I have been here in China for a few weeks and have gotten quite a bit of routine by now. As you may have read in some of the previous blogposts, my main task at the moment is study Mandarin on a daily basis, yes, this doesn’t sound like a lot of work, but you can’t imagine how demanding learning Mandarin is.
I usually start my day (for my understanding) pretty late at around 7:45 am. I don’t know where this late start comes from but I guess with school not starting until 9:00 am, there is no need to get up earlier and I enjoy the sleep-ins.
I have some coffee at home because buying coffee on the way is both, not the best for the environment and quite expensive. The school is only about 3.5 kms away and I take a bike because 1.) I am not allowed to drive a car here in China as I didn’t take the driving test 2.) driving a car would take me longer 3.) biking is good for the environment 4.) biking is good for my health.
I don’t own a bike in China but there are tons of (bike sharing) bikes in Beijing (I read somewhere that there were actually too many bikes in Beijing for the amount of people that live in the city) so you can always find one close. I love the system because there is no need for buying a bike and you can leave the bike pretty much wherever you want and continue your trip from there with whichever mean of transportation.
Though driving through Beijing is a little crazy, you get used to it (and the “Who-cares-about-the-rules?!” ) and as I went with a E-motorcycle first, biking is peanuts now. I might write a blog post about driving in China at some point when I have more experience. :-)
As I mentioned before, classes start at 9:00 am. With four hours each 45 minutes and a few breaks between, I am done by 12:20 pm. I catch another of the bikes, ride home, prepare food and obviously eat it and after a few minutes being lazy on the couch, I jump into a new round of studying. I actually study an extra 2-4 hours a day with learning the characters and meanings of them, doing my homework as of writing sentences (What is your name? Where are you from, etc…) and practicing listening and speaking the tones (Who the heck thought, it would be nice to have 4 different tones and with this, have total different meanings of words????)
To get my brain to rest, I usually do a bit of sports, be it at the gym, which we have in the same compound or at home right away. After that and dinner I just have a bit of me-time and go to bed whenever I feel like it.
For now, I don’t know a lot of people, so up until now there is not much social life involved if you don’t count shouting at random drivers because the don’t look when leaving a parking lot. But I am on it and join a few groups which meet a few times a month. You have a lot of opportunities to meet other expats here but I would also like to get involved with Chinese people to get a better understanding for the country.
One of my Mandarin teachers takes me out for lunch once in a while to try original Chinese food, which is a lot of fun and veeery good. So I hope to find more friends and have a good time here in Beijing.