My big adventure

Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recently, as I was preparing to go away, a friend gave me a card with the words "life begins where your comfort zone ends". It was a poignant message as I embark on what is undoubtedly my most intimidating, nerve-wracking and exciting journey; a year abroad.
Early last year, my Chinese lecturer asked me to stay behind after class.  She said that the Chinese Consulate had contacted her to invite a student to apply for a scholarship that they were giving away, and she wanted me to try.  The Chinese government have been very keen to encourage foreigners to learn their language, and this was one of their methods.  I was intrigued at the thought of a scholarship, and so I began my application process.  It was ridiculously precise, with me having to re-submit document after document. I had to hand over my VCE results, my VCE certificate, my university results, submit an online form, a written form, a short essay on my aspirations, and take some medical tests.  The medical tests were, again, thorough and invasive, as I had a chest x-ray, an ECG, multiple blood tests and a general physical which included tests of my colour sense, manic psychosis,  and everything else that you could imagine.  It was exhausting just to type that, and so much more so to live it!  The whole process was worth it, though, when I found out that the Beijing Language and Culture University had accepted me as a General Scholar Student. 
Six months later, I found myself on a plane to Beijing with Mum to help me out for the first few days.  I have had more than my fair share of doubts.  It would be so much easier to be preparing for my third year at Deakin Uni, with my friends there, and with my family by my side.  I think, however, it will be good to do something so different just to see if I can.  I'm interested to see how I go being thrown into this situation.
I had forgotten how busy the traffic is here, and on my first day today, I found myself in the middle of the mayhem.  Making sure to look both left and right before I crossed, I had not considered that I would have to watch out for cars on the footpath.  Apparently, you do.  Traffic lights also seem to be more of a guide rather than a rule.
My dad's friend Ian has lived in Beijing for the past few years with his Chinese wide, Emily, and they met us at the uni to help us sort a few things out.  Armed with a long to-do list, we walked with purpose throughout the morning, going from bank to bank to see who would accept Australian dollars to convert into yuan.  I also was able to open my bank account, which took a long time, but only required a passport as identification for the account.
We went to a really nice Peking Duck restaurant for lunch, where you are presented with a certificate for your duck, and I ate duck head. The restaurant was beautifully decorated, and the food was delicious.
We then went to the uni to sort out the accommodation.  I have been put in a room with a Russian girl, whom I am yet to meet. I am hoping she speaks English (or Chinese) competently, or there will be some awkward language barriers for the first while. My dorm room is big enough, with a single bed and desk allocated to me. The cupboard space is very limited, and there is no way I will be able to fit all my things in there, so I will be looking for some Ikea-like storage solutions very soon! The room gets cleaned every weekday, but there were some very obvious footprints all over the walls. Perhaps the last students had broken the no partying rule, because I have no idea how else so many boot prints would cover the walls! The cupboards also had a few holes in the doors, but, in general, the place was livable.
I enrolled in the course at the end of the day, and found out that I would have to re-take my medical tests for a third time, as well as take a placement exam before I am assigned to a class.
All in all, it was a very successful day, albeit an overwhelming one!  I'm excited for the next few months, if this is just day one, then I am certainly in for an action-packed ride. Stay tuned.
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Nanna on

I have just rung Hayley to see if they have heard and she told me about your blog. So pleased you arrived safely and have begun to sort yourself out by way of a bank account etc. Don't forget the air filter!! Eating duck head - you are already changing and experimenting - not the same girl who only ordered snitzels (incorrect spelling I know). Had a lovely time with Laura and I know I am going to enjoy her visits as much as I enjoyed (and miss) yours. Write Nanna xx

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