månadsarkiv: januari 2015

Last day in Tianjin

 

The main building where I had my classes, in the front there's a statue of Zhou Enlai with a quote that says: 我爱南开大学,meaning "I love Nankai University".

The main building where I had my classes, in the front there’s a statue of Zhou Enlai with a quote that says: 我爱南开大学,meaning ”I love Nankai University”.

And so my final day in Tianjin is here. I haven’t packed, I don’t know the way to the bus station, I’m just not ready to leave yet.

 

Me with my professor (the short one in a brown jacket) along with some of my teachers.

Me with my professor (the short one in a brown jacket) along with some of my teachers.

I’ve had my final presentation, it went well and now I only have a few changes left to make on my essay before I hand it in. I’m really going to miss my professor, he’s been so good to me and really concerned about my well-being. I got to say goodbye to my teachers and they told me I did well on my exams, which is a relief.

 

My very own Elephant

My very own Elephant

I decided to go to Beijing again for some last shopping. I went to Xidan and the 明珠Mingzhu market. There are not a lot of tourists in Xidan and I think I was the only foreigner there. The qualities of the copies are not quite as good as the ones in Sanlitun and Yashou, but it’s cheaper here. I managed to get three pair of Converse for 50yuan each and I bought some t-shirts, sweaters, sunglasses etc. The sales people here are very friendly and always want to have a nice chat with you. These past days I’ve been running around all over town buying things, visiting my favourite café’s and restaurants. The market in our neighbourhood is really good and everyone recognises us now, which not strange given that we’re the only foreigners living there.

At the tattoo studio

At the tattoo studio

Liza and me have been ordering a lot of things on Taobao, which is kind of like the Swedish Blocket or Tradera, only much bigger and better. The delivery is fast and you can buy things really cheap. One of Liza’s packages got lost though, they think someone took it, but she was compensated and a new one was delivered super quick.

On the bus, empty in the evening

On the bus, empty in the evening

The canteens on campus are closed and you can tell that most people are getting ready to go home, if they haven’t already left. I managed to get my tattoo, I decided on an Elephant. The place was really good and hygienic and they guy really professional. Did it hurt? A little bit, but not as much as I had expected. I have managed to buy all the things on my list and today I’m going to get my packing done since I’m actually leaving tonight. I will take the bus from Tianjin, it’s cheap and it goes straight to the airport. Next time I’m writing I’ll be writing from Sweden.

Claire, Payam and Katie gives La Bamba thumbs up

Claire, Payam and Katie gives La Bamba thumbs up

I met up with Payam, Claire and Katie one last time at our precious La bamba, I’m really going to miss them. Luckily we can still keep in touch on Wechat and Facebook. I’m really looking forward to having access to Facebook again.

I'll miss you guys

I’ll miss you guys

 

Until we meet again in Sweden,

 

Bye for now

Last weekend in Beijing. For now.

My last weekend in Beijing is coming to an end and as I sit here writing this, I’m waiting for Lindsey, who will come with me to the tattoo parlour for my very first tattoo.

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This Friday I met up with Si Gao who is working for the Swedish Environmental Research here in Beijing. We had a very inspiring conversation about the topic for my next project for them, this time it looks like I’ll be writing about Wetlands. She also wants to come to Halmstad University and look at some of the projects we have here. Very exciting!

The bar with it's very own loft

The bar with it’s very own loft

This time I was staying with my friend Beatrice and her boyfriend Ted, they lived on the 20th floor in a cozy apartment that just happend to have an extra guest room available, how fortunate. We went to have some dinner at a nice Hunan restaurant, before we headed to a bar named Revolution that is famous for its many posters of Mao Zedong and the frequent visits from embassy people. It’s a small place, but the atmosphere is good. After that we headed towards Guloudajie, which is a Hutong area that has a lot of nice bars. We were fortunate enough to geta ride from our friend Yuxin and this was the first time I was in a car that wasn’t a taxi in China, which would explain why I kept looking for the taxameter. We found a bar in one of the Hutongs with a nice loft that you had to use a ladder to access. We had a nice view of one of the old bell towers and walked around for a bit in the area before we went to the next place. Outside one of the bars the was a young boy of, I would guess 10, standing with a beer in his hand. He appeared to be very intoxicated and I couldn’t help but ask where his parents were and if he needed some help. Turned out he wasn’t drunk, he was just acting so that people would give him money. Sad, very sad.

