After returning from Zhejiang, I had about a week to myself before I could register for classes. This week also had no internet. Looking back, having no internet was no big deal, but it sure was annoying in the moment.
I registered for classes and was placed in some lower intermediate language class level. A proper fit, I think. The class size was a bit bigger than BNU’s, with something like 10 students. But we had two teachers. One focused on reading and writing, and the other focused on listening and speaking. But in reality, both teachers included all four disciplines. Both of my teachers during this first semester at PKU had the surname of Zhang 张. Talking with classmates about assignments given by one Zhang or the other got a bit confusing sometimes.
During the first semester, I also took two other culture courses: Chinese Folklore and Traditional Arts. These courses were taught in English by Chinese professors. The folklore class included a field trip to the Prince’s Palace. For the final project, I decided to present America’s different folk culture, such as tall tales (Paul Bunyan, etc) and Bluegrass music.
In Traditional Arts, the teacher made us some food during class, including sweet dumplings 汤圆. This class also took a field trip together to Summer Palace 颐和园. For the final project, we had to visit one of Beijing’s historical attractions and report on it. I chose to report on Old Summer Palace 圆明园.
During this part of my experience in Beijing, I was attending a church known as Beijing International Christian Fellowship. The branch of BICF I attended was fairly close as it was located in Wudaokou 五道口, a bus ride or bike ride away. People from all over the world visit BICF. Some of my friends were from China, England, Mongolia, Germany, the Philippines, Korea, and more. The more and more I went to BICF, the more I got involved with the people. Sundays eventually became my favorite day of the week: I would attend service, the large friend group would go out for lunch, then we would go play ultimate frisbee together, and wrap it all up with dinner. Sundays were awesome. I also got to see some of those friends during the week at bible study, which was at a nearby Korean Christian cafe. It was an awesome community. People from all over the world in Beijing for various reasons but coming together to celebrate Jesus.