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Exam day, today was one of the final exam days for a number of universities around the country. I happened to be taking part in one of them at a very prestigious university in north west Beijing.|
Looking back there have been some electricity problems in the past few weeks but I thought it was just a local thing. Apparently BJ is having trouble meeting the electricity demands as everyone turns on their air conditioners.
So here I was sitting for an exam in thermodynamics when the power goes out. I am thinking ok the exam will be postponed or perhaps the professor will go and get an emergency light or something. I guess I was wrong, we were told to finish the test. The room was fairly dark as it only had one window on the north side of the building for a room with 25 students. Could we get up and move towards the light, no. I was lucky sitting on the north side of the classroom I had a bit more light. It was very difficult to read and further more uncomfortable because of the AC going out.
Now thinking back on this, I do not expect China to have as good a power grid as the US, Japan or Europe but I was expecting a little more than random brownouts in the captial. I also would have expected that such a controlled society would be able to plan around any brown outs. Even in India you know in every area from say 2-4pm the power will be cut, you plan your life around it. Apparently not in Beijing. I would also have expected every class room to have emergency flood lights. Every class room in a developed country has them, more every commercial building and some residences have them to. You know those big ugly things that turn on when the power fails, last 12 hours or so. Nope apparently too much for a premier research institution in Beijing.
Contrasting this with my experiences in the US, France, and S.Korea. In the US my middle school lost water, it was closed for 1 day while bottled water was brought in. My university in the US was a large state run institution, it had its own power station. A category 4 hurricane hit the campus and power went down for 30 minutes while the lines to the main grid were cut, then power was restored, flood lights were of use in the 30 minute dark period. In southern France I cant remember the power or water ever failing but I am sure the biggest complaint would have been that the coffee machines didnt work anymore. In all cases class would have been postponed and an exam definitely canceled or postponed.