månadsarkiv: september 2014

Me, Zhou Ya and XunYing Xue

Mosquito bites

Mosquito bites:

Mosquitos, mosquitos, mosquitos, they are everywhere and every morning you wake up, you have ten new ones that itch and drive you crazy! In Sweden they tend to be gone by now, but here the season lasts longer, so my next plan is to buy some sort of mosquito net and place it by the window. I went to a Chinese pharmacy and got some lotion to put on and there they told me that they were extra poisonous this year. Great. I really like that pharmacy, there are only women working there and they are always so sweet and helpful, they really know how treat their customers.

I wrote before about our hotpot night and I wanted to elaborate a bit more on the subject. The guys were drinking beer and the girls were drinking tea. Apparently, according to the guys, Chinese girls cannot handle alcohol; therefore they should only drink tea. I must say though, I think Chinese guys aren’t that good at handling alcohol either, three glasses of beer and then their done for. At the end of the night the bottles were empty and all of them were speaking English. The girls informed me that even though the majority of them would have hangovers in the morning, none of them would miss their classes that would just never happen in China. I have seen people sitting in their pyjamas during the lessons, because the almost overslept and didn’t have time to put some clothes on. The rules are; if you are late, the teacher will deduct 3 points on the exam, so you really don’t want to be late, hence the occasion pyjamas outfits.

Yesterday after I got back from Beijing we went to play some badminton, or they played and I watched. They all say they’re not good at playing, but trust me they are. I’ve heard my professor is really good and that he sometimes joins them. I feel like the professors here do have a close connection to their students and it really isn’t as strict as I thought it would be. They really want to help us and make sure that our essays turn out really good. Today I’m having lunch with my professor and some people from Beijing that worked on the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, which is what my essay will be about. Apparently they are here just because my professor called and asked them to come and talk to me, all to help me get the information I need to write my essay. This week I don’t have many lessons so I will have plenty of time to get started and perhaps take a trip somewhere. Somewhere like Qingdao, where they make the beer, but we’ll see.

 

Ciao!

 

First week of lessons, wow!

Dear all,

Having just completed my first week of lessons in: Environmental Law & Managament, Industrial Ecology and picked a topic for my essay: The Three Gorges Dam, I know feel like I am finally starting to adjust to Tianjin.

My first lesson was this Monday and I arrived not really knowing what to expect. I was the only foreigner and with that came the usual whispers and curious glances which I am now, quite used to and usually just ignore. And then it began..wow! The teacher spoke really fast, lots of new words and I understood about half of it. I was not surprised. This is University level Chinese, it is bound to be difficult even for the Chinese. I know I have a lot of studying to do, but I am excited and it was nice to meet some new people. I got to know some of the girls, actually there was only 12 of us in this course, so I feel like I have a chance to get to know them a bit better. Most of them are around 20-22, so they are a bit younger than me, but they are very interested and want to know a lot about Sweden, which they most of the time confuse with Switzerland (everyone does), but that happens all the time here.

Later that they I had a meeting with my professor Zhu Lin and other students with the same major as me and we sat down to discuss what topics we had picked for our essays. Our professor was very helpful and came with good advice. I will write mine in English, but I am expected to write a summary and an introduction in Chinese, so I will have to put some effort into it. I will write about The Three Gorges Dam, a very controversial subject here in China, so I am looking forward to get started. Later in the evening we all went out for some Hotpot and I got to know the students a bit better. I rode a bike in the traffic for the first time, scary! I think I will buy a bike though, the campus is so big and it is easier to get around with a bike.

Yesterday it was my roommate’s birthday, so we celebrated by going to Starbucks of all places and had a cup of coffee and some cheesecake. There has been a lot of Starbucks lately, but it is so nice and quiet there, so it is a good study environment. I also joined in on some Chinese grammar lessons for the highest level students at the Foreign Languages Department. I feel like I really need some repetition and the teacher was really good, so I will try to join in every week from now on.

