By Heath Sloane (何懿嗣)



On behalf of the Sydney University cohort here at Peking University, I would like to thank Beijing Daxue for having opened its doors to us to study here over the last month. This university’s first-rate teachers and facilities have enabled us to pursue our passion for Chinese in a friendly, yet academically-rigorous, environment and to holistically improve our language ability.

Peking University is rightly regarded as China’s pre-eminent institution for Chinese language education; internationally focused yet dedicated to providing a rich student experience. To study abroad at this university is a distinct privilege – particularly considering how prestigious and competitive it is to gain admission. Therefore, we are grateful that BeiDa was prepared to take our group of passionate and driven young Australians into its fold.

Over the past month we have had the opportunities to visit numerous sights and create unforgettable memories both within and outside of Beijing. We have thoroughly enjoyed these experienced, which ranged from Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven, to the Summer Palace, Beihai Park, Night Markets, and the 798 District. And I think it’s fair to say that we’ve well and truly explored Wudaokou and Sanlitun on our own accord! Outside of Beijing, we’ve seen just a few of the historical and cultural highlights of this vast country, including Xi’an, Harbin and Shanghai.

It would be remiss of me to not to thank our Chinese Laoshi’s here at Beida, who have all impressed us by the quality of teaching and enthusiasm for sharing their language with us. Your effort to ensure that classes were interesting, engaging and fun is greatly appreciated.

Finally a special thank you must be given to Zhang Laoshi, our course coordinator. Zhang Laoshi, your organisation, support and care has not gone unnoticed. From the pre-departure workshops, to your efforts in organizing all the excursions – you have always been several steps ahead, so as to ensure that we, your students, would have the best time possible.

Whilst at times learning a language may seem like a grind, and we tend to focus on the next ‘dictation test’ or ‘vocabulary quiz’ – it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. The relationship between China and Australia is becoming increasingly important as we come to a greater realization of our position in the Asia-Pacific region.

With solid foundations in the Chinese language, we are getting ahead of the game. Even if we do not envisage using our Chinese in our future career, it is salient to remember two things: firstly - that our beginnings never know our ends, and secondly - that Australia and China’s trajectories are intertwined. And in the future, wherever we end up using our Chinese, we will look back fondly on our time at BeiDa.

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By Jin Lan (金兰) - 中级一班汉语老师

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Good afternoon, everyone!

It is my great honor to represent my colleagues to give a speech here.

First of all, I would like to give my thanks to my students. In this hot summer, you brought some fresh breeze all the way from Australia, so we feel much cooler here. The sunshine on your faces brightened our classroom and made our classes full of joy.

An old saying said, in a party of three, there must be one whom I can learn from. I learned a lot from you. You are my teachers, as well. You love studying. In a short period of time, you learned so many Chinese words. You can even make jokes with 傻瓜and 笨蛋.

Stepping out of our small classroom, you turned the whole Beijing into a larger classroom where you could learn more Chinese. You found many language phenomena, such as东门儿、三里屯儿、没事儿、对对对对、这个、那个 etc.

I have never been in some places where you have visited. Through your eyes, I saw a lot and got to know the city I live better.

I am a reader of your blogs. I couldn’t hold my laughter when I read Lauren’s findings: first was written as frist, and freedom can also be called reedom.

You have been here far away from your parents and family members. The touching scenes when you helped each other melted my heart again and again. When 乐海林 encountered difficulties, 何懿嗣and the other classmates accompanied him and extricated him from the sorrow. 乐海林,you did a great job! My students, I am proud of you!

Secondly, I would like to express my thanks to my colleagues. My partner 崔老师 took over my class when I needed his help. 董老师arranged our classes and textbooks. And I got to know it from the emails that the teachers from the international office didn’t take a break in this summer. They supported us at our backs. When I met 汲传波老师、鹿士义老师、赵昀辉老师、王岳老师 in the corridor, they would always greet me with a smile. All these mentioned me that I was not working alone.

I will give my special thanks to 张老师. She devoted herself to helping the students, which made our teaching much easier. When we were studying the new word “陪伴”( accompany ),I asked my students, “Who do you want to be a company when you are sick?” Their answer was, “Zhang Laoshi.” I asked why. They said, “Zhang Laoshi would bring porridge for us.” You are so lucky to have such a good teacher.

Buddha said, 500 glances back in the past life turned out to be a touch in this life. We have spent unforgettable 4 weeks together. It must be our preordained fate. You brought brightness into my life. I will not forget you. Life is so beautiful. Enjoy it.

Thank you all!

(By Jin, Lan on July 24, 2014)

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我看你们的博客,被邬天晴的发现逗得哈哈大笑,比如:first 被人写成了frist, 自由也叫Reedom。







By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

First one:
The comeback:
And now for more odd phrasings!


Really, who are we to say what God does or does not wan? And agh, what a cliffhanger!


And collecting Engrish most amusing hobby. (These notebooks at the PKU stores are gold.)


Where b Does Fshions? Where indeed.


I had my the 20th birthday celebration this year. It looks like imi’s at Xidan is doing something similar.


While the actual mispelling here is “apure”, I think I find the massive “Hello” on this notebook even funnier.


And this is one of my favourites. It’s so poetic.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

Passing through the gates on the other side of the Altar, we came to the Imperial Vault of Heaven. The Vault is entirely wooden and gorgeously painted in blue, green, red and gold. It serves as a special storehouse for some of the wooden tablets used in the worship ceremonies, particularly the ones representing ancestors.

Even the undersides of the roof are painted with brightly coloured motifs of dragons, flowers, and swirling patterns. Inside, the ceiling is richly detailed with the same vivid theme.


The Imperial Vault and its visitors.

Retracing our steps and walking around the Imperial Vault, we arrived at the most iconic and recognizable part of the Temple of Heaven: the triple-tiered pagoda of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. This was built in a similar style to the Imperial Vault, but on a grander scale. From foundations to the highest point of the Hall, the image of richness, opulence and glory was complete.


The famous Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

And yet sometimes it’s the subtler things that can be the most striking. Off to both the east and west sides of the Hall were two smaller buildings, the East and West Annexes. Inside these were more specialized ornaments of prayer and worship, particularly for various stars and planets. There was also a multi-language explanation of the complex sacrifice rituals involving animals, incense and music.

But the feature that left the strongest impression on me was actually outside the building; a simple, shallow gutter running around the outside of the Annex building. Had Zhang Laoshi not pointed it out, I’d probably not have noticed it. It was a sewage gutter, cut neat and square into the ground, about twenty centimetres deep and perhaps thirty centimetres wide. It would have been completely unremarkable but for the fact that it, too, was built of solid white marble.


