The Lakeside Great Wall
The past four weeks have flown by and I have now sadly reached the end of the Chinese language course here in Beijing, with only a few weeks to go before I begin my Master’s programme. During this time, I have been taking classes at Beijing Language and Culture University – these have been very challenging and so I have taken pleasure in spending most of my time here so far studying and meeting up with language partners – and of course trying all kinds of amazing Chinese food. I have also been lucky to be in a class with a very friendly group of advanced Chinese learners, many of whom use Chinese in their work – some Chinese teachers, professors, translators, business people and others also preparing for further study in China. Being in this environment has been really encouraging and has given me the motivation to further improve my Chinese.
For the past month, I have been staying in the Changping district of Beijing – one of the largest districts, renowned for its abundance of nature – with a lovely Chinese flatmate who has been very kind and willing to help me with improving my Chinese, introducing me to her friends and family and showing me around the city. Changping district is in the northern part of Beijing and is close to several sections of the Great Wall. This past month, Beijing has seen some of the hottest days it has had in years (being British, this has limited most of my time here to places with air-conditioner!). Fortunately, there was heavy rain and low temperatures forecast for the last weekend of the language course and so myself, together with my flatmate, Jialin, and two of my classmates, Yusun (from Korea and also going to be studying at Tsinghua University in September) and Carine (from Hong Kong) took the opportunity to take a day-trip to the “Lakeside Great Wall” – the only section of the Great Wall in Beijing surrounded by water – with some sections sunk by the modern dam created in the lake surrounding the Wall.
Yusun and Carine picked myself and Jialin up in a private car from our apartment and we set off on a two hour journey to the Great Wall in Huairou District. With others scared off by the rain, we were pretty much the only people there. We had a really enjoyable day out exploring the great wall and eating Huairou’s famous roasted chestnuts. That evening, those from my class still in Beijing had a farewell meal in the Muslim canteen at the university (three of these classmates are also staying on in Beijing to do Master’s or PhD programmes so I will definitely keep in touch with them) – a lovely way to end the language course. I am very much looking forward to the journey ahead!