China Trip #1, Part 3

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.

A classmate looking over Kunming Lake 昆明湖 at Summer Palace 颐和园.
Me standing in Old Summer Palace 圆明园. Old Summer Palace is one of the places pillaged by British troops in 1860.

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.

Me with some friends from church at a park outside Beijing. I don’t know where I was beyond that. What I do know is that I had awesome fried pumpkin for lunch that day.

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.


It’s Still Halloween in Hawaii

Sunday was a full day for me, and Sundays are already quite busy.

sf.picI started off the day with my second softball game. I arrived at the Peking University soccer field a bit before 9 am, and the game started at 9:40.

I fielded fine throughout the game like normal, but my batting hasn’t been very good since I started playing in China. The first game I did not get on base at all. That didn’t feel very good. I batted 3 or 4 times, either struck out, thrown out at 1st, or I caused the 3rd out. This game did not start off well, either. First time up to bat, I hit the ball towards 2nd base and the base, which caused the runner ahead of me to be out, which was the 3rd out. Second time up, I hit a wimpy pop fly foul ball that was caught, leaving my head hanging low as I returned to the “dugout.” I hoped that the team was not losing faith in me. Third up-to-bat, I whispered encouragements to myself. I. Had. To. Get. On. Base. Preferably not by being walked, but I was willing to accept any method.

I hit the ball right over the short stop’s head. I briefly expected him to jump up and catch it, but even as he jumped, it was out of his reach. Yes! I finally made it on base during a game. A few batters later I made it to “home plate” and scored. I returned to the dugout with my head held a little higher and shyly high-fived my teammates’ hands.

Right after the game was over, which was supposed to end at 11 but went a bit overtime, I left the field and rode my bike to church. I was late, so I saw the last few minutes of the sermon, but I did get to see the baptism of 5 christians, 1 whom I know.

pumpkin.pic_hdAfter the church service, I went to lunch with some of my favorite people from church. It was a great lunch. We ended up ordering battered and fried pumpkin in honor of Halloween. This was all on Sunday, November 1, but me and another American, David, mentioned that it was still Halloween in Hawaii, so the eating of pumpkin was justified. We enjoyed eating the pumpkin, which is a common dish in southern China, I believe. I first tried it in Southern China, in Rhea’s hometown, and I really liked it.
I took this picture of David eating pumpkin while pumpkin glasses he brought.

A couple of hours later, I went to Tsinghua University fields to play ultimate frisbee with a lot of members from church. It is always good exercise and a good time to connect with people from around the world. We all usually play for 2 hours, and eat dinner after word.

Overall, it was yet another good Sunday. I also missed this last Sunday, since I was on my trip to Henan. It was good to be back. It almost feels like they notice when I am gone, which has not happened in a long time.

Bible Verse of the Day:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8

Song of the Day:
Kill Em With Kindness
by Selena Gomez


National Day Golden Week 2015

IMG_8549Today is the last day of my week long break from school. October 1 is National Day for China and the following 6 days are National Day Golden Week Holidays (Click HERE to learn more). So, in observance of National Day, the schools of China, or at least Beijing, are out of session. A lot of Chinese citizens come to Beijing during this holiday, so all of the tourist attractions are a bit more crowded than the usual summer mob. A number of non-native Beijingers return home, as well. As this is one of the times that gathering with family is enjoyed.

Photo Cred: David

For the first day I had off, which was Thursday, October 1, I went to Beihai Lake with David, a guy from my church here in Beijing (Information about the church coming soon). The weather and air quality index (AQI) were fantastic. For three prior days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, it had rained a large amount, so it washed away all of the smog. Thursday was also really windy, so that helps a lot as well. It was one of the better parks I have been to here in Beijing. I feel it was better than Summer Palace but that may be because it was a smoggy day when I went to Summer Palace and I was also lugging around my camera and its bag and that is never very enjoyable.

On Friday, David and I met up again and went to 798 Art District, which is on the east side of Beijing. I was expecting mainly street art, such as graffiti and a few other things, but what we saw was art galleries, higher-end (not incredibly fancy) restaurants and dessert shops, sculptures along the sidewalks, as well as some graffiti. The weather and AQI on this day was also relatively really good. Way less windy compared to the previous day as well.

Overall, those two days were really enjoyable and the two of us did not spend a lot of money, which is always good.

I did not do much at all on Saturday. I just watched a bunch of videos on YouTube, watched a movie that I cannot seem to remember at the moment, and ate at the cafeteria of Peking University.

Sunday was a pretty good day, too. Sundays are currently my favorite days of the week (I would have to say Wednesdays are my favorite weekday). This is because I attend church at 11 am, go to lunch with some of the other attendees, go back to the dorm for about an hour break, play ultimate frisbee, then wrap up the day with dinner with fellow frisbee throwers. The AQI was not very good. When the AQI is at a certain level, one should be careful and try not to overwork oneself playing sports. So all of us throwers were mindful of this and also drank plenty of water.

On Monday I played wit20151005_170343h majiang (麻将) (also spelled as mahjong) with my Beijing Normal University (北师大) teacher, Cao Yan (曹燕), her hometown friend, and his roommates. This was my second time playing the game. We played for about 7 hours. We also ate dinner during that time frame, but we you are playing that game, it does not feel that long at all. I did not win any rounds at first, and I was unreasonably nervous. I was like that the first time I played, too, which was back in the States. After awhile, I got the hang of it and started winning  a bit. I think I won about 3 or 4 rounds. I really enjoyed playing the game with them all. And right now, I am longing to play the game.

I met up with some peo20151006_105912ple from church on Tuesday and went to a “national park” about 40 minutes west of Wu Dao Kou (五道口) by city bus. In America, national parks are a more grand and official place. This national park that we visited felt more like a regional or county park. It was not grand. Don’t get me wrong, it was not bad. It just was not, you know, grand. We ate lunch together, rode back to Wu Dao Kou, ate Korean-styled shaved ice desserts (雪冰 [literally ‘snow ice’]). I ate the chocolate flavor, some other people ate the green tea flavor.

Today is Wednesday. I don’t have much going on today. I do have bible study tonight at 7 pm. I ride my bike to it, since it’s really close. It takes me less than 10 minutes to get there. Today’s AQI is 336, which is really high and labelled as “hazardous” (Click HERE to see Beijing’s AQI and HERE for Los Angeles’ AQI). When I went to go eat lunch today, I did wear my mask on the way there and back, so I do take some caution.

Song of the Day:
My Love by The Bird and the Bee (To see the not-so-great music video, click HERE. You should click there just to hear the song, not to watch.)

Bible Verse of the Day:
The lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.
Proverbs 15:29 NLT

Alright, I am signing off. I hope you have a wonderful day here on God’s canvas.