping up and down to stay warm. In fact I try to get them all up and jumping before and during the break, just to get a little blood flowing in their veins.
I know that before long it will be 100 degrees again and I’ll be wishing for the cold but until then I’ll just throw on another sweater and stay in bed a little longer trying to conserve as much heat as I can…
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