Oh! Am I Lost Again???… How I’ve Been Surviving my Daily Life in Beijing

Written by Haoyu Guo, (Grand Valley State University) Student Correspondent CET Beijing, Summer 2017

It seems that regardless of what country I am in or the fact that only one building consists of both my dorm and my classroom, I will always get lost in some way. It doesn’t seem to matter where I am, but it seems my sense of direction just took a walk down the street and got lost itself instead of returning to me.

Out Exploring Beijing with fellow CET student- What happened to that security check entrance Is it like Platform 9 and three quarters.

The situation above described just happened last Thursday when my fellow CET members, roommates and I were rushing to the Chinese painting class. Here let me explain our building first. It is a big square building with a hollow center that is divided into two wings, the academic wing and the dorm wing. The two wings are connected by a bridge on the 10th and 9th floor on the dorm side and the 8th and 7th floor on the academic side. It makes for a very confusing building when one forgets that they can only cross over on certain floors. I’m glad that such trips across the building aren’t required for my early morning Chinese classes. I only have to go up in the elevator, take some stairs and voila! I’m at my classroom and so my days begin.

Ellen, a fellow student tries to sneakly make her way back up from the board walk on CET’s overnight trip in Qingdao.

My typical week at CET is jam-packed with classes, internship, and activities. We start every weekday with a Chinese class which lasts 2 hours. On Mondays, the teachers take the students to lunch and help them with their conversational skills. It’s been amazingly fun so far because it provides a chance to connect with the teacher and your fellow students and a way to try the various styles of food available near-by. Of course, the best part is the free food! Though on any other day students are left to fend for themselves for lunch which you can have the opportunity to eat with your fellow classmates before we all rush off to our individual internships by subway. It typically takes about an hour by subway for most of us to reach our internships. For me, it takes 45 minutes to an hour depending on the weather, traffic or timing. Just last week I was soaked by a down pour of rain, but everyone at the Guang’anmen Hospital, one of my internship sites, was very understanding on why I was walking around soaking wet in some way.

Overnight trip in Qingdao- People in Qingdao buy raw beer and put it in plastic bags to take home.

While at the internship, you can be doing anything ranging from helping with translation, doing projects, proof reading or anything else the site has arranged for the intern. For myself and one other person, we are interning at two Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospitals, Guang’anmen Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital and Beijing Integrated Hospital. During our time on site, we spend it shadowing various clinics and learning about the various techniques they use to treat the ailments their patients have. At Beijing Integrated Hospital, a hospital that applies both western and traditional Chinese medicine techniques, we see how each style had its own unique niche in each clinic.  For example, in the Beauty Clinic, the doctors would use western techniques to preform beauty enhancing surgeries, but they apply more traditional methods and philosophies to help patients out of surgery to maintain a better health over a longer period of time.

After the internship is finished for the day, either class or free time occurs. My free time is typically spent hanging out with my friends, participating in CET arranged activities or doing homework. I really enjoy using this time to get to know my roommate, Li Ping . She’s really amazing in helping me navigate China, without her I don’t think things would have been as smooth as they have been so far. We get along really well too! We seem to have a lot in common such as our ability to be mother birds. Both of us tend to take care of others by asking how they are or providing food or similar actions. It can be annoying if you’re not used to it, but it seems to be the typical way the Chinese show that they care. Honestly speaking, I’m so used to doing this and being the one receiving this mothering by others that it doesn’t ping in my mind that it is uncommon.  It’s really nice when we hang out together even if it’s some quiet companionship as we both quietly work on our work in the same room.

The Old German Governer’s Masion in QingDao. One of the many places we visited on our overnight trip.

On the days we have more free time, several students and I will make plans to go out. No, not to the typical bars or anything, but to historical relics such as Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City.  My friends and I have already gone to the Forbidden City! It was fun, but so hot that we were exhausted by the end of the walk. We also kept losing each other in the crowd since there was so many people out. One of us would wander off to take a picture or just stop to take a picture, but then the group would be gone! Everything went fine since we would eventually find each other even if sometimes it took longer than others.   It’s nice to explore someplace new with people as they point out new things and make the experience even more memorable!

So, the typical week in Beijing is in a few words: fast, fun, exhausting and exciting! Each day has new experiences that you don’t think is possible, but is possible if you make it so. Don’t be slow in doing things you want to do or this whole trip will be over before you know it.