Sophia Jin '15

At this point in time, we are already almost halfway into our semester, and time just flew right on by. For the CET Spring Intensive language in Beijing semester students, there’s only 1.5 months left. Although i’ve only been in China for four months, I feel like i’ve been living in China for a few years. My mind functions 100% in Mandarin Chinese now. Sometimes, Chinese words come quicker to me than English words.

It’s also at this point that I want to bring up this quote:

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”

A lot of the students, myself included, have been feeling a bit homesick lately. It’s definitely a lot of pressure to be speaking in a second language 24/7, and the pollution in Beijing has been quite harrowing. We have all settled too comfortably into our daily Chinese lives that we forgot to grasp the present and explore! Even though you can learn from the past and you should most certainly plan for your future, most of your time should be spent living in the moment. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons i’ve learned being abroad. We waste so many days waiting for the weekend and so many nights wanting morning, but you get the most satisfaction from what you’re currently doing – true happiness occurs at the present moment.

Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

P.S. I’ve been chosen to be a Student Correspondent for my Beijing program, so i’ll also be blogging for my program here!

Last weekend, our school took us on a weekend trip to Hangzhou, a city in China’s Zhejiang Province. All of us students and our Chinese roommates boarded a 16-hour night train to southern China. Half of the time we were sleeping, and the other half was spent chatting and playing games. Our favorite during the train ride was Mafia. The roommates taught us the Chinese way of playing it, and we taught them the American way. The real difference was that the way that we played it was with a storyteller telling a story when somebody got attacked by the mafia players. In the end, we mixed up our two different versions and created our own little twist on the game. It was really exciting to play this because you really needed to rack your brain and try to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s lying; when it was time to pinpoint the mafia, the discussions got extremely intense. It was also very funny hearing everyone argue in Chinese.

The five main places we visited in Hangzhou were 西湖 xīhú (West Lake), 灵隐寺 LíngYînSì (Ling Yin Temple), 飞来峰 Fēiláiféng (Flying Peak),  the Bamboo-lined path at Yunqi, a Tea Leaf planting area, and Qinghefang Ancient Street –where our hotel was located.

Walking around the West Lake was probably the most memorable part of our trip. The park around the lake is huge, and there are 10 different tourist spots that you can visit. There wasn’t time to visit them all, but one very important one was ‘Three Pools Mirroring the Moon,’ three stupas staked in the lake. It’s the scene pictured on the Chinese 1-dollar-bill/yuan!

1rmbb

This is the back of a 1 yuan dollar bill

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My failed attempt at taking a photo with the bill + stupas

The park that the West Lake was located in was HUGE. There’s so much to see in the park! At one point, we rode a boat to another side of the lake, and at another point, we decided to take a break from the park and rent bicycles and ride along the perimeter of the park. I was really just following one of the roommates around, the lake was too big for me to figure it out on the map.

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Seeing clear blue skies and green trees was a nice change from Beijing’s city pollution scene

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Tons of boats were being rowed across the West Lake

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My friend took this photo while we were waiting to board a boat

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Another mini-lake in the Park. Tons of wedding photos were being taken here!

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Flowers everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We climbed up to a high tower to see the sunset across the West Lake

We climbed up to a high tower just in time to see the sun setting against the West Lake

I really love being outdoors. Beijing’s pollution has been really intense lately. The average pollution level in the past few weeks was usually anywhere from 150 – 300  (the US Embassy recommends wearing a face mask when it’s 150). So this trip to Hangzhou was literally like a breath of fresh air. Climbing the mountain (and bamboo) was also great exercise, because let’s be honest… I needed it.

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Just hangin’ around… on bamboo

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My roooooomate

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These are all tea leaves! I bought a little box of freshly picked tea leaves here.

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Picking tea leaves

I truly enjoyed our little mini-vacation in Hangzhou. It’s completely different from Beijing. Beijing is in the north, Hangzhou is in the south. Beijing has pollution, Hangzhou has clear skies. Beijing is a city, Hangzhou is more like the countryside. My only complaint about our trip was that it was too short, I definitely could’ve stayed for a few more days!

Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

  • 3.14

  • March 22nd, 2014

Two notable things happened on March 14th.

1) Prior to this date, all the CET students (there’s a total of 29 of us in the Beijing China Program!) participated in a Chinese speech exam. The exam focused on the pronunciation and fluency of each student’s spoken Chinese. For those of you who don’t know, accents and pronunciation of words are EXTREMELY important when speaking Chinese. If you pronounce one character wrongly, you could be saying a whole different word. After the exam, seven students were chosen to participate in a final round to see which student’s pronunciation and speed was the best. Despite my “southern Chinese” accent, I was chosen as one of the seven students to participate in the pronunciation contest! So on Friday, we all had to read tongue twisters and sentences in front of all the CET students and teachers. All the teachers served as judges.

My friend snuck this photo of me during the competition

My friend snuck this photo of me during the competition

In the end, unfortunately I did not win the contest. But I was extremely happy that I was chosen to participate. Sometimes, it gets very frustrating when I speak Chinese in Beijing. I grew up listening to Taiwanese people speak Chinese; Taiwan is considered “the south,” so I naturally have a “southern Chinese accent.” However, after coming to Beijing, I realized that the northern Chinese have their own different accent. I’m learning Chinese in the north, so we’re taught to speak in the northern accent. I think having a Taiwanese accent is something special, and something that i’d like to keep, but I also think it doesn’t hurt to learn the Beijing accent. So I’m very happy that got chosen to be in this contest… and I even got a cool Chinese fan as a prize!

2) The second part of March 14th was that it was a holiday! I’m not talking about Pi day. This date is also my birthday!

After our pronunciation contest, at around 4:30pm, a bunch of my friends and I went to go eat “linner” (lunch + dinner) to celebrate. We went to this delicious hotpot buffet restaurant. Chinese people love eating hotpot, especially in the winter. Basically, there’s a boiling pot of soup on a hot plate and a bunch of raw ingredients on the side, and you place the raw ingredients into the hot pot. You wait for the food to cook, and then you eat it. I think it’s great to eat hotpot with a big group of people, because it’s an interactive food experience. At this buffet place, everything is 10x better because everyone gets their own pot, the food is unlimited, and everything tastes SO GOOD!

So I also learned traditional Chinese customs during birthdays. Most people eat cake on their birthday, but Chinese people like to eat noodles on their birthday. Noodles translated into Chinese is “mian,” and when you eat noodles on your birthday, it means that you will live a longer life. My friends told the hotpot buffet employees that it was my birthday, so they gave me a big bowl of “long-life noodles.”

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Birthday noodles!

It’s also customary for the birthday person to treat his or her closest friends. I think this is interesting, because usually in western culture, everyone will pitch in some money to pay for the person who is celebrating his or her birthday. (Because i’m American and we went out with a huge group of people… I had to skip out on this Chinese birthday custom).

I’ve really made some great friends here in China. After we all stuffed our stomachs with as much food as we could handle, we headed back to our campus, where I was surprised with cake and lots of presents. I’m sad that I wasn’t able to celebrate with my close friends from back home, but I’m very appreciative of all the new friends I’ve made and how well they’ve been treating me. You think that in 5 short months you wouldn’t be able to make such wonderful friends, but I know that I want to keep in touch with these friends even when we all return to the states.

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The beautiful cake my friends bought for me

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My two favorite Chinese roommates

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Great friends and study abroad companions :)

Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

Before Spring Semester started, a few students and Chinese roommates from Beijing Janterm and I booked a weekend trip to visit Harbin – one of the coldest cities China. From January to February, the typical temperature ranges from -40 to -4 degrees Fahrenheit! My weekend attire?– A long-sleeve T, a sweater, a hoodie, an ultra-light down jacket, a winter jacket, three pairs of pants, and three pairs of socks. Why endure such low temperatures you ask? Simple: to witness the annual Harbin Ice & Snow Festival!
From the end of December until the end of February, the Ice & Snow festival houses extraordinarily detailed snow and ice sculptures. When the sun sets, the sculptures come to life with colored lights. Despite the bitter cold, my friends have raved about this place, so I knew I had to venture to this northern land. Braved in my extra layers and some heatpacks, we explored this frozen park. It’s like a winter wonderland! If you’ve seen Frozen, the new Disney movie, this is exactly the kind of place that Elsa could’ve built! I’m not sure how the sculptors were able to make art in that below freezing weather, but they sure did a thorough job!
Gooooooooorgeous

Gooooooooorgeous

The cold never bothered me anyway

“The cold never bothered me anyway”

 

Can you spot the frozen Empire State Building?

