I have ENTERED THE DRAGON.
My reaction to being able to speak Mandarin everywhere!
I’m not sure where to begin besides saying, “I LOVE BEIJING”; From the ability to speak Mandarin anywhere, to having an amazing host family this is shaping up to be one amazing summer. I’ll start with my arrival, up until preparing for the first day of school.
Getting to my host family’s house proved to be an adventure in and of itself. The family lives in the Haidan district of Beijing, which is in the Northwest part of the city.
If you are familiar with Baidu, I am very near to their headquarters. Upon getting into the taxi though, I only had a rough idea of where that was. It took three phone calls, a few u-turns, and questioning a few pedestrians to finally get there. Having seen the size of Hong Kong apartments, I really had no idea what to expect; It’s safe to say though, this house is AWESOME! It’s three stories; the bottom is the kitchen and living room, 2nd floor are the bedrooms, then the top is like a sun room/workout area. I’m currently sleeping in the daughter’s room because they assumed I need a lot of space.
After living in Adam Schall for a year, I don’t need a lot, but I’m not going to complain.
Currently in the house, there is the mom whose job I cannot determine, the 9-year-old girl named Nina that I help with English, someone’s parents who I call Grandpa and Grandma in Chinese, and the father who I have been told is a car salesman. The dad is perhaps the most interesting of the bunch because his limited time at home is spent playing Diablo 3 on the computer. I assume as the summer progresses I will learn more about them, but that is all I know for now. It’s also worth mentioning the Grandma is pretty much the greatest person ever. She washes my cloths, makes me food, and constantly compliments my Chinese so it’s a very good situation. I really cannot say enough about how blessed I am to be living here with such a great family.
My second day here, was first spent registering at the public security bureau. Every time someone moves somewhere, or rents a house, they must register; I have been told this is really only important for foreigners. After that minor procedure, the mom told me I had the rest of the day free I just needed to return by 5 for dinner. I took this as the impetus to go and figure out how to get to school. Assuming that Beijing would be like Hong Kong, where there are a million signs telling you where to go, I didn’t bother looking at a map…big mistake. Making it to the nearest station to Tsinghua, Wudaokou, was not much of a problem. The area of Wudaokou very much resembles a college town, with pizza chains, bars selling 1 USD shots, and since this Asia; it’s own KTV place.
After taking all of that in, I decided to walk in the direction of where I was told Qinghua should be. 20 minutes later, I arrived at Qinghua road but I did not see Qinghua University.
Qinghua Road…But no Qinghua
So once again I decided to follow that road, oddly enough I saw more buildings for Beijing University than Tsinghua but I did eventually arrive at the West Entrance.
Wouldn’t be BEIJING University if it didn’t have a Tea Culture Center
Tsinghua, for all of my CUHK friends can best be described as if you completely flattened CU, then doubled the area. For everyone else it’s huge and even has annexed gardens from the Old Summer Palace. Another analogy I could draw would be if you turned USC’s horseshoe into the entire campus, so safe to say it’s a beautiful campus.
Most Famous Site at QingHua
For my fraternity brother Sean, I’m very jealous you will get to spend an entire year here, however I am not envious of the frigid winter temperatures you will experience ☺
I figured I should probably figure out where certain buildings were, so I took a long route to where I thought I was suppose to go.However, my intended destination was inaccurate and where I was supposed to go was hidden besides a science building.
This map was way more simplified than the actual campus
I’m very glad I know where it is now, so that I don’t have to run around campus before my first day of class. Upon finding that building, I did a little more exploring which you can see in the pictures below.
Inside of the Main Gym
Home of Google, Yahoo, Etc… in Beijing. Right outside of QingHua’s campus
Finally, after about 2 ½ hours of wondering around Tsinghua, I decided to call it a day and head back home.
Dinner itself was very uneventful but afterwards I got a chance to walk around with Nina and her friend Jack. At 9, they are pretty much adorable and from what I gather, they do everything together.
Nina and Jack
This ranges from Math and English, to Dance class, which I decided to watch. The mom told me roughly, “They do dance together to make them more interesting (I’m assuming for college admissions)”. Regarding the class itself, Nina, like most girls, has very little problem dancing away; Jack is not interested however, and I sort of felt bad watching him be subjected to it. After that entertainment, I decided to call it a night and study some Chinese with Skritter. For anyone whose is studying Chinese I highly recommend you get Skritter immediately! It teaches you how to write, memorize tones, and is all around the greatest tool for learning Chinese in the 21st century.
Sunday morning, Nina went off to school (she has class 7 days a week) so I decided to work out, having neglected it since leaving Hong Kong. The Grandma found this quite funny, and told me I should be sure to eat more at lunch. After lunch, I began to try and figure out how I spend my afternoon. My very first world problem is I have been to most of the famous sights in Beijing before, and have little interest in returning to most of them. Therefore, I decided to check out the Beijing Military museum, which I had not been to previously.
The Beijing Military Museum at least on the outside, was the history of China’s military via Machines; everything was on display from tanks to rockets.
The plaque said, “Made in China” Does this mean it’s available at Walmart?
A Mustang was Even there
I really wanted to go inside the museum itself, but for some reason it was closed. Still having time to kill, I decided to check out the Beijing World Art Museum.
The BWAM, was a museum I had never heard, and after walking around I understood why for the most part. Out of the 4 galleries, only one had something In it, and even the “Permanent” exhibit was closed. The redeeming factor for the museum though, was a room called the Millennium room.
Upon entering the room, I was immediately drawn towards this gold object in the center.
Now Just stare at This….
I have never quite felt drawn to object before, but I felt if there was chairs there I could I have stared at it for hours on end. Surrounding it was a 360-degree mural encompassing China’s entire history from cave men to the reunifications of Hong Kong and Macau.
The enterance: Rockets on the left and Cavemen on the right
If it wasn’t for that room I would say avoid the museum, but it is honestly one of the most interesting things I have ever seen.
[Movie Reference] Prostitutes going down a river, with dueling banjos, would not be the weirdest movie idea to come out of China.
When I finally did leave, I made a quick stop by Wudaokou to recharge my cell phone and to try Chinese Subway. Despite what I had heard from certain individuals, it was just a delicious as its US counterpart, and I’m glad to know I’ll always have a fall back meal. I then headed home, and happened returned at the same time as the rest of the family. We ate dinner then headed off for some fruit.
While walking back from the fruit stand, Nina spotted a street vendor selling beef skewers so we decided to stop and try some.
Nina Enjoying the food
Unlike what I had snacked on previously in Beijing, these were amazing. I was told that the Grandpa is unable to eat them, so it was sort of a special treat for Nina that we were able to stop. After my second dinner we returned home for watermelon then pretty much everyone disappeared. I’m detecting a common theme of: downstairs, the grand parents watch sporting events and military dramas, Nina and her mom disappear somewhere, and I am left to my own devices which can manifest itself into writing these blog posts for whoever is interested. After spending a year not sleeping, and dealing with incessant yelling, it’s great having some peace and quiet. I’m thinking of trying Vlogging / Video blogging, if I can figure out how to get on YouTube here. I would love to answer questions you may have about China or Asia as a whole in five minutes or less; If you have questions please email me at Jaytomsig@gmail.com . If this gets popular I’ll get a new email address but I’m curious to see where this goes. Until next time….