欢迎到北京! (Welcome to Beijing!)
After a nearly 14 hour flight from Chicago, I arrived in Beijing in mid-January. There were a large group of us arriving at the airport at the same time, so the Beijing Center send some staff and a bus to bring us to campus. As tired as I was, I kept my eyes wide open and glued to the bus window. It was so exciting to see all the hustle and bustle of the city and all of the buildings lit up at night. When we arrived on campus, we were given our room assignments and met our roommates. I opted to share a room with a Chinese roommate.
We had several days of orientation which covered everything we needed to know for the semester, and then some! The following Monday classes started. This semester I am taking 6 classes: China in the World Economy, Marketing in China, Chinese Literature in Translation, Chinese Literature in Chinese, Advanced Conversational Chinese, and the Ricci Seminar course. One thing I’ve admired about the Beijing center is their commitment to employ Chinese professors. The Dean said it wouldn’t make sense to have us fly across the world and study in China just to be taught by Americans. There is a slight exception to this rule however. There are a few American professors, but they are experts in their respective fields. My economics professor for example was one of the first American students to study in Beijing in 1979, speaks fluent Mandarin, and has lived and worked in Greater China for decades.
The Beijing Center is Loyola’s Chinese study abroad program housed at the University of International Business and Economics. So we live in the international dorm, have classes in dedicated Beijing Center classrooms and study in our own library. I like this setup better than the Rome Center because we are constantly around the Chinese students on campus when we’re getting meals or walking to class. It’s much more immersive in the city.
The campus is located on the north eastern side of the city, not far from the Olympic Village and about a 20 minute subway ride from the city center. One of the best things about studying in China is that the US Dollar goes a lot further here than it does in Europe. I eat all of my meals in restaurants or the on-campus dining halls, and typically spend 10 RMB (<$2) for breakfast, and usually 15-20 RMB for dinner (~$2.50-$3.25). Can you believe that?!
Our arrival time in Beijing was a bit awkward. When we got here all of the Chinese students were preparing for and taking their final exams, and then within two weeks almost the entire campus shut down as students all left for home to celebrate Chinese New Year. In China there is no break for Christmas. Instead the students get a little bit more than a month off to go spend time with their family for Chinese New Year. During the last week in January, all of the students and some faculty members from The Beijing Center departed for a 2 week long trip around the Yunnan province in southern China. I’ll give a full trip report on that in my next post!