I’ve been so busy with homework, but I’ve fortunately been able to see an acrobatics show, visit the Beijing Zoo, and hike along the Great Wall.
Each week, CET has a planned event we can choose to attend. Last Friday, most of us went and saw an acrobatics show at the Chaoyang Theater. I was amazed by all the performances and stunts. There was dancing, balancing, jumping, twirling, and motorcycling to name a few. My favorite may have been the woman who balanced herself on one hand after climbing more than eight chairs stacked on top of each other.
I really appreciate that the program allows us to have Friday afternoon and Saturday free, so we can explore the city! I went to Houhai with my roommate and her cousin to check out the night scene. We didn’t go in to any bars since we were pretty tired and the rain made it less enjoyable, but it was still great to see the streets lit up and hear bands playing in the night. One of the streets was also filled with small souvenir shops. I am still hopping to go back to Hongqiao Pearl Market, though. We also stopped at McDonald’s for a quick dinner. I ordered meat with rice, which came with two patties and a rice and vegetable mixture. I honestly didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped, but I am glad I tried it haha. The patties taste differently than in the US.
I think this program has been one of my greatest academic challenges. I was expecting it to be difficult but not as much as it actually is! I wake up usually between 6:30 and 7:30 am and go to bed sometime between 11:30 – 1 am, depending on how much I need to get done. Aside from eating and an occasional half-hour nap, I have class; then I study and do homework if I’m not in bed. So intense! I think my language level overall has improved, but I think my listening comprehension has improved the most so far.
I was really happy the other day when I was able to hold a small conversation with one of my teachers during lunch. I was sitting with some classmates but the chair across from me was empty. As I saw the teacher approach me, I silently hoped she wouldn’t sit with me since I am often more shy than others, especially speaking a foreign language. When she sat down, however, my nerves went away, and I was able to create a small-talk conversation. It was a great feeling to accomplish this dialogue, especially since becoming comfortable with holding some conversation is one of my goals. Many of my teachers are from Beijing or have lived in Beijing for a long time. I think it’s harder to move away from a hometown or a college in China than it is in the US.
We watched “Raise the Red Lantern,” directed by Yimou Zhang, in class for one day – of course, we still had grammar and vocabulary to prepare before watching. A lot of my classmates seemed to enjoy the movie because they found it interesting to learn about part of China’s history. We were learning about gender equality, and the movie focuses on a palace where one man has four concubines, and the wives must compete with each other to gain the husband’s attention. I actually didn’t like the movie because the story was very sad, and it was very broad, in that it seemed to cover many issues in a small span of time without going into a lot of detail.
Many students caught a cold this last week. I think it’s probably from not getting enough rest because studying takes a very long time. Also, our bodies are probably just starting to let loose from the initial buzz of arriving in China and starting class. Some students have also been fully enjoying the 酒吧bars.
I admit that the pandas were the main reason I went. Pandas and China just makes sense. The Zoo recognizes this, which is why the panda exhibit is a separate fee from the entrance admission. Regardless, I had a fun time with some classmates. We saw a good amount of exhibits, which were in pretty good shape. The weather was hot, but the sky was clear!
This weekend CET brought us to the Great Wall! It was about a two hour bus ride away from campus, which wasn’t too bad, especially since many of us were still tired, so we didn’t mind resting on a cool bus. The weather was very hot, but the air was clear again, so we were able to take some beautiful photos. The climb up the mountain to the wall was worse than climbing on the wall, but both were very strenuous! Some students and I really enjoyed it since we liked the view and the exercise, but some of the students also didn’t care for all the effort needed to hike. For the most part, the wall was safe, especially since the section of the wall that CET brought us to, Mu tian yu, was renovated for tourists. I was able to make it to one of the tops of the wall where the tourist safety area ends and a steep incline begins.