Student Updates from the Beijing Academy!

Read these recent posts from our Beijing Academy students!

July 14, 2016

Read these recent posts from our Beijing Academy students!



The 14 hour flight to the Middlebury Language Immersion Program in Beijing was fine. Finally we arrived in the land of constant construction. Soon enough, we were on a somewhat soothing bus ride to the university. The Dorms are really nice. The food is good. The RA staff were cool. The food was definitely a change from what I’m used to back in the states. They took us to some great places. Oh man. Yes. They were nice. I really, really enjoyed looking at the architecture. I liked it a lot. Although I didn’t picture having homework and having to “attend class” (上课) I feel like my Chinese really has improved. Also, everything here is extremely cheap. A couple of my friends and I took a boat on the water, which I enjoyed.

During the first week, the language pledge was extremely difficult to keep up with. I felt like I was constantly embarrassing myself in front of my teachers and random Chinese citizens as they hit me with question after question. I enjoyed the strict school-like yet leisurely environment the program set up for us. I learned the lesson of needing to bring a debit card with me when I went out, and that was extremely inconvenient. Although I was always able to borrow money from other classmates. We saw some cool movies. I don’t like to play sports. The poor air quality here in Beijing really makes you appreciate what you have at home.  

I like this program so far, and I will be eating more and more delicious food here in China, as well as improving my Chinese speaking ability. About an hour ago we had this guest speaker come in and speak about Chinese pronunciation (发音), which I enjoyed. He was able to get his message across while being entertaining at the same time. 




Every morning at approximately 3:00 A.M. an incessant mechanical beast begins to awaken in the ventilation duct in the corner of my room. I have learned to ignore it and return to my deadened state of exhausted slumber. On this particular morning, I couldn’t quite manage this properly and ended up at the morning assembly, frantic, ten minutes after it ended. I managed to sprint to my class in time to get there before the teacher. In class we learned about the remarkable (and insanely confusing) aspects of traditional Chinese medicine. In a rather intuitive follow up to that lesson, we ended up in one of the most famous shops for traditional medicine in the entirety of China: Tong Ren Tang. For reasons that I will forever be baffled by, the store contained within its glass cases a small, rather ordinary, root worth approximately $13,000 (USD, not Yuan). I’ve never been in a room with anything that expensive in my life, so it was a slightly terrifying experience.

Following a rather confusing escapade through the little alleyways behind the store (the contents of which including, but not limited to, KFC fries, extensive Mao Zedong propaganda, and a surprisingly diverse selection of shapes made from sugar), we returned to the college, only to venture back out into the world for a hot pot dinner. The conversation therein consisted of many complicated and diverse topics that are too difficult to explain in any work of literature short of a Master’s thesis. We returned to the college to listen to a talk from a current Notre Dame professor of language, and following said speech I proceeded to write this blog post. As of the end of this sentence I have reached 358 words and have yet to begin my essay for class due tomorrow, so goodnight and goodbye.




It’s been a long and grueling two weeks. That isn’t to say that they haven’t been fun though. Rather than leaving me stressed, drained, and weakened, I feel inspired. Every day thus far, we have been to at least one new place. That alone may not seem stimulating, but I can say with certainty that the sheer amount of knowledge being forced through the top of my cranium is. The amount that these cultural excursions, language practices, and general living experiences have taught me is staggering. While at first all the new and exhausting experiences were just that, new and exhausting, they have by this point become the norm. The unrelenting pace of the program has slowed down to a tolerable speed, though in reality, it hasn’t changed at all. Rather, it’s the speed at which I am thinking that’s accelerated to keep up. I’ve seen things in person that no one from America or Australia or wherever you’re from has ever seen on anything other than the back of a postcard. That’s just the truth. I’ve learned things that not many people could have even dreamed of, and all in just two weeks. We’re not even halfway to the end yet. At this rate, with the amount I am growing to enjoy this experience, by the end of my time here I may find myself in an even more frightening situation than that of coming to this new and unique landscape of China: having to leave.