It’s been almost three weeks since my last post, and that time has been saturated with a hundred noteworthy moments. Sorry I’ve been so remiss.
I should start by saying the summer term is officially over. It ended on the first Friday of August, and included a morning written exam, a graduation ceremony at midday, and a going-away party of sorts that lasted until the next morning. When I woke up Saturday, everyone was gone, save the resident assistants and one other straggler who will be staying in Beijing until December, like myself.
The summer term went as fast as it came, but I learned so much in that little window of time. Still, I have so far to go. My Chinese skills improved leaps and bounds—even more than I had hoped. I can speak with taxi drivers and order food just about anywhere. At first the language seemed so impossible, but now I’m at that “this is doable” phase. I like the direction I’m headed, but I can see there’s still a lot of distance left to cover.
The fall semester at Beijing Foreign Studies University doesn’t start until August 24th, so now I have some time—most of which I’ll spend travelling. In fact, I already started charting China’s landmass last week when I went to Hong Kong for four days, which was a really worthwhile trip.
Hong Kong is not like other major Chinese cities. The major differences I noticed: the clouds are white and the sky is blue (in other words, no substantial air pollution), they have drinking fountains (no substantial public water pollution), and not everyone stares at me on the subway. The expat community in HK is huge, and just about everyone, even the natives, can speak English.
I could write three blog posts’ worth of material about my impressions of the place, but for the sake of word limits and reader attention spans, I’ve included photos instead.
Now I’m back in Beijing until Tuesday, at which time I’ll take a 48-hour train to Tibet as part of an optional pre-fall IES trip. In the meantime, I’ll be teaching, as I’ve been doing all summer. I have four different students who I’ve been tutoring English since the end of June, and it’s been good language experience, plus decent money. The catch is my students live all over Beijing, and Beijing is a big place., I’ve become very acquainted with the subway station, commuting up to five hours a day to different students’ homes. Working has really forced me to get out into the city, though, and by now I’ve got Beijing mapped out in my head. To anyone who is looking for language teaching experience, China is the place to go.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I’m from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where I lived almost my whole life before I moved to Iowa to study English, East Asia, and pre-medicine at Grinnell College. I'm a third-year now, and for me that means I'm ready for a change in scenery. When I make the time, I like reading newspaper columns, writing, and hiking when it’s sunny. I love eating warm chocolate muffins with milk. I've never left the states before, so my head is full of what I'm sure are one-dimensional impressions of Beijing. I'm eager for those impressions to become 3D, and I can’t wait to share what I learn living abroad this summer!</span></p>