Winter Approaches In Beijing
The eight installment to Libby’s blog series with the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism as mid-terms approach and the Beijing winter sets in.
This is my eighth blog and boy has a lot happened! I can feel the winter dawning as my hands begin to crack from the dry air. This was one of the first major changes that I experienced when I first arrived in Beijing nine months ago. The weather here is harsh. Midterms are this week, and it has now hit me that there is not long left to go in China. Although time seems to pass slower here, I am finally seeing the home straight as I head into my second winter.
I have a few updates. I decided to take the high road and not change classes. The pace seemed ok and I had the massive sense of motivation we all experience at the beginning of a semester. I wanted to prove I could do it and I wanted my Chinese to get better, plus my teachers said I was capable.
However, the pace picked up very fast after the two-week mark (the cutoff point to change classes), the work load piled on and I made some friends (which is great but also a great distraction). Priorities changed and I wanted to use my improved speaking abilities to explore Beijing and get out and away from the books. This is a different approach to that expected by my Chinese teachers.
After a meltdown upon realising its pretty hard learning stuff when you can’t understand what’s being taught, I dragged myself to the office and requested to be moved down. I won’t go into details but there were tears and the response was to “work harder”. It’s safe to say I am still in the same class.
However, in my quest to get out and about, I found myself in a similar situation to last semester where you might remember I turned up to my visa appointment and was greeted with a film crew. I had a similar experience this weekend, though this time it was consensual and pre-arranged.
On Saturday night I received a text with my name in it. This is unusual as I receive so many spam calls and texts each day that I never bother to check my phone unless it’s WeChat. As it was addressed to me by name, I attempted to read the message. I was asked to be in an advert for the upcoming Olympics.
Of course this was unpaid but it seemed legit and at least I had some warning this time. They proceeded to send me a bunch of messages and after a couple of calls we had determined that there would be a car to pick me up at 7am on Sunday morning.
I will be frank and confess there were a few anxious thoughts crossing my mind as I let strangers pick me up in a minivan and drive me 40 minutes away to a shed. Alas we arrived where a film crew were filming a legitimate advertisement. To top it off, one of the crew (who spoke English) had lived in Wellington in a past life.
The crew informed me I would need to come back for a second day. I felt much more relaxed the second time. I am hoping I get to see the ad this time, as again I have been told I will be world famous.
Anyway, another string to add to the bow and another story for the books. China has not only given me a cultural and language education but also a new ad portfolio; what more could a girl want?