Time has been flying by, and it’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Beijing for over a month already! Monday was a rare day that was both clear and warm, which meant that Tuesday through Thursday the smog was oppressive. This week felt really good though, both because the weather has been warming up and because I feel like I’ve been doing better in class. Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, and it was also our calligraphy class day, which naturally meant we learned how to write 爱,the character for love. It’s a beautiful character, although I think the dots are my worst stroke, and again we had a good time hanging out and talking while we practiced writing. Of course we also had to talk about whether or not we were single, and, when asked if I was going to write anything for Jo, I said I couldn’t because she doesn’t have a Chinese name. Building off of Josephine, we decided on 周菲菲,Zhou feifei, which is a very cute name (although because of the way that Chinese names work, even though Zhou and Jo are pronounced almost the same, it’s her Chinese last name, so I don’t use it when referring to her much).

We didn’t have a written test this week, and, while I’m not sure how my spoken test went, my one on one homework went really well. Usually I struggle with it because I forget how to read so easily, but this week I only forgot how to say one or two characters, and I really did feel the improvement. We also got our second textbook (because we do 3 lessons a week and each book only has 12 lessons), and, because we liked writing fiction for our last weekly journal so much, from now on we can always write a story if we want to, as long as it uses grammar and vocabulary from the lessons we learned that week. I know that I and at least one other person are going to be writing one long story with new installments each week, and I’m really looking forward to it. I have a few ideas for plot, and, in addition, I think I’m going to leave off on a cliffhanger each week, just to keep my teacher and classmates on their toes.

After class, we had a paper cutting activity, where we learned how to cut out 喜喜, the double happiness. After that I went to hang out at the immersion apartment, because last night a big group of people went to karaoke. I knew that if I went home, I’d have a hard time making myself go out again, and I’m really glad I decided to go. We found another Chinese movie on TV to watch, and then I agreed to become everyone’s doll as they put makeup on me in preparation for our night out. It was a great night, with not too many people (but enough so that the room only cost each of us around 30 kuai), and afterwards we went to a club (which someone got us free entry to) to dance. I was surprised at how unsurprising the club was, for someone who doesn’t go out much – it was basically like a frat party if a frat party had more budget and a bar. At one point I wanted to go grab a drink, and just happened to be at the perfect time to see the bartender start juggling bottles with lighted sparklers jammed into the necks, and then he built a tower of glasses, lit some liquor on fire, and poured the fire over the tower. Then he handed out a bunch of drinks, and so, while it wasn’t what I’d been planning on ordering, I got one of the drinks. Afterwards I stayed at the apartment, because I didn’t want to go back home by myself at 1 am, and this morning one of the girls decided to make eggs for everybody.

Since getting home, I’ve mostly been resting, and reflecting on the week. I’m glad I went out, although I definitely won’t be doing that with the frequency that some people did, and I’m glad that I got to spend some time with people that I don’t normally get to spend time with. My throat kind of hurts now (it’s impossible for me not to sing a song if I know it, or, occasionally, even if I don’t), and I need to wash my hair again to stop it hinting of smoke, but it was a great experience. I’m looking forward to more great experiences in the months to come!

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My classmates and I taking a communal nap during our break – aka what gets me through my last class of the day.

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My work in calligraphy – Jo’s name isn’t very pretty because this was the first time I had written it (no practice beforehand), and the third character of my name has interesting proportions, but I’ve never been very good at writing that, and the rest I think looks nice.WhatsApp Image 2017-02-18 at 6.58.23 AM.jpeg

My paper cutting – because double happiness is often used as a wedding decoration, people also turn the boxes into hearts, and so I used my leftover Valentine’s Day feeling to make this.

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