We have now been in Tianjin for three months and are still thoroughly enjoying ourselves. In the month of November we got the chance to do lots of exciting things. One of which was climbing Pan Shan Mountain in the Ji County with the Scottish squad. This day was full of surprises as we had actually started off going to Baxian Mountain but when we arrived (after almost 3 hours of travelling!) we found out it was shut! Luckily, our taxi drivers told us about Pan Shan and helped us phone to check in advance that this one was open. We then set about climbing the mountain, which was a difficult task in itself, as we were tired from the long journey. It was much warmer than expected as we had heard it would be really cold – Gao had on 2 jumpers, thick tights, cosy leggings and then her winter parka, she was 非常热 (very hot!). It was worth all the trouble it took to get there; we made lots of unforgettable memories.
Our college is beside a primary school and one day we were lucky enough to receive a guided tour from some of the pupils and teachers and saw some of their classes. It was particularly interesting to see their English classes and we were surprised at how good their English was for such a young age. Also they had really cute English names – one girl was called Apple and one boy was called Rock. Some of the children read us traditional Chinese stories and it was amazing to see how many characters we were beginning to recognise. After the tour of the school, we went out to play outside. We taught the children a famous Scottish game – Duck, Duck, Goose – but the children didn’t fully understand and kept saying “Duck, Duck, Cow” or “Duck, Pig, Horse”. It was really worthwhile experience and a great way to practice our Mandarin.
The highlight of November was attending the St Andrew’s Ball in Beijing at the China World Hotel. Our day started off quite eventful at Tianjin Zhan (train station) as some of us got lost at the station which resulted in us missing several trains! We arrived in Beijing safe and sound. Once there, most of us spent the day preparing for the evening ahead. We also found out how extremely difficult it is to hail a taxi in Beijing compared to Tianjin – it involved lots of manic running and shouting but we got there in the end. At the Ball, we enjoyed the most amazing five course meal which included our favourite home delicacy, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties! We were seated with two of our favourite teachers from college, Dong Laoshi and Gao Laoshi. It was a lot of fun teaching them about Scottish traditions at the table. After our meal, it was time for Scottish dances. Strip the Willow was the best way to end a fantastic evening as everyone joined in and had a great time.
Sophie and Sara