Miriam and Yuxin

Miriam and Yuxin

On Saturday we went to have some hotpot at Lindsey’s place, we all helped to chop vegetables and prepare all the ingredients. What a feast! I finally got to meet my friend Tim, which I hadn’t seen for 3 years. He had just gotten backfrom Taiwan and is currently doing his Master in linguistics. In the evening it started snowing, which was quite nice, I really miss snow. We went to a bar (yes, there are a lot of bars in Beijing) called By the tree which just happend to be next to The tree to meet up with Ted’s friend and celebrate his birthday. All in all a very good evening.

Me and Beatrice

Me and Beatrice

Today I’m getting my tattoo and hopefully I’ll have time to do some shopping before I go back to Tianjin.

The "hotpot gang" at Lindsey's place

The ”hotpot gang” at Lindsey’s place

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LATERS!

Things are coming to an end

The exams are over, a useful experience, now I know what it’s like to take exams in China, how many people can say that? Only 1,3 billion…

second main building

second main building

The exams were very similar to exams in Sweden; only the actual test has a different layout. I’m not sure when I’ll receive the results, but there were only fifteen of us taking these two exams, so I’m hoping I’ll know before I go back home, which is next week, yikes! I’m happy that it’s over so I can focus on my final presentation. I’m going to Beijing this week to present my paper for the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, then it’s time to pick a new topic for my Bachelor essay, which might be the last essay I’ll ever write, who knows?

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Life in the new apartment has its daily pace; I go in to the city centre pretty much everyday, since there is no internet in our place, I’ve started to buy things that I plan to take with me back home and I also plan to send some things by air mail back to Sweden. It’s not super expensive and takes about a month. I feel like I’ll just come back with a lot of food and to be honest, that is what I’ll miss the most. I woke up this morning by fireworks outside the window, great. Turned out there was a funeral and to “celebrate”, they decided that fireworks at 7 in the morning were a GREAT idea. Fireworks are a Chinese “thing” and since we moved in here last Friday, we’ve heard fireworks go off twice and they’re pretty loud.

I'm really going to miss the food here

I’m really going to miss the food here

When I’m in Beijing this Friday I thought I’d get a tattoo, might as well you know? My friend Lindsey will accompany me and provide support, since this will be my first one. After that we’re meeting at her place for some homemade Hotpot. I also plan to visit one of the many markets in Beijing and buy some shoes and clothes. People often ask me if it’s cheap in China and yes, certain things like food and fake shoes and clothes, are really cheap. However, if you want the real thing, prices are pretty much the same as back home.

Big salads at La Bamba

Big salads at La Bamba

Laters!

Only in China

One of the expressions I use the most here is ”Only in China”, simply because a lot of the things that happens here, feels like like they could only happen in China. Take the picture of the peaches below, I’m pretty sure I would never see that in Sweden, but here, I’m not so surprised.

Only in China
                                                       Only in China

This week we had a goodbye party for Tarl and James since they are going back to England tomorrow. It’s always nice to meet up with them, they are really nice guys, I’m sad to see them leave. On Monday I have my final exams, after that the semester is finished. The weather is pretty cold again and a few days ago we actually had some snow, which is quite unusual, but nice. We haven’t had any rain since October, which is also quite unusual. I can’t really say that I’m looking forward to going back to the cold in Sweden.

The "gang"

The ”gang”

This week I went to my first basketball game, my friend Ping plays for the the team here in Tianjin. It was an interesting experience, I have never seen that many tall Chinese guys in one place and the crowd was going crazy. Basketball is quite a big sport here in China, mostly thanks to the famous player Yao ming, but it’s not nearly as big as badminton or table tennis. My friend Ping used to play professionally in Greece and in the States, but now that he is ”old” (30 years old), he decided to come back to China. The game was good until a fight erupted between players. Ping tried to break them up, but in the end he was the one who got suspended for eleven games! Not a very fair decision if you ask me. What sort of snacks did they serve at the game? The usual meat snacks and hot dogs of course.

Claire and Tarl

Claire and Tarl

More next week!

We’re moving out

This week was the week when me and Liza packed all our things and said goodbye to Jingyuan hotel. It felt kind of sad, it’s been our home for the past four months and we have really liked living there.

