And with the blink of an eye, half my year abroad in Beijing has been completed and I haven’t yet written a single sentence on here. I apologise for the silence over the past few months, I must admit, moving to the other side of the world can be slightly unsettling and it has taken me from September 2016 until March 2017, to feel comfortable and at home here. Quite pathetic really. I suppose I should explain what I am doing here, so, first, let us rewind back to the beginning.
As you may already know, I am a History and Chinese student at Edinburgh University. In order to fully immerse ourselves into the complex and, at times, confusing language, it is compulsory to spend a year in a Chinese university. For this reason, I am currently living and studying at Peking University 北京大学 (Beida).
China can be an incredibly muddling country to live in. Leaving Edinburgh, a city with a population of half a million, for Beijing, a metropolis of 21.5 million has left me, at times, lost and incredibly homesick. However, having grown accustomed to the sheer enormity of this place, I am feeling incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to pack up and move to the East.
For one, Peking University is the most prestigious university in the whole of China. When I told my Chinese parents that I had the opportunity to study here, they were completely astounded, and it’s easy to understand why; out of a thousand Chinese applicants, only one will be accepted into the university. As a history student, Beida’s legacy is also quite overwhelming. The campus was an imperial garden during the Qing dynasty and was frequented by Emperors and concubines. The May Fourth Movement of 1919 which protested the Versailles Treaty was organised by students from this very university. Fast forward half a century and the Cultural Revolution, arguably the most chaotic and unsettling period of Chinese history, began on this very campus in 1966.
The common belief that a year abroad will be the ‘best year of your life’ is just far too simple. So far, Beijing has been an adventure of incredible highs and equally incredible lows. I can promise that nothing will be sugar coated, so if you’re interested in hearing about run-ins with angry cab drivers, my discovery of the breakfast pancake 煎饼, and Beijing’s hazardous pollution, this is the place for you.