Kategoriarkiv: Okategoriserade

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.

IMG_0726

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

IMG_0758

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?

IMG_0713

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!

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!

The two American girls in room 8109

Apparently Liza and me are known as the two American girls in room 8109 in our dorm. Huh, guess we don’t exactly come across as European if you judge by the appearance, so I guess our English must be pretty good and have that American touch to it.

Sponge Bob cake!

Sponge Bob cake!

 

 

 

This week I finally handed in the first draft of my essay, now I just have to wait and see what the critics say and see if there is something that needs to be changed. I haven’t started to prepare for the finale exam yet, our teacher will let us know next week, which parts are the most important and give us some advice. The final exam will take place on the 19th of January and after that it’s the end. This week Claire and me went to Beijing to do some climbing a Olé climbing club, in the southern part of Beijing. Whenever you want to go somewhere in Beijing it’s quite a process, the distances are huge and it always takes more time than you expect. We managed to find the right bus and get off at the right stop, after that it was quite easy and before we knew it we had arrived. It was a Wednesday, lunchtime, so it was quite empty, which meant more space for us. It felt great to do some physical activity again and I realized how much I’ve missed it. We both knew how to do security checks, so we headed for the ropes and the really tall wall. It was great! After that we headed to my old neighbourhood Dawanglu 大望路, which was were I stayed my first time ever in China. It’s an area where a lot of foreigners live, a lot of expensive shopping malls and fancy apartments. We found a cozy café and relaxed before heading back to the train station.

 

claire is looking good

claire is looking good

Finding the right pose is hard
Finding the right pose is hard

 

As some of you might know, they don’t celebrate Christmas in China, but you can find some decorations here and there, mostly in shopping areas, but the greatest decoration of all I discovered when I was heading for school this Thursday; Snow! I was prepared to go without snow until I came back to Sweden, so I was quite surprised to see the ground all white when I stepped out in the morning. The Chinese were running around in the snow and throwing snowballs at each other. In the evening everything was gone. At least it lasted for a while.

 

Swedish young Professionals are hosting a Christmas Dinner in Beijing tonight, I’ve gone to it once before and it was quite nice, traditional Christmas food and a lot of interesting people to meet. This year, however, I feel I’d rather stay here and spend time with the people here. Sometimes it can be a bit lonely though to be the only Swede all the time, everyone else has someone from his or her own country to talk to. I feel like my Chinese and English is getting better and better, but my Swedish is getting worse. Hopefully it will come back once I’m home again.

It's getting cold

It’s getting cold

 

 

 

 

 

FullSizeRender-1 kopia 4

Sweet popcorn, one of my favorite street snack

Bye!

 

Let’s meet at by the big flower bucket at Tian´an men square.

IMG_0131

Tian´an men square
Tian´an men square
beautiful evening in Beijing
beautiful evening in Beijing

Another week, another trip to Beijing, it seems I can’t stay away. A trip to Tian´an men square and the Lama temple was on the agenda for the day, with a short stop in the Hutong area.

 This time I went with my friend Claire from Belgium, who works here as an English Teacher, teaching 3-5 (!) year-olds English. I could barely speak Swedish at that age, never mind English, but that is the reality of China today, everyone has their child take extra lessons after school. If you don’t do it, your child will surely fall behind. A child that is, let’s say, 9-years old, usually starts school at 8 in the morning and finish at 4 or 5 in the evening, then it’s time for extra lessons which usually lasts until 8, after that you go back home to finish the homework you didn’t have time to do in school. That is a long day for a 9-year old, Swedish kids really shouldn’t complain.

 Due to the one-child policy in China, most families only have one child, at least in the cities, which means that there is a lot of pressure on the one child to do well and with the fierce competition in China, you have to be the best in order to get in to a decent University. Often it is not enough to number one in your class or school, you have to be number one in your province if you want to get in to the top-5 Universities like Beida, Qinghua and Fudan, China’s Harvard or Princeton. As a foreigner it is hard to understand exactly how much effort you have to put into your studies in China. If you don’t make it, you face the harsh reality of disappointed parents and difficulties with finding a good job. Extra lessons are pretty much mandatory these days and weekends are spent preparing for next week’s lessons. However, once you make it in to the University, the workload actually decreases and students have some free-time to do other things, it’s just that the road to get there is long and difficult.

