So I am feeling really motivated and productive today, going to make use of this to finish everything that I have put back. I usually get like this when I’m nervous or excited about something. It helps clean up my mind or makes me feel great to start fresh. So here’s going to be a post of my Beijing life. Many have been asking if I’m happy, or if I’m used to it. Frankly, apart from staying alone and being able to go to everywhere I want since transportation is so much more convenient for me – everything else is pretty much the same. I’m not another person here so I don’t see why any drastic change would occur since I’ve only been here for about 5 weeks. Coming here to Beijing, I’ve seen people just letting themselves go and do whatever they want. It’s obvious they’ve never lived this life until they set foot in Beijing – hardcore partying acting like a douche.
I also don’t get to speak too much Chinese here because the community here in my building of international backgrounds and Chinese is definitely not their favorite tool of communication. We do speak it to each other sometimes though, especially to classmates because you tend to get used to the language with them. However, once you step outside the class it’s a different story altogether because you meet your new friends with English. I’m also surprised to have not met any Malaysians yet (I know theres 1 or 2 around) but I was expecting quite a community to be here. Not that I was expecting to be with Malaysians because that’s the last thing I want to do when I go overseas, I love my fellow Malaysians but I’m here for the international experience. I do get to hear the heartwarming Malaysian/Singaporean accent sometimes on the streets and I get a funny fuzzy feeling. I’ve gone up to 3-4 people just to say hello upon hearing the lah‘s.
I don’t know where should I start because I have been so far behind the journal. But I think I should just show you abit of this and that through the photos in my phone.
This was the line at the beginning of the term when everyone wanted to change classes (from afternoon to morning sessions, and from this level to that level). This is also the classroom corridor of my uni. I skipped 2 hours of class to stay in line! Good thing I did, because the line got SO long when classes dismissed. I was going to apply to upgrade my level by one stage and I was hearing all these horrible stories about the interviewers making the applicants read from the textbooks to pass the application. That’s horrible news because I couldn’t read anything besides 你 (you)，我(me)， 他 (him)，事 (case)， 是(is)， 很(very(，对不起(s9rry) etc. I sat down and panicked so I just blabbered everything in my mind, leaving her no space to let me read. To my surprise, she really didn’t – and let me through the application! What a relief!
Alot of them are not allowed to switch if they dont have a valid reason, and even if you really want to – you’ll have to look for somebody from the other session to switch. And some people just took advantage of that to earn a few more bucks.
During my first week, Yui also sent me all these AWESOME stuff that I’ve been using even up until now. Heatpacks and many other basic lifestyle things like plugs and such. I bought one a bag of 20 heatpacks and was trying to save on it because I heard weather wasn’t going to be warm that soon. Ah, brings me another topic to discuss about – I was all prepared for spring when I felt that the temperature was getting warmer. My phone app was showing me all these predictions of 15-17 degree . Indeed, one day it was so warm (not in the context of lovely Malaysia) I finally got to wear my sleeveless tops and cycle around with it. There was still abit of breeze so it was such a nice ride out – I cycled around campus for 3 hours at least!
The thing about Beijing weather is, it sometimes gets too polluted and when it does – there will be this huge sandstorm once a week where we’ll have really strong wind that moves things and slows us down from bike speeding. It sucks, because it gets SO cold but there will always be clear and blue sky the next day because the pollution would have all gone away with the wind. One day it got so cold again, and I predicted that there was going to be a sandstorm again (hoping for clear skies everyday) so I hopped in my room from the afternoon (I usually stay out and study till dinner) trying to get warm until the night when I have acapella (yes I joined the Tsinghua Acapella team!).
It was my first day trying to locate the place with Theresa, one of the members, who was trying to bring me to the practice room. I still remember that night, it was SO cold and it was raining for the first time ever since my arrival in Beijing. Cycling to the practice room was a dread because I didn’t know where it was and we were under the rain, and my hands were frozen and numb while trying to control my bike. I just had to shake the whole torture off by believing that there was going to be great weather tomorrow! Rain,wind and coldness – referring to the previous experiences, it always means good weather as I mentioned.
Acapella takes about 2 hours, so we quickly went into the building after parking our bikes to get warm. After the session, I was hoping that the rain would have stopped by then. Rain makes everything so dirty because the pollution’s so bad. After the rain that morning I found my bike in super brown water stains, looks like someone poured Milo on my bike. That was the case for the rest of the hundreds of bikes parked around me. Anyway, I went out of the studio after acapella that night to find that it was snowing! I was beyond shocked because I remember being in that sleeveless top not too long ago. Then I thought probably it was because it was too cold, so it snowed. The ride back was worst than my way there because I was cycling in falling snow, but it was also nice because I was cycling home with both my acapella friends and we all sang Disney songs together one the way back to our dorms on the bike. Feels like a movie! It was also secretly fun to have snow dropping on top of your nose. I didn’t like the cold, but I knew I wouldn’t have many opportunities to be cycling in snow once I get back to KL from Beijing. None, actually. As much as I hated it, I was secretly thanking God to have blessed me with such happy little moments that I could keep, remember and to share!
