Only six weeks left in China, and I’m starting to stress about all that comes with reaching the end of term, with the addition of figuring out how to get a year’s worth of things in one suitcase that must weight less than 35kg… It will be a great feat to say the least! Especially after visiting the Disney Store in Shanghai, I’m quite concerned about how much I will actually be able to fit into it. I’m also trying to fit more adventuring in before I leave. Since I last posted I’ve been to Shanghai and Tianjin. Both cities were amazing, though I have to say Shanghai was far more snazzy (snazzy? I don’t think I’ve used that word in a long time) as it had so many tall and beautiful buildings, and who doesn’t get wowed by seeing The Bund for the first time!?
This coming Thursday the temperature is supposed to go up to 38°C in Beijing, and as a Scotswoman I am not built for this kind of heat. As we edge into summer I have resorted to bringing a “ice cushion” (it’s basically a giant ice pack, but it has cute penguins on it) to class to keep me cool, and recently purchased a fan attachment that plugs into my phone. Yes, I am that weak. Thankfully I have plenty going on to keep my mind off the scorching heat.
I’ve almost forgotten what it sounds like, silence. In the hustle and bustle of Beijing, there quietness is hard to find. From the beeps, peeps, and hums of cars outside my window, to the whirl of my fan, there isn’t much quiet to be found around here. Purely the population size should have clued me in to the fact ambient noise was going to be constant, but there is a complete lack of lull at any time, day or night. Whereas in my room at home, it gets to about 8pm and the most noise I’ll ever get is a rain storm outside, and I find those soothing, so I’m kinda missing the peace and quiet at this point.
It’s been a few months since I’ve written a blog post, mostly because every few weeks when I start writing something, I end up deciding it isn’t good enough or just isn’t right. I may return to a couple of them and see if I can make anything from them, but for the moment I think I’ll just reflect on the past seven weeks back in China.
(Before I start, I’d just like to say that wifi has been super bad the past few weeks making it hard to do much online, so that’s why it’s been a while since my last entry. That and the fact I have exams and assignments due in two weeks time. However, you can all rest in the knowledge I’m still alive and working away in Beijing.)
I visited the Temple of Heaven (briefly) last weekend. I got a tad lost trying to find my way around and stumbled upon the exact spot I stood on five years ago when I visited as a school student as part of a Hanban/Confucius Institute Summer Bridge Camp. It was strange being back. It’s been so long since I was last there, yet I recognised it instantly. It made me think about how fast time passes, and just how quickly things we think will never end (dramatic pause) are over. I cross off my calendar every day and watch as my life ticks by. I wonder how quickly this will all just become another memory, a photo I look at and reminisce over. I may not be able to slow down time, but I can at least make the most of the time I do have.
So one question my friends and I keep asking ourselves, and each other, when going to pay for anything is “how much is this in pounds?” The constant mental calculation from yuan to pounds to figure out how much we’re actually spending is slowly becoming easier, but for those of you who don’t know, and are ready to go for a shopping spree in China, here’s a little guide!
The three main things I’ve found myself struggling with since I arrived in Beijing are food, temperature, and the language barrier. These things can sometimes make my day just that bit more difficult than I feel I can cope with. So finding new ways to cope in this foreign environment are more than quite important. I have started finding small pieces of solutions to the culture shock of being on the other side of the world, however I’m still trying to work a fair chunk of it out.