I have managed to catch a cold again and according to the Chinese the key thing is to drink lots of hot water, so that’s what I’ll do. If you ever have to visit a hospital in China, you actually have two choices, you can either choose to be treated with western medicine or you can choose to be treated with Chinese medicine. Should you choose Chinese medicine, they usually examine you, and then give you a list of herbs to buy and and a recipe to cook by yourself.  Every time I’m sick people bombard me with all kinds of advices on how to get well, everything from eating five oranges in the morning and five in the evening, to eating to apples, one kiwi and a glass of milk before going to bed, everyone has their own remedies. People still trust Chinese medicine more than western, but it is becoming more and more common to go to the pharmacy and ask for pills.

I now have  a private tutor that I meet twice per week, an hour at the time. I pay about 70 yuan per hour, which I think is ok, given that she has been teaching for 8 years and really knows what she’s doing. I also have a language partner, a really sweet girl from Lanzhou. She’s quite shy and doesn’t really want to speak that much English, which is good for me, but I try to help her the best I can. She asked me to give her an English name, I’ve never given anyone a name before (except for pets), so I definitley felt the pressure. We finally decided on Stella, easy to pronounce and not that common. I think the strangest name I’ve come across was a kid named “Boner”, which his English teacher quickly changed to “Bono”. I can just imagine people’s reaction when he introduced himself as “Boner”… On Friday I’m going to Beijing again, I think me and my friend will try to visit some new places and perhaps head to the outskirts of the city where there are actually some mountains. Since Beijing is surrounded by mountains, the pollution usually tends to be worse here than in Tianjin. I think I really need to buy myself a mask, you just don’t know how it will affect you in the long term breathing this bad air. My friends David and Lindsey are heading for Sweden on Monday, David is from the same town as me; Falkenberg, and we studied Chinese together in Lund. Now he is married to Lindsey and she is learning Swedish. First time in Sweden she ate rice the first three days, then she discovered kebab and now she eats it every time she visits.

A trip to the ocean

 

This is where the Great Wall ends

This is where the Great Wall ends

It’s true that you don’t really miss what you have until it’s gone, back home I don’t really go to the beach that often, but ever since I came to China I’ve been dying t

Promoting Nankai

Promoting Nankai

Temples for the goddess of the sea

Temples for the goddess of the sea

o see the ocean and now, during my fifth visit to China, it was finally time. Here is about my trip to Shanhaiguan 山海关and the ocean.

The day before I had gone to Beijing to meet up with my friend Miriam and have some dinner with her roommate and our friend Robert. We hadn’t really planned much for our trip, we just knew the time the train was leaving and that was it.  Important notice: You always need to bring your passport if you want to travel somewhere in China, you’re not going anywhere otherwise. We took the train at 7 am from Beijing nan (the south train station) and the journey was scheduled to take two and a half hours. There weren’t that many people in our wagon, so we could spread out and try to get some sleep, which of course turned out to impossible, since everyone else were talking loudly on their cell phones. So, since we couldn’t sleep, we talked and had some fun while looking at the landscape outside. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that good, it was quite foggy, but we hoped that it would be clearer in the afternoon. We arrived safe and sound and were immediately attacked by taxi drivers and people selling all kinds of souvenirs. In the end we got fed up and just told people we were going to Europe and if they didn’t know the way, they should just leave us alone. In the end we found the right bus and got of at the right stop. First phase was completed.