The next morning when I woke up for class, I could see the sun shine SO brightly and the sunrays were just peeking out from my curtains. AHH! Good weather today, I thought. So unlike the usual sleepy mornings when I feel so unmotivated because its cold, I jumped straight from bed and got so fresh immediately. Warmth, come to MAMA! Quickly I went to open up my curtains, I even had a giddy smile just waiting to come out when I see the sun.
When I did, I saw this.
WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT? Are you kidding me! This is literaly the view out my window. The branch with FULL OF SNOW. And everything out there was bleach white. I immediately wanted to jump back into my blankets. Then I realised the warmth I felt was all only imaginary, and it wasn’t warm at all. It dropped to such low temperatures the following days – up till today.
Beijing is a world of mystery.
This was also one of the better meals we had in the early weeks in Sanlitun. Sanlitun is a place of better food, and is also the place where alot of people go to club. There are half naked women dancing on tables, and people who walk pass these pubs can always just look into these places. Amanda first pointed it out to me when we walked pass. Such charity, I thought. Should show you more photos of Sanlitun the next time I go. Despite the fancy pancy things there, there’s this silk Market where you cut down prices 60% to 70%. It’s where all the fake stuff is – so if you ever want to get anything you can always go there.
Orientation hall before we started the semester to brief us on yadayada. Not everyone here is from the program, its just orientation for all the foreign students in Tsinghua University for all courses. I had such a hard time finding this place because this was so early in the semester and I had no idea where Building A,B,C or D was. I thought orientation was on this day so I spent about an hour looking for it and was rushing it so much because Orientation was supposed to be at 2.00 and when I realised it was time for me to leave the room, it was already 2.30! So I rushed and got so unsettled because I couldn’t find it and the people around didn’t know what I want because I had no idea what the Main Building’s name is called in Chinese.
Spent an hour looking for it in the huge campus (but it turned out to be only a 5 minute away cycle) and when I finally got there, nobody was able to tell me where the orientation was in that building. I looked for the place up and down in the building for another 15 minutes trying to call everyone I knew but nobody was picking up. When I was going to give up and head back home, I received calls from all them and they all told me the same thing – “Orientation isn’t today!”
Life of Natalie, but no surprise. I made it to the real orientation the next day, on time. And it only took 5 minutes at the back of Marian’s bike – because I still dint have any yet (which explains my hour-long search for the building)
I’ve been trying to keep up with all the vocabs that I’m learning so here’s a glimpse of my chart. I haven’t been updating it for so long because words get harder, I think by now I should have about 500-600 words that I should know. Not characters, but vocabs. Left the middle column blank so I can test myself. Even getting the slightest glimpse will help me cheat myself.
Here’s a peek of what happens in class. This one was when our teacher gave us a real menu off a real restaurant and our homework was to go through it and pick two dishes each. After that she’ll ask us why we chose those dishes and its so funny cause most of us chose the ones that’s easiest to read and write. Some also chose their dishes because they couldn’t read any character at all, so they were just giving it a shot.
When it came to my dish, she circles it and said “Hmm, this person must be a guy! All meat! Who wrote this?”
The first two people I met when I came into the class. This wasn’t supposed to be my class so when I sat in to try out I sat next to them. Angel and Shella are from Indonesia and they always get identical things when it comes to their posessions because its cheaper to get them that way. Its funny how they also wear it on the same day. They have the same pair of shoes, same bag, same bottle etc. Twins of our class.
Getting a cab to Nan Luo Gu Xiang.
I haven’t been to alot of places in Beijing, but so far this place (Nan Luo Gu Xiang) is my favorite of all. Mainly because of how it has so much food and quaint shops, it’s almost like Insadong of Beijing but this with more food. There were heaps of people on the day I went, but that didn’t stop me from hopping from one shop to another. I was so hungry! I think I probably spent about ¥ 100 on food alone in this place, too expensive for one meal but super worth it to try all the different things on the street! They even had churros with ice cream. Only ¥ 20 for 5 sticks of churros with a glob of ice cream – cheaper than the ones we got in Bukit Bintang for a ripoff.
Beijing has a lot of alleys, and they call it hutong (photo above). The one above is not Nan Luo Gu Xiang but one of the other hutongs that we went for breakfast before NLGX, which looks like the photos below. It isn’s exactly a traditional hutong, but still a kind of hutong – just very modernised.
Aaah! I have about 8 photos more and I will type so much more in one post, and you will not read everything if its a long one, right!
So far that’s Beijing (not really, I have quite a number more of stories to tell) for me if you have been wondering.I’ll move the rest up to the next one with photos of the snow from that horrible Sunny Curtain Disappointment Day. I’m rushing to get dinner now so I’ll update again soon (I hope I mean this!)