In my opinion, the quickest way around the city is using the subway. It's pretty simple to use if you know what you’re doing and where you want to go. And it's really cheap as one can travel from one side of Beijing to the other for only 7 kuai. The most expensive way to get around in Beijing is by taxi. Taxis do come in handy though, as the buses and the subway lines stop running by 11:30 PM (or even 10:30 PM).
Up until now, I’ve always been with someone who knew how to get where they wanted to go. All I had to do was keep up with them and push my way onto the train. Even though I may be small, all of the IES Abroad students know I’m a master of getting on and off any crowded subway train, as I often “assert my dominance.” Everyone here knows if you don't push people out of the way on the subway, you can't get off where you want to. It's almost like a race to the finish line, as one constantly has to be ready to move.
Today, we went to the Lama Temple, a place where many people go to pray. It was so amazing and all the buildings were breathtaking. Everything was well maintained and the atmosphere was very peaceful and calming. After the temple visit, some of my friends wanted to eat dinner and then head back to the dorm. However, after a while of just sitting and talking, a friend and I decided to head back to campus earlier than everybody else. She, like me, was unsure of what subway line to take to get back to school, but was very optimistic, saying “We can do it!”
Once we got inside the subway station, went through security and went down the stairs, my friend looked at the subway map on the wall. She stated that we should use the train heading left to get back to campus. So we got on that subway, and she quickly realized that we were going in the wrong direction. We would have eventually gotten to line 4, the line we go on to get back to Beiwai University, but it would have taken 30 minutes and not 10 minutes. So on the next stop, we made our way and got on the other train going in the opposite direction. As soon as we sat down she realized we were actually on the correct subway to begin with! So we raced to the other train and made it just in time to go back to campus.
I thought it definitely was a learning and an exciting adventure trying to get back to campus. And hey, we definitely got the exercise we needed for the day! Now, when I go out to explore Beijing, I'll hopefully know exactly what subway lines to take!