Hannah S. is currently a junior at SYA China and a blogger for our Campus Reporter Program. She comes to SYA from Polytechnic School (CA). Read more of her work throughout the year here.
It's been over a month and a half since I arrived in Beijing, and already, my lifestyle has changed drastically. Beijing is startlingly different from my suburban California hometown, but I've quickly become accustomed to the frantic pace of life here.
As someone who has a legendary bad sense of direction, one of the hardest things for me has been learning how to use public transportation. At the beginning of the year, my friends and I spent three hours getting lost on the subway on our way to the Summer Palace (I swear we went to every single subway stop in all of Beijing). Now, taking the subway or the bus places is one of my favorite parts of the day, since I've also learned to embrace the feeling of constantly being lost.
Similarly, other things that were at first shocking, like the constant pressure of speaking almost exclusively Chinese with my host family or the jumbled maze that is the Beijing subway system, have now become almost old-hat. It no longer seems strange to me to say, for example, that we're going on a field trip to the Great Wall of China or the Temple of Heaven. I'm used to buying baozi (Chinese steamed stuffed buns) off the street on my morning walk to school or having in-depth Chinese discussions about Taylor Swift with my adorable 13-year-old host sister. There's also just so much to do and see here. On any given day, my options range from, say, visiting a 300-year-old temple to shopping for Mao memorabilia and Rubik's cubes at a bustling night market. This incredible breadth of options is just one of the things that makes Beijing at once so unfamiliar and so special.
Hannah and her friends at the Summer Palace.