Last day in our room

Last day in our room

Liza packing

Liza packing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liza’s boss just happend to have an extra appartment available and told us that we could stay there for free, which suited us perefectly, since none of us have a very stable economy at the moment. We rented a minibus for 80 yuan and left our beloved Jingyuan for new unknown territory. None of us knew what to expect, since we hadn’t seen any pictures of the apartment, but as it turned out, it was a really nice place and the so-called ”tiny” apartment, was actually huge with two bedrooms and  a huge livingroom. It was pretty dirty though, so the first step was to clean it. Now it looks nice and clean and I feel kind of sorry that we’re not going to stay here longer. It’s quite far from the city centre, so now we have to take the bus, but that’s ok and there are a lot of nice shops and restaurants in the area. It’s nice to see new areas of Tianjin.

Goodbye room 109

Goodbye room 109

Jingyuan hotel

Jingyuan hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first day in our new neighbourhood, we decided to find a pace to eat. We managed to find a restaurant quite close to the appartement and it didn’t take us long to figure out that there aren’t many foreigners living in this area. The waitress told us, after having her picture taken with us, that we were their first foreign guests. In the market people stare at you and want to say hello, which I don’t mind, they’re always very friendly. I’ll be so relieved when the exams are over, I just want to enjoy my last two weeks here. You can tell that most of the exchange students have gone home over the holidays, the hotel was quite empty.

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View from our balcony

View from our balcony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it for now.

Everyone is going home, except for the Chinese and me

If you are an exchange student, congratulations, your exams are done and now it’s time to go back home. This week a lot of people have left and next will be pretty much the same. Everyone is leaving except for the Chinese, and me.

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Yoga class

That is the way it is here, at some point people are going back home, doesn’t matter if they’ve been here for one year or five years, at some point you go back home. It seems that China isn’t a place where you settle down; it’s a place where you spend a certain amount of time before deciding what to do next. This week I had lunch with Lisa and Steve from Australia, both of them are going back home next week. They had originally planned to stay longer, but felt that they needed a break and breathe some fresh air. I must admit I feel I need a break as well, I get annoyed easily these days, it’s enough if someone just looks at me for a few seconds longer than necessary for me to roll my eyes and become annoyed. I guess I’m tired of not blending in, but the thing is, you can live here for the rest of your life and never blend in, you will always stand out. Anyway, it was nice to have dinner with Lisa and Steve, it’s interesting to hear about Australia, apparently it’s 44°c in Perth at the moment, which I cannot even imagine what that feels like. Tomorrow we are going to have a massage and do some KTV one last time.

New rules

New rules

After yoga class on Thursday, I met up with Andrew, a new friend of mine from Russia. He lives right at the centre of Tianjin on the 26th floor, in one of the many skyscrapers here. He told me that you can rent an apartement here for just two hours, you know, if you have someone you want to meet wit in secret, he winked at me. About 30% of the apartments here are used for that purpose. Anyhow, we later met up with some of his friends and headed for Sitong. I was the first one to go back home, so I missed all the drama, but apparently one of Andrew’s friends punched one of the bouncers in the face and ended up in prison. I whish I could say that is uncommon, but unfortunatley not, it happens a lot here.

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Liza has been having some problems with one of her new bosses at work, apparently she coms up with new rules everyday that they have to follow and she showed me one of her latest notes given to her about sick-leave. Apparently you have to call in at least one day before to let them know that ypu are sick, but as Liza tried to explain it, you don’t really plan when you get sick and therefore it’s hard to let you now in advance. Now Liza has been suspended for two days for talking back to a superior. It just seems crazy to me.

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I’ve seen some funny signs lately with some strange spelling, enjoy!

Last day in class

This week I had my last lesson, the teacher spend some time prepping us for the exam, giving us pointers on what to focus on etc. I didn’t really realize until I had left that that had been my last lesson. The next time I ’ll see my classmates will be on the actual exam. Only 9 days left to go… 

When the air is not so good.
When the air is not so good.

I’ve been doing a lot of studying lately, so the majority of this week has been spent indoors, locked up in our room. My friend Claire just got back from Haerbin and the ice-festival there. Apparently they had had -18°c some days, so she was relieved to be back to Tianjin, where the temperature is currently 2°c.

When we have APEC-blue sky
When we have APEC-blue sky

This Wednesday on my way to school, I passed by one of the many apartment buildings on campus only to discover 20 fire fighters standing in one big circle with very grim faces. Of course I had to stop and see what was going on, I mean, who wouldn’t? Suddenly half of them ran towards on of the entrances and started banging on one of the doors, while the others broke one of the windows and jumped in. About 5 minutes later, they pulled two men out of the window; apparently they were burglars, caught in action. I could hear one of them saying; -We didn’t do anything, we didn’t do anything, but it looked like they were not about to let them off that easily. What struck me as odd was that it was the fire fighters and not the police making the arrest, is that really their job? Multitasking? Anyhow, the burglars were arrested, placed in the fire truck and most likely hauled off to the police station. No one seemed to care about the broken window or taking any sort of measures to let the owner of the apartment know what had happened. I continued on my way to school just as usual after that.

