It’s time to start a new chapter of my stay in China. On Sunday, I’ll be taking an overnight train from Beijing to Shanghai. Initially I was planning to leave Beijing a little bit earlier, but since many Chinese are coming back from Spring Festival celebrations, getting tickets for this week wasn’t easy. However, I think I should have enough time to make a smooth transition. My IES Abroad orientation begins on March 2nd and classes at Fudan University don’t start until the March 8th. It’s mind-blowing to me that I was able to learn and experience so much even though my study abroad program has not started yet. This was only possible because the hospitality and generosity of a member of the Wabash family, Khurram Tahir’01. I always told prospective Wabash students that the Wabash alumni network is one of our greatest assets and now I have yet another personal experience to back these words up. If it weren’t for Khurram, I don’t know if I would have a chance to visit China’s capital this year. It was an awesome opportunity and I did my best to use my time here wisely. I made good progress with my Mandarin and helped prospective Chinese Wabash men learn more about our college. I also started getting ready for the exciting upcoming BD Medical internship and made sure to go out to test the language and experience some of the things that the Beijing area has to offer.
Last week, for example, I completed the Jinshanling (金山岭) – Simatai (司马台) Great Wall hike. The views were amazing and I felt really lucky to have the chance to set my foot on one of the 2007 new wonders of the world. I will certainly miss Beijing as a city and all the people I met here, but it’s time to move on. I’m thrilled about the Fudan University semester. I’m sure it will be a time of personal growth, learning and… fun:) My first week will probably be quite unpredictable and very hectic. Therefore, it might take me a little bit more than usually to share my experience with you, but I will make sure that the next note gives you a good feel for China’s largest city.
Please continue keeping your fingers crossed as I’m waiting to hear about the Dill Grant. My C-ville host parents, thank you for your invaluable help this week.
Yesterday was the first day of the lunar calendar new year. As I mentioned in one of my previous notes, celebrating the New Year is very important to the Chinese. Saturday, the New Year’s Eve, was a very exciting time here in Beijing. During the whole day, and especially once it became dark, the sky was bright with fireworks. Many Beijingers I know spent this night at home with their families, but a lot of people also went out to celebrate with a larger crowd. I spent the New Year’s Eve with a few of my Beijing friends. We had a traditional Beijing meal in one of the local restaurants and headed for the Forbidden City afterwards. We made sure to be on the Tiananmen Square before midnight. I consider myself quite lucky to be able to greet the year of the tiger at that remarkable place. It filled me with hope that this year will be good for the world, especially as we start seeing signs of economic improvement in many countries. I am also confident that it will be a good one for the Wabash community (even though it’s the year of the tiger, I believe that has nothing to do with the Monon Bell Classic :-))
As I mentioned before, with a little bit more free time on my hands this week, I plan on doing some travelling. Being here completely on my own and not being a fluent speaker of Mandarin proved making outside of Beijing travel plans somewhat difficult, but with the help of a Chinese friend, I was able to book a Great Wall hike for this Wednesday. I will travel about three hours outside of Beijing to金山岭 (Jinshanling.) I’m really looking forward to this hike and I will surely share this experience with you in my next note. Also this week, I will be finally able to start making arrangements for my transition to Shanghai.
On Friday, I submitted my Dill Grant application for a very exciting project that would let me study Mandarin in China in this summer. Please keep your fingers crossed friends!
I can’t believe that my time in Beijing is slowly coming to an end. In two weeks, I will be taking the overnight train to Shanghai. Because I really don’t know when I will have a chance to be back in Beijing for an extended period of time, I am happy with my decision to spend this week’s holiday in the capital of China. With the short break from Mandarin classes that started just today (a little bit more a week), I will be able to take a few day trips and see more of the area.
The the upcoming semester at Fudan University is getting closer with every day. I keep receiving more and more correspondence from IES Abroad. In a few days, I will book my train ticket (in China one can only do so no more than 10 days prior to the planned departure date.) Just last Saturday, I had a chance to meet Christopher Qin, who will be one of the students in my IES Abroad Shanghai program. Chris is currently a sophomore at University of North Carolina and is originally from China. He stopped by in Beijing to visit relatives and discovered through facebook that I’m currently staying in that city. Chris invited me to join him for the Beijing Duck, probably the single most famous Beijing dish. Afterwards, we were also able to enjoy a very nice walk in the Choayang Park. It turned out that Chris is a very interesting and extremely friendly person. I really hope that all the people in my IES program will be as interesting. I also hope that I will challenge myself and learn a lot from the academic portion of the program.
This week I have a little bit of work since I have to submit my Dill Grant application. However, I plan to do so before the weekend so that I can make sure I have plenty of time to be out for the New Year’s celebrations, which I will describe in next week’s blog note.
February will be a very exciting month to spend in China. On the 14th of this month, the Chinese will welcome 虎寅, the year of the tiger. I observed red-colored decorations popping up everywhere and a great deal of people in the shopping areas recently. Very soon the country will witness massive internal movement as everybody will try to make it home for the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year.) Being in China for the first time in my life, I am thrilled to experience this most important traditional Chinese holiday.
I still have to make up my mind on how I want to spend it though. Through the work I’ve been doing for Wabash College admissions, I was invited by a prospective Wabash student to welcome the New Year with him and his family in the Hunan province located in southern China. As appealing as that sounds, I was initially planning to celebrate here and use the short break from my Chinese classes to sightsee some more in the Beijing area since I haven’t had a chance to see many tourist attractions here due to my busy schedule. Moreover, I will be heading south to start my study abroad program at Fudan University soon after the end of the Spring Festival. However, no matter what I’ll end up doing, I will make sure to share it with you on this blog:)