Author Archives: Karsten Beling

Godzilla… Dun Dun DUNNNNNN

Hello! This is the second in a series of posts from Whitman College students studying abroad in China, this one is written by Karsten.

Last Saturday night, my friend and I were deciphering what to do. As we were meandering through our thoughts, my friend offered the suggestion to watch a movie, which sounded fun! I had seen a cinema on a street dubbed “Snack Street” as it is loaded with food and milk tea. So, we strutted across Yunnan University’s campus in that direction. We were a bit nervous because we didn’t know what to expect. Would we be able to read which movies were which? Would the movie be in Chinese? Would there be popcorn?? We had no idea, but that’s what made the experience exhilarating!

Every time I go to Snack Street, the hustle and bustle of hungry college students livens me. I always want to go in all of the fragrant restaurants and trendy shops, but this time we had a mission. We walked straight to the Yunnan International Cinema and into a whole new dimension. The lobby was practically silent, a sharp contrast to the outside hubbub. I asked the man at the front desk if they had any movies in English, but he just stared at us, and we just stared at him. He had the expression of who is this white boy and what is he pathetically trying to say to me? After what seemed like an eternity, my friend interjected the awkward stare fest by saying “American movie,” (美国电影) and then he understood what we were trying to say! There was only one American movie, 哥吉拉 (Gejila), which means Godzilla. Neither one of us knew anything about Godzilla, but it was more about the experience you know? So we bought tickets for 35 元 (Yuan) for the 8:40 show and were set to go!

When we stepped into hall #7, it looked like any other theater; cherry red seats with sticky cupholders and teens causing commotions. We found our seats and waited for the movie to start. Luckily, the movie was in English with Chinese subtitles and it was in 3D (So exciting!!). At first, there weren’t any huge differences between this Chinese cinema experience and one back home. Though, there were more people talking than what I’m used to, and the popcorn was sweet rather than buttery, also the dude sitting next to my friend whispered Godzilla to himself repeatedly during any suspenseful part. Other than that, it was your traditional Godzilla action-y monster movie. But it did get pretty wild. About 2/3rds through, this man in front of us got a face time call. See I thought he would just deny it, but no. This man answered the call and had a full conversation for a solid five minutes. My friend and I were rattled. We could not stop laughing. Then halfway through his conversation the movie started to lag, which I didn’t even know movie theater movies could do. So, this man was talking at full volume on face time when the whole room was practically silent despite some frustrated groans. We thought it was hilarious. The man eventually ended the call but the movie kept lagging every now and then. When the movie was over, my friend and I just looked at each other and burst into laughter. We couldn’t stop laughing until we arrived at the hotel. We were seriously rattled but had a blast! Seeing a movie in China, 10/10 experience; would recommend.

My friend (Nicole) and I before the movie started and chaos ensued.


This is the first in a series of posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: China program this summer. This post is written by Karsten, and I’m gonna tell a story about getting lost and discovering China’s hospitality. Earlier today, I was with three other first-year Chinese language students also on the Crossroads program. We were trying to find an apartment that had a kitchen for us to cook in. However, the conundrum was: individually we knew little Chinese and we didn’t have a great idea of where we were going. The solution: going out of our comfort zone and using our Chinese to ask for help! We had made it all the way from our hotel, to the other side of Yunnan University’s campus, across a couple of roads, into a gated apartment block, and up some staircases, when we realized that we had no idea where we were. I mean, the whole time we really had no idea where we were, but this was when it got real; when we actually felt lost. There was this feeling of confusion mixed with fear that shrouded my body, making it harder to think. Luckily, right as this peak moment occurred, two women walked down the staircase. With first eye contact, one student engaged in dialogue and it was clear that the two women only spoke Chinese and no English. However, we were really lost and needed any help we could find. Together, we were able to piece together how to ask for help and showed the two women the address of the apartment. The women helped us instantly, and without question. One recognized right away that we were at the wrong building and ran to the bottom of the stairs and down the road to find the correct building. While the other stayed with us and tried to find the address via Apple Maps. We were working together to speak to the women and our tool-house of Chinese grew four fold. The woman came back and spoke to the other woman and they led us down the stairs we were on and showed us the apartment where we were trying to go. The four of us thanked the women profusely and they both did a little bow and said something we didn’t understand but I’m assuming it was along the lines of “you’re welcome.” After they left, we all just looked at each other and agreed that that level of hospitality would be rare to find in the States. We also didn’t expect that sort of hospitality in China, but we were ever grateful for it. However, our professor wasn’t surprised by our story at all. For the few days that we’ve been here, there has been a constant theme of kindness and helpfulness as we’ve tried to figure out our way around China which has been aiding me immensely in learning 中文 (Chinese).