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.
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.
On my third week in Beijing now. A few more days and it’ll be the longest I’ve stayed in a foreign country. It’s so strange to think about really, how far away from home I am. Flying doesn’t help with that I think, you don’t really comprehend how far you’ve traveled, it’s all sort of a blur of films, sleep and plane food. Even so, here I am 4,928 miles away from home, just a bit further than my usual 268 miles when I’m back at uni… And, of course, with such a distance comes homesickness. I’ve always gotten quite homesick because I tend to spend a lot of time with my parents when I’m home, whether we are just watching movies, going on dog walks or late night chats, I always enjoy spending time with them. I told my mum last night that I was missing her and my dad a lot, her reply was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my little bout of sadness “That’s perfectly understandable. We’re awesome parents. Xx” She always knows how to make me laugh, even if I’m miles and miles away.
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.
After my first day of class I’m finding that I’m no longer so terrified of being here. For so long I just didn’t want to come, all I could think about was how much I would miss home, and miss out on what all my friends would be doing. Especially as many of my friends would graduate this year leaving me to make new friends in the year below. At the time this seemed so daunting: how was I supposed to make friends with people who had already forged groups and were probably quite happy as they were? However, I’ve been reminded how easy I find it to make friends, and so some of that worry has slipped away. Of course I will still miss the friends I’ve spent the last two years with, and my friends back home, and those also on their year abroad, but good friends will always stay with you, so again my worry seems to slip away a little there. And with all these stresses that held me back turning out to be not so stressful, I’m starting to see just how much fun I’m going to have this year.