This weekend I am visiting a friend in Beijing that is working at the Swedish embassy in Sanlitun, we have not seen each other for a year, so it was nice to do some catch-up. Tonight we are having dinner at her place and later we are going to a club for some dancing. This time I will not upload any pictures, however, tomorrow I will give you all the juicy details and some nice pictures with that.

Until tomorrow!

chinese medicin

Feeling low…

IMG_4531It is hard for me to put into words how this first week here at Nankai has been like, I still do not have internet access, mainly because my laptop is too new, so the cable does not fit. I have spent hours trying to find a suitable cable and hopefully, by tomorrow, I will be in possession of one.  Wifi comes and goes, usually you have it for a few minutes, and then it is gone. I have spent hours at Starbucks or any other place with free Wifi and still the connection is barely acceptable. Forget Skype. So, a lot of frustrating moments and on Monday school starts. Lets just say I am in a bit of a state right now.

My roomie is really nice and has been really helpful showing me around, telling which busses I should take and where all the good supermarkets are. It took me about three days before I caught my first cold here in Tianjin, something with the air I can imagine, it is so dry and you constantly feel like drinking something. Yesterday we went to a nice little pharmacy and the ladies there were so nice and really helpful. They gave us strict instructions and told us to drink a lot of water and stay away from spicy food. Hopefully it will work. Right now I am feeling quiet low to be honest, I am sick, no internet (Starbucks again), away from home and I would give anything for just a quick look at Facebook. I really have no idea what is going on outside of China, let alone this campus.

It does not look like I will be having many classes, so I was thinking I would just listen in to some of the others, while not actually being registered to them. I also plan to participate in some of the extra curriculum classes that they have for foreigners learning Chinese here; some of it seems really interesting like “chinese medicine”. Again, I think the hardest part will be to make new friends, so I take every chance I can get and try to meet new people. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of Koreans here; Russians, Spanish and French people are also a frequent sight at campus. As far as I know I am the only Swede here and I do not know if that is a good or bad thing, right now I could have used someone from home to talk to, but at the same time, I am here to learn Chinese am I not?

 

Anyhow, until next time!

IMG_4510

Nankain University 2014

And so I have finally reached my destination: Nankai University, Tianjin and it got off to a shaky start.

When I left the hostel in Beijing I had decided to take a taxi in order to make things a little bit easier for me, however, there was not a single unoccupied taxi in sight, so in the end I ended up in the subway anyway. Having dragged two huge suitcases and a backpack through the subway (changing tracks twice), I arrived at the South Railway station. I managed to buy tickets and the short trip from Beijing to Tianjing went passed without any troubles. I then took a taxi and got to see some parts of the city and I liked what I saw. When we arrived at campus I was amazed of just how big it was, lakes, sports arenas, hotels, a hospital, several canteens etc. This was huge! My first step of this journey was done, next step: registration.

The registration process is always, and I mean always, a slow process in China. The only thing that is handled quickly is the payment. It turned out that they had not booked a room for me, so for a moment I actually thought I would be homeless, but they managed to get me a room in another dorm, so I was happy. I know live at Jingyuan hotel and I share a room with a girl from Ukraine, named Liza. She is super sweet and we get a long well so far. The room is better than I expected, a little bit tight for two people, but we will manage. I was lucky to meet to guys from France that introduced me to some friends of theirs and it feels good to already have some people to talk to.

 

Having settled in I then headed off to meet with my professor to discuss what sort of courses I will be studying,. Professor Zhu Lin teaches Environmental Medicine and was kind enough to sit down and talk me through how what some of the courses are like and which could be appropriate for me. In the end we decided on Environmental Law and a project of my own choosing. Het hen had one of his students show me around, a girl named Shu Ying Xue and I now know everything that is worth knowing about Nankai University.

The Internet connection is quiet slow, so it is taking a long time for me to write this, but it will have to do. Most people have VPN-tunnels so they can access Facebook and Google and I think I will get one as well. As I am writing this I do not even know who won the Swedish election!

That is all for now, but more pictures will come during the week.