The East Annex, surrounded by that funny little gutter which - in its own way - demonstrates the wealth of the ancient emperors more than any big hall.

I find that the Temple of Heaven is definitely one of my favourites amongst the historical sites we’ve visited. The architecture is wonderfully traditional, particularly in the use of painted decoration and glazed tiles; it’s surrounded by juniper trees, which provide shade and ease the eyes; the celestial imagery within the temple’s buildings is, well, divine; and there’s a fun maths puzzle in the works.


The juniper trees in the park surrounding the Temple of Heaven.

After our short visit to the Temple, us USYD students returned to the bus for a quick ride to our second destination of the morning: Hongqiao Pearl Market.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

On the morning of Saturday 12th July at 9am, our motley crew set off on a double excursion to the Temple of Heaven and Hongqiao Market! As for all the excursions, we hopped on a PKU bus and set off through the city.
While we moved at the usual pace through Beijing’s traffic, our tour guide Annie described the Temple of Heaven’s place in the life of the ancient emperors. Since it was believed that each emperor was chosen by heavenly mandate, it was also his responsibility to pray to heaven for prosperity.


On the bus: Annie giving us a quick introduction to the Temple of Heaven (Tiāntán, 天坛).

We arrived in good time; walking along a wide paved path bordered with trees, we came to a ticket office. Annie purchased the tickets and together we entered the Temple!


The entrance gate of the Temple of Heaven. The shady surrounding area seemed to be a popular meeting place for dance clubs, as there were a number of couples dancing to tango and salsa music!

Passing through the entrance and walking further along the stone path (which was actually the Danbi Bridge), came to the first area of the Temple of Heaven: the Heaven Mound Altar. Beyond three tall gates are a series of concentric circular rising platforms. Each ring is marked by solid white marble balustrades - quite the display of the emperors’ wealth.


The Heaven Mound Altar as seen from below. Each concentric platform progressively rises from the ground.


The marble gates are edged with glazed blue ceramic tiles and decorated with detailed carving.

As we stood at the center of the Heaven Mound Altar, our tour guide Annie mentioned that the blocks of stone arranged around the central axis followed a pattern. The innermost ring had nine blocks, the second ring had eighteen blocks, the third had twenty-seven blocks, and so on. In total, Annie concluded, 3,402 stone blocks had been used.


A stock photo of the highest level of the Altar without any tourists displays the radiating pattern of the blocks.

Well, well - quite frankly, I couldn’t ignore a challenge like that. I took out some paper and calculated the arithmetic progression of the blocks using a first term of 9, a difference between terms of 9, and a total sum of 3,402. Did you know that there are exactly twenty-seven rings of stone blocks around the central axis of the Heaven Mound Altar?


Maths: just as useful as your highschool teacher said it was.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

Part one:
Part two:

And now for a third lot of silly English!


As these stationery items at a PKU store tell us, believing in ourselves is the the frist step of any accomplishment. And the ordinal suffix for 21 is “th”.


Whishing happiness on others is a fine thing to do.


I’ve had a few wallets in my time, but never one that makes hands.


Hello, little notebook. Why yes, I do like rainy day!


A sign near Carrefour’s supermarket. Japaness style food is very popular in Australia, too.


While in Beijing, I’ll always be careful to no block or damage the subway fire facilities.


Advertising in Xidan advises us to first buy and then to sale ME&City’s products.


And students are always glad more coffee.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

A part of this amazing exchange is the quality and pricing of the PKU canteens! Like much of Peking University, the canteens are subsidized by the government - and boy, do I ever appreciate it.

PKU has ten different canteens in total, of varying size and cuisine: the aspiring epicure can sample their choice of stir fry, hot pot, dumplings, buns, noodles, steamed vegetables, bread, fruit, omelettes, and stews. While I’ve only been to the less expensive cafeteria-style canteens, there are also formal restaurants with luxurious furnishings and à la carte table service.


Lunchtime at the Nongyuan canteen: the canteen is pretty big, has two floors, there are nine other canteens, and it’s the summer vacation so most students are away - and it’s still busy, every single day.

The layout of Nongyuan categorizes the dishes by their province of origin, and there are around a dozen categories - we’re really spoilt for choice. Chili-lovers can head over to the Sichuan counter, stew-admirers can check out the Shandong counter, and stir-fry fiends should make a beeline to the Xiaoxiangfengwei counter.


A sign above the Xiaoxiangfengwei (潇湘风味) area, a cuisine highlighting steamed and stir-fried fish, vegetables, and seafood. Chili-pepper stickers on the dish labels warn unsuspecting students of spicy dishes.

Besides the incredible amount of variety even within a single canteen, the other thing I’m impressed by is the ability to request dishes to-order. Noodle bowls can be requested to your tastes and made right in front of you - you can literally watch the talented chefs roll, chop and boil the noodles.


Chefs boiling just-rolled noodles.

At the hotpot counter, students can select meat and vegetable ingredients exactly to their preferences, along with their choice of cooking style. While I can’t read the characters to tell you exactly what the cooking styles are, they include a classic spicy chili option.


Fantastic hot pot options include bok choy, lettuce, spinach, bamboo shoots, yam noodles, and bean sprouts.


Exchange students can have rather a lot of fun sampling all the fascinating new vegetable options, like these lotus root slices.

Finally, the quality of the food is tremendous. We really aren’t getting bowls of gruel here. Everything I’ve tried is fragrant, fresh, and cooked perfectly.


A freshly made-to-order hotpot dish. The presentation is student canteen; the taste is gourmet.


Beans, bok choy and mushrooms stir-fried to al dente perfection.

At the end of the meal, we can take our trays, plates and cutlery to one of several washing stations. At these, the PKU-branded dishes, chopsticks and spoons are cleaned for reuse at the next meal. The dishwashing staff are always friendly and helpful, especially when it comes to slightly discombobulated exchange students!

Being able to enjoy delicious and inexpensive food every day at the PKU canteens has been a tremendous bonus to this trip, and has saved me money, time and worry - there’s never a risk of gastrointestinal upset after a meal at Nongyuan. The quality and ease of PKU’s canteens is definitely something I’ll miss when I’m back in Sydney. No doubt I’ll have to make several visits to local Chinese restaurants to cope with the nostalgia!


