Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Encounter with China and Beijing

On Sunday afternoon, Lotte and I said goodbye to our boyfriends, and to Norway.

Lotte and I have known each other for the past three years, and we've studied Japanese together at the university of Oslo, and we also went to the same university in Japan.

Now we've been studying Chinese for the past year, and it's finally time to head to China for yet another semester abroad!

(I suspect that I study in order to get to travel, not necessarily to get a decent job out of it... )

Lotte at the airport,
learning useful phrases like
"You're just using me for sex"
and "Easy Tiger!"
in Chinese

Even though I've been planning this Beijing-stint since before Vidar and I got together, the thought of leaving the one I love and want to share my life with behind has been really hard - despite having had all this time to mentally prepare.

Still, these next six months getting to live in Beijing and study at Beijing university is an unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I'd never let myself turn down.

Luckily Vidar will be visiting in October! And I'll be home in time to celebrate Christmas together with his family - I'm so excited!

My first impression after three days is that Beijing very much resembles Bangkok - which is the city of my heart.

It's hot, polluted, noisy and busy, just the way I like it.

Chinese people are welcoming, warm and curious - and they have a sense of humor.

So far it's been nothing like Japan, and I'm happy.

In China they seem to give many young kids a "summer-haircut",
which is a boyish cut, no matter the gender
- like this cute girl in the middle
that I could have sworn was a boy,
except for her pretty dress and pink
Doraemon shoes

I know that she was a girl,
because I asked her

When I was a kid,
my parents would leave me
at my grandfathers house
for a few days when travelling
to Thailand,
so that they'd get some time to themselves

And my dad still recalls this one
time they returned
and he was shocked to see his
daughter cut like a boy

But as my mom have said;
it's hot in the summer time!
And a short cut is convenient

I don't think we'll starve while in China
- and everything is dirt cheap compared to Norway!

And a 0.6 liter bottle of Tsaoting beer costs less than
5 NOK, tsk tsk

Yesterday Lotte and I went apartment-hunting, and we used a real estate agent that a few of the Norwegian students that were here last year vouched for.

She showed us a handful of apartments, and we settle for an apartment in the Wudaokou-area, which is popular among international students, close to shopping, restaurants and nightlife, and at the same time in reasonable biking-distance from the university.

The apartment is 121 square meters, with a spacious living room, kitchen, one bathroom and two bedrooms. It is furnished and comes with appliances like washing machine, refrigerator, microwave-oven etc. It's on the 17th floor, so there's a beautiful view too.

That's our building!

The rent is 7000 Yuan per month; around 2900 Norwegian kroners on Lotte and I each - that is more than 1700 NOK less than I had to pay for my humble 14 square meters at home in Oslo!

We're moving in on Friday, and I'll take a few photos of the joint then.

Ueh, bean starch noodles

Chicken with whole cloves of garlic and chilies

Having found an apartment, Lotte and I walked from it to the campus of Beijing university. It took us about 50 minutes (needless to say, we'll be buying bicycles).

On campus (which was enormous, like a small city of its own), a lot of freshly-graduated people where busy taking photos in their gowns, together with their proud families.

A guy told us that the ones wearing a black and red
gown had just finished their PhDs.

How some people force their kids to
pose for photos
should be illegal

On our way out of campus, I saw this proud family, all matching in a lovely pink tone, together with a girl who'd just finished her bachelor's degree.

They were busy taking photos, so I, in my usual unafraid manner, jumped on over there to take some photos of them myself.

Then I realized - they were speaking Thai!

So, naturally, I got very excited and started chatting with them - and you can bet they were surprised too, that this large Westerner that was rudely taking photos of them suddenly blabbered out in fluent Thai.

(They must have been rich. Having a daughter attending Beijing university, and bringing the whole family to see her graduate)

No wonder they were wearing pink, which was the color honoring King Chulalongkorn (1853-1910) who is of great importance to many Thai people. I don't know why. I think he, among other things, were the one to abolish slavery in Thailand. (Mom?)

Ol' meemah and her King Chulalongkorn-brooch

Lotte and I realized we had wireless internet at our hostel and that we're able to use our macs, yay!

Sites like blogspot, Facebook and youtube are blocked in China, but we're using a special proxy as students at the university of Oslo, so we're able to climb the great firewall of China!


I'v been a bit nervous thinking about having to actually use my poor Chinese skills, but having arrived and spent a few days here already, I've once again proven to myself that if I want something bad enough, I'll be able to communicate it. I'm just really looking forward to school starts and I can learn MORE!

I can't think of anything more rewarding than to be studying the language of the country when you're studying abroad - you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor straight away when you walk out of the classroom and get to practice what you've just learned. The thought of traveling across the world just to be studying something like economics or business.. *shudders*.

Well, there's a time and place for everything, and who knows, some day I might have to eat my own words.


Uploading photos on this blog here in China takes forever, so sometimes I'm wondering if it all is worthwhile.

Are you guys still with me?

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Karoline said...

HURRA, nå kan vi leve livene våre gjennom bloggen din når vi er tilbake i Norge! Høres ut som en bra start, da, du møter så mange morsomme folk :)

Camilla said...

still with you!

.;*Miina*;. said...

Blir spennende å lese om din opplevelse av Beijing! Jeg var jo syk heletida så min tid der var ikke så bra, men jeg har heldigivis latterliggjort alt det kjipe så mye nå at jeg på en måte kun sitter igjen med gode minner derfra.

Maten i Kina er jo helt fantastisk. Vi betalte 40 kr for mat EN gang og det var jo så dyrt at vi nesten mistet pusten! ellers kostet det vel sjelden mer enn 10-12 kr.
Du får finne deg en liten restaurant å bli stamkunde der. Det gjorde jeg, og det var så koselig for mannen som jobba der vinket alltid til meg når jeg var i området :D

Marie said...

Kuuuult! Gleder meg til å følge bloggen din videre nå som du er i Kina!
Jeg endte opp med å søke kinesisk, sånn btw, er spent på om jeg kommer inn! Så derfor er det ekstra gøy å følge med på nå som du er der. :)

Håper du får er flott opphold!

ねこちゃん said...

Hey! :) You are truly lucky with your abroad studying! I love the photos, as always!!! looking forward seeing more of your journey! would be really gallant of you to every now and then commet on some of the entries on my blog (although it's not Beijing and assumed you don't think my blog totally sucks)..Have a fun time!

Anonymous said...


Now I wanna travel more (I'm not thanking you for that) but I'm currently sooooo poor!

I have to save tssk!

(But maybe I'll spend a few months going around Africa next year so it's okay, I just have to learn how to be patient :p)

Camilla said...

Hei Kine! Jeg er med deg til Kina:-) Elsker måten du skriver på og ikke minst bildene! Lo høyt av det gode gliser til gamlemor Thai;-) Lykke til! Klem

Anette said...

Herlig Kine! Egen proxy og greier, luksus!
Håper dere får noen fine tilvendingsdager.
Glad i deg!