Week 5: The political tension though…and more spring pictures!

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Another week has passed here in grand Beijing! Classes are getting a tad easier to handle and the Saudi Arabian king came for a visit to PKU- I wasn’t there but my friend took some pictures from far, far away. I’m almost done with my readings for my Chinese Perspectives (more like world perspectives) class and so I’m excited to have more time and more fun in the coming weeks.

For this week’s post, I won’t be talking too much about the classes since they went on as always. Instead, I’ll be focusing more on the the environment here in Beijing, both natural and social. Wow, I sound smart.


Since the start of the new semester here in Beijing, we were blessed with continuous no-smog days until this week. A lot of people in UCEAP have sore throats or stuffy noses right now because we were bad kids and forgot to bring our masks out with us. What’s funny (or not funny) is that everyone was warned about this health problem but everyone just wrote it off because a lot of us had been in China before and decided that we would be alright with the smog level-which isn’t that extreme compared to how bad it can actually be. Too bad most of us are from the the Yangtze and south where air pollution can get to Beijing-level but maybe once a month or so. Lesson of the day? It’s always best to wear your mask. I ended up coughing my way through Beauty and the Beast at the theatre because of all the dust particles I inhaled.

That being said, China has definitely been taking steps in trying to better the environment-very slowly, but at least its there. It’s a country with lots of lopsided development whether it be coastal v. non-coastal, south v. north, or even within and outside a city area. In coastal and developed cities, it’s a lot easier to get rid of the pollutants and develop better industries and markets that protect or do less harm to the environment than in areas (many areas) in China where people are worrying about electricity. I’m in no way justifying the scary amount of environmental degradation happening in China but pointing out the difficulties of changing a nation with such a huge and population, who holds such global importance, and yet at the same time is still developing. Optimist side is that changes are happening, pessimist side is that changes aren’t happening fast enough to change the course of climate change. In the end, more can be and should be done for the preservation of the Earth and future generations.


On a brighter side of things, spring is in full swing here in Beijing. I saw my first magnolia tree with more than two magnolias blooming on it for the first time. My sad heart always loves spring because after the not-so-cold winters that remind me of the melting ice caps, the flowers start blooming and I think, ‘Maybe we aren’t that bad off, maybe there’s still hope.’ Here are some nice and pretty spring pictures where the sky is shining blue and the waters crystal clear.

Awkward encounters?

The weather has been getting warmer lately and us Californians are breaking out our shorts and sandals. This has caused a lot of staring and questions on whether (haha punny) we are sane or not. Where are all the rest of the warm weather crew @Australia, Singapore, etc. Why are you guys leaving us hanging. So far, my friends and I have been asked four times if we were (1) from the south since I guess southern Chinese people tend to wear less (2) Korean. These two guesses are always right in some way because there are people from the south and there are people who are Korean in our group each time we were asked…but these questions when answered have turned in strange ways.

**Warning sensitive material. These situations are happening because of the THAAD issue with heightened tension between China and Korea.

  1. I was taking pictures with my friend near the Nameless Lake in PKU when two creepy old men (like uncle age) started taking pictures of us and then they said, “Ah these two Korean girls” (这两个韩国小妹子) to which we replied, “We are Chinese” (my friend is half Chinese, half Korean). Then to our shock, they replied, “Are you guys just pretending to be Chinese because you don’t want us to yell (骂) at you guys?”
  2. My friend really wanted to eat some bao and dumplings when she was outside and when she asked a restaurant if they sold any, they asked her if she was Korean, to which she naturally answered yes. They instantly told her that they wouldn’t serve her in the words, “Since it’s you, then we don’t have any.”

Honestly none of us expected that this THAAD issue would affect even us students and that the normal population (seriously…like a restaurant owner) would be so worked up and passionate about this thing. I know these happenings aren’t rare-they’ve happened in even more extreme cases in history and in present times and in other settings, but wow. For things like these to happen to people who have little to do with a situation between larger powers is really eye-opening to how extreme people can get, and how easily people are influenced. These situations are probably happening on both sides of the THAAD and I hope these things haven’t been increasing in frequency. There are always two sides to everything and just as there are the extreme, there are those who will think logically.

10/10 sure that as ‘woke’ as Californians claim to be about the world and society, we have tons of stuff we don’t fully understand as well. Many factors play into people’s perceptions and the most important thing is to change for the better.

Lunch with the roommate!

Back to happy stuff. On Friday, my roommate and I made our way to TRB Bites (soon to be just TRB) near the Forbidden Palace’s east gate. The service was excellent here and they even gave us a little service with a chocolate, orange marmalade cake and a little ‘Enjoy Beijing’ message when they learned that we were studying abroad here.

The food was super fun to eat with lots of flavor with each bite. The bread was the super yummy and even the house-made butter won my butter-hating roommate over. I finally got to eat risotto after forever and the pear tree dessert was refreshing and sweet. Sadly, the restaurant is changing chefs so the menu will be changing as well. Maybe I’ll come back again to check out the new dishes then.

What’s really cool about this restaurant is that you can overlook the palace moat and it’s the closest you can get to actually ‘eating’ inside the palace.


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