July 21 Beijing Academy Student Posts!
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Read today's posts from our Beijing Academy students!
As my time at Middlebury Monterey Language Academy comes to a close, I begin to appreciate every last minute spent in this fascinating country with the fascinating people I have met. The day started with the steady drizzle of rain, as it has for the past week. After a hearty breakfast of “brain food” to prepare us for our final assessment, the RAs and teachers herded us to class, which included a three hour study of high school and colleges in China as well as finding work and an interview with an RA about university life. During the free period between morning and afternoon classes, I ventured into the soggy streets of Beijing to continue souvenir shopping for my friends that have all been begging me to bring them back Chinese candy. At 2:00, it was back to class. However, we spent the whole three hours playing a card game similar to Mafia, which was both challenging and hilarious because of the language pledge. Card games have, strangely enough, played a huge role in learning Chinese. I have found you get quite good at using charades to try to explain instructions. When we were released from class, some friends and I went out and ate entirely too much for dinner. In fact, four hours later I still feel like I will never be able to eat another bite for the rest of my life. The last activity of the day involved another hour of study hall and reflection on the past week, which always involves a one-on-one conversation with our language teacher. In the end, of course, we all ended up playing cards.
It truly is an amazing feeling when you begin to realize a personal improvement. As the academy is coming to an end and we students are starting to wrap up our education here in Beijing, the realization of all of our personal improvement is becoming more and more apparent. At the beginning of this program, I had no idea what to expect. Having never done an immersion program before in my life, I wasn’t sure of the true impact this month would have on my language skills. Not only have I created more memories than I ever thought I could, but I have also opened my eyes much greater to the world of the Chinese language and culture. Most summers I am nothing but excited to escape the school atmosphere and relax, but the hustle, bustle and hard work here in Beijing has been nothing but enjoyable. Even though I am still nowhere near being fluent in Chinese it is so reassuring to know that I have improved greatly and that if I work hard I have the ability to be fluent like so many of the mentors here at Middlebury. Although this month has been long and tiring, I am dreading leaving such a passionate, challenging and culture-filled environment. Thank you Middlebury Interactive for an amazing month in Beijing!
For the past few days we hadn’t gone anywhere at all, however, fortunately today we finally left Capital Normal University. The reason we hadn’t left was because of the heavy rain essentially flooding the streets and creating large puddles specially designed to cause misery and inconvenience. Actually, it rained today a bit as well, but that didn’t prevent us from visiting another Hu tong and asking more people questions. The Hu tong was pretty nice and so were the three people we stopped and asked about Beijing’s glaringly obvious pollution. I also got to try fried squid which was also pretty nice, though fried food is often delicious until it's not, if you know what I mean.
On another note, it’s hard to believe we only have three more days left. Even right now it doesn’t feel like the days are that limited. The environment is the same, and people don’t even seem to realize the end is approaching, although some people are happy at the prospect that soon they’ll be back in the U.S. and the language pledge will be lifted for real. They’ll be able to cradle their phones, sleep with it, play on it, and check Instagram and Snapchat without any VPN. It almost feels like denial, but I know that can’t be entirely true. As I finish writing this blog, my third one, I am thinking more about how soon it is to being over, and probably never seeing a lot of these people again, and I already feel a bit nostalgic.
My last week in China has been fraught with rain, missing home, and getting anxious about leaving China. It has also been full of securing friends for the rest of my life, learning Mandarin, and trying this week’s new and unusual foodstuffs. Because of the rain, I haven’t gone outside much at all this week. A result of this is a hefty amount of time spent sleeping, which I am sure will be exceptionally helpful for my transition back into EST (I am using a lot of sarcasm since Chinese basically doesn’t have it). Today in class we learned about how to navigate a Chinese airport, which I am sure will actually be helpful in my transition back into EST. This time around, I won’t make the mistake of not watching a single movie the whole flight, instead choosing to sleep the whole time. It goes to show how uneventful my week has been that a large portion of my blog has been a review of the plethora of techniques I plan to use to mitigate jet lag. In other news, I have stopped learning the news. However, I feel learning a day late about how the world is falling apart has both good and bad sides. This blog has gone on for too long, I don’t know what to say, and writing in English is exceptionally difficult, so 再见。
Beijing Academy Student Posts from July 20! More Beijing Academy Student Posts from July 18!