 

 

 

forbidden city

Beijing, long time no see

So, after a long journey with a short stop in Doha, Qatar, I have finally arrived in Beijing. The weather is nice, about 25 degrees, but it feels like 30. My hostel is located in a nice quiet area, near the Lama Temple, surrounded by Hutongs (small traditional brick houses). Yesterday I took a trip down memory lane, visiting the first school I ever went to in China; House of Mandarin, at Dawanglu, South Beijing. Beijing, long time no see.

Dawanglu is a very fancy area, the buildings are modern and the stores are Gucci and Marc Jacobs and for a while, I thought this was what the rest of Beijing looked like. We lived in nice 20-store building and ate out everyday at the fooda park somewhere in Beijing court. Thinking back, I now realize I rarely came in contact with Chinese culture-or people, I never left the safe sphere of Dawanglu. Now when I walk the same streets I think back of all the good times we had, but I am glad my perspective have widened and I know really appreciate Beijing for being so ”Chinese”.

Today I went back to my old University: Beijing Foreign Studies University, just to have a look at the campus and see what had changed and if our old favorite places were still there. Some of my favorite restaurants were gone, but that was not really surprising, restaurants changes quickly in this area. It was nice to see my old student dorm; Bailou, meaning ”white building”, and I had a look at some of the newly built faculties.

Tonight I am heading for Sanlitun to meet up with some old friends that are now living in Beijing. Sanlitun is a bar-area where a lot of foreigners come to have fun and go clubbing. It is not my favorite area, but there are a lot of good restaurants and some cozy bars. Tomorrow I will try to find an indoor climbing place located fairly close to where I live, meaning I only have to change once in the subway. We will see how that goes..And on Monday it is off to Tianjin.

dumplings (jiaozi)

typical food served in north of China

It is tricky to find a place with good Wifi, but I have managed to find a café with fairly good connection, so I try to get as much done as I possibly can while I am here. As some of you might know, Facebook does not work in China, unless you have a VPN-tunnel, which I plan to get my hands on as soon as I get to Tianjin. Meanwhile I am dead to the world of Facebook and live out my life through this blog, lucky for you guys right?

LATERS!

Starting countdown

Having never blogged before I will try my best to keep things interesting for you and let you know all about my experiences in China. Everything from what they eat for breakfast, culture chocks, the University and what it is like being a Swede in this great nation far East. So, where exactly in China am I going then? Well, I am heading for the ”small” city of Tianjin, population 11 million people, closest city Beijing, half an hour away by fast train (and boy, they are fast!).

kinesiska muren 2010 och lite annat 170

First thing I did when I found out I was accepted, was to check if there was a decent subway-system, and fortunately, there is. Phew! Busses can be quite unreliable with no fixed time schedules. This will be my fourth visit to China, previous visits include two semesters of studying in Beijing and an internship in Shanghai, so as far as culture chocks goes, I am pretty well prepared. It does of course help if you speak the language, which I do, at least half-decent, but you can get far by just using your hands and make gestures.

The only foreigner in the class
This is the first time; however, that everything (lessons, projects, homework etc.) will be completely in Chinese. As far as I know, I will be the only foreigner in my class, let alone the only foreigner within the faculty, so I know I will have to study hard to be able to keep up. On the bright side, my Chinese will improve immensely, which is one of the reasons of my going there. The University is Nankai University, one of the best in China when it comes to Environmental Science, which is sort of my major, but more precisely Environmental Strategics. As to what I will be studying during my time there, is not yet certain, but it is leaning towards Industrial Chemistry and Environmental Law. I am so excited!

Swedish friends in Beijing
Going away alone can be quite scary, but I will not be completely alone, luckily, I have some friends in Beijing that I can turn to should I miss the company of Swedes too much. Though I will be staying in a dorm for exchange students, most of my time during the day will be spent with Chinese students and I am curious to see how that is going to plan out. According to my experiences, the Chinese are very friendly and helpful but it is a bit tricky to get to know them deeper as they are quite shy. I think this will be my greatest challenge, this and being able to keep up language wise in the beginning. I hope that I will manage to find a language partner that is willing to spend a lot of time rehearsing with me, after all, it has been three years since I was last in China.

Stay tuned for more news …