We arrived at a big entrance, bought our tickets and started walking around. The place had previously been a military defence post; there were still buildings left that showed what it had once looked like. The people were few, so we could take our time and just walk around and take pictures. The buildings were, to be honest, of little interest to us, so we headed straight for the ocean and the place were the Great Wall actually ends. The feeling you get when you see the ocean for the first time in a long time is indescribable. You just feel happy. Finally we could breathe some fresh air and dip our toes in the water. We were running around, shouting and jumping, guess I cannot blame Chinese people for thinking foreigners are crazy. We then sat down and tasted some local candy we had bought in a tiny store earlier, turned out it was a real jaw-breaker, so in the end we had to throw it into THE wall, in order to get some smaller pieces we could eat. We took a walk on the Wall and enjoyed the view over the ocean. We had actually planned to head for the mountain pass of the Wall as well, but since the weather still wasn’t good, we decided to head back to Beijing with an earlier train and leave Shanhaiguan. Like I mentioned earlier, it is practically impossible to sleep on trains in China, believe me I’ve tried. On our way back I ended up in a wagon with a guy who was singing to himself the ENTIRE journey, a guy who kept yawning loud enough to wake up the whole train, a guy who was watching a movie (without headphones of course), a group of people who were having a loud discussion about trains for 2,5 hours and finally but not least a woman who was snoring. Did I sleep? Don’t think so. When we arrived in Beijing we were both more than a little irritated and tired, the air was still quite bad so we pulled on our masks (mine bought just two days earlier, with a lovely pink colour) and headed home to sleep. It was heavenly.

 

The next day the air was actually good and the sun was shining, so we decided to walk around a bit and just enjoy the weather. We met with our friend Meiling at a Guangzhou restaurant, she and Miriam have decided to try food from every province in China and this time it was Guangzhou food. We had some fried lotus, meatball-looking tofu and pancakes with stuffing, tasty and well worth a visit. After lunch it was time to head back to Tianjin, so we said our goodbyes and I headed for the subway. While I was in the subway I saw the strangest thing; just opposite me there was a young couple sitting next to each other, now, the strange thing was that she was actually sucking on her boyfriend’s earlobe. WHY would you do that in the subway?? Nobody else seemed to think that this was a strange thing to do, which makes me wonder if this is something that happens all the time in the subway here in China? There really doesn’t seem to be any form of private life here at all. This little episode lasted until their stop came up, the girl simply wiped her mouth, tugged her boyfriend’s ear one last time and off they went. I’m too scared to think about what I will see next. What can I say? This is China, there’s never a dull moment.

Laters!

Miriam is posing

Miriam is posing

 

 

One BIG buddha, sleepy pandas and our very own ”pandaboy”

Me and Alex in 乐山

Me and Alex in 乐山

Hotpot in Chengdu

Hotpot in Chengdu

 

What a weekend! My first trip to Chengdu 成都 exceeded all my expectations and I finally got to meet up with my friend Alex or ”Pandaboy” as we call him, in the Panda capital of China.

I arrived in the afternoon with my first domestic flight within China, Tianjin airport is about the size of Kastrup, but really easy to navigate.  Alex met up with me in the city centre; it was great seeing him again and this time in his hometown. Chengdu is a big city, smaller than Tianjin, but there is plenty of people to go around. It is located quite far down south, to the centre of China. I was tired from the flight, so we just decided to walk around for a while and spent some time in the biggest shopping area in Chengdu. You can tell that Chengdu is all about pandas when you see a giant panda climbing up a department store wall and people walk around with panda hats.  We then headed for the Grand Plaza hotel, which was the hotel were Ditte and Stig were staying. Ditte and Stig had already been in Chengdu for a few days, visiting some Universities and doing some sightseeing. The hotel was amazing, and the toilets, wow! It doesn’t take much to impress me when it comes to toilets in China, it’s enough if it doesn’t smell and that there is toilet paper. These ones smelled like roses and there was plenty of toilet paper to go around. We decided to first have some drinks at the Skybar, the bar was located on the top floor and had a great view over the city. After that we went to a restaurant to have some traditional Hotpot, the Sichuan province is famous for its spicy food and pretty much everything has some amount of chilli in it. If you don’t like spicy, you can of course order food that is “not spicy” but trust me; you’ll still feel some heat. I shared a room at a hostel with three Chinese girls from Guangdong province, they were really sweet and easy to live with. At the hostel I met a group of Swedish guys that had been travelling by bike for the past few months, all the way from Sweden with final destination Thailand. I asked them: -Why Thailand?, they answered: -Partying. Right, seven months by bike, all just to party in Thailand. It’s all about priorities isn’t it?

