After travelling and exploring Seoul a little over the weekend, I was all ready to start my first day at TBS eFM. Christina Seo, who will be my supervisor for the next four weeks, asked me to come in at 2pm on Monday afternoon so I could help out with the Primetime program.

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The TBS building — TBS eFM is on the fourth floor. Photo by Joanna Chen

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In China, I am a 'foreigner', or laowai. When I first arrived in Beijing the casual application of this label made me uneasy. While I’ve come to realise that the term is not always negatively dished out, it continues to conjure up a sense of strange against familiar, foreign versus local, international divided from national. Interestingly, the permeation of 'foreignness' and its operation across social, historical, political and professional domains in China is both nuanced and complex. How foreignness is applied within these various spheres illuminates conflicting armies on the battlefield of belonging.

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Michael Chow's exhibition opened this week at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Here’s a snapshot of the work, which is characterised by another set of binaries: order and chaos, rigour and improvisation, freedom and control. Chow creates balance between these competing forces using an expressive interplay of mix media. Photo by Raveen Hunjan

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“Chinese drivers have the most freedom in the world,” my cousin-in-law joked as we wove in and out of a Shanghai street, narrowly missing a man with a tower of newspapers balanced precariously on the back of his motorbike. “People can go anywhere and everywhere they want.”

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Chinese drivers ... of ice skates at Houhai's annual winter skating rink. Photo by Christina Guo

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With just three phrases: Arigato gozaimasu (thank you), Sumimasen (excuse me) and Oishii (delicious), I have been able to successfully work my way through Tokyo ... or the restaurant scene, at least. My week started with a trip to Tsukiji fish market where I had the pleasure of watching 43 kilogram tunas have their tails hacked off — apparently you can tell a lot about the health of a fish by its nether-regions. Other highlights included sampling (multiple) shots of sake, 2am karaoke and taking photos of shoes that are the modern-day equivalent of China’s bound feet.

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Disclaimer: Not suitable for walking. Photo by: Jessica Glanz

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It’s amazing how quickly you grow accustomed to a foreign environment. Two weeks in and I’m beginning to adjust to working life in China’s capital.

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I had the fortune of attending the ‘fun’ portion of Caixin’s 5th 年会 (nian hui or ‘annual meeting’) last week, which took place at the Conrad Hotel on Sunday night.

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The dinner spread. I could definitely get used to this job perk. Photo by Christina Guo

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“Definitely a good choice,” said a Netizen on Weibo.

I was searching for articles to share on the Beijing Review Twitter page when I came across this line in a story published by a well-respected news site operating in China. It took me a couple of re-reads before I realised that ‘Netizen’ actually meant what I had hoped it wouldn’t. The MECO student in me shuddered. Was this journalist really using a comment by a stranger off a social networking site as a legitimate source in their article? Surely any news organisation would have that sort of thing removed during copy-editing. Right?

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It is almost impossible to see how a city with such poor cable management could have such a dependency on internet and phone access. Photo by Ellen Laughton

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About the Blog

Parallax records the experiences of final year students of the B.A. (Media & Communications) degree who have won competitive overseas internships to work in Asian, Indian and Latin American media organisations.
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