I have been here for 10 days – amazing how quickly the time has flown by. Given how tired I am, though, I guess it has been time very well spent! Life – both intellectual and quotidian – is intense. The campus itself is a great place to work, and the buildings and lake on the northern part of the campus are lovely places to walk in the early evenings to relax. It is fascinating being on campus, and very much living surrounded by the students. Reflecting on my time here so far, the following spring to mind:
- spring is advancing – blossom buds were just opening on a tree as I walked to work this morning
- good to see somewhere else that matches my own usual ‘office’ day from 8 in the morning until six in the evening (although they do have a two hour lunch break)!
- walking across campus to work in the morning, students and bicycles are enthusiastically everywhere- long before their peers would even be awake on the Holloway campus back home!
- the first thing to be done on getting into the office is to fill one’s hot water carrier (thermos equivalent) from the tank and then make a cup of green tea – which is subsequently refreshed throughout the day
- the intellectual vitality and curiosity – amongst students and staff – is so refreshing! UK students – at least many with whom I come into contact – have much to learn from the commitment and dedication of their peers here.
- yesterday’s session with ‘my’ group of Master’s students was on research design – and it was great to explore aspects of Habermas’s work with them, and briefly summarise my critique of grounded theory. They are so knowledgeable about much existing European social and educational theory! It’s a real pleasure to work with them – and my concerns that my participatory ‘teaching’ style might not be acceptable were certainly ill-founded.
- much exciting research is being done at the Graduate School of Education – and I am having really useful (if a bit exhausting) discussions with colleagues about everything from designing online surveys, to the use of mobiles for schools and parents to communicate, to the government’s plans to have interactive whiteboards in every classroom!
- the IT services are great – thanks to the IT Service@Peking University. It is brilliant to have wireless access in my office and ethernet in our hotel room. Mind you, I do wish that I did not have so many e-mails from my other lives that need to be answered!
- The diversity of places to buy food is overwhelming – there are just so many, and such a diversity of different tastes and textures
- I even bought a very palatable bottle of Great Wall Cabernet Sauvignon on campus last night for RMB 34 (about £3.50) – the first wine to have passed my lips since arriving!
The photos below give just a flavour of the diversity and intensity of life here. Thanks to all those who have made Pam and me feel so welcome here at Beida!