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

Since our Global Village accommodation includes washing facilities, I was very happy not to need an entire month’s of clothes. Every odd-numbered floor of Building 6 has two top-loader washing machines and one spin-dryer.


One of the top-loader machines. Bring your own washing powder (easily purchased at the convenience store outside).

The second feature of the washing machines is that they’re coin-operated. Something funny about Chinese renminbi/yuan is that there are one-yuan paper notes, but there are also one-yuan coins with exactly the same value. I like the coins; they remind me of Australia’s more durable money made of metal coins or plastic-coated notes.


Three coins for a standard wash.

Forty minutes and a bit of washing powder later, and your clothes are nicely clean! Just be sure to return to the machine quickly. The first time I used the washing machines, I forgot to come back for three hours and lost some light-coloured clothes - oops… Fortunately, this only happened once.

After the wash has completed, items are amusingly stuck to the sides of the machine due to the spinning action.


Ahhh, clean clothes.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

Before Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympic Games, it had a lot of preparation to do. One of the challenges the city had to meet was providing a public transport that would efficiently and impressively shuttle both tourists and Beijingers around the city.

The result - Beijing’s subway system - is nothing short of groundbreaking.


Picking out our destination (Xidan, in this case) on a clearly marked map.

Stations are clean, polished, well-lit, and outfitted with the full array of signage in Chinese and English. Entry via both escalators and stairs is available at every stop.


The gleaming entrance to the Peking University East Gate subway station.

The ticketing system is exceedingly simple. Every trip, regardless of length, costs two yuan (about 35c in AUD). You can purchase one-off paper tickets at a machine, or buy a reusable card with reloadable credit.


My friend choosing our route at a ticket machine.

Security is higher than the Sydney train system; you have to pass your belongings through a conveyor belt scanner before descending to the train platform. Water bottles are also tested on a specialized machine to verify that they don’t contain explosives.


Scanning ze bags

Past the quick and easy security check, the walls are decorated with large, brightly lit advertisements for all kinds of things, including singers, drinks, and phone plans.


Very fluorescent! Notice the clearly marked signs everywhere.

Safety continues to be a priority downstairs at the train platform, where glass barriers prevent passengers from accidentally falling onto the tracks.


A pair of sliding glass doors, with a reflection of my super photogenic friend.

A particularly admirable feature of Beijing’s subway system is that you never have to wait. Trains are timed to the second and come every one or two minutes; delays are unheard of. If this is what happens when Beijing hosts the Olympics, I wouldn’t mind it hosting the Olympics more often!

But Beijing is still a city of eleven and a half million people - twenty million if you count people visiting from outside provinces. Even at two o’clock in the afternoon on a Monday - hardly rush hour - my friend and I soon found our train carriage quite busy as we approached the popular Xidan shopping centre.


Passengers, passengers everywhere!

While riding the subway, I was surprised to not only see advertisements on screens inside the train, but also in the darkness of the tunnel outside! The images flickered slightly, and I realized they were created by a series of screens outside the train, each displaying one frame of the animated advertisement. Just like when watching television or films, the brain assembles the collection of still frames into a coherent, moving whole.


The split-second exposure of photography reveals the illusion, displaying a gap between two screens.

I also appreciated the clear, bilingual displays on both sides of the train. These showed not only the train’s current location, but also which side of the carriage was the exit.


The location displays - unbelievably clear, simple and useful!

After about forty minutes, we arrived at Xidan. The whole experience was immensely satisfying for one used to Sydney’s public transport system, where buses and trains are late so often that nobody bothers to complain anymore. Taking the subway in Beijing felt safe, reliable, and easy. And I had mobile phone reception from start to finish!


Wall-to-wall advertisements at the Xidan exit.

Having now taken the subway several times, I can confidently agree with the assessment that Beijing’s subway system is one of the best in the world.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)


Because Starbucks is eternal, and must be visited wherever I make my pilgrimage.


Fourbucks - sorry, Starbucks - at Joy City, Xidan.

Starbucks in China is a little different to the original American variety. The displays are mostly packages of tea, not coffee, and the menu is simpler. They have the standard varieties of coffee (espresso, long black, etc) and just a few flavours of frappacinos (strawberry cheesecake, green tea, coffee), but none of the American favourites like pumpkin spice, cookies and cream, or caramel.

On the other hand, there are a few special locale-specific items as well! The display cabinet contains green tea sponge rolls with red bean paste along with the standard muffins and brownies. But the Chinese Starbucks specialty is definitely the mooncake, stamped in rose patterns or with the Starbucks logo, and made with multiple layers of fruity or sweet fillings. Traditionally eaten to celebrate the Moon Festival, they’re now popular all year round.


Gosh, aren’t they cute?

Most things here are inexpensive when converted into AUD, but not coffee. The price here is just about the same as in Sydney - my Tall© Iced℠ Fresh Brewed Coffee® with whipped cream™ was still close to four dollars.


And yes, it was delicious.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

More silly English, part two! Part one can be found at


This guy walking over the Bei Da Jie footbridge had a really great T-shirt.


And at Xidan’s Joy City shopping mall: a macaron shop with a rather distinctive name.


Another Joy City discovery: the name of one of the floors. I for one would love to have more ree time.


Zara Beijing’s newest season of shirts has an admirable message.

And finally, the best for last:


I’m getting the feeling that this shirt was copied directly from an eye test chart. In any case, it’s wonderful.


金兰老师 ( 中级一班汉语):


崔华山老师 ( 中级一班口语):


汲传波老师 ( 高级班汉语):



By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

I find English with odd spelling, phrasing or grammar very amusing, so I made sure to bring some with me. But I’m also delighted to have found some here, too!


The Beautiful Time Cafe at PKU.


On tables outside the Heyuan Theme Restaurant at Global Village. “Consumption area” is certainly one way to put it.


Seen while buying a Chinese SIM card. Cellualephones: close cousins of the saxamaphone.



I like the way these notebooks think.


They really have the right attitude.

Finally, my own folder from Sydney reminds me to beleive in miself:



By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

The gathered audience wasn’t large - just our class of students and one other family - which made the opera seem like a special event just for us. The performance began with a woman dressed like a doll in a red dress and an elaborate hairpiece introducing the first scene in Mandarin and then English.

In the first scene, the hero (dressed in white) has a problem: it’s nighttime and he needs to sleep, but his foe wants to kill him. He discusses the problem briefly with his servant (in blue), then goes to bed. Before long, the foe (in black) appears, and the rest of the scene entails them hilariously trying to fight each other in the dark. Their conflict is highlighted by percussive wooden block strikes and two-toned cymbals.
After a sword fight, unarmed combat, and some acrobatics around the bed, the hero prevails and the foe slinks off into the night.


