1st day in Beijing

I was supposed to arrive in Beijing on the 19th, but I was very foolish and missed my flight. In an attempt to avoid paying “foreigner prices” once more, I spent a long time haggling with different taxi drivers (or rather Linh did, because she speaks Vietnamese). By the time I settled on one (which wasn't a particularly good deal), it was very late, and despite some particularly insane driving, I did not make my flight. So I purchased another $300 ticket to Beijing for the next day, and walked down the road and stayed at the airport hotel. Lesson learned: don't haggle over a few dollars when you need to get to the airport.

So I'm finally here now, more or less settled in my dorm room. As soon as I got to the airport yesterday, there was excitement. I needed to kill a few hours until the Princeton in Beijing (PiB) bus would arrive to take me to the Beijing Normal University campus, where I'll be for another 8 weeks. I was hungry, and had the choice between KFC (“kěn dé jī”) and Starbucks (no chinese name!), and I chose a smoked salmon sandwich at the latter. No sooner had I sat down and started munching on my sandwich than a police officer pulled police tape across the entrance to Starbucks, and one of the other patrons suggested that I not sit near the door.

I looked up to see that someone had left a purse near the area where arrivals clear customs, and apparently the police suspected said purse to contain a bomb. At first I watched the spectacle along with the staff and other patrons of Starbucks. After a few minutes of this, but luckily after I had finished my sandwich, a police officer came in and ordered the establishment evacuated. So we all left, walking along the edge of the police line. Once back outside the Starbucks, I got to peek through the crowd that was forming to catch a glimpse of the bomb-squad and their robots. I didn't stick around to watch exactly what happened, but eventually the crowd cleared, and I saw the purse was gone. Here are some pictures of the incident:
Here's a picture of the police officers overseeing the evacuation of the starbucks:

Here's a blurry picture of the bomb squad robot in action:

In 30 minutes I have my placement exam. I hope it is not too stressful. I have no idea what level they'll place me in. I don't know how Berkeley's Chinese program compares to Princeton's, and I also don't know how much I've retained, since I haven't studied Chinese for more than 5 weeks now. Anyways, I'd rather be in too low a level than too high.

This is my roommate:

His name is Randy. His Chinese name is Lǐ Rán (李然). He's pretty cool. Like most people here, he's an undergraduate at Princeton.