Learning to live in Tianjin

We’re a month in and now Tianjin is really starting to feel like a home away from home. We’ve had such a warm welcome here, and arriving just in time for mid autumn festival made it especially sentimental, as we were told this was a time for families to come together, and that how we are coming together in Tianjin as a family, which I thought was really sweet.

Living in the university is such an amazing experience; we are all already making lots of new friends from all over the globe, and for the most part, settling into our new home has been pretty easygoing. However, there have been a few things for us to get used to i.e. washing our clothes, cooking for ourselves and living life as independent adults in general. Luckily there are some really great places on / around campus (for example a lady down the street that sells burgers who has been given the title “burger lady” ???) and the staff here are always happy to help us if we ever need it.

We have all managed to get into a routine for school which is the main priority, setting our alarms for 6 in the morning and getting ready to catch the bus – surprisingly easy so far, but I don’t want to speak too soon. Speaking of buses, the traffic here is rather different to say the least; bikes, cars, buses, vans, people, from every angle, everywhere. I’m 99% certain that there is no known system for how the traffic here works, but there hasn’t seemed to be any accidents so far, so I’m just going to roll with it. Some scholars have been very brave and even purchased bikes (which are the equivalent to around £40, so quite the bargain) so if you think catching a bus at 7am is difficult, imagine cycling!

Getting up so early is definitely worth it though. Our school is so much fun and we are so lucky to have such patient and kind teachers. I am so happy in my class, and learning Chinese as well as taking part in cultural activities such as Chinese music and Kung Fu is so enjoyable; the long days are worth it, they fly by since we’re all having such a good time. I’d say even though my level of Mandarin isn’t particularly high at the moment, I’ve already managed to learn so much in the short time we’ve been here and my confidence is certainly growing.

Using the language in every day situations and being completely immersed in it is making things a lot easier. It can be frustrating at times, but it makes me even more determined to work harder. I can say it hasn’t been all work though; there have been several opportunities since arriving for us to explore and truly live like locals, from trying some pretty interesting street food and making our way around via public transport, to hanging out with friends old and new, and this is only the beginning. I really can’t wait to discover what more Tianjin has to offer us in the months ahead.

Tom Moffat