The hero and his servant friend. At the bottom right you can see the bed frame, which later on is vaulted over, under and through. The dramatic makeup helps to accent the actors’ expressions.


The hero and the foe in one of many close calls.

The second scene, also introduced in Mandarin and English, depicted a Goddess spreading flowers around the world in the wake of spring. As she danced and spun, she sung about how all the birds and animals were awakening, and how she would soon fly away on a cloud to the Buddha. Joining the orchestra at this point was the welcome sound of a stringed instrument.

While I thought the Goddess’s costume and her looping ribbons were a fine sight, and her lyrics very poetic, her singing was very high pitched, slightly squealing, and didn’t seem to match up with the music.


The Goddess twirls ribbons as she dances and sings.

The final scene was the longest and as good as the hilarious fighting-in-the-dark scene, if not better. This depicted the Monkey King turning up at the Dragon King’s palace and mischievously causing trouble. Skillfully, cheekily, and with a great deal of clever choreography, the Monkey King disarms all of the Dragon King’s bodyguards one by one. He turns intangible, invisible, jumps behind and in front them, playing with his opponents all the while.

The Monkey King’s not after power, though - he hands the weapons back to their owners straight away - he just wants an audience with the Dragon King. However, their discussion turns foul and the two kings face off in a duel!
A new instrument joins the orchestra: a kind of low drumroll sound. The Dragon King is ultimately defeated, and the whole cast takes a curtain call. (“Hǎo! Hǎo!”)


The Dragon King (left) and Monkey King (right) in their discussion.

I really enjoyed the opera, especially as the majority of the performance was clever dance-fighting rather than singing. It was also rather fun calling out our appreciation and drinking tea as we watched the performers. The costumes were brilliant, the music lively; and the beautiful Opera Theatre itself made the evening very special indeed. Hǎo!


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

On Wednesday 9th July, our class took a bus to excursion number two: the Beijing Opera!


Dressing up nicely for the opera.

Just like Tiananmen, there was rubbernecking to be done even while travelling. Beijing’s scale is truly astounding.


Seriously, check out these overpasses!

As we drove through the city of Beijing, Zhang Laoshi instructed the class on how to show our appreciation of the performance: by calling out “Good! Good!” (好! 好! Hǎo! Hǎo!) Everyone made sure to get a good bit of “Hǎo!”-ing practice in on the bus, of course. After about forty minutes, we arrived at the beautiful Beijing Opera Theatre.


USYD students gathered in front of the small, finely painted theatre. Most of them had never been to any opera before and were quite curious.


An inside courtyard.

Walking past a souvenir shop, we entered the main room of the Beijing Opera Theatre. It was small and intimate, with tables surrounded by chairs all facing the front of the room.


The main room, decorated with painted panels and hanging lanterns.

We were also provided tea and snacks to enjoy during the performance: chunks of watermelon, small dried fruits which were like spherical dates, candied peanuts, and little snack bars which were like shortbread with an apple filling.


The tea cups even had lids on them to keep them hot!

Soon the lights dimmed, and everyone clapped as the performance began.


By Lilliane Moothoo (马莉莲)

On our first week in Beijing, a small group of us went and saw the film 'Godzilla' at the Peking University Hall. There were only 3 movies currently showing Maleficent, Transformers 4 & Godzilla. The language partner of one of my classmates who bought the tickets later said that she couldn't make it on that night. Therefore, Zhang Laoshi was invited to come and watch with us instead.

The movie was in English with Chinese subtitles, so you can study to read Chinese while watching or simply enjoy the movie also the 3D was pretty good. Another good thing was you don't have to wait until the advertisements end like they do in Australian cinemas. Finally, I give the movie just 2 1/2 stars.


The price of a movie ticket is 25RMB (which is $4.30) only if you show your student ID.


Before the movie, we were gathered outside the hall and took a nice selfie.


We got our 3D glasses and looked for our seats, the place was like a large lecture theatre.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

Our class’s adventure through Beijing’s roads, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Imperial Garden concluded at the gift shop, of course. Souvenirs ranged from small ornaments and wearable trinkets, often decorated with the images of one of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals, to postcard sets, to beautiful crystal animals and ceramics.


Glazed ceramic statues at the Forbidden City gift shop. The same type of golden, glazed coating can be seen on bricks and roof shingles around the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.


Cast bronze dragons valued at my entire budget for going to China combined.

Apart from these, I was very happy to find some smaller items in the gift shop which I really liked! Our time for exploring the gift shop quickly drew to a close, and we gathered to return to the coach bus. The class had originally planned to continue exploring the area after the official tour; but in light of the heat, it was unanimously agreed to go back to Global Village and rest.


Happy-but-tired-and-overheated USYD students taking a break outside the gift shop.

The Forbidden City’s last gift to us was the sight of Jingshan (景山) Park, directly opposite the exit. Jingshan (“Scenery Mountain”) was actually piled up from all the soil excavated while digging the moat around the Forbidden City. It’s a little mind-blowing to look at that hill and think that it was laboriously, artificially created.


The artificial mountain of Jingshan Park is visible from the exit of the Forbidden City.


And last of all, thankyou to Gao Jie for being our tour guide!


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

Moving on from the enormous courtyards of the Forbidden City, our group passed through the Gate of Terrestrial Tranquility into the Imperial Garden.

My first impression of the Imperial Garden was how soft it is on the eyes compared to the stark grandeur of the Forbidden City. It still covers twenty thousand square feet, but the space is made comfortably small by the careful arrangement of trees, flowers and rock.


A first glimpse of the Garden.

The class stopped here for a rest while some of our classmates visited the bathroom facilities, but not for long.

Observing the Chinese custom of hocking a loogie pretty much anywhere turned them off from actually using the toilets. Now there’s a cultural difference - what foreigners might consider unsanitary, many Chinese people consider a sign of good healthy lungs!


Our rest spot near one of dozens of finely built gazebos and pavilions in the Garden. Our tour guide Gao Jie is on the right wearing a purple jacket.

Something I especially liked about the Garden was the use of rock and varying heights in the composition of the place. I’ve never seen anything like it in flatland Australia. The most dramatic example of this was the Hill of Accumulated Elegance (堆秀山), an artificial hill built from lake stones. Given that the Emperor lived his whole life inside the Forbidden City, the intent was to give him a taste of the outside world - like mountains, for example - while still keeping him in heavily guarded safety.


