Radhika Sharma '14 is spending her junior year in Beijing via School Year Abroad and is blogging about her experience. Follow her at http://radhikastravels.blogspot.com/ Below is a recap of week five.
Week 5: My fifth week was filled with fun and relatively relaxed conditions because of the time of year it is here in China. China has a festival called the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节）which is on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month each year and this year fell on September 30th. China also happens to have their anniversary of the day they were founded （国庆节） on October 1st. As a result of these two incredibly important holidays being in such close proximity of one another, I get a week off from school. SYA has also chosen to take us on our first trip, a Tibetan culture trip, next week, so technically, I have two weeks off. No big deal or anything. The week before having this long break was like the week right before Christmas-- it counts as an actual week and all, but no one actually cares that much because the excitement for the holiday is so much more important!
Before the break began, though, all students had one last commitment that stood in between themselves and the break: the Annual Sports Meet. This "meet" is essentially a track and field competition in which every class in the school participates and has a wide variety of every kind of track and field activity. You've got your sprinting, hurdling, long jumping, high jumping, shot put, hurdles and, of course, basketball dribbling. It is China, after all. In a fit of excitement and stupidity, I volunteered myself to be a person in the 4x200 meter relay with three other classmates in the beginning of the year. I still have absolutely no idea what exactly possessed me to volunteer to sprint in front of the entire school, but any attempts for me to get out of it were crushed without a second thought. In case you are not aware, I am not a sprinter in any way, shape or form. I row. I am an endurance athlete. I like slow, long runs that involve me, myself, and I. And my iPod. This would never EVER include a short sprint in front of the school, even if it did include three of my friends. But lo and behold, there I was on sports day, sprinting in front of the school and getting second place, which I am pretty proud of. The picture above is a Chinese girl running (not me), but it gives you an idea of what the sports day was like. Through the entire event, I actually had a great time cheering everyone from SYA on and watching the entire school come together to compete. It was like a mini Blair Day (the day Peddie fights its rival school Blair) right here in Beijing.
Later that night, three other friends and I went out for dinner and had an awesome time seeing a different part of the city. My group of friends decided to go to Sanlitun, an area known for its expat community, for dinner and to wander around. My friend Makana and I, in our attempts to save money, tried getting to Sanlitun by subway and bus and ended up not really knowing how to get to a place whose location we also didn't know of. We didn't exactly get lost because we didn't know where we were to begin with. We did know we were in the right area, though, because for the first time since we had arrived, we saw three separate foreigners confidently independently walking around rather than in a group huddled over a map with a look of confusion on their faces. After walking down a street named Sanlitun Street (we are aware of how great of geniuses we are), we began seeing designer stores and the two of us suddenly felt really relieved. Is it bad so say that name brand stores made us feel like we were home again? We came upon an American Apparel and that was too juicy an opportunity for taking a picture for me to turn up. Makana and I got pretty sidetracked, but eventually found our other two friends and picked an Italian place called Annie's to eat. It eased a little bit of the homesickness I was feeling, and the four of us stayed at the restaurant for three hours talking and having a good time.
Although today is Tuesday, I will be posting again later this week for week 6, so I won't say anything else that I have done this weekend/ week. It has been an awesome week, though, because it is filled with a crazy amount of festivities and activities and food!