A Day in the Life: Chinese Studies & Internship in Beijing

Written by Michelle Ng (Student Correspondent), University of Michigan CET Chinese Studies & Internship in Beijing, Summer 2015

I wake up around 8 AM. I get dressed and eat breakfast in my room (usually a piece of toast and some fruit). Even though my class starts at 10:30AM, I like to wake up a little earlier to work on my 听写 (ting xie) because we have a quiz every morning in which the Chinese teacher reads aloud 6 out of 30 vocabulary words that we have to write out in Chinese characters. Character writing had always been my weakness in my previous Chinese classes, but I realized that the daily writing quizzes this summer have actually been every effective in helping me to recognize more Chinese characters, understand a deeper meaning behind the character, and retain that information for a longer period of time.

My Chinese class goes from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. During class, we learn about big topics that are pertinent to Chinese culture and society such as marriage, population growth, and aging. Even though it may seem intimidating to have a two-hour Chinese class every day, it is actually a lot of fun. Lin Lao Shi teaches us sentence patterns, grammar, and new words using examples from Chinese society. On Mondays, we have 中文桌子 (zhong wen zhuo zi), which is when we have lunch with our Chinese teacher and practice speaking Chinese. I feel that my Chinese has improved a lot already in my three weeks in Beijing, and part of it is because I am learning Chinese in the morning and then practicing that during my internship and with my roommate throughout the day. Studying in Beijing has allowed a more integrative approach to learning Chinese, and I love it!

My Chinese class having lunch with our Chinese teacher for 中文桌子 (Chinese table).

My Chinese class having lunch with our Chinese teacher for 中文桌子 (Chinese table).

After Chinese class, I eat a quick lunch at the cafeteria. There are many different food options at the cafeteria, including noodles, rice, dumplings, buns, hot pot, and more. The best thing is that lunches usually cost between 6-12 kuai or 1-2 US dollars! After a quick lunch, I take the subway to my internship site, Guang’anmen Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital. It takes about 45 minutes to get there, and I have to make three transfers on the subway, but I do not mind the trip because Beijing’s subway is clean and efficient. I usually do not have to wait longer than 3 minutes for the train.

From 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM, I intern at the hospital, where I shadow physicians and make observations about Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments. It is fascinating to see the treatments for myself and to be able to ask physicians questions about their practice. After my internship, I take the subway home and head to my 6:30 PM class on Traditional Chinese Medicine and China’s Healthcare System. The class is taught by Dr. Cui who also works at Guang’anmen Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital. I enjoy learning about the philosophical underpinnings of Traditional Chinese Medicine and watching demonstrations of acupuncture and cupping.

I am finally done with my classes at 9PM when I work on Chinese homework in my dorm room. If my roommate is around, I would ask her any questions relating to my Chinese homework. I usually study for about 3 hours before I go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day!