The next day me, Stig and Alex took the bus to Leshan 乐山, a “smaller” city located about two hours away by bus from Chengdu, we were heading to see the famous Buddha. The thing about China is that, if you want to see some famous sights, try to do it during the week, not during the weekend, it’s always crowded. There was a lot of people there and we queued about an hour and a half to see the Buddha, but when we finally stood in front of it, it was all worth it, it was massive! It was also nice to see a little bit of the countryside, I had only been to big cities up till that point, so I was happy. The evening was spent eating sushi and drinking beer.

On my final day in Chengdu we had one last breakfast at the hotel, which has to be the most impressive hotel bre

akfast I have ever seen, my usual breakfast tend to consist of some instant oatmeal or fruit, but here, wow, I was in heaven. Ditte and Stig said their goodbyes and headed for Shanghai, while Alex and I went to see some pandas, after all, I couldn´t leave Chengdu without having seen one. They were adorable, so cute, but so sleepy. A few were a wake and laid spread out on the ground relaxing, while others were climbing the trees and rolling around. There are not many pandas left in the wild and all of them live in the Sichuan province. I was happy to see that they had plenty of space and seemed to live a good life, my previous experiences of zoo’s in China left a quite depressing mark. The pandas in Chengdu are well worth a visit , should you ever be in the neighbourhood.

A  real panda!

A real panda!

We had some lunch in the city and then went to an area with old traditional houses where a lot of traditional Sichuan snacks were made, Alex bought me a few to bring back to Tianjin and show my classmates what tasty snacks looks like. Snacks like dried tofu, peanut cookies, walnut bisuits and hairy dragon buns, were some of the many delicious treats the street had to offer. I then had to say goodbye, but I know we will meet again, hopefully next year when I’m in China again. Now I’m back in Tianjin and school is quite busy, but I quite like that, keeps me awake and focused.

 

Ta ta for now!

It brings good fortune to touch the belly of a buddha

It brings good fortune to touch the belly of a buddha

pink-wig-e1413945899885

mr buddha himself

mr buddha himself

Happy!

Happy!

 

Outside hotspring

Hot springs in Tianjin

IMG_4580Last weekend me, my roommate Liza and another girl from Ukraine took a trip to some hot springs just outside of Tianjin. It was a chance to discover the outskirts of Tianjin and breathe some fresh air.

Now, getting there was the trickiest part, we knew where to get on the bus, but the bus didn’t have a number and no scheduled arrival time, so we went there and then we waited. After 30 minutes a bus without a number arrived and what do you know, it was the right one. The buss ride took about an hour and we got to see what I first thought was the ocean, but turned oOutside hotspringut it was just one really big reservoir, with people fishing along the banks and just enjoying themselves. Turned out the hot springs wasn’t out in the middle of nowhere, but in a hotel. We were happy to be there though and Liza had even bought a typical Chinese bathing suit, meaning a dress-looking colourful thing that makes you look like an ice-skating ballerina.

Once we entered we where overwhelmed with the unlimited choices of hot springs to choose from. There was hot springs with beer, coffee, tomato, milk, pineapple, green tea flavour, all good for your health of course. You could choose to stay outside or inside the tropical greenhouse. My favourite was the mint and the apricot bath, it smelled amazing and the water had this green and orange colour.  The buffet was included, with a somewhat odd mixture of food, but it all tasted good. Then we had some massage and when it comes to Chinese massage, don’t expect it to be all nice and relaxing, no, no, they pretty much beat you up and when you leave you feel like you’ll have bruises all over, but in an hour or two, you feel super good and it’s all worth it. And let’s face it, for 80 Swedish crowns, you can’t complain. It is funny how people confuse Sweden with Switzerland, even after I explain that they are two different countries. To them there is no diffmy room-mate Lizaerence. I’ve been told I look Russian, French, Italian and American, never Swedish. Last week someone asked me if I was from Tanzania..must be my dark hair. After a nice relaxing day we then headed for the buss that took us back to Tianjin.

