Today it was time for our first excursion out of two, the visit to Lao She teahouse The busses left campus at 8.30 and got there at 9.40 but since I live closer to the teahouse I could go directly from home which meant I didn’t have to get up so early. Once we got to the teahouse they started the show instantly and we were served tea. They showed several cultural Chinese things such as how to pour tea and how it was made. In addition to this they had a magician, acrobats, bian lian (mask changing, can read more about it here) and some guy spinning stuff. It was really cool and a welcome pause from the studies. After the visit Alex, Jasio and I went to Tian’anmen square as they hadn’t been there before. As expected several people wanted to take pictures with us which is always fun. Tomorrow we’re going to try calligraphy in our “Life in China” class so most likely I will post another update then. Looking forward to it (even though my handwriting is horrible).
In order to give this post some length I figured I could write a couple of lines of how I like it here. I’m having a great time, getting to eat good food and discover new restaurants/places every day. I’ve only used my mask once when the AQI was over 300, otherwise I don’t use it that much. My daily routine is basically go to school, have lunch somewhere, go to the gym (mon/wed/fri) and then go home to do my homework. The homework is usually characters or to revise (复习) the previous lesson. All in all Beijing is a very interesting city and no day is the other alike.
So, been a while since I last blogged. it turned out to be more difficult than expected. Last Sunday I decided to go for a walk in the park next to where we live. It is enormous and it turned out to have an amusement park inside and batting cages which I’ll definitely try in the future. The weather has been off the charts this week with temperatures at a steady 16-18 degrees however it’s always down to ~1 degree in the morning when I get home so you still have to wear a lot of clothes when you go out.
This Tuesday we decided to try a noodle place for lunch. It was a new experience because you ordered and paid in the app and then your order got placed on the screen in the middle and when it was ready it showed which till you were suppose to pick up your lunch from. Wasn’t the best lunch I’ve tried but it was definitely interesting trying it.
Wednesday meant “Life in China” time. This time we were suppose to see Beijing opera and mask painting so we could white masks and painted them. It was interesting but painting isn’t a skill I possess.
Friday is when the interesting thing happened. We were told that we were going to have our next class together with teacher-students so they could learn how to teach Chinese for foreigners. I expected i to be a big class with every class together but when we got there in the morning we noticed that it was just us. And we were suppose to sit in the front in front of 100 teachers and have a class. Every time we needed to talk we did so through a microphone and it was all recorded with big cameras. Kinda awkward but fun. In the evening me and 3 classmates went to Great Leap for dinner & beer.
Today (Saturday) I went shopping with mom and had lunch at Solana shopping center. After that I met my language partner for the first time. I was kind of nervous as I had never met her before and didn’t even know how she looked. We had decided to go see a movie (Logan) which was great. In addition to this she turned out to be a very nice 19 year old law student, hopefully I’ll get to see more of her in the future.
Friday has come and with it comes rest. As part of my new healthy life Friday is also workout day and since it’s my first week I figured I might as well go out with a bang which resulted in my first 5k under 30 min ever, very happy with that result. If I can keep this up for 4 months it’ll be interesting to see the result.
After the gym session I went home to shower and then I met up with some friends at the german pub. The original plan was to go to Great Leap with some friends from school but they felt ill so that plan was ditched. Next week instead. After the german pub we continued towards my favourite restaurant, “the cockroach”. Despite its unappealing name they have the best food in Beijing in my opinion. After that we continued to a cocktail bar called nice and night or something like that .They had really good drinks but quite expensive. At about 00.30 I decided it was time to go home. Biking home late at night when there aren’t so many cars on the roads is very nice. Looking forward to being able to sleep past 6 tomorrow.
Not much exciting has happened this week so far. The entire class had lunch together after school on Wednesday and after that I went to the gym again. I’ve also helped a friend book her ticket to Beijing and she’s visiting in april, looking forward to it a lot.
