Wednesday, August 11, 2010

bei jing da xue, First Thoughts

So, I gave in and got a VPN. Seems a single week "off the grid" was just too much for me to take. I don't really care so much about Facebook, I was really more excited to continue my writings here and share photos. The connection here may be pretty sketchy by the time I get to Shenzhen, but as for now it is working wonderfully. The VPN I chose was GoTrusted, which was suggested to me by a former CTLC'er who found it to be the best one.
Ah, Beijing. What an interesting, interesting city. Only here have I ever seen smog so bad I can't see the tops of buildings, seen a child pooping on the street from slit pants, and eaten scorpion and silkworm cocoons....
...all on the same walk home.
This city is one of those that really shines in the aspects that many would find its worst. The traffic, smog, congestion, and overall messiness of the street life is what truly makes this place unique. You can literally get lost in the crowd, which I don't think is always a bad thing. The city I can most closely compare it to in my travels is Athens - you never really decide wether you love or hate it, it always shifts in your mind as new aspects of it come out. Both are the capital ofa country drastically changing, both are crowded and dirty, and both bear an incredible vitality in thier messy reality.

I live in a section of the city called Haidan with all the other Center for Teaching and Learning in China teachers. We teach and take classes at Peking university, the "Harvard of China". It feels pretty powerful to flash my badge to the guards and enter as Chinese tourists snap pictures of thier children standing in front of the West Gate. The children always look bored and the parents ecstatic, as they now have an image of the golden pedestal they wish to place thier child on. Peking University is quintessentially Beijing, in that half of the campus is pristine and historical while the other half is a stark collection of utilitarian barracks.
I am so glad to be able to get on this, as keeping notes of what I did everyday was getting quite challenging. I will update soon with more of my first experiences in the Middle Kingdom.

Soon to come: Teaching English to Chinese Kids, My Great Wall Trip, Tian'anmen Square, Weird Things I have Eaten (So Far)
wang ke (My Chinese name, pronounced waang kewuh)

1 comment:

  1. One thing you have to do while you're in Beijing: Go see the raising of the Chinese flag at Tiananmen Square at Dawn. That was one of the most incredible things I did while I was over there. I wrote about it on Facebook, and posted a video if you want to see it, but it is so completely worth it. You will literally be the only American there, around 4:30 in the morning (or at least that's when it was when I went, whenever dawn is this time of there, go then). One other American and I went, and we had to walk because the subways weren't running yet. There will be thousands and thousands of Chinese there. At dawn, the national anthem plays over the loud speakers, and the flag goes up, then some military units do manoeuvers. All the Chinese will want to take a picture with you, so be ready for that. I'm sure you've been stared at a ton already.