The Hill of Accumulated Elegance. Fans of geology will note that the rocks are igneous; in contrast, Australian beaches tend to have sedimentary rocks.


By Jeremy Ko (高浚仁)

You may have seen these types of people before. They tend to roam around the streets of Sydney and usually congregate in the city area. All these people come from different cultural backgrounds, many of which came from overseas and can only speak a few English words.

What are they referred to as? Street dancers.

You might have seen them busking before at Darling Harbour, Pitt Street Shopping mall and also at the Old Sydney Entertainment Centre (Now known as Qantas Credit Union).

So as you can guess, this post is about dance and in particularly Street dancing. If you have ever been intrigued in the hip hop culture or have a keen interest in street dancing, then this post is perfect for you. If not, well then… you might be bored when reading this post.

Last Thursday on the 10th of July, I thought it would be an interesting experience to witness the hip hop culture in Beijing by entering a dance competition. It was called “Keep on Dancing” and has actively existed for the past 10 years and is renowned as Beijing’s LARGEST hip hop competition.

(The ticket for the event)

So with that in mind I grabbed a few mates who I had just met a few weeks ago from breaking together in Beijing and we registered ourselves to compete. This was only the preliminary round and was located at Tangguo Hit FM which is at the Lama Temple. The main event was held the day after at the Beijing Worker’s stadium.

(Just chilling with my mates)

(His got some nice tats)

So when we arrived at our destination the event was delayed. As expected, it seems as if it’s a universal thing as dancers are always late and events will always start 1-2 hours later than the intended time.

We didn’t eat breakfast yet so we went to the local convenient store.

(Getting milk tea and a bun)

(The place where the event was held)

(The reception)

(The lobby)

(Just cheekily doing some promotion for the hip hop society back at USYD)

When the event started it had exceeded my expectations of this competition. The venue was a lot larger what I had pictured it to be and the level of competition and people competing was also a lot higher.



(Bboy cyphers before the event starts)

(Bunch of stores were also selling merchandise)


(DJ doing his thing)


(Prelim battle)


(Crew battle)


(Russian crew battling against a Korean crew)


(Merchandise that I bought)


(Featuring Bboy Ronnie, International judge from USA and my favourite bboy)

All in all, it was a great event even though I got smoked by other bboys and didn’t make pass the prelims.
But what always really amazes me is how the hip hop culture is universal and also extremely lively in Beijing. There were so bboys from different countries such as Mongolia, Korea, Brazil and Russia which the majority were speaking their native language and could only speak a few Chinese words. There were also Chinese bboys who flew in from other cities such as Shanghai and Guangdong just to battle for this event. As clichéd as it may sound, dance itself unifies people despite there being a language barrier.

It’s always interesting to see every bboy represent their city or country and each bringing a new unique and different perspective of what they think bboying is. Furthermore it didn’t matter if you could speak Chinese or not. What only mattered was whether you could dance or not.


(There were a lot of people…)


By Lizzie Fuller (傅冰潇)

This blog post is perennially late, but better late than never! During our second group outing at Beida, we had the most amazing Chinese cuisine at Haidilou. For most of us, it was our first Chinese hotpot experience, and we were introduced to a copious variety of sauces, vermicelli, vegetables and meat.


Similar to fondue cooking, hot pot is a style of cuisine in which diners select meats and vegetables and prepare their own communal meal in a large pot filled with a typically spicy broth. While these restaurants are particularly popular during the winter season, they are perennially popular during the summer season as they create a unique collective cooking and dining experience.


What really stood out for us at Haidilao was their exceptional customer service, providing everything from aprons to free fruit salads, ice water and refreshments at the end of the meal. Good food, good company, would definitely go back again!



By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

It rained on Wednesday 2nd July, which brought the weather down to a very comfortable 24°C. Perfect weather for walking around!

After class, Yuna (who has an impeccable sense of direction) showed me the old part of the campus. This part of the campus, found in the north-west, is especially beautiful: there is lush greenery, buildings in traditional style, and the serene Wèimíng Hú (未名湖, the Nameless Lake).


You can see the Boya Pagoda in the distance. And in winter, the lake freezes over!


Thankyou to Yuna for the photos!


I took a photo for these students, so they took a photo of me!


People around Weiming Lake are often tourists, but on Wednesday there were a lot of PKU students due to the recent graduation (毕业).


This gentleman’s job is cleaning up around PKU - the bicycle-powered cart reads “PKU Central Health”. Many similar carts can be found around campus. Thankyou for letting us photograph you, sir!


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

As we passed over a bridged moat and entered through one of five gates of Tiananmen into the Forbidden City, our tour guide Gao Jie told us about how the ancient Chinese emperors lived. In ancient times, only the emperor could use the center gate; government officials entered via the two left gates, and military officials via the right gates.
After entering, we still had to buy a ticket to explore the entire Forbidden City, so Gao Jie joined the ticket queue while our group waited in the first section of the City.


Me and Zhang Laoshi waiting with our classmates in the >33°C heat and strong Wumai pollution (hence the mask I’m wearing). In my hands I temporarily have Gao Jie’s flag, which helped us to follow her in the crowds.


The Forbidden City is a series of courtyards, stairs, and beautiful buildings in traditional style.


It’s also a place where every photo is a group photo.


One of ten water pots standing near the Gate of Heavenly Purity as an ancient protection against fires.


A closer look at the pots reveal that they were once gold-leaved; when the British and French invaded in 1900, the soldiers scraped off the gold with their knives.


One of many, many photographs I took; this is the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Neither my camera nor the word “ginormous” quite does the Forbidden City justice.


The canopy of the City’s roofs continues far into the distance, a demonstration of power and wealth beyond imagination.

The bare, paved stones of the Forbidden City are no accident of design. Originally, small forests within the City provided shade to the inhabitants. However, the Emperor feared that the trees would provide cover for assassins, and all were chopped down.

To make sure the Emperor could still enjoy the delights of nature, the Imperial Garden was built - and that was our next destination.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

So what is Tiananmen Square anyhow? It’s actually just a big city square, named after the gate to the Forbidden City next door - Tiananmen (天安门) means Gate of Heavenly Peace.

As we walked from the bus to the square itself via the subway, I was more glad than ever to be in an organized tour group - individual tourists were having to wait in endless, unmoving queues. Our tour guide Gao Jie explained what we were looking at as we walked onwards.


Huge queues at the subway stations closest to Tiananmen.

