Beijing

CIEE Beijing Study Abroad Program
Back in Iowa City after half a year in Beijing, I am struggling with re-adjustment. The process goes like this: watch four Star Wars movies on the flight back, half-heartedly suggest family Easter dinner at the Beijing Buffet on the Coralville strip, get car towed because a certain private parking lot has strengthened enforcement protocols, swerve at the sight of newly sprouted condominiums three houses down from my home, scroll through photo albums of China adventures, obsessively check friends’ WeChat updates, try to retrieve the part of me that is still sleeping and waking in Beijing time. Perhaps retrieval will come by way of writing and reflecting.

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Lifestore translation picture
Study abroad is a perfect opportunity to translate oneself in a foreign country, in a strange language, in unfamiliar roosts. You may just discover a way to add another layer of meaning to your brand. No, despite what the Chinese supermarket said, you can’t actually buy life. But maybe you can rebrand it.

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Beijing is vast. I’ve been here the span of seven Hawkeye football wins, and the city’s vastness is overwhelming at times. The vastness is geographical. At 6,000 square miles – larger than Connecticut – the city’s rings stretch outward into rural villages masquerading as suburbs. Try taking the subway from the northwest corner of the city, where Peking University is located, to Yizhuan Culture Park, in the southeast corner; the bus or taxi through typical traffic will take even longer. The vastness is also historical. It reaches back through Mongol, Chinese, and Manchu dynasties, when the city was passed back and forth among occupiers.

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Street food in Beijing
At 5 a.m. Beijing time, I awoke to the sound of absolute stillness and the shafts of dull grey Chinese light through the dirty windows. Not knowing Dan (my new roommate) very well, I hesitated to get up and risk waking my likely equally jet-lagged companion. I opted to pull out my Nexus 7 tablet and play Pokemon Emerald version until further notice.

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