The pollution has been really bad lately, so bad I decided to buy a mask. not sure how much it helps though, but I feel better when I wear it. Tomorrow there are some people from Halmstad Högskola coming to visit me and Nankai University and next weekend we are meeting up in Chengdu to visit a former collegue of ours. Chengdu is in the Sichuan province, middle of China and it’s famous for it’s panda breeding reservate. I can’t wait, 30 degrees here I come!

Jinguan hotel, my new home

Latest updates

Jinguan hotel, my new homeStarbucks is a sacred place, this is where I come to study and to drink some nice coffee, it just isn’t the same in other cafés. Wifi is good and if you manage to find a Starbucks inside an office building, it is usually quieter.Top picture is where i live now: Jinguan hotel

Today is the National Holiday, meaning everybody is one the road traveling to visit relatives and old friends. Yesterday I went to Beijing, which was perhaps not the brightest idea, given that the holidays where coming up. I have never seen that much people in a train station before and now we’re talking about China. I’m surprised I even managed to get tickets, though I ended up leaving Beijing at eleven in the evening, everything else was sold out. I went to visit the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, a company that deals with wastewater treatment here in China and knows about regulations and laws to prevent pollution. My professor arranged for me to go there and help with a project of theirs, while writing my essay on the same subject. This is an amazing opportunity to see how things works here in China and it could open up a lot of doors for me. They seemed genuinely happy that I was there and asked if I was interested in doing an internship for them some time next year, yay!Hotpot

This week all lessons are cancelled, so now is the time to travel, except everyone does, so tickets are hard to get by. We are planning to visit some places outside of Tianjin and seize the opportunity to breath some fresh air. The air quality is better here than in Beijing, but I still find myself coughing and squinting with my eyes on the days where the city is covered in what looks like fog, but really is pollution. Tianjin is about two hours away from the ocean, you can take the subway to the end station and from there are busses going every hour. I haven’t really been around that much in Tianjin, most of the time I spend at campus or in its surroundings. There so many nice little restaurants and I already have my favourite 凉面liangmian cold noodles place and my favourite 麻辣汤 malatang spicy soup place, so cheap and so good. The best food is the street food, which is very different from home. You can buy like a hot sweet potato hongshu 红属,  congbing springonion pancake, some nice chuanrs , food on wooden sticks that is grilled over hot coal and then eaten with spices. So much nice food, so little time. I think I will havet o dedicate at least 2-3 more pages simply about the food here, there’s just so much that we have no idea about in Sweden. The Chinese food in Sweden is just not the same as it is in China; it is more like Thai food.

Another thing that you usually react to as a foreigner here in China are the toilets. That was one of my biggest concerns coming to China for the first time. Luckily I ended up living in a really nice apartment in a quite rich area, so we had a ”normal” toilet, however, if you need to use the public toilets in some hutong area, you are lucky if there walls between the toilets. Just the other day when I was sitting at a café doing some homework, I needed to use the bathroom and went to find it. When I entered all doors were wideopen and occupied by five chinese middleaged ladies that were having a pleasant conversation amongst themselves, as it was the most common thing in the world. I quickly closed MY door and when I got out they just looked at me and said: –Why are you foreigners always closing the door? That is so strange, why would you want to close it? Why indeed…I just smiled and walked out, not a discussion I felt I would win.

This Friday was my birthday and I celebrated that by loosing my bag with wallet and cellphone. Great. We went to the police and they were really helpful, but there wasn’t really much they could do, so now I am phoneless and cardless. At least I still have my passport and driver’s licence, so not all is lost. Other than that, we just had some nice sushi and cake. Tomorrow we are going to some hotsprings outside of Tianjin and I can’t wait, it’s about time I take a look around and do things.