Auspiciously, I no longer feel like pulling a Patrick Bateman on the Chinese internet after yoga and the best night out yesterday with team America (Shannon + Jonathan), Russia (Dasha), Denmark (Anders, Stine, Gutti), Spain (Arturo), Sweden (Hedvig+ yours truly), Slovakia (Daniela), Germany (Jana + Alicia), Zimbabwe (Haru), Mexico (Dilva) and Canada (Jackson) at La Mamba. I think my sneakers are pretty much done for after that blockbuster dance- antic… Granted, I’m a tad tired today, but still thought I’d give you an update on what the past month has entailed.
DUDE, I LIVE IN CHINA! Like, properly live here! Who would have thought?! (The name of the blog, for those who wonder, is an appreciative reference to the genius that is the “Accidental Chinese Hipster”- blog (look it up now), and the fact that my original plans were to go on exchange to Lyon; but then Juridicum made me an offer I simply couldn’t refuse… So I –luckily- ended up in China!)
Exactly one month ago, Emelie Linder and I arrived in this magical city. The first thing I noticed was how hot it was. I was told that Beijing would have roughly the same climate as southern Sweden, but this is almost tropical to me. The second thing I noticed was how vastly different everything is. Going to the bathroom is different (only squatting toilets), crossing a street is different, showering is different (only a massive communal shower with no privacy in the dorm building). Apart from that, there are the factors which you might have foreseen more easily: Chinese internet is 1) censured; 2) absolutely worthless, so keeping contact with people back home is a bit of a project. This has upsides and down-sides to it: of course, it can be frustrating to not be able to share the things you want shared with your dear ones, but on the other hand, it prevents you from living through social media which I feel far too many do in the West.
Both Emelie and I had been to Shanghai before, so we knew what to expect when we came to China. However, it really needs to be said that Beijing is an altogether different story than Shanghai. S is very va-va voom and super-urban- cool whereas Beijing is more heavy on the culture- side. I also find that Beijing is fairly green for a city of its size. This might surprise people as pollution here is insane still, but it’s still pretty easy to escape the inner- city smog by roaming the parks at the summer palace or something of that nature. The Beijingers are very, very helpful people. When we asked for addresses the first couple of days, an entire block of people could come up to us spontaneously to help us in our request. Often, they are just happy to see a white person who they can practice speaking English to. (However, when you’re haggling at the silk market, you need to show no mercy. Only law: survival of the fittest). One very endearing trait is that they (at least on CUPL- campus) often replace the word “classmate” with “friend”.
It may be difficult sometimes to understand how the Chinese think. Beurocracy is INSANE!!!!!!! And if you want something done, it can be very difficult to get straight answers. In offices, there is usually one person working while two others are busy playing tetris/ reading magazines/ smoking. However, it must be said that it is easy making Chinese friends in Beijing, especially when you’re out on the town partying it up. If you have a positive attitude, they will usually return it tenfold. ❤ Chinese…
I live very humbly here, but it’s all good. Fairly quickly, you realize how much you can actually live without. I share a room with 3 absolute nutters:
Marco is from Italy and has lived and worked pretty much everywhere. We met on the first day here at CUPL and hit it off instantly. Chance brought us to the same modeling (:S !) agency, which means that we will hopefully do some work together in the near future (more about this soon). Best quality: fills up your water-bottles when you’re not in the room. + scouts for obscure jobs for you to do. Worst roomie-quality: snores out of control.
Alessandro is also from Italy. One of the most energetic dudes I’ve met. Best quality: obsessively clean. Worst roomie quality: Obsessively clean.
Cyril: Russian guy from the Moscow- region. Like me in my younger years, Cyril has the impressive capacity to pull sleep- marathons. I endorse that. Best roomie quality: pulled out his Russian vodka and offered it to everyone on his very first night. He also buys cool, exotic fruits and lets you have as much as you want. Worst roomie- quality: TBD.
I truly have met amazing people here, and I’m happy the campus is so international. The transition to move here has been almost unbelievably easy, considering how different it still is from everything I’m used to. This is- of course- thanks to the kick- ass clientele that I’m sharing this experience with, and the very inclusive already- installed students who greeted us upon arrival. The international corridor on the seventeenth floor- my hoods- really is a dynamic, diverse and welcoming environment to live in, with people from pretty much every continent on the planet.
Also… BEIJING, MAN!!!! This city is just phenomenal. You can do anything you want in Beijing. Literally anything. There are the super-posh areas of Sanlitun; the laid-back party areas of Wudaokou, the poorer areas of genuine Chinese everyday life, the inspiring ART DISTRICT et.c., et.c.. The fact that you can get a pretty tasty lunch for 5 kr (~50 pence) is –obviously- a major, liberating perk and something which just does not happen in the West. And being able to casually stroll by places like the Forbidden City / Tian’anmen Square is just staggering. I am SO happy I made the decision to stay here for an entire year as opposed to a couple of months. Right now, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. To think that it’s ~10 degrees tops back home… Shudders. Sad Panda for you guys.
OK, gotta go, will get up early tomorrow to shop with Marco S for black leather shoes. We have a job in Tienjing on Sunday which means that we get paid to walk in a parade, pretending to be Scottish. God, I love China.