你好[Nǐ hǎo]! I have arrived at Peking University in China this week.
What a journey…I got lost on my first day, since I couldn’t find the student dormitories after my 20-hour trip and walked for about 45 minutes trying to follow the Google Maps GPS locator – my first and last time using Google Maps in China. After walking around for a while, I finally arrived at the dormitories with the help of a friendly old Chinese uncle who even attempted to carry my heavy suitcase to the campus. What a wonderful first impression of the locals in Beijing!
On my first day, I registered with the student administration office and checked off all the paperwork that needed to be done to get settled. I also met a few fellow Chinese learners who will be attending the same course as me in PKU. After the registration, I went to a convenience store nearby and learned that the Chinese have way a fancier name for yoghurt – namely fermented milk 酸奶[suān nǎi]!
The following day, I attended a campus tour to learn more about the history of the famous PKU campus. Our tour guide, a Chinese PKU student, was a bit shy to talk in English and therefore the tour was more of a walk through the campus grounds, which was also useful for orientation purposes. However, since I was still curious to hear about the PKU history from a local student, I decided to give it another try and joined another tour again the next day. This time, the tour was incredibly detailed and our new student guide walked us through the campus for 1.5 hours while explaining about the former imperial garden during the Qing dynasty until 1912, the last imperial dynasty of China, and the Wei Ming Lake as well as countless other sights and buildings non-stop – in Chinese!
Luckily, one of the Chinese students offered to translate the important parts we didn’t understand and so the tour ended up being a very informative experience. For instance, the PKU library is one of the biggest in Asia and the world and has more than 8 million books!
A few days later, I went to the National Art Museum of China 中国美术馆[zhōng guó měi shù guǎn] with a new friend, we met when I asked her for directions the other day and she kindly walked me all the way to the bank. The museum was impressive and featured all kinds of traditional and more modern art pieces such as Chinese calligraphy and paintings that looked like photos. This was a great way to learn more about the art history and developments in China.
This Week’s Odd Discovery
I would like to share surprising, unexpected or odd things that I experienced in China from my mostly western-culture-influenced perspective with you.
One of the surprising discoveries I made in my first few days in China were the moving advertisements (zoetropes) on the walls inside the Metro tunnels and the KTV [karaoke] booths made out of glass inside a huge shopping mall as well as all mail packages that get delivered on the streets! From a European-perspective, these Chinese practices of advertising, entertaining and delivering mail, seem rather unexpected and are so exciting to discover!
So far, my first week in Beijing was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to explore more parts of the city and start my Chinese classes next week.
See you later ~ 回头见 [huí tóu jiàn]!