Student Logs for July 6th from Beijing!
Hear directly from the students about life in Beijing:
Here are responses from the students on how their experience is going in Beijing:
"It truly is the weirdest sensation being in your birth place, yet never feeling so foreign. Being ABC (American Born Chinese), I already have expectations to meet. I should be fluent in Chinese. I should know exactly how to act in public. I should know the appropriate things to say in any given situation. I should know how to be 'Chinese.' I always try to see how long it takes before people realize that my Chinese is not near fluent or that I don’t live in this country. Sometimes, my identity is given away as soon as I speak (usually because my tones are off and my sentence structure could use some work) or if my actions don’t fall under the social “norms."
Being back in China has not only re-ignited my love for learning Chinese, but has also given me the opportunity to explore my birth place and connect back to my heritage. I have loved the assortment of different classes we take, the various foods and the different places we have traveled to. I have also loved getting to know the other students here and learn, struggle and grow together. Although I miss America and the feeling of 'fitting in,' exploring China is the only way to satisfy my craving for understanding my birth place. And with each new experience, it helps me construct a better understanding of a place that holds a special part in my heart."
"Today, we learned about the cultural heritage and arrangement of Beijing’s traditional residential compounds, which are called 'si he yuan.' In class, we discussed the significance of the arrangement of the gates within the compounds and listened to audio files about more abstract ideas, like the sense of community within Hu tongs and the impact that the modernization of the city is having on these historical areas. After a feast of dumplings in the afternoon, we took the subway system to a small Hu Tong and put our lessons to use, asking directions in Chinese when we made our way to a museum and the White Pagoda within our class groups. While in the area, we asked local residents about their opinions on traditional northern Chinese houses, as well as the more modern apartment complexes in China. When we arrived back on campus in the evening, we began discussing our findings and wrote out our essays concerning our daily research topic.
In culture class, we all recreated a traditional Chinese painting of two small birds, eating summer fruits. Even though the “birds” in my painting looked more like blobs of ink, the final product was beautiful and the class was as fun as ever. We have already learned so much in under a week, and while my painting skills have not seen much of an improvement, I am already more comfortable speaking Chinese with native speakers. I can’t wait for our big weekend outing. I am very excited about the upcoming trip to a high school where will be practicing our Tai Chi fan dancing."
"Today was once again filled with many activities and enriching experiences. My friends and I started the day by eating at Caffe Bene, which is the coffee shop across from the campus. Unfortunately, the girls ordering before us, who I can only assume are students at Capital Normal University, did not speak any Chinese whatsoever, so my friends and I had to help them order. This was difficult because we did not want to break the Pledge, while also wanted to get their orders correct (it’s hard enough to get our own orders in). This afternoon, our class visited one of the many Chinese alleyways called 'hu tongs' to learn more about Beijing’s history. In the Hu Tong, we went to a store where I bought an egg. Now when I say egg, it was not like anything we had ever seen before; it was brown, had no shell, came in a small package and, when we opened it, sauce spilled all over the place. Two of our classmates tried it; one really hated it, but the other actually enjoyed it. We had a good laugh about the experience and I am glad that we visited a place that, in America, would probably be deemed unsafe and strange, but in actuality, it was filled with Chinese culture and history."
"Every day, we have two classes: Chinese class（中文课), and a Culture class（文化课) of our choice. I signed up for Chinese brush painting for my culture class. Those of you who know me understand the hesitance with which I approached this class; I have an appreciation for art, but no talent. I was pleasantly surprised then, when Monday afternoon, the painting our teacher helped us paint turned out reasonably well. It was, of course, the easiest kind of Chinese painting, a Southern Chinese style house in the spring, but I was pleased nonetheless. That does not mean that I am good at Chinese brush painting, as Tuesday’s painting I couldn’t bear to look at after we finished, merely not as talentless as I had always assumed!"
Another day abroad, another day of enjoying full-immersion. Students are making the most of their time in China—when they return home, they'll have a multitude of stories to share with everyone!