Thoughts on 1 week at Beijing 80

All of us (plus our new Korean classmate Michael!)

Hello from Beijing!

To be honest, it still hasn’t hit me completely that I’m here, at the political center of this vastly influential and enormous country, with 15 government-issued friends, sitting through 7-9 hours of Chinese class and 2 hours of designated self-study time afterward—who knew there were so many damn hours in a day? I didn’t, at least not until now, perhaps too late—my time isn’t mine anymore, every hour belongs to a Liu or a Li Lao Shi (the two most common names of the teachers here in Beijing) or a list of 18 han zi that we’re supposed to review the night before and memorize for ting xie the next day.

But. Enough of the complaining. My situation is almost too good to be true: basically, no obligations or “life-responsibilities” to be an older sister, daughter, or student of anything (except the Chinese language) for 9 months. I’m so grateful and happy to here that sometimes I find myself grinning like a fool while showering, or sitting at lunch, or walking to the local supermarket for the umpteenth time to pick up soap (oh Greta, you and your daily Carrefour runs).

A few of the highlights from this absolutely overwhelming week:

Roommate party☺️

More will come later! (Beijing 798 Art District tomorrow—so excited to be back in an art space)


  1. makes my heart warm — yesterday in Philosophy class my professor spoke about the necessity to study philosophy as we live in a time of turmoil and (ya know, discord), “there exists this Chinese proverb ‘to wish to lead an uninteresting life'” — I was reminded of my lil page on Cheg Yus and how grateful I am to have learnt a few from you 🙂 can’t wait for more blog posts! <3

  2. Hahaha!!! Just can’t stop laughing while reading your post. So nice to hear from you! Government-issued friend — aren’t you feeling grateful on that? 🙂 Can’t wait to read more!

  3. Great to hear from you!

    > a list of 18 hanzi

    Let’s see – 18 x 5 x 36 weeks (that’s 9 months x 4 weeks/month) is a whopping 3,240 hanzi you’ll have memorized by the time you get back. Not bad for a high-schooler!

    > My situation is almost too good to be true: basically, no obligations

    Only last night the person I share a bed with (aka your mom) told me flat-out that she was jealous of you. I could only agree! You are in a great place, Mei, sailing along at Public School 80.

    I figured out this morning (after trying out no less than three Windows software programs) how to pry out your WeChat voicemails onto the computer. You know that audio is the next Big Thing in social, so that may be something you can play with.

    I just looked it up, just use the Voice Memo function app on your iPhone, and under the three dots on the left hit ‘Share…’ and you can simply email the .m4a file to yourself. WordPress natively uses HTML5 so you can upload the .m4a file like any media, and embed a player onto a post. Just an idea – I know you want to stream video but logistically it’s going to be hard. Audio, on the other hand…

    >Asked two of my teachers today their views of ShiHuangDi

    What a topic! I’d ask them their opinion of Cui Lixing’s Three Body Problem, but that’s just me.


    PS – came here and wasn’t surprised that Yingchuan beat me to the first comment…

  4. Mei, you have also escaped from teaching your adorable little students, you had to live up to their high expectations, to be this tremendous Olympian.;)

  5. 我仔細地數了三次。第一張照片裡總共有十七個人。How do you say “ringer” in Chinese? The greatest thing about this blog is I get to watch as three Yuzukis fabricate a new relationship.

    (I remember my own first weeks in BJ quite vividly. My social world very gradually expanded from fellow foreign teachers to Chinese colleagues to my beloved students, picking up a few foreign students along the way. And throughout I was breathing that crummy BJ air, hunting for rare editions at every used bookshop in town, teasing out the local thinking on the legacy of 天安門. Things just got more and more interesting.)

    1. Uncle Sam, 你算了三次?你真的有太多时间。The 17th kid is our new classmate, a South Korean student named Michael. Some of the kids in my 班 treat him like an adopted son. It’s hilarious.
      Glad to see that our family is as entertaining online as we are in person (hehe). I’m so looking forward to Mom coming to visit me here—to see her in her element!
      Hearing you talk about Beijing makes me feel all that childlike excitement/wonder all over again. That’s hopefully to come in the next few months—for now, I’ve got to persevere through my daily 听写s!

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