Communications Executive and Peking University student Libby English shares the fifth instalment in her China – New Zealand Year of Tourism series, this time offering insight into a typical day in the life of an international student in Beijing.
Hello again! Wow, month five is upon us and I am currently back in New Zealand for the summer holidays. Since returning and catching up with friends, family and workmates, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked is, “What does a day in the life look like for you?”.
As previously mentioned, it’s definitely taken me a while to find a routine that helps me get the most out of every day but I have finally worked it out. Believe me, I never thought I’d be this person either…
Class starts at 8am or 10am depending on the day but either way I now wake up at 6am every morning. I found waking up this early gives me more control over my day as I can have a shower, a nice morning coffee, study for an hour or so and finish off any homework. It’s also a nice time to go for a quick walk and call home.
Every single day we have homework due the next morning and every second day we have a dictation test on the vocab we have been learning. Additionally, we have a test on every completed lesson so you really do need to always be on top of everything – catching up isn’t an option.
I then go to class feeling organised and ready for the day! Each subject (speaking and writing) runs for two hours so we have a total of four hours class each day. This is always broken up with lunch from 12pm – 1pm. The whole university shuts down and takes lunch at the same time, so it ensures everyone gets a break in the day to eat a big meal and take a breather.
For me, lunch is spent in the main school canteen with my classmates. The food is pretty good but not amazing, however it is super cheap. I have become a creature of habit and get the same noodles almost every day. I decided that the last thing I want in my day is to finish a meal feeling awful, so I’ve stuck to what I know I like. I also don’t eat meat, so options are limited!
After lunch we head back to class for the afternoon till 3pm. All our lessons are in the same classroom, so we never get a change of scene (though it is convenient). Come 3pm I head straight home. I’ll chat with my roommate for a while, grab something to eat and then call home.
I then have a nap as by 4pm I am shattered! My roommate also naps at this time, so it works well for us. I wake up between 5pm and 6pm and head to the canteen for dinner. This is the same food as lunch and usually the same canteen. I cook occasionally and sometimes order delivery if I have no time to go to the canteen.
After dinner, I’m ready for the night ahead of study! I park at my desk in my room and do my homework and any other study required. I usually try and finish by 10.30pm so that I am in bed by 11pm but on a busier day, study can go on till 12am (I try to be asleep by12.30am at the latest!). Getting six hours sleep is a good night for me in China, hence the nap!
Having such a rigid structure seems crazy for a university student but I really feel much better when operating this way. Everyone else also keeps similar schedules so it’s actually very normal. I have definitely learnt to make the most of every hour of the day, but I must say, coming home to New Zealand for a break has been pure bliss.