My first 48 hours at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) in Peking University (PKU) has provided a wealth of contrasting impressions. Above all, though, I am incredibly grateful to the hospitality and friendliness of the staff and students. Without them I would feel incredibly lost! My language skills are improving, but need to do so very much more rapidly!
My main impressions so far:
- The colours are every shade of grey and brown – it is early Spring. The blossom is only just beginning to come into flower, and the deciduous trees have yet to burst into leaf
- The campus itself is like a quiet oasis, amidst the noise and traffic of Beijing – with its West, South and East Gates, it is like a calm village within the city
- Many of the buildings are striking and new – I am delighted to have an office in the splendid new Graduate School of Education; but there are also interesting old buildings, particularly around Courtyards Nos.1-6
- Shops of all kinds, and seven different main restaurants are scattered throughout the southern part of the campus – and one can eat so many different styles of food (there’s even a restaurant serving pizza, although I have not sampled Chinese-Italian food yet)
- Delighted to find a cashpoint machine that takes my bank card – on arrival had been told that it probably would not work!
- Pedestrians and bicycles jostle for space, and silent electric scooters weave their way swiftly between them
- Had real difficulties with my e-mails on arrival, but it turned out to be a problem back at Royal Holloway! No-one told me that work was being done on the servers, and I had to change my settings! Mind you, Twitter and Facebook are blocked…
Tomorrow, I have my first two-hour lecture – am not sure whether the students or I am more nervous – guess I probably am! If only humans (and I in particular) could adapt more swiftly to crossing time zones – I so dislike being 8 hours adrift!