China so far has been absolutely fantastic but definitely jam-packed. As expected, the plane trip to China was long and uncomfortable and many of us struggled to get over an hour of sleep. The first thing many of us noticed upon arrival was the highly polluted air, it was difficult to see something that was just 100m away.
After several delays, we were finally on our way to Beijing Foreign Studies University. On the way, I couldn't help but notice the excessive amount of cars on the road and the lack of compliance many had to basic road rules. We are so lucky.
Beijing Foreign Studies Universtity was massive, with two campuses - an east and a west campus. The facilities were huge- there were hundreds of classrooms, countless basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, a running track, a gym, a swimming pool, an underground plaza, the biggest library I've ever seen, let alone the five storey canteen! Our school days have been very long but worthwhile - sometimes up to twelve hours. Our week days generally look like this: Breakfast at 7:30 followed by a 3.5 hour Chinese class finishing at 12, lunch, Chinese related activities such as tai chi or free time followed by a cultural lecture or an excursion and then finally dinner, self study and back to our dorms. My Chinese is ever-improving and the immersion coupled with the daily language classes and self study has shown to be a major factor in my progression.
We have visited many tourist attractions such as the Forbidden City, Olympic Village, The Great Wall Of China, Summer Palace, Lama Palace, Beijing Hutongs, Behai Park, Shanghai River Cruise, several museums and there is still many more to come. It is crazy to think that China has a history that dates back over 5000 years and even crazier to see how many ancient monuments and buildings are still standing.
China is a buzzing hub of energy, full of thousands of buildings and millions of people. In Shanghai you can travel for over two hours and still be in the city. The people in China are very hospitable and friendly, kind and welcoming.
Everything in China is very affordable, especially the food. The food has certainly been a highlight for everyone, all broadening our palette and trying strange things - even scorpions!
I am more than grateful for this opportunity, I know I'm making the most of it and am looking forward to the following three weeks.