Even before we arrived at the square itself, the crowds were enormous. “人山人海”: mountains of people, seas of people. Most were visitors from all over China enjoying their summer holidays. The vast majority only ever visit once, and yet there are tens of thousands of new people every day. This is what it means when your country has a population of over 1,350,000,000.

In response, the square has dozens of carts selling refreshments, souvenirs and parasols, as well as a strong first-aid and police presence.


A police officer watches as tourists stream in and out of the subway.


Squads of officers regularly march through the square. You can also see a grey haze in the background; this is not caused by photographic artifact, but by Saturday 5th July’s severe Wumai pollution.

The square itself was fairly plain paved stone as far as they eye could see, and was built from 1958-1959 under Mao’s intent to create the largest and most spectacular square in the world: in this way, it’s a symbol of power and authority.


The Monument to the People’s Heroes. Again, the grey fog is real.


I liked these topiary hedges at the edges of the square.


Walking on, we arrived at the entrance to the Forbidden City, with the famous portrait of Mao Zedong over its center gate. Our tour guide Gao Jie explained that the left panel reads “Longevity to the People’s Republic of China”, and the right “Longevity to the great unity of the world’s peoples”.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

On Sunday July 6th, I met my language partner Zhāng Lùhào (张陆昊, or Katherine) for the first time! After email contact on Saturday morning before we left for Tiananmen revealed that we both liked science (she’s studying chemistry), we were both looking forward to meeting.


Me and Zhang Luhao at the Nongyuan canteen.

We met at Global Village - conveniently near PKU’s chemistry building - and strolled around campus, chatting in Mandarin all the while. By the time we arrived at the Nongyuan canteen for lunch, I’d already learned a few new words!

I shamelessly report that our meeting ended with toilet jokes and cackling laughter.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)


The first draft of my speech for Written Chinese class.

Since we learned the word “演讲” (to lecture), the intermediate Written Chinese class starts every day with one or two students giving a short speech. On Wednesday 9th July, it was my turn! Thankyou to Jin Laoshi for correcting some mistakes. Here’s my speech, with a translation below:


There was once a dormitory with two people. They didn’t have much money, and had to share a room.
They quickly encountered a problem. One of them, Little Book, who liked to stay in the dorm and read books, preferred the room not to be too noisy. The other, Little Sound, always liked to continuously listen to music. In the morning, she started listening to music; at noon, she was listening to music; and at night it was the same. The two of them were certainly opposites, and didn’t like eachother.

But later on, they had to do a Chinese test. Little Book’s writing skills were good, but his speaking bad; and Little Sound wrote badly, but her speaking was excellent.

So at last the two of them helped eachother. When they did the test, Little Book and Little Sound both did very well, and finally they became good friends.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

One of the interesting things to compare between Sydney and Beijing are the plants. Although many trees and flowers are similar, the overall collection is subtly different.


Trees at Weiming Lake.



Small, delicate blossoms growing on a bush at Global Village.


Large trees lining the road into Global Village.

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The trees around Weiming Lake all have white bands painted on them. A lot of trees around PKU do. I’m not sure why.

Something that really stood out to me is the way there are paved paths through the trees. In contrast, bushwalking paths in Australia are just dirt trails.


A fenced stone path through a grass garden in the old part of the campus.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

On Saturday 5th July, we went on the first excursion of our exchange program: a visit to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City! However, even getting there was interesting.
The coach bus outside Global Village Building 4 left at nine o’clock sharp - really sharp. Out of thirty-three USYD students, only twenty-one made the early departure. Even then, the bus was delayed a few minutes as students ran to get their passports from their dormitories.


The PKU-branded coach bus!

After we left, everyone chilled in the air-conditioned bus, chatted and listened to our tour guide Gao Jie (Roberta) outline the path of the tour.

Looking out the window was also a source of interest. As Gao Jie explained Beijing’s rotating car number plate system, I looked out through heavy pollution and wondered at how often traffic slowed to a crawl.


Beijing: traffic jams erryday

As Gao Jie explained, the rotating system prohibits cars with certain final numbers to drive on certain days. However, many families in Beijing buy two or three cars with different numbers so as to drive every day, and the traffic problem continues. All in all, it took us about forty minutes to drive to Tiananmen.


A very friendly car number plate I spotted inside the PKU campus, haha.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

After the first class on Tuesday 1st July, my classmate Rohan and I had lunch together at the Nongyuan canteen, which was quickly becoming my favourite canteen. Rohan and our classmate John had shown considerable courage and strength in the face of uncertainty after their luggage never arrived at the airport baggage claim. Rohan and John had arrived in Beijing on Thursday; only after four days of administrative nightmares and the efforts of Zhang Laoshi was the luggage recovered.

Returning to my dormitory at Global Village, I was surprised to find a notice on the door telling me I’d almost used up my electricity allowance. What?! I’d only arrived yesterday! Fortunately, after I explained the situation at Global Village reception (“我是昨天才来的,电怎么已经用完了?”), it turned out to be a mistaken carry-over from the last tenant.

In the afternoon, I planned to do some blogging and get in email contact with my family, but I still had no luck getting the router working in my room. Fortunately, Brendan introduced me to the a’bla cafe within Global Village, and they have free WiFi!


The a’bla cafe. It has a very Western ambience: the music is all European classical piano music and English romance or pop songs, and the menu includes pizza and the classic English breakfast of eggs and sausages.

My comfortable nook in the a’bla cafe.

The internet speed was somewhat glacial, but I was finally able to contact my family. Hooray! Like the previous night, I was tired quickly and went to bed early.


By Kenny Ng (黄嘉伟)

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Who knew that we could find so many delicacies here in Beijing? This may not suit the faint-hearted: This picture was taken in 王府井​ where they sold fried seahorses, scorpions and silkworm pupae. Some of the scorpions were still wriggling even when they were skewered with a stick. We also had green tea ice cream which certainly cooled our bodies down! Apart from visiting the street stalls, we went to a bookshop and some departmental stores. As we strolled past the numerous shops in the 王府井​ shopping district, one cannot help but realise that amidst all the hustle and bustle, there is still a lingering sense of disparity amongst the people.

There is still much to learn, see and do in China.


By Liliane M (马莉莲)

After a long but great day walking around Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City, I got lost.

There was so many people getting back on their buses too that I couldn't see my friends so I was alone roaming around.

After being approached by a few people in motorcycles asking me where I am going and told me they won't charge me to ride with them, I said no but they kept pestering me so I walked towards a police car.