Can you spot the frozen Empire State Building?

 
Besides visiting this winter wonderland, we also explored Harbin’s most famous landmark – the Church of St. Sophia (great name!), and were able to meet up with some of the students from our January term. It was great to see our old friends again, and some new Spring semester students were able to book last-minute train tickets to join in on the fun as well. I’m sad that the January students have separated, but i’m ready to make some new friends as well.
Although i’m beginning the semester off with a icy cold start, Beijing sure is starting to warm up! We hit 50 degree weather in the past week, and when the pollution level is low, i’ve been getting some good exercise running around the track near our campus. Some of the students have signed up for gym memberships at a local gym, but I know I won’t be able to commit to exercising everyday because some days i’ll be too busy exploring Beijing… or doing Chinese homework. Beijing has so much to offer, and as Spring arrives, the weather will allow us to explore even more wonderful landmarks and outdoor fairs. Bring on Spring!

Me and KeTing (one of the new Spring students!) at the Olympic Stadium

Me and KeTing (one of the new Spring students!) at the Olympic Stadium

Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

Picture 60 to 70 degree weather, shorts on shorts, and beautiful sunshine everyday. But wait! –it gets better. There’s a gorgeous view of snow-capped mountains right in your backyard, and the bluest sky as far as the eye can see. No pollution, no snow, no homework! That was my life for the past week. I could not have asked for a better travelling experience, or for better travel companions to take it with.

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I love these goofballs

 

If you ever have to travel, do it with a group of four people. Even though the number four (sĭ) means death in Chinese, travelling-wise, four is a smart number. It’s perfect for finding seating at restaurants, perfect for booking beds at hotels and hostels, and perfect for filling up a cab. Like Goldilocks said, not too small, not too big… it’s the perfect size!

My friends and I at Tiger Leap (Shangrila).

My friends and I at Tiger Leap (Shangrila).

More China traveling tips: I would not recommend taking Sichuan Airlines. Alyssa, Mike, and I had a two-hour delay at the airport, and when we finally got on the airplane, it felt like a rollercoaster.  Alyssa almost threw up, and Mike was scared to death. The only good thing was the airplane food was actually quite delicious.

We met up with our friend James (click his name to check out his blog!- it’s hilarious) in Kunming. He gave us a tour of Erhai, a BEAUTIFUL lake right outside of his hotel, and a street of trendy little restaurants and cafes in his neighborhood. Did I mention that he is studying in Kunming next semester – and that he lives in a hotel??? To top it off, he gets to enjoy the beautiful weather for the whole semester! Life is really unfair sometimes.

That night, we got abroad a sleeper train to Dali City. It was my first time on a sleeper train. We got hard sleeper tickets, cause the soft sleeper tickets were sold out. I was expecting to sleep on wooden boards, but the hard sleepers were pretty comfy! There are two sets of bunks in each compartment, and each bunk bed has 3 beds: a lower bunk, middle bunk, and an upper bunk.

Alyssa and James chillin' on the lower bunk.

Alyssa and James chillin’ on the lower bunk.

Our first official day of vacation started with Dali City, and it was one of the best days of my life. We woke up in the morning and rented bikes and mopeds (electric motorcycles) for the day. Renting bikes for the day only cost $5 per bike! That’s crazy, because renting bikes in NYC are about $30 per HOUR. We biked from 11am ‘til maybe about 6pm. Biking around the city allowed us to cover more ground, and see all of the beautiful sights.

Backroads of a countryside farm

Backroads of a countryside farm

The sky was so pretty... it looked like a fake movie scene background.

The sky was so pretty… it looked like a fake movie scene background.

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Everything in this city looked beautiful!

