So it happened. Our first storm arrived only eight days in, and God was it amazing. The storms here are just such a beautiful thing. The crashing noise of thunder setting off every car and scooter alarm in the city, the laughing cries of those caught in the drenching rain, the odd scream of fright after each rumbling crescendo. I love it. I love the way the flashes of light cascade across the tall buildings and brighten the dark clouds.  The air gets colder, roads become rivers, and people splash through the streets to escape the heavily falling rain. Standing in one of these storms truly makes you feel alive, and all you can do is smile. Some may not like thunderstorms, but if you’re not afraid of a little lightning and rain, then it’s one of the most amazing experiences, even though it’s just nature reminding us who’s really in control. I could sit on the window sill and just watch it all night if I wasn’t so tired. I just can’t express how amazing it is to watch.

Back tracking a little, we met up with one of our teachers back from my home uni who has now come back to work at Beijing Language and Culture University. He invited us to go to dinner with him and his daughter, and even found and treated us to the most tasty meal at a vegetarian restaurant, which made one veggie in our group very happy. At the Tianchumiaoxiang Vegetarian Restaurant we got to try many different vegetarian dishes, loading up on tofu, mushrooms and dumplings! We also tried jujube and hawthorn tea, which is an interesting combo of sweet and sour. I wasn’t too fond of it, it was like nothing I had ever tasted before and the sourness was not too much to my taste, one of my friends really liked it though. The meal overall was amazing (很好吃!). We got to try many different dishes, and we were all stuffed by the end of it. It was great to ask them both questions about the local area, about the university, and the best places to visit in the area. I was directed to a Japanese clothes shop in the U-Center that had larger sizes, as all the clothes are so small here, an import supermarket with products from the UK and America, and also a local supermarket where many of the local people from Wukaodou go to get food, toiletries and so on. We were also shown a nearby cinema that show films in English with Chinese subtitles that I am very exited to go to! (I wonder if they do popcorn here? Or is that a silly question?) It was a reassuring break to know that there were people we knew close by who were willing to help us if we needed them. It was good to see a familiar face.

I’ve been here for exactly one week now and I’m slowly getting into a routine. 8:30am classes are still pretty difficult for my jet lagged brain though. They are made even more difficult by the fact the lift queues are always so big that I have to take the stairs to the fifth floor to make my class on time. I’m starting to think I’m going to have to leave at least half an hour earlier if I want to get the lift. Or just start doing stretches on my way to class to limber up for the long climb. My desk buddy now asks “the stairs again?” when I eventually come in panting and slightly pink. I tell her the cardio is probably good for me, I’ll likely come home in January with super toned legs. This does not however mean that I’ll be getting up for 5am tai chi (technically it’s tàijí 太極, but I’ll try not to be pedantic)… Or maybe not just yet… I mean you have to do it at least once right? Who knows, maybe I’ll get really in to it and get up at 4am every morning to go do tai chi before class… Wishful thinking? I’ll probably just keep to the stairs for now, build up to it…

We have Thursday and Friday off next week for Mid-Autumn Festival.  It’s a festival celebrated on the full moon on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, for families to get together and shares moon cakes (round cakes made of hard pastry shell and usually sweet bean paste or lotus seed filling, often with decorative patterns pressed into the top), celebrating the reunion of family (originally gathering crops) and wishing each other longevity and good fortune. I won’t pretend to know loads about it, but it’s such a beautiful sentiment to bring families together for such a big celebration. I’ll have to buy some moon cakes and celebrate. Sadly I won’t be with my own family, but I shall be thinking of them. I don’t wish to count down the days till I’m home, because that would be wishing away the precious time I have here, but I do  miss my family and friendsmore than anything. It’s strange, I know they are all there for me, that if I need them they’re only a message away, but I find myself really just wanting a hug from them. Not long really though, and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of hugs once I’m home again. (Okay, I’ll stop the soppiness now, I don’t want to make myself sad.)

Anyway… Back to the titular storm. It was an exciting moment when it first started. I remember seeing it for the first time when I was in Beijing in 2011. At the age of 14 I looked out my window and saw the largest flash of lightning I had ever seen. And literally as it flashed and the thunder rolled in just after it, the skies opened and the rain lashed down. I’d seen nothing like it ever before. Yes, there are storms in the UK, but nothing like this. I was so excited coming back just to see it again. I’m not quite sure what it is about a big storm. But if you go and stand under some open shelter, feeling the wind on your skin, and watching it all as it’s unleashed, you feel a euphoric sort of helplessness. You can’t control this raging storm, and you don’t want to. You just want to be there, be a part of it. The spray caught in the breeze splashing on your face, the crackling thunder echoing in the middle of all these tall buildings and rattling in your ears, all of it. It’s the most amazing feeling. If you come here and manage to see a storm, embrace it (be safe and try not to get hit by lightning, but embrace it).

So I think this is where I’ll sign off for now, after spewing some fairly random existential type stuff at you you probably want to go watch some awful comedy and wash it from your minds, which is totally fair. But just promise yourself if you do see a storm like that, you won’t ignore it (not that you probably could), go and have a look. If nothing else, it’s pretty cool to watch!

So this is the end of day eight, I’m Megan and I’m signing off from Beijing, where it’s rainy with a chance of monsoon. Goodnight all, and sleep well!

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