Grace L. is currently a junior at SYA China and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from The Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut.
Every day of the week, my alarm goes off at 7AM. I'll wash my face, brush my teeth, then slap on my school uniform, which happens to be extremely comfortable as it consists of a pair of royal sweatpants and a T-shirt or sweatshirt. Then, I'll go into the kitchen for a usual Chinese breakfast: a soy sauce fried egg, some oatmeal, and fruit. Once I'm ready for the school day, I say goodbye to my host family and take the elevator down sixteen stories of my Beijing apartment building. The instant I step out onto street, the flow of peripatetic people engulfs me and I become one of the moving pieces in the early morning rush hour mob. I walk for a brief ten minutes to get to school every day, and often run into other SYA students on the way. I pass the charismatic Chinese lady on the corner of the street and always stop to buy a coffee for $1 and say good morning before starting my school day. After climbing the infamous six flights of stairs (that really are not too bad anymore), I walk into my first class at 8AM. One of the best things at SYA China is Friday, because Fridays are half-days! So, after two Chinese classes, followed by Honors Pre-cal, then Honors English, then Chinese History, students are free for the entirety of the afternoon to go out and explore everything Beijing has to offer. This schedule enables SYA China students to truly immerse themselves within the city of Beijing because we have a fantastic amount of free time to explore, to try new things, and to discover more and more about the culture surrounding us. Various clubs also meet Friday afternoons. I go to Bilingual Club on Fridays, where SYA students get to know the Chinese students at the associated high school while practicing their language skills.
On Friday nights, if I do not spend the evening with my host family, I delight in trying different restaurants in Beijing with friends. We have gone out to eat hotpot, to savor Beijing duck, and to wander the famous Wangfujing night market, where all strange variety of fried foods come on sticks and sell for less than $5. Every once in a while, if I'm craving some Western food, I'll hop on the subway to Sanlitun to get a burger at Great Leap or some falafel at Biteapitta. After a night out, I'll retire home, take the elevator up sixteen stories, and get in bed. The view from my apartment never ceases to take my breath away; on a clear day, I can see mountains in the distance. I usually chat with my host mom before I go to sleep, and play with my baby host sister, who turned two last weekend. My host dad often travels for his job, but I always enjoy our conversations about politics, American culture, or food. Living with a Chinese host family in Beijing, I have the benefit of truly feeling like a family member combined with a lot of freedom to be independent and discover new things in the city by myself and with friends.