The little alleyways felt like we could've been riding Vespas in Italy or Spain or something.

The little alleyways felt like we could’ve been riding Vespas in Italy or Spain or something.

Our next stop was Lijiang. We actually didn’t spend too much time in Lijiang, instead, we headed towards Shangrila and decided to hike for two days at the Tiger Leaping Gorge. It’s basically two gorgeous mountains with a gorge/valley type thing in between them, with a river running through it. Legend has it that at the middle of the gorge, a tiger leaped from a stone on one side of the gorge to the other. The views were spectacular, and we stayed at a guesthouse at the top of the mountain. During the nighttime we went to the rooftop, played some music on James’ speakers, and snuggled up with blankets under the stars. Being a city girl, I’ve never seen so many stars in my life!!! That night, I slept so comfortably with these nice heated sleeping pads that the guesthouse gave us, and awoke to a breathtaking view of the mountains through my window.

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What is life???!?

An Insta of the view from my bedroom... incredible!

An Insta of the view from my bedroom… incredible!

We all got tan from this day!

Taking a dip in the waterfalls

Before the sun set, we practiced our slingshot skills. When night fell, this is where we star-gazed!

Before the sun set, we practiced our slingshot skills. When night fell, this is where we star-gazed!

 To end our trip, we headed back to Kunming, where we were able to meet up with one of our other friends – Brandon. We took a daytrip to the Stone Forest, and had a relaxing day roaming the Green Lake Park. We also decided to check out the nightlife scene in Kunming.

石林: Stone Forest!

石林: Stone Forest!

There were so many stones... they acted like trees.

There were so many stones… they acted like trees.

So now i’m back in Beijing, where it is currently freezing and snowing. I miss Yunnan already, and I wish I was still on vacation. However, all our Spring semester students have arrived! They’re actually all in orientation (returning students don’t need to attend orientation) as i’m writing this. So I am very excited to get to know all the new people and for Spring semester to begin!

Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

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Last Monday was the last day of our Janterm program! I may have mentioned this earlier, but just to clarify things again, my semester abroad is separated into two programs: Janterm, and Spring term. Janterm is a 4-week intensive Chinese language program, where they really drill us mostly in speaking and listening skills (of course reading and writing is also involved, but there’s more of an emphasis on speaking/listening). After Janterm, we have a 2-week break during the Spring Festival aka Chinese New Year. When the break ends, our Spring semester officially begins!So Monday was the date of our last big exam. We took a 2-3 hour exam with reading, writing, and an oral test. Everyone was preparing for it like crazy during the weekend! After the exam, we all got dolled up for our Graduation Banquet! It’s a little weird how we just go from a stressful exam to a celebration, but I was definitely glad that we finished our program. It’s been a really tough 4 weeks, and I was ready for a break. The only sad part is that some of the students are moving on to other programs. I’ve made some great friends during this trip, and it’s unfortunate that we all have to separate. Only 7 students are staying in the Beijing program, and 5 of them are Holy Cross students (including myself). Alyssa, my closest friend here at CET, is going to study at the CET Harbin Intensive Language program next semester. Harbin is up at the very northern part of China, so it’s going to be COLD. We’ve become great friends… I really hope I can find someone just as close next semester.
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During our Graduation ceremony, I was actually asked to represent our class along with one of the other students, Dani, with a short speech. We prepared some words to make the crowd laugh a little, and expressed our thanks to our teachers and the CET office staff. It was really an honor to be able to speak for our level B class, although I was extremely nervous as soon as we hit the stage. I’ve always been really shy as a kid, but I feel like every year i’m given more and more opportunities to talk in front of large crowds. I feel that i’ve gotten over my stage freight, and i’m perfectly calm before giving speeches. But as soon as I stand in front of an audience, I feel a thousand butterflies in my stomach and my legs turn to jello. Thankfully, our speech went really well – I had a great partner to speak with! We ended with a toast to all of our friends :)
My lovely teachers

