It’s odd to think that we’ve all already been here for three months, some days it feels like we have only just gotten off the plane and on others it’s difficult to imagine a time when we weren’t living here. Three months in and it is amazing how all of the Chinese that we have been learning is really starting to click in our minds. Now we can actually use it to communicate in our daily lives. The point at which our skills in spoken Chinese goes from single word responses to full coherent sentences is has been such a nice change. (Even if some of us are still hopeless with tones!)
November was a particularly exciting month as we had the St Andrews ball to look forward to, and I can say that it definitely didn’t disappoint. We travelled to Beijing in groups of two to four – over here just travelling is quite an adventure! The train stations in China all seem to be huge and beautifully designed. Tianjin station is really amazing, even more so because it sits right next to the river and so is surrounded by historic, spectacularly designed bridges. The bullet train means that the journey between Tianjin and Beijing only takes about 35 minutes, but still lets you appreciate the amazing Chinese scenery that you are passing through. Once you’re in Beijing it’s really easy to find a taxi (or the subway if you are particularly adventurous/skint). After spreading out to our various hotels scattered across the city we got all dolled up and then met up in the Beijing World Centre Hotel. Despite it only being November the hotel had already broken out the Christmas decorations so the whole event seemed very festive. We had an amazing meal. After stuffing ourselves full of delicious food the ceilidh band started up and we all got to practice our traditional Scottish dancing, with varying levels of expertise. We all danced until late at night, or should I say early in the morning? Some of us even made it to the survivor’s breakfast. It really was an amazing opportunity and became a night that I’m sure all of us will remember for a long time to come. A truly great way to wrap up our 3rd month in China!
Living in China has been a fantastic experience so far and will be in the future, though not even half way through our experience, we have all made fantastic progress in our Mandarin skill and as people. Though currently we do not feel our Mandarin is very good, when looking back over the 3 months, the progress is exponential.
During November most of the scholars travelled to Beijing to attend the St. Andrew’s Ball, sadly I was unable to attend, though still had a fantastic time in Tianjin. Apart from the St. Andrew’s Ball November has been a quiet month. By this time in our scholarship we are all confident enough going to the College and getting by in everyday life. All the scholars have arranged plans for the New Year holidays in January and February, so from now till then will be devoted to studying for our exams.
Since travelling to China last year as part of the Summer Bridge Camp, I have adored China, specifically Tianjin. I made a very life changing decision last year and decided to devote my time to returning to Tianjin, not only for studying, but for living. The scholarship offered by Strathclyde was the obvious next step in my dream of moving permanently to Tianjin, at the beginning of this scholarship I was worried that my experiences here may sway my decision, but after staying for 3 months I can say that my wish to move here has increased ten-fold. A plan is now in the works and I hope to return next year to study here for 4 years, this next step will hopefully open even more doors, allowing me to finally reach my goal of Chinese citizenship.
This is a great experience and I am extremely grateful to Strathclyde University. I wish everyone could have the chance to experience this country and specifically Tianjin. Good luck to everyone applying for next year’s and hope that I can be here to greet them.
I can speak for us all now in that we have definitely all settled down into our amazing ‘China life ‘. It’s so crazy how even a little Chinese here goes a long way and demonstrates that the Chinese people will help us with whatever we need. For me, I love getting the express train to different suburbs of Tianjin/Beijing in order to meet up with the many amazing international friends I have met-confidence is key. It’s only November and we already all wish it was only our first day all over again. We may be at the other side of the world but we don’t even notice anymore thanks to this amazing country China that we all currently call home.