In addition to this the weather is very nice in Beijing right now, usually around 17 degrees. The downside is that it’s very windy which makes it feel cold outside. In Beijing you don’t talk about how the weather is as much as how the air is. Whenever it’s windy the air is good – when it’s not the air is usually bad. There are plenty of apps that helps you check the Air Quality Index (AQI) and it tells you whether to wear a mask or not. Tomorrow (Friday) I’m going to Great Leap Brewery (my favourite) with a couple of friends for dinner.
Some people we’re also wondering how I live. I’ll post some pictures tomorrow of my apartment.
Monday, the worst day of the week. School per usual and after that lunch at the Steps. Today was burgerday which was awesome. After that it was finally time to start with something that I’ve tried to do for 7 years: gymming. Now as I have access to a gym for free I don’t really have an excuse anymore so today was the day that it started. Hopefully we’ll be able to see some change by the time I get home.
I’ve also wanted to create a photo wall (like everyone else) but never gotten around to it but printing pictures in Beijing was so cheap that I decided it was time. The plan is to continue adding pictures to it.
Otherwise not much has happened and no spectacular plans either. I am alone again as my parents have left for Sweden so my plan is to stay away from home as much as possible and hopefully meet some new people. My goal this week is to hit the gym trice and learn 20 Chinese characters, it’s always good to have something to aim for 🙂
First week of ordinary classes has come to an end and suddenly I understand some Chinese. The way our studies work is that we have 4 types of classes; integrated, speaking, listening and life in china thats divided into 10/4/4/2 hours per week. We have different teachers in speaking, listening and integrated.
Integrated is basically grammar. The Chinese written language is split into two parts, pinyin (Ni Hao) and Hanzi (你好). We start with learning pinyin and then learn Hanzi. Pinyin is divided into 3 parts – initials, finals and tones. There are for example 4 tones (+ neutral) which means that a word can have 5 different meanings depending on how you pronounce it. We also need to learn how to pronounce the initials and finals. My Polish and Russian friends have it a lot easier as they already have all these in their native languages which I don’t. Every day we get 5 characters as homework and this week we’ve learnt how to introduce ourselves, ask what things are and different kinds of food, a lot more than I expected to learn in 5 days.
Speaking comes next and is exactly as it sounds: we focus only on pronouncing the words correct which is very difficult as many initials sound the same (z c s for example).
Finally we have listening which is us spending 2 hours trying to figure out what they say on a recording. For example they say an initial and we have to decide which one of 2-3 alternatives it is.
Life in China is the best class that we have 2 hours every Wednesday. We’ll for example learn how to drink tea, write calligraphy and a lot more interesting things.
All our teachers are very good and I’m having a blast. Jasio (bottom picture) showed me a place close to school where you could get a beer for 5元 (ish 7 SEK). We visited the same place this Friday with some other classmates and had lunch. They serve different lunches every day for 15元. Later that same day we went for pizza and it was one of the biggest pizzas I’ve ever seen.
I’ve also found out what my name means! My name is 王瑞峰 which is pronounced as Wang Ruifeng. Wang is a common Chinese last name, Rui means lucky and is included in the Chinese name for Sweden (Ruidian) and finally Feng means “of mountain-like appearance”. Still trying to learn how to write it though as 瑞 and 峰 are rather difficult to memorise.
The weekend is slowly coming to it’s end and I got an early start tomorrow at 6AM so figured I could recap the weekend. Finding the time to write a post every day turned out to be more difficult than I thought.
Friday: Woke up at 7 to get to school as we had orientation at 9. Turns out that the rush hour is much worse at 8 than at 7 so might consider myself lucky having to get up that early. Orientation was basically just a lot of talk about the school and so on. We were finished at 10 and the results of the placement tests + which class we belong to would be posted at 5PM but luckily the teacher agreed to call me with the result so I didn’t have to wait for it. The rest of the day was spent at home with pizza and movies.
Saturday: Felt ill at the start of the day and didn’t do much except forcing down some noodles. After taking a shower I felt a lot better. Met up with Liljana and Sara who live close to us and we took a cab to a restaurant called Lost Heaven close to Tiananmen Square. They serve traditional Chinese food and it was amazing.
