I had received an opportunity through the McGill Institute of Aerospace Engineering to study at the Beihang University, in Beijing, for one month this summer!
I took three classes at Beihang; two engineering related and the other was a Chinese language class (it was very helpful!). I usually had lectures in the morning or afternoon and then took the other half of the day to do touristy things in Beijing. Also, every weekend I took a trip out of town to the Great Wall of China, Qingdao and Shidu.
Things i did in Beijing
- Great Wall of China (Badaling Section)
- Forbidden City/Tian’an Square
- Summer Palace
- Temple of Heaven
- Olympic Stadium
- Bei Hai Park
- Jing Shan Park
- Nanluoguxiang / Dongcheng district
- Wanfujing Street
- Dazhalan and Liulichang Street
- Zoo Market
- Silk Market
Here is a map of all the subway stops which I went to and a few comments about what I found there.
A little bit about the summer school
Beihang University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA) is a very well known and prestigious university in China. The campus was beautiful! It was very large with many dorms for the students, sports complexes and academic buildings. The New Main Building is where I had all my classes and it was conveniently across the street from the hotel we stayed in, called the Training Center.
The Touristy Sights of BEIJING
The Great Wall of China (Badaling Section).
Typical Foods of beijing
I am a huge foodie and love to try new things so when I knew I was going to China I couldn’t have been more excited. Beijing is known for having food from all other Provinces of china readily available. Thing is, everyone says that the food just isn’t as good as the region it originated from. I obviously couldn’t tell the difference and enjoyed everything from street food to fancy hot pot dinners. Spicy food is usually identified and optional so don’t stress if you can’t handle the heat (like me!).
RANDOM INFO about foods:
- Almost all food made in China is cooked in oil. Just be prepared to have a big change in your bowel movements for the first few days/weeks. To be honest, my stomach never got used to the oily food and I had difficult times digesting for a whole 6 weeks but the food is so good that I didn’t care that much.
- Dairy products are hard to come by in China. You can find little bags of milk and yoghurt in super markets.
- Be weary of street food, stories are told that people sift out oil from the sewers to cook with in their little carts because they can’t afford store bought oil.
- Worry not! I still ate street food every second day because its cheap and delicious
- I consider the following foods tourist traps! This is because no one in China typically eats these things and they are VERY expensive at touristy street markets. (This is my own opinion by the way)
- Anything else that sounds disgusting
How bad is the pollution?
It won’t kill you but its definitely not a nice thing to have around. I personally didn’t notice any significant difference in my breathing abilities but the immense heat and humidity was killer! Every morning and afternoon is a grey sky and its difficult to see buildings clearly more than a few blocks away due to the smog. A lot of people spit out the mucus that builds in their throat apparently due to pollution and I found myself doing it a couple times too.
Whats it like to live in a communist city?
To me, I didn’t notice any significant difference.. There seems to been the same number of police around on the streets as in Canada. There are however a large number of people working as security guards and street cleaners. There are street cleaners on every street with their large straw brooms sweeping up leaves and cigarette butts (many people smoke in China btw). And Security guards seem to be guarding every piece of land, buildings, public places; you name it, they’re there.
Do you need to know Chinese to travel in China?
I don’t normally say this about other countries but it is SUPER beneficial to learn a bit of Chinese when in China. You will be able to have small conversations with everyone and order simple meals.