On The Road Again

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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.

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-Me and Amy, soon after her arrival. Continue reading

An Unofficial Guide to the Peking University Chinese Language Proficiency Exam

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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

Sport in China

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“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.

Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium

Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium

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Final Exams and Start of the Road Trip

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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.boys-Tom and Joe Continue reading

Paris

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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

A Second Semester at Peking University

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一步一个脚印儿 ( yī bù yī gè jiǎo yìnr )

– Every step leaves its print; work steadily and make solid progress.

Boya Pagoda at Peking University

Boya Pagoda at Peking University

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.

Where our elective classes took place

Where our elective classes took place

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