Getting Into the Culture

September 22, 2012

I’ve decided my favorite food in Beijing is a “jianbing!”  It’s like a Chinese crepe that many vendors cook and sell on the streets.  With eggs, bread, chives, cilantro, and spicy chili, it’s a great breakfast food.  Lucky for me, there’s a lady who makes them right down the street from my school.  So when I’m running late and haven’t had breakfast, I can get one hot off the skillet for only 4RMB (less than $1!).  Being cautious, the jianbing is the only street food I’ve tried so far…but I’ll get braver soon.

Living in the capital of the country can be tricky when it comes to politics.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve experienced Chinese protests against Japan’s decision to buy some islands that the 2 countries have been fighting over for years.  Living close to the Japanese embassy has not been to my advantage…streets have been shut down and bus routes changed to avoid protests getting out of hand.  For a few days, my school cancelled after-school activities so that students could have more time to find different routes home due to road closures.

I got out to rural China, about 1 1/2 hours from Beijing, last week to go hiking on the Great Wall!  I learned that there are parts of the Wall that are more preserved than others.  We went to Huanghuacheng, and hiked through bushes, trees, and loose rocks that surround the Great Wall in this area.  I even tried a fresh chestnut, which are grown in the village nearby.  The fresh air was a nice change from the city!

Also, I’m now listening to Rosetta Stone to learn Mandarin about twice a week.  It’s so great to recognize words when I listen to local conversations…even if I only know a few!  After living in Beijing and traveling to work everyday for 7 weeks, it also feels good to recognize my surroundings.  When I couldn’t get a bus or taxi to work last week, I was able to walk the route and remember landmarks and street names.

An advantage of living in Beijing is the art scene.  After weeks of my co-workers encouraging me to visit the 798 district, I finally went!  I saw some amazing, interactive and digital work at UCCA gallery.  At other galleries, I saw more traditional Chinese brush painting and huge portraits.  I will need to visit 798 several more times to see all the galleries there.

I have 2 Artist-in-Residence projects to do for my school.  One is a mural for the Math department hallway, and the other is a mural for the brick wall that separates our school from the public park next door.  Ideas have been sketched and approved, but the actual painting and student involvement have not begun yet.  More news to come soon!


Lady making a jianbing


Gallery in 798 District


Visitors to this exhibit in 798 could walk amongst the fake “fashion models”


Interactive exhibit in 798 where visitors could grow “wings”


Protests in Chaoyang district



One Response to “Getting Into the Culture”

  1. jer said

    Thanks for the update, Sara. Always fun to hear about what’s going on with you across the ocean.

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