I’ve officially been in Tianjin for one week, and I absolutely love it here. There is always something to do, and always somewhere to explore. This UW-Madison program has around 40 students here this summer, and we all get along super well! We all live in 2 floors of a hotel, but we have dorm-like rules like as quiet hours and such. Nankai University campus is about a 10 minute walk from our hotel, and it is absolutely beautiful. There are trees everywhere, and a couple man-made ponds. I will be spending lots of time studying on that campus.
I arrived one week ago, after a journey lasting over 24 hours. I flew to Detroit and from there I traveled with about 12 other students in my program on the 14 hour flight to Beijing. We then met up with others at the airport and took a 3 hour bus ride to Tianjin. Since I slept about 1 hour total on the long flight, I ended up sleeping almost the whole bus ride to Tianjin.
The next morning (Saturday) we met our teachers, TAs, and tutors. We have discussion for 2 hours, lecture for 2 hours, and tutoring for 1 hour every day. It is a lot of work, but I’m really excited to improve my Chinese. We have a quiz every day on vocab words and a test every Friday. This program is an intensive language program, and it really is intense. Because it is difficult, every room shares a tutor. They are so helpful with questions and even help us navigate around Tianjin. Even with all this studying, there is still a lot of time every day to explore.
The food is amazing. Since we do not have any kind of meal plan besides a free lunch every Friday during Chinese Language Table, we have to eat at restaurants almost every meal. No one can really read the menus, so our ordering system is very comical. People either (a) point at pictures if there are some, (b) choose from the very limited items we can actually read, or (c) point at random items on the menu. Surprisingly, it always works out. Everything is delicious and most people are willing to try everything, so the food always gets eaten. There a couple streets that are called “food street” where there is literally restaurant after restaurant of cheap food. I was able to get 12 dumplings for only 4 元 (which is only about $0.66 in US dollars.
Now it’s the weekend! I’m planning on going to the zoo and some shopping areas with other students on the trip. I can’t wait to see what else there is to learn about this city. I absolutely love it here.