I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post something new, my classes have been quite demanding and there is so much homework every night!
So this week starts my fourth week here in Beijing. I feel like I've been all over the city and seen all the touristy sites, when in reality I haven't even scratched the surface. When I arrived, we were given a tourist map and a guidebook so we could find places to go that are not included in the CAPA ME program. I'm trying to plan a day trip to see the Peking Man site on the outskirts of Beijing, but trying to figure out the bus system in Beijing is frustrating and complicated. :(
I've been busy adjusting to my classes and have been out exploring a bit. The weather is still chilly and very windy, so I haven't gone very far from campus. Using Google Maps, I've found some parks around the area and when the weather is warmer, I plan to frequent them often. One thing I have yet to find normal about this place is that since school started, no matter what the weather is like, there are students out on the tennis, basketball courts and soccer fields all day long. They start playing around 9:30 am and there are continuously students out there until it is too dark to see anymore. The window in my dorm room faces the sports fields and I was amazed how much these students love playing sports. It's really motivational for me and helps me get out of my room and outside to go for walks or take a run around the track.
A few nights ago around dusk some of my friends and I were walking to a restaurant and happened to see a few older people doing Tai Chi in a park. They had some music playing and it seemed like a little bubble of peace in the middle of rush hour traffic and busy pedestrians. If I see them again, I may ask to join them. Today I got to have a taste of beginning Tai Chi, and it is not as easy as I thought it would be. We have an elective class, for no credit, to learn Tai Chi. We started with basic stances and stretches, then moved on to some slow, controlled formations. I don't know what anything is called because our laoshi (teacher) spoke only in Chinese. So I pretty much just followed his movements and those of the students around me!
Another thing that has surprised me is the amount of Chinese people that will approach me (not of Asian descent) and begin asking me questions in English about America my opinions of China. I had read that there are many Chinese people interested in practicing their English with a native speaker, but I in my mind I seriously underestimated that number. Some Chinese students will sit in our dorm lobby to wait for international students to come downstairs and will strike up a conversation. In the beginning I was trying to do homework in the lobby so I could get out of my room, but now I only go down when there aren't a lot of people down there so I can actually get some work done.
Saturday is our group trip to the neighboring city of Tianjin, so prepare yourselves for another onslaught of photos from that day trip!