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Spring Things in Beijing!
Spring Things in Beijing!

Maya S. is currently a junior at SYA China. She comes to SYA from Choate Rosemary Hall (CT) and is a blogger for our Campus Reporter Program. View more of Maya's work throughout her year abroad here.

Spring has sprung in Beijing! Unlike living on the East Coast of the U.S., the seasons here change abruptly, so it's already 80 degrees. Best of all, every tree and flower is in bloom. When I walked down my neighborhood hutong during the wintertime, the trees were completely bare, and all I could see were buildings on either side of me. Now, when I look up, there's a blanket of verdant leaves hovering over me, filtering out the sunshine.

When I first arrived in Beijing, I learned that there's an important concept about wearing plenty of clothes to keep oneself from getting sick. Thus, you will generally see locals wearing sweaters instead of shorts, even on hot days. This idea is so prevalent in Beijing that even I seemed to have been unconsciously swept into the "sweater" movement. I found myself wearing jackets and jeans on days that my American friends would undoubtedly find it sinful to be wearing long sleeves. The temperature yesterday was about 80 degrees and sunny so naturally, being an American at heart, I figured it would be the perfect time to wear a pair of shorts. Of course, I wasn't surprised to find that I was the only person on the subway and in my neighborhood who decided to wear shorts that day. More than anything, I find it really interesting how people in the U.S. and in China can have such contrasting opinions about the most simple topics like weather.

The Search for Panda Blood - Final SYA Project

In our Chinese class, we've started reading a book about a man who returns to his home village to discover that people have been selling their blood. They do this because it supposedly increases their longevity, fortune, and happiness in marriage. Despite the fact this story was written decades ago, I recently learned that it has a lot to do with modern-day Beijing than I originally thought. Currently, there's actually a large blood shortage in China, where people are going to great lengths to find "panda" blood (a nickname for those in China who carry rare, sought-after blood). At the same time, our class has also recently begun our final project of the year, called Integrated Learning Project. For this project, we have to focus on a topic related to Beijing, so we can do research about it outside of the classroom.

Since my group chose to research Beijing's blood shortage, we've started looking online to find more information about it, and it's interesting to see how some people tried to resolve it in the past. For example, one online game administrator decided to block all users from accessing the game unless they donated blood to him. Other people have also introduced incentives like raising kids' test scores in exchange for donating their blood. Even though we've only just started our project, I'm looking forward to exploring this aspect of Beijing first-hand.