The 2 policemen inside asked me what was going on, I told them I am lost and unable to contact my friends because my phone ran out of batteries.

Then I was sent to the police station near 王府井 (Wang Fu Jing).

The staff from the police station were nice to lend me a phone charger, I had enough battery power to contact my friends and Zhang Laoshi.

They understood and spoke some English to me and were friendly and helpful.

Soon after, Zhang Laoshi translated to me what the police officer said on the phone of where to change trains from Wang Fu Jing.

I was driven to the nearest subway, thank goodness I still had money for the long subway ride back to Beijing University.

And finally almost an hour later, I am safely back in the dormitory.

I've learnt many lessons from this:
- Don't approach anyone who offers something that is too good to be true
- Have enough money for taxi or subway
- If you feel unsafe alone especially if you are a girl, approach a police car, security guards or at a police station
- Most importantly, stay together with friends and don't stray
- And always charge your phone.

Thank you very much to the staff at the police station and Zhang laoshi for helping me and my friends for supporting me through this situation.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

On Tuesday 1st July was our first day of classes! Every weekday has four hours of class from 8am to 12pm: two hours of spoken Chinese (口语) and two hours of written Chinese (中文).


Crossing the footbridge from Global Village to PKU on the way to class. The buildings in the distance fade into a grey fog of Wùmái pollution (雾霾).

Naturally, I got lost looking for the classroom even with a map. Fortunately, we’d covered how to ask directions (问路) in Semester 1 at USYD in Chinese 2A, and with help from a few friendly students and staff I arrived only fifteen minutes late.

In class, I met our teachers Cui Laoshi (Cuī Huàshān, 崔华山), who taught the spoken Chinese half of the lessons; and Jin Laoshi (Jīn Lán, 金兰), who taught written Chinese. Both lessons were very interesting, and I felt lucky that we had been assigned such experienced teachers.


Jin Laoshi leading leading the class through the first chapter of the written Chinese textbook. She speaks English with an American accent, which I find extremely soothing (非常好听).


The classroom is a little cramped, but it has air conditioning, so it’s all good.


Cui Laoshi giving us all the goss on very useful expressions for our everyday life in Beijing, like “Oops, sorry!” (不好意思!), “I got lost” (我迷路了), “It’s too noisy here” (这里太吵了) and “There was a traffic jam” (路上堵车了).

During the break between the classes, I discovered that squat toilets are actually pretty easy to use - thanks to a stint in the Scouts, I wasn’t bothered unduly. I was also glad to have brought my own tissues; in China, public toilets rarely provide their own. The same goes for the PKU canteens - you bring your own napkins.

It’s an interesting cultural difference that Chinese toilets can seem very basic to Australian tourists - after all, Australian toilets must seem very basic to Japanese tourists!


A pocket-sized packet of tissues, easy to carry around for every purpose.

Given that this is an intensive course, our homework consisted of 13 new words to learn for a dictation test (听写) the next day. But our class’s eagerness and interest makes that easy.


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

By three o’clock, we’d been walking around for a few hours in what had climbed to 34°C heat. Everyone was sweaty and pretty ready to return to the comfort of our rooms at Global Village.


Global Village’s rooms are fairly spartan - it's student accommodation, after all - but a few personal belongings here and there and you’re home.

The weather actually has an effect on one’s daily routine. It’s very common to take a shower at two or three o’clock in the afternoon, after returning to one’s room from the peak temperature of the day. A little refreshment later, and you’re cool, dry and very relaxed: perfect for an afternoon of doing homework, blogging, swimming at the Global Village leisure centre, or walking around in the shaded areas. In this manner (这样吧), you’re really only spending three or four hours in direct heat.

Yuna and I attempted to get our routers working, without success; unsurprisingly, when you buy a router in China, all the settings are in Chinese. Oops… Fortunately, we were both able to get refunds on the routers later.


No luck getting the internet working on either of our laptops.

After that, I called home for the first time since arriving in Beijing. It was lovely to hear my mum’s voice, but I was also overwhelmed. Fine person that she is, she kindly gave me advice to take things slowly, and to find someone and have dinner together.

At about six o’clock I went outside to buy a 5L water drum to refill my water bottles, and sure enough I met a Chinese student called Yīyào! We introduced ourselves and chatted, and she showed me a restaurant conveniently situated within the Global Village itself.


Inside the restaurant.

I’m very fond of the Chinese restaurants back in Australia, but I was so excited to be at a Chinese restaurant in China for the first time in my life! The restaurant was called 和园主题餐馆 - “Heyuan Theme Restaurant” - and it was very clean, furnished with good taste, and had excellent service. The menu was about twenty pages long - far more choice than any restaurant I’ve seen in Australia! Dishes included vegetables, soup, fish, fowl, and other meats, rice dishes, barbecue, stews, and desserts. Everything was accompanied by skillfully taken photographs, which I certainly appreciated as a foreigner.

I was surprised by the price of the dish (28元) after how cheap the food was at the Nongyuan canteen at Beida, but quickly realized this was still very inexpensive in AUD.


I ordered this poached pigeon out of curiosity, and Yiyao ordered a stir-fry dish, soup, and rice. It was a little tricky to eat, but very tasty, and beautifully arranged!

After dinner, Yiyao and I chatted a little more, and I finished paying my accommodation fee at the Global Village reception. Before long the four hours of sleep I’d had the previous day caught up to me, and I went to bed early, both very tired and very happy. What an exciting first day!


Lauren Black (邬天晴)

Yuna and I at the orientation ceremony.


After the orientation ceremony finished and we met our language partners, everyone set off in a group led by Chen Juwancong (the student assistant of the program) to see the campus! We passed enormous buildings of science, literature, maths, history, and sports, multiple canteens of different styles, cafes, bookshops, stationery shops, and a fresh fruit stall or two.


​PKU’s computer science centre really puts USYD’s to shame.

The tour finally concluded, and my classmate Yuna and I proceeded to pepper her language partner Cun Jucheng with questions. Where could we find a supermarket? Where could we buy a router? Where was the best place to buy souvenirs? We went to a cafe, swapped numbers and chatted. Jucheng bought me some water, so I gave him some Vegemite, introducing it as quite salty (“比较咸”). I was also able to buy a router and some converters for my electronics, withdraw cash from an ATM, and find a pin to change the SIM card on my phone.


​Yuna and Cun Jucheng, on our way during the group tour. Umbrellas are very popular in China for shade from Beijing’s strong summer heat (太阳).

