Setting Up Life

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I can’t believe I’ve been here for two weeks! It has been incredibly tough, and we definitely underestimated the stress and upheaval of moving to a foreign country but I’ve learnt more about China in these two weeks than in the rest of my 20 years of existance. We’ve done and seen so much, and this post will only be able to show you a glimpse of my new life in this incredible place. We’ve found an apartment, set up our mobiles, and registered at university. Some of us have even unintentionally opened bank accounts (that was me and I’m happy to tell you I now have internet banking with China Construction Bank).

The original plan was to live as a four with three others from Durham, but we soon realised that four-bedroom apartments are few and far between. Apartment hunting was the best of times and the worst of times, but it has all turned out wonderfully. Liberty and I have moved into a lovely apartment in a really good area, and Alex and Olivia are in the building opposite. We’re located in Wudaokou, which is a 25 minute walk to Peking University (PKU) or a 10-15 minute bike ride. We each bought a bicycle for £20, but I’m on a bike-strike until I can become one of the 0.000001% of Beijingers that wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet may make me a novel moving target for the buses that frequent the cycle lane, but I’ll take the risk.

Within these two weeks, we have also registered and started classes at PKU. The registration was well organised and very American (if the movies can be trusted), with chart music blaring from speakers. A prerequisite is a medical check, so four of us took a 40-minute cab to the Beijing Entry-Exit and Quarantine Bureau. We’d been told to get there early as the queues just get longer throughout the day, and our 7am start was justified as we hurtled through the line in about half an hour to register. The real fun began with some blood tests. In the UK, it’s normal for the nurse to aim for a blood supply before inserting the needle. In China, it seems the norm to aim for the arm, and then look for a blood supply after. This was a week ago, and the bruise remains. We also had an x-ray in a bus and some unspecified tests that consisted of a 5 second silent interview with a doctor. It was as weird as it sounds, but we all passed the medical, and are now waiting for our passports to be returned with the residents’ visa. Life without administration is starting to begin!

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