My lovely teachers

Another cool thing that happened during our Graduation ceremony besides getting our Janterm Diploma was the fact that I won an award! Our school asked us to send in photos for a photo contest, and I got second place. The prize was $50 = 300RMB, which is a good sum of money in China. $50 can buy me over 10 dinners!
It’s been super busy here in China, but I promise I have more updates to fill everyone in on. 3 days after our Graduation was Chinese New Year, and i’m going to try really hard to get a video up on my blog. Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, so there’s been A LOT of fireworks going on. Let’s hope my internet connection will cooperate. I’m going to the Yunnan province tomorrow to vacation for a week, so there probably won’t be any blog updates until I return. Yunnan is the province of “eternal spring all year round,” and we have a lot of exploring planned, so i’m very excited to share my experience when I return.
Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

WARNING: This post will have a lot of photos!

In the past week and a half, I’ve been to two very big touristy places in Beijing. Our school took us on a day trip to the Great Wall of China, and a few friends and I took a subway to check out the Forbidden City. Both places required a lot of energy, and a lot of walking around. It’s hard to believe that such great structures were man made.

Last Saturday, we climbed the “Mutianyu” section of the Wall. We had to trek up a few sets of intensely steep stairs before we were able to get to the actual Great Wall. But once we did, the view was just breath-taking. The sky looked so blue, and the mountains were incredible. So obviously, this called for a ton of photos to be taken:

The view from the Great Wall was BEAUTIFUL

The view from the Great Wall was BEAUTIFUL

It took a full 30 minutes of climbing stairs before we finally got to the actual wall... but it was worth it!

It took a full 30 minutes of climbing stairs before we finally got to the actual wall… but it was worth it!

There was about a 50-ft. drop on the other side of this wall...

There was about a 50-ft. drop on the other side of this wall…

Roommates + Roommates

Roommates + Roommates

Holy Cross students on the Great Wall!

Holy Cross students on the Great Wall!

A bunch of students just chillin' on the Great Wall

We wanted to take lots of photos on the wall… and lots of Chinese people wanted to take photos of us!

I like climbing things.

I like climbing things.

______________________

We finally got the chance to venture to the heart of Beijing this weekend – to 故宫 (The Forbidden City). The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace during the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. This place used to serve as home to the Emperor and the Chinese government. The Forbidden City is located at the very center of Beijing, and I had no idea it would be so big! It has over 980 buildings inside of it, and is one of the world’s largest preserved ancient wooden structures. We thought we would have to time go here AND to Tiananmen, but exploring this ancient city took the whole day… and we didn’t even get to look everywhere!

The pollution in Beijing has been really intense the past three days, and I think I caught a cold because of it. You might be able to see some of the smog in the photos at 故宫 (Gu Gong) below. We’ve all been wearing face masks to keep ourselves healthy. We’ve been really lucky, since the pollution level up until the past few days has been super low. Despite the pollution, there was still an enormous amount of people exploring the Forbidden City with us.

The Forbidden City!

The Forbidden City!

The forbidden city was HUGE.

The forbidden city was HUGE.

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Alyssa and I had a lot of fun taking “artsy” shots here.

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We HAD to take a photo with these little kids and their matching outfits.

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梁剑 (Josh) with a dragon statue.

梁剑 (Josh) with a dragon statue.

These two trees have grown so that their trunks touch each other!

These two trees have grown so that their trunks touch each other!

Jakob and I with some coooooool looking rocks.

Jakob and I with some coooooool looking rocks.

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Just hanging around :-)

Just hanging around :-)

We only have 9 more days in our January semester! This Intensive Chinese Language Janterm semester is a little over 4 weeks, and I can’t believe it’s almost over. I’ve already been in China for almost a month! After this January semester ends, hopefully our workload will lighten up. I don’t want it to end though, because once we have our Janterm graduation banquet next Monday, it means that a lot of the current students here at CET are going to leave. About a third of the students will be continuing their studies in Kunming, another third of the students will be going to Harbin, some students will be going to Hangzhou, and the rest are returning to the states. For those of you who don’t know, Kunming, Harbin, and Hangzhou are all still in China (China is just so big!). I’ve made a lot of great friends in the past few weeks, and I don’t want to part with them.

