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The past couple of weeks at Tsinghua University have been keeping me extremely busy. At the same time, it has been a rewarding and worthwhile experience. My schedule was packed from morning to night everyday and only just managed to find some time to update my blog today. In light of this, I have a few substantive things to write about.

Preparing for the mid-semester exams was quite challenging. With the three years of learning Chinese at Sydney, I enrolled in advanced listening, reading, writing and speaking courses here in Tsinghua. Some subjects are easier than others, but the one where I was on the border of passing or failing was listening. And so, realising my inadequate skills, I knew I had to put in extra effort to just pass. Fortunately, in the end, I didn’t fail any of my subjects. What is more rewarding for me though was to know that I have built a lot more confidence with the language since coming here. I am beginning to appreciate why so many language students are encouraged to go on exchange.

In addition, the past few weeks have allowed me to immerse myself deeper into the Tsinghua student culture as well as have more opportunities to build better friendships with the students. As I said in my previous blog entry, the student culture at Tsinghua is extremely vibrant, given that all of the students live on-campus. There are a lot more chances for students to interact outside the classroom. Day in and day out, I see students exercising in the school athletics field, going together to eat or shop for groceries, various societies rehearsing for their next drama, traditional dance, chorus or orchestra production and so on.

Fortunately, I was given the rare opportunity to also be part of the semester-held performance (my one run by the Keyboard Society), and it was by far, the most interesting encounter yet at Tsinghua. Practicing for the concert and rehearsing pretty much occupied my schedule during the night, but it was an extremely rewarding experience. The constant interaction with the students in preparation for the concert was a great way for me to build good friendships with them.

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The language and culture is still a barrier for me. There are times where I perceive some aspects as perhaps a little unfitting – mainly those things that would not happen in Australia. But the more we interact, the more these cultural misunderstandings gradually diminish. Being the only foreigner in the student society indeed has a lot of advantages as I am being fully exposed to the Chinese student culture. These are aspects that I will never be able to experience in Sydney.

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The next few weeks will again be another long ride. I have enrolled to take an external Chinese language examination, which is to be held in two weeks. Alongside that, I am determined to make the most out of my remaining weeks at Tsinghua. Time flies way too fast when you are having fun.

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