Another slice of the daily life of an exchange student in Beijing.
Dreams coming true: I’ve always wanted to be able to understand someone talking about me and reply appropriately to give them a right shock. The other day I was riding the metro and one of a group of lads pointed me out and said, “Look, a foreigner”. I said in my most flawless Mandarin Chinese accent, “the foreigner can understand what you’re saying”. They laughed. Then they were silent.
Exams: The pass rate in China is 60%. Suffice to say I landed the right side of the line, if only just.
Eating alone: I’m not sure whether it’s being a foreign student in general, or being in China where this seems more acceptable, but I am now very comfortable eating alone, even in restaurants. As a foreigner, everyone thinks I’m weird anyway, so eating alone doesn’t make much difference on that front. In addition, people in China tend to do more solitary food consumption. Also, sometimes I am more sick of Chinese food ( see below ) than I care if anyone will join me for a meal, so I go alone in search of treats ( normally burgers/pizza/pasta/something not drenched in oil ).
Chinese food: Is good, and I do enjoy. But I’ve been eating rice most days for the last 9 months, and I could really do with a Yorkshire pudding, or a trip to Greggs, or just a mug of gravy. I’m so sorry China, your food is good but I’m sick of it.
Getting ripped off: In a cab the other night. It’s a counterfeit banknote scam that happens even in official cabs. Let’s just say that I’d heard this was happening and still got caught out, and that’s enough detail. The wounds are still very raw. It is not something I feel comfortable laughing about just yet.
Rain: Is a rarity. It’s so dry here that you often get static shocks just off pressing the lift buttons. It’s a joy when it rains. I have been seen splashing through puddles and running through the standing water, until resigning to my British ways and complaining that “it always bloody rains”.
Chinese Banter: Is on fire. I regularly hold conversations with a friend of mine for a couple of hours, with the words tumbling out and the Chinese flowing and the laughs rolling. It’s a wonderful feeling, and doesn’t give me a headache like it used to.
Chinese Toilets: Realised that I hadn’t shared any photos of China’s infamous and widespread facilities. Although this looks like a sanitary abomination, I’ve been told ( and can confirm ) that a squatting to unload can be quite enjoyable. The Chinese sign on the left says “A small step forward, a big step for civility”.
Post: Seems to take on a greater significance the further it has travelled. I love getting post, but equally I am crushed when I’m told to expect post that never arrived because it gets lost somewhere over Kazakhstan. I have lost faith in the Chinese postal system.
First of the last: I’ve had my last haircut in China. I still blunder through using monosyllables to describe the style I want ( more importantly, I can describe what I don’t want ). Now that there’s only 5 weeks of term left and my inevitable return, a lot of things will become “the last thing in China”. Before I come back in the future. Spoilers!