Sunday: In order to explain Sunday I need to tell you the backstory. As many are aware multiple social medias such as facebook, youtube and instagram (will talk more about this in the future) are blocked in China. Instead there is one media that dominates the Chinese market: WeChat. WeChat is basically a chat client at its core but they’ve also added the possibility to have company pages such as on facebook and other features. It is basically essential to have Wechat. So I signed up with my Chinese number when I arrived and had WeChat for a couple of days. Out of the blue I got banned for batch registration which had something to do with my number. Supposedly you could be unbanned automatically with a text but it didn’t work as it was supposed to so I signed up with my Swedish number. That one got banned 3 days later for weird login patterns (VPN). This ban could be removed if another user verified you. When we tried that you had to give information such as ID number that wasn’t even registered so it didn’t work. So my Sunday was basically spent with a friend and her Chinese friend to try to get me unbanned and in the end to buy a new phone number. At least the weather was nice.
First day of school, extremely excited! Got up at 6 and left the house at halv past. Took me an hour to get to the school as predicted. Got into the classroom and waited. Asians keep dropping in an not a single european. Started to get a bit worried. First thing they do is hand us a test in Chinese and I don’t know a single word so I say so. They note it down and then I’m free to go. 1 hour commute for 6 minutes of school. I’ve never felt as dumb as when I get handed a test and don’t even understand the questions. Not the best start of the day so I decided to go shopping instead. Went to Pearl Market and got a mousepad. After that I went home and watched some TV until it was time to go to the embassy to meet up some people from Young Professionals Beijing. They had their kickoff at Arrow Brewery today. It was nice, met a lot of new people both from the embassy and from other parts of Beijing. It was probably the first step to feeling like I belong here. When you bike home on a thursday night with a couple of beers in your system in insane traffic you really feel like this is where you’re suppose to be. tomorrow it’s time to get up early for orientation at school. Hopefully I’ll meet some non-asians that aren’t already experts in the Chinese language.
The traffic situation in Beijing is quite different from the one in Sweden so I figured I might as well write about it. The cars park as they like and don’t care who they block. They also drive as they like. As in Sweden the car lane is allowed to turn when you get a green light at the crossing. The big difference is that while they wait for the light to turn red/no people left to cross in Sweden they don’t wait for people to cross but instead just drive as fast as possible. We once had a cab driver who went AGAINST the traffic and when people honked at him he just honked back. They use the horn aaaaalll the time.
Manual for drivers:
Biking in Beijing is also quite different. It’s the most useful mode of transport and also probably the most dangerous. As mentioned above the car drivers don’t care for anyone but #1. In addition to that you also have a lot of electric scooters that are very fast and makes no noise so you’ll have to look constantly.
As seen in the first picture there are bicycle lanes. These are however used by every vehicle that fits them and often cars fit. In addition people don’t care on which side they are so there are people coming from every possible direction. Chinese bikers rarely look at the road and instead looks at their phone so they usually don’t ride in a straight line.
So where do I bike? Since my school is so far away I don’t go there by bike but I get to the tube with it. Also whenever we’re going out it’s usually in the vicinity and biking is usually faster than getting a taxi.
Last night my parents went on vacation so I’m alone and as I had nothing to do today I decided to do a speed-run and see how long time it took to get to school. Door-to-door took 57 minutes which means that tomorrow I’m leaving home at 6:30 and will continue doing so for 4 months which is funny as I don’t usually get up until after lunch. The campus is in bad shape outwards, enormous and looks like something you’d expect to see in USSR/North Korea. I have however been told that the teachers are extremely good so It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. Tomorrow I’ll meet them and the rest of my class for the first time so I’ll make sure to have a nice report later that evening.
I’ve also gotten some complains that I don’t eat enough Chinese food so today I went local and had a mix of a lot of stuff that I don’t know and Tsingtao 🙂