The Chanel bag

The Chanel bag

Later that same day, at Starbucks, I was going about my business as usual, when a woman took a seat next to me. I didn’t really pay much attention until, she started placing napkins on the chair opposite of her, eatly plaving them all over the seat. She then took her Chanel bag and placed it with great caution on the middle of the seat, whiping it off one extra time with a napking, before sitting down to have her coffee. When her husband joined her a bit later, he was forced to find another seat.

Bye!

It’s 2015

It’s 2015 and I’ve started preparing for my final exam. I asked my classmate how many exams she has this semester and she told me she had 13 (!) final exams, meaning during two weeks time she has exams  pretty much everyday. Rather her than me.

Chinese medicine has always interested me, so me and Lize decided it was time to try the very famous 刮痧 gusha, which is supposed to be good for your health and cure colds. I had never tried it before and didn’t really know what to expect, I knew my back was going to look like one big red bruise, but that was about it. When it was time, they started scraping my back with a wooden comb, quite hard, for about 15 minutes. Trust me, that was 15 minutes to many. It wasn’t extremely painful, it just wasn’t a very nice feeling. They told me that since it was my first time, I would be very red and sore the day after, but they also told me that my cold would be a lot better. The next morning I did indeed, feel like I had a lot of muscle ache and my back was red, but I felt cured, no cold whatsoever. So, was it worth it? I would say yes, yes it was worth it, but the first time is the worst time, after that it gets better. We also had a foot massage and that was nice.

Guasha

Guasha

The weather continues to stay at 2-3 degrees, so it’s quite pleasant. The air has gone back to being quite bad again, but at this point I don’t really care, I’m going home soon. However, I think it’s a good idea to do a health check when I get back, it will be interesting to see how my health has been affected after 4 months in China. Not sure I want to see the results.

Lindsey with her new nails

Lindsey with her new nails

Today Aude left for Japan, Claire left for Haerbin and a lot of the exchange students are going home next week. For the Chinese, and me, the semester does not end for another 2 weeks, but that’s ok, it’s just how it is. I guess I’ve sort of adoped to the Chinese spirit a little bit, things just are, no point in questioning everything, too time consuming.

Aude standing on Houhai lake in Beijing

Aude standing on Houhai lake in Beijing

 

Bye!

Houhai

Houhai

New Years in Beijing 2014

Happy New Years everyone!! A new year with new possibilities, new people to meet, new places to see and things to do, 2015 will be a great year.

Liza and Valeria on new Years

Liza and Valeria on new Years

On the last day of the year, the Chinese department had arranged a show in the main building on campus. Preforming was all the students studying Chinese, from beginners, to advanced level. There was singing, acting, rapping, comedians, you name it. Eventhough my major has not been Chinese this semester, I still participated in some of the lessons and I have to say, the teachers here are really great and inspire their students. They really like teaching and you can tell that the students were enjoying themselves. My roommate Liza participated with her class and gave a great preformance as an hairdresser that didn’t know how to cut hair. After the show me and Claire took the train to Beijing to celebrate New Years in the capital.

Handing out diplomas

Handing out diplomas

Aude and her collegue Paolina were going to the Opera in Beijing to watch a ballet preformance, so me and Claire went to a Belgian bar named: Beermania. Claire being from Belgium was quite excited and their selection of beer is quite famous. Aude and Paolina joined us later and together we then proceded to Lugas, a mexican restaurant and bar, to meet up with the rest of the gang. There was a lot of people in the streets, everyone was going somewhere. It was crowded everywhere, but in the end we found a place called ”First floor”, a nice little bar where we stayed for the rest of the evening. Good music and good company=a very successful New Years.

Everyone was there

Everyone was there

The day after we were all a bit tired, but since the Chinese don’t celebrate their ”real” New Year until 19th of February, it was just another Thursday and people had to get back to work and school. I have never celebrated the Chinese New Year in China, but I hope I will at some point, it’s supposed to be amazing with fireworks everywhere. Maybe next time.

Dancing preformance

Dancing preformance

Bye!