Reflecting back on the past month, i’m really happy that I decided to come to China to study. In some ways, growing up in a Chinese household has given me an advantage, but there are still many other things that have given me some “culture shock” or some hardship. For example, apparently I have a “Taiwanese accent” when I speak Chinese. I had no idea that I had a certain kind of Chinese accent. My teacher told me that people think girls who speak in the Taiwanese accent sound cute, and some of the Chinese roommates have told me this as well. But there are also times where some people don’t understand what i’m saying because of it, or jokingly mimic me talk. Sometimes, I also feel that my teachers and some of my fellow students think i’m cheating because I’ve grown up listening to my parents speak Chinese. All I know is, I am learning a lot – I learn new things everyday. And everything that I learn in class is immediately applied to my daily life. My friend 梁剑 (Josh) and I even made up a game where we see who can use the most vocabulary words and grammar structures in a day. My Chinese has improved so much in the past month, I can’t wait to see where it’s at after our Spring term!

Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

On Monday, we met up with a Holy Cross student – Zhenxi! Zhenxi lives in Beijing, and she’s a Sophomore currently studying at Holy Cross. Since Holy Cross students are on break right now, she was in China for a few days. She took all of us out to eat at Hai Di Lai hotpot… the most delicious hotpot ever. For those of you who don’t know, hotpot is where there’s a huge boiling pot of water and a bunch of raw food that you can order. You place the food into the pot yourself, and watch it cook. It’s a really good group food activity and perfect for the wintertime. At this particular restaurant, they had an amazing sauce station where you can mix yourself a tasty concoction to dip your food into. The waiters and waitresses at this restaurant provided the best service i’ve ever seen at a restaurant. If you were walking to the bathroom, any waiter you passed would greet you. My glass was never empty, it was constantly being refilled! They even gave us complimentary headbands for the girls, and if you wore glasses, they gave you an eyeglass cloth to wipe the fog off your glasses. They also provided little ziploc bags to put our phones into, so that it wouldn’t get dirty from the food, and they placed a seat cover onto our jackets after we hung them on the backs of our chairs. Apparently there’s also a Hai Di Lao in NYC, but it’s supposed to be a lot more expensive in NY.

Holy Cross at HaiDiLao Hotpot! So yummy.Holy Cross at HaiDiLao Hotpot! So yummy.

After dinner, Zhenxi took us to one of the many malls in the Xidan district. There were a few blocks of very big malls in this area. This particular mall we went to was very Americanized, and it looked even nicer than most of the malls that i’ve ever been to.

Zhenxi brought us to one of the many malls in the Xidan district. This one was SUPER nice.

This mall was SUPER nice.

Zhenxi and I!

Zhenxi and I!

Stars in Xidan district.Stars in Xidan district.

Friday after class, a few classmates and I decided to take a visit to the Beijing Zoo. The Zoo is located conveniently just a 5-to-10-minute walk away from our campus. They had a section of 5-8 exhibits of just pandas! Unfortunately, most of the pandas were sleeping when we visited. There was one panda that was up and about – he kept wobbling around his exhibit. They also had a few red pandas, but because it was so cold out, most of them were hiding. We walked around and found a lot of animals in the park. The zoo was so big, we didn’t even get to all the exhibits. I plan on going back during the Springtime though, when it’ll be a lot warmer out.

Entrance to the Beijing ZooEntrance to the Beijing Zoo

PANDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PANDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chandler and I are in the Panda "breeding tree."

Chandler and I are in the Panda “breeding tree.”

This monkey's eyes were beautiful!

This monkey’s eyes were beautiful!

The Red pandas kept hiding... so it was hard to get a good photo.

The Red pandas kept hiding… so it was hard to get a good photo.

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These guys were sunbathing!

These guys were sunbathing!

Cockadoodledooooo

Cockadoodledooooo

The tiger was sleeping :'(

The tiger was sleeping :’(

Llamas!

Llamas!

Jakob hanging from the elephant statue!

Jakob hanging from the elephant statue!

Life is so busy studying abroad. When i’m not in class or studying for my daily listening exams, i’m out exploring the city. I’ve picked up a great habit from one of my friends here in the program though. My friend Alyssa has recently gotten me into the habit of finishing up my homework as early as possible, so we can make time to go out and explore Beijing! Let’s hope this habit continues even when I return to Holy Cross in the Fall.

