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!