I can’t possibly end this short and terse series of blogs with the words ‘we flew home’. My year abroad has been such a wide and varied experience that it deserves a greater tribute. Continue reading
The last few months have been some of the best of my life. After a year of studying abroad, I treated myself to a heavily extended road trip around Canada and the USA. I could not even scratch the surface of how amazing this experience was. I have visited Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, New York, Maine, Algonquin national park, and many places in between. I was accompanied by my girlfriend, Amy, who joined me in Canada for the experience.
-Me and Amy, soon after her arrival. Continue reading
机不可失，时不再来 (jī bù kě shī, shí bú zài lái)
– Opportunity knocks at the door only once.
This is a rough guide on what the Exam entails and how I found it when I took it last September and again in March. Provided the Exam and class placement system hasn’t changed since then, I hope this can be a useful tool to calm nerves and go in more prepared than I was!
Around 50 weeks ago, I was one of the nervous and jet-lagged exchange students sitting in a very large hall about to start the Peking University Chinese Language Proficiency Exam (“Exam” from here on in). Beforehand I had scanned the Internet for any friendly tips about what it might entail and was unsuccessful in my search, so I promised myself I would write a little guide for future students in my situation. Continue reading
“We are honoured and humbled by the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award Beijing the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”
China has redefined itself as a sporting nation, or at least as a nation able to pull off great sporting events with aplomb (exhibit a: the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games). The nation seems to be capitalising on this success by competing against Kazakhstan to hold the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and, as of a few weeks ago, winning. When Harry was here over winter, we visited the impressive Olympic Park and witnessed firsthand the lengths that China are going to advertise itself as the perfect candidate (click here for our Chinese skiing experience) – as anyone who watched the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony will remember, the Chinese don’t do grand public events by half. It is an opportunity to impress the world and its wife, not only by throwing money at an event but also by showing the nation’s manpower and ability to coordinate (or coerce) its citizens to mobilise.
I have finished!
The last few months of my exchange were pretty hectic.The fourth year courses that I was taking were less prescriptive than the third year courses for which I was examined at the end of the last term. I found myself having to work very hard to keep atop of them. In the lead up to the final exams, I was spending twelve hours a day in the library. The exams themselves were spread sympathetically. I had at least two days between each exam and I am sure that this contributed to being awarded a mark of 80% back in Durham for my year abroad. Not that I noticed. My travel plans began abruptly after my final exam.
24 hours after my final exam, I was Boarding a plane for Vancouver with two friends, Tom and Joe.-Tom and Joe Continue reading
Despite not spending my year abroad in Paris I have managed to visit 3 times already.
As many of you will know, Paris is an extremely popular destination for a year abroad. I know many people there who have had a huge variety of experiences both good and bad, but each one of them has told me they have had the most incredible stay there. Continue reading
一步一个脚印儿 ( yī bù yī gè jiǎo yìnr )
– Every step leaves its print; work steadily and make solid progress.
This semester has gone by in a flash – it seems like only last month we were retaking the placement test to be set into our classes and buying our books for the term ahead. The Durham and Edinburgh students all took the plunge to choose “gaoji” or advanced class after doing well on the tests, and I vividly remember opening my books in trepidation and seeing the 90 new vocabulary words per lesson. However, being in advanced has its advantages as the elective courses offered are more varied and challenging than those offered in intermediate. We were required to take 20 hours of class and therefore choose two electives from a list of Business Chinese, Newspaper Chinese, Chinese History, Chinese Cinema, Classical Chinese, Essay Writing and Chinese Culture. Our friendship group chose completely varied options (due to interests and different timetables) and I elected to study Newspaper Chinese and Chinese History.
After witnessing 3 different people simultaneously cycling while on their phones during my commute today, I felt compelled to write about China’s obsession with the smart phone. These people weren’t simply making a call – they were either instant messaging or watching a TV show, therefore completely unaware of their surroundings. The helmet craze that I was hoping to create also hasn’t caught on, but rather than ranting about the appalling (lack of) road safety, I’ll stick to technology. Continue reading
It’s been almost two months since I left Calgary and yet that part of my life already seems like an age ago. I’ve travelled so much recently that I currently feel very far away from what I’ve come to view as my second home. Especially now that I’ve finally ended up in Belize, somewhere which is miles apart from Canada, both quite literally (6,239km to be exact) and in other senses; the climate, the culture, the languages, the food. You name it, it couldn’t be more different. Whilst adapting to this new Belizean lifestyle, which I currently find myself indulging in, I’ve had some time to reflect on my experiences since leaving Heathrow last August. This year has broadened my perspectives and changed my attitude towards others; it’s taught me how to respond to new people and unfamiliar ways of life. In that sense I’ve learnt considerably more than I could have ever done at home – not just in the academic sense. I have thought long and hard about the things I’ve learnt whilst being abroad and, as this is my last post, I would like to share them with you. I hope this proves to be good advice, wherever you travel in the world. Continue reading
One of my aims for the year abroad was to improve my fitness and join a sports club. Unfortunately joining my company’s basketball club wasn’t such a successful idea as it was mainly frequented by 6 foot+ men, many of whom had previously played professionally. Despite this, France is really perfect for all kinds of sport, especially the southwest. Pau is an hour away from the mountains for hiking, skiing and snowboarding and an hour or so away from the beach, for surfing, sailing and canoeing – perfect! You just need a car. Good thing I have some nice friends. Continue reading