Year Abroad in China – Activities in Beijing

By Brigitta Goedhuys|December 10, 2019|China|

by Milla Sutton – Year Abroad student to China in 2018-19

During my year abroad in Beijing, I wasn’t alone in feeling isolated from the general community, but I tried my hardest to apply myself where I could and utilise my experience. For instance, through language exchange programmes. I was assigned one language partner with whom I became good friends. We went to museums together, ate together, practiced calligraphy. They were extremely welcoming and willing to help when I had questions with Chinese, and I am still in contact with them today. The university also presented opportunities to meet Chinese students through events, like the ‘Cultures on Campus’ event wherein I got to represent my country and speak to people curious about The Netherlands.

Calligraphy

Calligraphy

I was gifted a calligraphy set when I was 7 but I didn’t know what to do with it. My friend Yvonne finally taught me how to use it!

booth at the Cultures on Campus event

booth at the Cultures on Campus event

My booth at the Cultures on Campus event where I spoke to people about tulips, clogs, stroopwaffles.

Before I went to China I was infatuated with Chinese traditional music, more specifically the guzheng. I loved the sound and it was my dream to learn how to play it. Therefore, I sought out a student from the previous year who had also learnt how to play the instrument, and luckily ended up being tutored by the same person. I practiced at least twice a week in my free time and learned how to read notes and play up to three songs. My favourite is Zhou Shen’s Big Fish, and I was extremely proud when I could first play it without interruptions, as well as watch the film without subtitles (within a few months of being in China)!

One thing I didn’t expect was the size of Beijing, the roads are wide and long which is quite different to the small, narrow London I’m used to. I wanted something to help me get around faster, so I bought a skateboard from foreigner central Sanlitun. I had watched the skaters there over the summer and wanted to do the same, so during the evenings at BNU I would go outside the main building and practice tricks. There I met like-minded people who were on their roller skates and skateboards doing tricks and teaching each other. This way I also met some good friends and was introduced to the university’s skateboard society which has over 200 members. I was glad to have found people with similar hobbies, and this even compelled other international students to join in. SOAS friends of mine invested in roller skates and scooters so we would all practice together, even during the winter!

 public transport near Tianamen

public transport near Tianamen

I would often take public transport to a random destination then skate home! This is one of the photos I took on my journey, near Tianamen.

My year in Beijing will be remembered not only by the improvement of language proficiency but through these new interests, and I don’t regret a thing!

See also:

Year Abroad – Living in Beijing and The Course at Beijing Normal University (BNU)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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