Sunday, June 19, 2011

First Impressions


Academics & Activities Relating to HBA:
HBA is as difficult as people have described it, at least for the first week. My entire chinese class from Yale that's at HBA took Heritage Level Chinese L1 and L2 last year. At HBA, we all got placed into Year 4 (L1+L2=Year 1). Though our verbal and listening skills are on par with the degree of difficulty, our written and reading abilities are years behind. Classwork has taken me anywhere from 4-6 hours a night, in addition to a total of about 5 hours of class per day. During the first week, HBA has been like a prison camp, and sadly, with all the hundreds of new characters ~400 this first week that we've learned and been exposed to, we have rarely if ever been able to use it with locals due to our hectic schedules.

Aside from all the excessive negativity from above, I've improved my reading and written ability dramatically in just one week alone. It covered basically how much we would cover in about a month or more of school at Yale. All of the learning comes at the cost of sleep and time to do other things like exploring Beijing. Nevertheless, I think it's definitely worth it; it's just really rough at first, and students have been completely burnt out by the weekend. On a brighter note, Friday, I placed 2nd place on a "pronunciation competition", which is the first of a series of weekly competitions that HBA hosts, where the teachers choose participants from each grade level.

Extracurricular Affairs:
Beijing Language and Culture University (北语) is very close to all the other universities in Beijing, and is located conveniently next to Wudaokou (五道口), which is a subway station/area with lots of malls, restaurants, bars, and clubs. A large group of us students went out Friday night as a reward for ourselves after a long week. We went to some of the popular bars/clubs for many study abroad students called "Propaganda" and "Sensation". Having never been to a club in the states, I can only say that it was kind of awkward in the clubs here in Beijing. It was fun, but many of the actual locals would stand on the outside of the dance floor and just kind of creep around or just look at everyone else who was dancing. Even the dancing was just very different from what I've seen in the states. However, all of the music is mainstream pop music from America.

in chinese, it says, "no graffiti!
whoever does so will be spanked!
Saturday, three other Yale students and I decided to go to on our own excursion instead of going to the Great Wall with HBA because we've all already been there multiple times. We decided to go to the 798 Art District. We took the subway and then a cab there, it was a lot of fun. This entire district used to be factories and such, and a lot of "starving artists" displayed their artwork here and also used the buildings as a form of art. Most of the artwork was modern/post modern works. It was interesting to see this artwork and compare it to a lot of the artwork that you would see in places like the MET, Yale Art Gallery and such. 

this was a laser art exhibit
this work is called "fantasy love"
There were also some of art..

Afterwards, we went to this shopping area where they have a lot of fake goods and you have to bargain with them called the Silk Market I think... Anyways, we bought a lot of random stuff that we probably didn't need just because it was fun to bargain and it was cheap. Added another shotglass to my collection, and got an I "heart" BJ shirt. This morning (Sunday) I woke up and took bus 307 from BLCU to 中关村南站 and wandered around for a long time until I found the church that I was looking for. I attended the english service at Haidian Christian Church and it was very pleasant to have found a church here in Beijing, though it is actually one of the "approved" churches that are regulated by the government.

I will take more pictures next week of interesting things!
Random pic: I was actually at Lanzhou, China for a week before coming to Beijing. This is a picture of "兰州拉面" which is a nationally famous beef noodle soup:

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Fun pictures. You'll definitely find yourself with more time in a few weeks as you get used to the pace...