As I got accustomed to Chinese lifestyle, I realized how different it is from my Spanish/European lifestyle. I usually wake up at 7 every morning, grab a coffee (oh Lord, how much I miss good, tasty, strong coffee) and a croissant or any other pastry available at the convenience store downstairs. We have a dictation or 听写 (tingxie) almost everyday, so the IES Abroad lounge is often home to students who prepare for it or put the final touches on their homework in the morning . Starting classes at 8 is something pretty common in China, but not so much in Spain. The earliest class I have ever had started at 8:30, even if I had to take a bus to school.
Oh, did I say how much I miss coffee? Yes, I think what I have in the mornings can’t be called coffee (it’s water mixed with sugar and food coloring). I'm thinking of buying an Italian coffee maker online...
So, at around noon, the cafeterias start bustling and being incredibly crowded. I personally love the food you can eat over there. It’s healthy, super tasty and cheap. You can basically eat for a dollar and a half and drink a nice smoothie. They also have a fresh noodle and fried rice bar, Korean dishes and food from all over China. Worth giving everything a try! Temperatures have significantly dropped, so it’s also a good idea to have soups everyday. I actually feel at home drinking the chicken broth soup with potatoes.
Academically speaking, I think my favorite class is calligraphy. It only takes place once a week, but I especially enjoy writing Chinese characters. Fang Laoshi is our professor, it’s so interesting listening to what he says and explain about the evolution of the Chinese writing throughout the years and dynasties. It’s also a very good way to practice our Chinese listening comprehension. Calligraphy is supposed to help you relax, but sometimes it can be very stressing, just because I want do a perfect job, but I still have to practice a lot.
So Bei Wai campus is separated into two campuses. It used to be only one, but when the 3rd ring road was built, it was separated into two halves. Everything is within a comfortable walking distance and it has several convenience stores, students’ supermarkets, stationary shops, cafes and snack corners. Among these, my favorite is the shouzhuabing, or literally translated from Chinese “the hand-grabbed wrap”. It’s made of fried dough and in the inside you can add chicken, egg, lettuce and a sauce (either a mayonnaise-like sauce, yoghurt sauce or spicy sauce). It’s only 7,5 kuai (around a dollar). People usually eat for breakfast.
Some days I’m too late to eat dinner at the cafeteria, so I just grab one of these. Not to speak about the awesome dumplings and baozi they sell next door. Baozi have a beef meat filling, cilantro and spices, just like the dumplings, but it’s steamed dough instead. I’ve eaten them from several street food places, but the best ones remain the ones that are sold in the late night. I bet if these people would open a baozi business in Spain, they’d be rich by now. They’re simply delicious.
On the same street, you can find awesome street food like meat skewers or seafood restaurants. They basically put everything in the skewers (lamb, pork, chicken, vegetables, corn, delicious bacon and shiitake mushrooms, etc). The most famous one is yangrouchuan (羊肉串儿), Beijing’s specialty. You can also find clothes stores, fruit stores, bars, beauty salons, book stores, etc. It's especially busy at night, I love it!