After an hour or so, we went to have lunch at the Nongyuan canteen (农园), which translates as something like “The Farm”. True to its name, the food was delicious, fresh, and unbelievably well-priced.


The popular Nongyuan canteen. Over at the serving counters, students stand elbow to elbow with their trays. It’s not even rush hour! Not visible in the photo: 30°C heat.


Name markers above the food, explaining what each dish is. Left to right: Potato and braised ribs; braised mince and eggplant with cowpeas; fragrant stirfried shredded tofu.


This delicious ginger, soy sauce and chili fish was something like $1.50 AUD. Payment is made tapping by a reader with your student ID card, which doubles as a meal card.


Group photo in the canteen!


By Lauren Black (邬天晴)

Day one: Monday 30th June, 2014.
The heat is intense, and so is the anticipation: twenty-five USYD students are gathered outside Global Village reception. It's 8:45am and we're still waiting for eight more students, and Zhang Laoshi.


USYD students awaiting the start of the PKU orientation.

A PKU (Beijing University) student arrives! We started chatting, and I discovered that she was Chen Juwancong (陈菊婉聪), the student assistant for the PKU/USYD exchange program. Zhang Laoshi and the other eight students soon joined us, and together we departed Global Village, crossing a footbridge over 北大街 (Bei Da Jie), the huge motorway running between Global Village and PKU.


A first glimpse of the bustling city of Beijing: traffic on Bei Da Jie.

I was instantly lost upon entering the enormous campus. It's no exaggeration to say that you could fit three or four USYDs inside PKU. Everything is huge: the buildings, the spaces between the buildings, the gardens... We walked for twenty or thirty minutes and arrived at the Chen Shouren (陈守仁) Conference Centre (会议中心), a beautiful building in traditional Chinese architectural style, nestled amongst lush green forest and the sounds of bird calls.


The beautiful Chen Shouren Conference Centre.

The excited students filed in in a chorus of relieved sighs: ahhh, air conditioning. We were then treated to friendly welcome speeches by the PKU/USYD program coordinators Lin Laoshi (Mr Lin Weipeng) and Wei Laoshi (Ms Wei Wei); a rousing speech from our student representative Heath Sloane which should be enjoyed in full here, and finally a speech by our wonderful Zhang Laoshi encouraging us to post to the China Exchange blog, represent USYD and Australia well, and enjoy everything the program had to offer.


Refreshments include hot tea, even when it's 32°C outside.

After a brief information slideshow, we went outside to meet our language partners, the PKU students we're partnered with to show us around campus and to help us practise speaking Chinese. Although most were there, some language partners were absent due to being busy attending classes or studying for exams, my own included. No matter; as a group we all set off for a tour of the PKU campus, talking excitedly, introducing ourselves to our new friends, and gazing wide-eyed at all the new sights.


Meeting language partners outside the Chen Shouren Conference Centre.


By Megan Wee (黄盈镟)

With each USYD student assigned a language partner, Mandy and I were taken on a tour of Beida's campus by my language partner, Lang Lang, during our first week in Beijing.

We visited famous Beida sites such as the Weiming Lake, West Gate and Boya Pagoda (which previously served as a water tower).





By Ella Parkes-Talbot (爱乐)

Statistics are thrown around all over the place when it comes to the world’s most populated country. I’m no mathematician, but this number crunch is impressive even to me. Coming to visit the country’s capital for our Summer School In-Country Study this year has helped me see the numbers for myself.

First, let’s take a look at the facts:


9.5 million km2 7.7 million km2

GDP (per capita)
USD $10, 695
USD $44,346

1.35 billion (2012 estimate)
23.5 million (2014 estimate)

POPULATION DENSITY 144 people/km2 2.8 people/km2

If you were born in China instead of Australia you would…
• Use 75% less electricity
• Spend 93% less money on healthcare
• Die 7.21 years sooner
• Have 1.78% less babies

As you can see, there’s an enormous difference between the two countries! Almost the entire population of Australia lives in Beijing alone… and you can tell! The drive from the airport took about an hour and a half, and there were people and buildings lining the road for the entire journey. Looking out of my dormitory window, there are apartment blocks and office towers lining the skyline for as far as the eye can see. During our first Chinese class upon arriving in Beijing, we learnt the words for ‘traffic jam’, ‘noisy’ and ‘crowded’… and I’ve used them every day since.

This all sounds overwhelming (and at times, it is) – but it’s also what makes Beijing so unique and exciting. Every moment of your day creates questions: why is she waving her arms like that? Where could they be taking that wheelbarrow? Why don’t the cars follow the road rules? Which meat is that? Who is he talking to? Where am I?

While most of these questions are left unanswered, instead of frustration and dissatisfaction you are left with a strong feeling of happy ignorance and curiosity. We interact with the tiniest fraction of the vast Chinese population while we’re here and even that 0.0001% is utterly fascinating. Every minute exploring China is a pleasure, because it is so hugely diverse and completely different from anything I’ve experienced before.

So yes, China does seem as big as the numbers have told us… and that’s all part of its charm.

(SOURCES: CIA World Factbook, World Health Organisation, World Bank, Chinese Government Statistics Agency, Australian Bureau of Statistics)




By Vicki Xin (忻晨)

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By Heath Sloane (何懿嗣)


I speak on behalf of all students in the Sydney University cohort when I say that it is an honor to represent our home University while studying at an institution as prestigious as Beijing Daxue.

Whilst we have been afforded this amazing privilege, we will approach our studies here with gratitude and humility. Gratitude - for the tireless efforts of our teacher and coordinator, Zhang Laoshi, as well as for our families who are supporting our travel and tuition overseas. And Humility in remembering that being a Beijing Daxuesheng is an honor that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Chinese students dream of.

During our month at BeiDa, we will be presented with several challenges. Firstly, we will be challenged in our studies to learn well and improve our Mandarin. Secondly, we will be challenged by the new and exciting aspects of Chinese culture that we are bound to encounter. Lastly, we will be challenged to be exemplary representatives of both our university and our country. If we rise to meet these challenges, we will have an unforgettable month here.

I have no doubt that my fellow Sydney University students will throw themselves into everything that Beijing has to offer. We are a passionate group of students with a genuine desire to learn about Chinese language and culture, as well as a drive to peel back and comprehend the intricate layers of the ‘Chinese Way’.

It is my hope that upon returning to Australia, each and every one of us will have a deepened understanding of this incredible country, her people, and of course – Mandarin.

I wish everyone the best of luck in their studies here and again thank BeiDa for their hospitality.

Thank you.