First few days

Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Monday, March 4, 2013

MONDAY 4/3/2013
Today it is getting closer to starting classes.  I had to organise my living allowance.  As a scholarship student, I am entitled to a living allowance each month as well as a one-time settlement allowance. The first time they give it to me in cash, and then afterwards they deposit it into my ICBC Chinese bank account.  I received 3200 yuan (AUD$530) as my first month allowance and my settlement allowance.  I did not expect to get that much, I had thought I would get about 800 yuan at most each month, but it is comforting knowing that I will not have to eat too much into my savings. 
I also got to know my roommate Saida a little better.  She is a mother of a 10 year old and a 6 year old. They are staying with her parents whilst she is here.  Saida comes from Tuva, a 'federal subject' in Russia.  I get the idea that they are like an independent state,  as they have their own president and ministers.  It is a small state of about 310,000 Tuvans, and it is in South Russia, very close to Mongolia.  Saida has helped to clean a lot of the room, and has bought things like an iron and ironing board, which will be very useful.
I also had a placement test today. It was a multiple choice, which was quite difficult, as I could often narrow down the answer to two options, which both feel right.  I was nervous about the test, because I do think it's important to be placed in the correct level class, so I did take it quite seriously.
TUESDAY 5/3/2013
Today was my first day of class.  I felt like I was starting my first day of high school or uni all over again, all nervous and anxious.  I wasn't due to start until 10:40, even though usually I would start at 8:30, so Mum and I did a few little jobs, like printing photos to put in my photo frames in my dorm.
My class was good, albeit very short for the first day.  Most people in class had to have medical tests done, so we only really had an hour and a half of class, well short of the 4 hours we will usually have.  Our teacher is very friendly and passionate, which is very encouraging.  I haven't really had a chance to meet many people yet, but I can see that the class is mostly made up of Japanese and Korean students, with a few Italian, American and Russian members too.  I am the only Australian, which was a little unexpected.  For some reason I thought that this uni would have millions of us wandering around, but I seem to be one of the very few.
The medical tests were well organised, with most new students having to undergo tests to extend our month-long visas to year-long visas. I had already had extensive medical tests back home to even get the visa I currently have, but a Chinese doctor is required to sign off on my tests before I can apply for a visa extension. The hospital had a specific section for these types of tests, so it was very well organised.  I had to present my passport, a 2 inch photo of me, my previous medical results and some money.  The lady barely looked at my tests, but I think she guessed that from the sheer numbers of pages I presented, that my medical exams back home were comprehensive enough.  They keep my records and will look through them before they give me the all-clear and a certificate to take to the police station to take the next step in extending my visa.  Most people had to have blood tests, if they had not been tested for certain diseases back home, or have an x-ray or an entire physical. I was quite lucky, as I didn't have to see a single doctor.
With that whole process finished, mum and I got ready to meet Sammy, who is a good friend of mine in China, her husband Faye and Rebecca for dinner.  They took us to a restaurant for Western food, and it was great to be back in my comfort zone after an exhausting few days of being so far outside of it.  Eating burgers, spaghetti and burritos with a knife and fork was quite comforting, and it is definitely a restaurant close to uni that I'll have to re-visit. It was especially nice to catch up with Sammy, Faye and Rebecca, though.  I have been so blessed with the support I have received from my friends over here. They have each been so kind and welcoming, it has made a huge change for me much easier.
Today was my first full day of class.  I met a few of my classmates, and they all seem really nice, and it is good that we're all in the same position of being so new to the uni and to China.  Although the classes are only 4 hours each morning, they are quite intensive, and it is tiring concentrating for so long.  I don't want to daydream, as my teacher seems to like to call on people randomly, and there is nothing worse than having no idea where the class is up to.
I also had orientation in the afternoon.  I expected that it would be a tour of the uni, but instead it was a lecture.  It was very informative; reminding us to get receipts from taxi drivers and to be mindful of the many scammers here, as well as scary; warning us of the dangers of fire hazards, traffic accidents and drugs and alcohol. Each warning came with the real-life accident of a previous student, which unfortunately usually ended in death.  
 The day finished off with dinner with Ian, Emily and and Emily's mother.  We went to the same duck restaurant we visited last time, as it was so nice before.
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Sammy on

Very happy to have dinner with you and Sharon. Hope your class is going well~

Joan Jay on

Lots of news and I am so pleased all is going well. Your room looks better each time you take a photo. Love the blue frames and so pleased about the money. Will you be able to manage off this without hitting the savings? It would be hard to leave your children in the care of your mother for a year - the course must be very important to your room mate. Before I lost this I am going to post,.,kove to you both Nanna/Mum xxx

Andrew on

Great Photo's , Rebecca , Faye and Sammy dont change at all

Lyn on

I,m glad you both had a dinner with friends after all those warnings. How cold is it and is your room have heating and cooling? All our love

Kerry Green on

Sounds like you are having a good time Amy ... Sharon stop crying !!!

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