This weekend, we took a trip to the Great Wall of China… so look out for a post for that coming very soon!

Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

The school offers a Tai Chi lesson every Monday afternoon

The school offers a Tai Chi lesson every Monday afternoon

 

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Calligraphy classes are held on Tuesday afternoons

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I think the Subway stations look like airports sometimes, especially with this baggage check. I guess this makes things safer. The subways are very nice though, and their subway maps are so much easier to read than the ones back home in NYC.

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On New Years day, we took a trip to Houhai (My roommate, Shirley/董冉, is in the middle!)

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At HouHai, there was a huge pond where you could go ice-skating. A lot of people were actually sitting on this contraption… I got this awesome shot of this father and son on one.

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Near Houhai is a set of huge Bell and Drum towers. This is the Bell tower! The sky was very pretty this day.

 

The steps to the Drum and Bell towers were VERY steep. Not for the faint-hearted... or for people scared of heights.

The steps to the Drum and Bell towers were VERY steep. Not for the faint-hearted… or for people scared of heights.

Inside of the Drum tower!

Inside of the Drum tower!

That's Chandler, posing at the top of the Bell Tower.

That’s Chandler, posing at the top of the Bell Tower.

In a Nanluoguxiang, a Hutong (a narrow alleyway). There were tons of little shops and eateries here.

In a Nanluoguxiang, a Hutong (a narrow alleyway). There were tons of little shops and eateries here.

 

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Chandler’s roommate bought us all little animal ears that we wore while shopping around the Hutong.

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CET took us to check out a Beijing Opera at a very fancy hotel!

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On the weekend, my roommate took a bunch of us to 798 – an art district in Beijing.

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Alyssa and I posing with a statue in 798 Art district.

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There were tons of street art, and little museums exhibits that you could walk into. The graffiti reminded me a lot of the ’5 Pointz’ graffiti art in NYC that I went to this summer.

That’s alllllll for now. These pictures basically summed up my first week-week and a half in Beijing

Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

Happy New Year! (新Xin 年Nian 快Kuai 乐Le!)

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It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been in Beijing for over a week already, it’s even harder to believe that I’ve only spoken Chinese for the past 10 days. I literally never leave the classroom because I am constantly living, breathing, and learning Chinese. I’ve downloaded an English-Chinese dictionary app on my phone and I use it to look up words when I don’t know how to say. I always make sure I am carrying this around with me – it’s become an essential tool for communication.

Losing the ability to speak English was very strange at first. It really makes you feel like a child again, because you don’t know how to say a lot of words and because you speak very slowly and carefully. All of us have been through hundreds of stages of frustration – whether it’s from trying to explain something to somebody, or from not understanding what somebody said. Even when we don’t know how to say a word in Chinese, we aren’t allowed to use English. Instead, we have to try to use other Chinese words to explain it. There are times that I hold back from say something because I don’t know how to say it in Chinese.

Although it’s terribly annoying to not be able to communicate your thoughts or feelings, the language pledge is doing wonders to my Chinese speaking skills. One of the best feelings in the world is when you can relate something you learned in class to a real life situation. This may sound kind of nerdy, but me and my classmates get so excited when we use a new phrase or sentence structure when we’re just hanging out around the city. It’s not like a language class in school. Here in Beijing, everything I learn in class is being constantly applied to my daily life.

Did I mention that i’m not taking any classes for any other subject? All of my classes are classes specialized to help me improve my speaking, reading, writing, and understanding Chinese. I have about 4 hours of class a day, and about 2-3 hours of homework/studying every night. After class, i’m free to explore the city. And in one week, i’ve already done a lot of exploring! I’ll update with more photos later, but for now, here’s an instagram of me. For those of you who don’t know, in the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year (Jan. 31st), it’s the year of the horse!

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Cheers,
Sophia
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

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Sophia Jin '15

  • Studies: Economics major, studio art minor, and Asian studies concentration
  • Hometown: Bayside, N.Y.
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  • CHINA
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