By Mai Phuong Nguyen (阮梅芳)
So, you have read all the interesting blog posts from people in Fudan program and probably are wondering where all the students going to PKU are. Well, we have quite a few excuses but personally, one of the reasons that I haven’t been writing anything is I didn’t have any day that wasn’t filled with exciting things to do (not to mention my writing is a piece of crap). Now that I’m sitting comfortably at home going through 70GBs of photos (yes you heard it right, 70GBs), I feel a sudden urge to write something as all the memories begin to rush back.
This program is undeniably a unique and eye-opening experience in every way. First to be mentioned is the campus. You think USYD is soooo huge and pretty? PKU will prove you wrong. Their campus is like a small town with all the things like food stalls, supermarket, banks, concert hall, museum, etc. They even have their own lake and tower. (To be honest, Victoria Park is not considered to be in our campus despite most of us want it to be.) It often takes at least 15mins to walk between places within the campus. That’s why cars and bikes dominant their streets. Talking about that, I’m still in awe how they don’t run over each other or I haven’t been run over yet. Being once the emperor’s garden, they also inherit the beauty which is impossible to not fall in love with.
The main library
Mathematical Research Center
(I am more than happy to finish my Maths degree in this beautiful building rather than our shamelessly 难看Carslaw)
Isn’t it beautiful?
While the campus is extraordinarily gorgeous, it is the classes that make this place memorable. Waking up for 8am class in a freezing cold weather is definitely the most challenging thing of the month, especially when you have to stay up the night before to study for your next vocab quiz. And that is your next challenge, vocab quizzes. Our class basically have a vocab quiz every single day, with the first and last days, and days with exams as exceptions. That leaves us with 20-ish words to memorise everyday which results in our rapidly expanding vocab bank. But once you manage to get over the two challenges, the class suddenly becomes the most enjoyable thing to do. You have two of the best and friendliest teachers in the world. You get to study with the best classmates possible. Our class, to be honest, is a little bit shy but consists of super studious people. They always amaze me with perfectly done homework while mine is a bit too embarrassing. And we’re so proud that one of our classmates got full marks for the final written exam. (Woot, go Alex!!!) Personally, I’m missing all the hilariously entertaining dialogues we had already. You don’t get to create a dialogue/dialogues all the time in Sydney but here, everyday you witness your classmates’ unlimited creativity where a tourist got scammed, taxi driver shooed his customer out of the car, everyone suddenly had some sickness or just happened to all die in the end.
Us in our natural habitat
You know it’s food that makes everyone go wild
But neither the experiences nor friendships are enclosed within the classroom. Here I have met and been friends with many awesome people. Together we made the most of our time in Beijing exploring the city. From the touristy spots like the Forbidden City or Summer Palace to a hidden hutong in a middle of nowhere, from the famous Great Wall to a random park that we don’t even know its name, we have all set our foot there. On a side note, the weather has also been in our favour. We told ourselves that we would go explore the city when the weather is nice and clear, and would stay home to study on bad days. It turned out that for the whole trip we only came across about 3 or 4 days that were terribly polluted, which means that our exploration has reached its maximum. We have really emerged into the life of Beijing people. We have tried to talk with the locals (with a lot of gestures), have seen a variety of their daily activities such as swimming in the icy water or catching, what we assumed, leeches, have joined their night dancing session, have voluntarily been lost in the streets of Beijing or have been pushed onto the filled-with-people subway. On top of it, I have seen snow for the first time in my life as well as walked on water just like Jesus (it’s a frozen lake if you’re wondering). They are all parts of my very own Beijing experiences, which is absolutely different from being an ordinary tourist visiting Beijing in a few days. A tourist is not gonna miss the places he has been to as much as I’m missing Beijing right now. Living there has created some kinds of emotional attachments between us. The only thing that makes me less miserable is most of my friends are coming back to Sydney, which means I still have chances to meet them without flying all the way. Also, here I want to give huge thank you’s to all my roommates, Bella (aka Bertha), Olivia (aka Roberta), and Yuna (aka Yunacorn) for being the best roommates possible and being so patient with me, to my travelling buddy, Tobias (aka Cecil) for accompanying me in most of my/our adventures and teaching me how to ski, and to Joanna (aka Clarice) for being our awesome translator. I’m still amazed by how quickly we became so close and stuck together ‘til the end. We did have good funs together, didn’t we?
One of our many excursions
The acrobatic show was a bit towards scary as you see people do the impossible
Inside China National Museum
Beijing in its bad mood
Snoooowww!!! Glorious snooowww!!!
My adventure wouldn’t be the same without you guys
Our last meal together at the Dumpling canteen
Last note: I was indeed very lucky during the trip. No sickness, no accidents, no loss or whatsoever. It was pretty scary to see my friends go down one by one but I achieved my goal of surviving Beijing. Yay!!! Oh and I can’t end this note with out saying thank you to the trio Katie, Alise and Henry for all the fun we had and for taking me to the best Peking duck place one can possibly has. You guys rock!!!
In case you’re bored of my nonsense babbling, here’s an entertaining ad we found in the subway.
Be a model they said. It’s gonna be fun they said.