I finally took the leap. I did it. No, not join the gym, I still have to do that. Rather, I signed up for another Chinese class during the week. This one will be on Tuesday evenings, 17:00-19:00. I will do it online – from my room at university. I work on a Tuesday until lunchtime and usually return early afternoon. I could get to the Chinese school in time – from here, it takes about 45 minutes – but I am often tired after work, so staying put will be easier. My usual teacher, however, is busy at that time, so I will have a different teacher (one I have also had before). We will see whether it makes any difference to my Chinese level and whether I can sustain having two classes a week (actually four classes, as each 50-minute slot is considered to be one class, but I usually just view the whole two-hour stint as one, as it is easier, and we do the same things in both parts of the class). I might do something different on a Tuesday – perhaps reading – which will be good. We will see….
Halloween has come and gone! I did a special ‘zombie apocalypse’ lesson for my second-year students. They seemed relatively receptive, which is good.
It has been quite difficult to get the lessons just right for those students. The first class only has 14 students, and they are always very quiet. The second has 23, and are much more lively. It makes a big difference, not only to classroom dynamics but also to how long activities take. We have about six or seven weeks left of the culture course, about eight or nine of the other one. Then, it is holiday time again. My culture course finishes early because it started a week before the first-year class, but also, I have the class on a Tuesday, and we miss one week for Christmas (I get a holiday but the students do not), and then the following week – the last week – is New Year, and everyone has a holiday then.
Beijing is surrounded by several hills. One group of hills, to the north-west of the city, are known as the Fragrant Hills. In autumn, the leaves of the trees all turn red and many locals like to go and photograph them. Access to the site has been made easier by a new tram system, which opened at the end of last year. It goes from one of the subway stops, via the Summer Palace, to the Botanical Gardens and then finishing at the hills themselves. I have not taken the tram yet (I have visited once, I think, with a friend. They drove however, and the air was not that great). I thought about going to see them on Wednesday. I took the subway to the stop where the tram leaves, but there were so many people there, I decided against it. It would have been nice to see, but I was not desperate enough to see the red leaves on the trees, that I wanted to wait in a long line to take an overcrowded tram and try and climb up the hills to see them. So, instead, I took the subway to the Olympic forest park, near the Bird’s Nest stadium. This park is free to enter. It was also busy, but not as busy as I suspect the hills would have been. There are many trees in the park which are also shedding their leaves although many were turning yellow, instead of red. Still, it was a pleasant enough day and a pleasant enough stroll. Unfortunately, for some reason, my camera decided to play up and to the photos were less than stellar examples of good photography.
However, I did manage to spot the following gem, from the collection of less-than-average pictures.