Two weeks into the second semester and normal blogging has resumed.

New people: Or “fresh meat”, as us old-timers like to call them. It’s doubly strange that a load of our friends have left and newbies have arrived. They’re going around like I did when I got here, and being reminded of the beginning makes me see how far I’ve come into my year abroad. And also how much I’ve adapted to life here. I know the in’s and out’s, which bars are good, where to eat, the smog ( it has returned ) is no surprise, though still unpleasant as ever. It makes me realise how normal Beijing life has become. I’ve been feeling a bit reflective and slightly homesick ( probably hitting the halfway mark made me feel that way ), so expect a profound retrospective piece about my expectations about China and my arrival and all that.

Back in the canteen

Class: Has begun again. I’d forgotten that you have to preview all the texts and lessons, and then review them all. And the classes for this semester are significantly harder. I’m ducking the teacher’s questions like they’re bullets.

Fun with Chinese: Even though class is back on, I’ve been playing around with “foreigner+Chinese language” outside of class and surprising people. When someone starts talking about me on the metro, I turn around and say “some foreigners can speak Chinese, you know”. There was once a girl staring at me, so I asked her if she could speak English and where she was from, and then I told her I was a Beijinger, with my best Beijing accent. She didn’t believe me.

Shaun the Sheep: Talking of the metro, on Line 13 ( our nearest line, represent ) there are screens which play episodes of said stop-motion farm animal.

One of my campus skating spots

Being British: When I say I’m British, and especially when I say I study in Manchester, the first question is always about football: City or United? Most people seem to like United, and I tell them I’m not into football, at which point I am required to produce my passport and prove my nationality. In that regard, I am constantly letting down the stereotype of my people, which is clearly known the world over. But that’s me, breaking the mould since 1995. On a separate occasion, when I went hiking on the Great Wall with a group of Europeans, they took one look at me and said: “You’re British, right? You’re going to get sunburned.” I did.

Skating: When the air’s clear, I’m back on 8 wheels, you’ll all be glad to know.

Adam: Came to Beijing. I think he found the whole thing quite overwhelming. He asked, “How do you manage with this every day?” But I’ve been here for 6 months now and I’m used to it. We blitzed around Beijing at my pace: Wudaokou, Tiananmen, Wangfujing, the Great Wall, Hutongs ( + a lot of gin ). He did good, and to his credit, he could actually use chopsticks pretty well by the end, after he stopped trying to spear whole pieces of chicken. So uncivilised.

Been 3 times, the Wall is still great

General knowledge: Recently learned that there are lots of universities in this area ( Wudaokou ) because this is where lots of eunuchs got buried and dead eunuch vibes can help students to achieve better. Or something. Maybe the person who told me that was having me on.

Finding myself: Didn’t know I was lost.

Much more to follow.