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AMES

Dartmouth College

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

First things first: there's a lot that's not in here, and a lot that may have changed or will be just plain wrong by the time you arrive in Beijing. This book is intended to be a guide to some of the things that can help you as a Dartmouth student on the FSP, and unfortunately can't be a guide to the whole of Beijing or of China. There are a bunch of books already available doing that job, and doing it a lot better than I certainly could.

More importantly, though, you're going to Beijing in order to see for yourself what China is like. That's the point of the FSP--to allow a better understanding of Chinese society and culture, and of what it means to be Chinese right now. It's not an LSA, or you would have gone instead of taking Chinese 3. Hopefully, you'll come back with not only a greatly improved set of language skills, but also more of a sense of what's happening on the other side of the world.

That said, you should also go to Beijing to have a good time. It's a big roller-coaster of a changing place right now, and there's a sort of exhilaration in just being somewhere where that's happening. Having been on one Beijing FSP as a student and another as an AT, I can say that the changes over the three-year gap between the two were staggering, if not a little bit frightening. Hang on and enjoy the ride.

 

At its best, China is an epic country of sprawling, breathtaking spectacle with some of the most extravagant and ambitious monuments ever constructed by mankind. At its worst, China is a third-world country in which millions of ill-dressed people push and shove their way down the heavily polluted streets of hideous, ramshackle cities, thinking of little else beyond how to survive in the continuing and unpredictable social experiment that is Chinese life. It has much in common with other impoverished, over-crowded nations, plus a few quirks of its own.

--Peter Neville-Hadley, China: The Silk Routes

 

I hope this guide provides you with some useful information on your own trip to China, and that it's a productive and enlightening one. Zh] n& y^ l] sh]n f4ng x£"ª¬ÀÁ°£

Brad Evans '98 September, 1998

Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China

 

BEFORE YOU GO

Getting to Beijing

Unfortunately for those with a fear of flying, there aren't many convenient ways to get to China by boat or train, unless you plan on skipping out on the term before the FSP. Hopefully if you're reading this you've already started making general airline, passport, and visa arrangements, but if not, here are some basic guidelines.

Generally speaking, students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements, though your Program Director and the DAMELL Chinese profs are certainly available for consultation if you've got questions. The Dartmouth FSP has had a long relationship with FETI Travel, based in Boston. Usually Shirley Yang, Dartmouth's contact at FETI (617-451-0606), does a pretty good job of setting up everyone's travel, often making it possible for the FSP group to arrive in Beijing in one or two major groups (which simplifies a number of things) and getting good rates. If this option is available, your Program Director will notify you.

In general, when planning your travel, keep in mind both price and what you want to do after the FSP ends. There are a number of programs available in both China and Taiwan for continuing Chinese language classes in the Fall, as well as options for travel and other activities (see "After the FSP"). If you haven't decided what you want to do yet, an open-ended ticket good for 3 or 6 months will cost a little more but will allow you flexibility in your travel plans. Alternately, a cheap way of traveling a bit after the program is to arrive in China via Beijing, but leave by way of Hong Kong, taking the train south to catch your flight after the conclusion of the FSP. A final note on air ticket arrangements is to keep in mind that with rare exceptions, most tickets can be changed for a $50 fee, so you are not necessarily wedded to any one plan.

As with your air ticket, by now you should have applied for and received your passport if you don't have one already--make sure it's not expired. If for some reason you haven't done this yet, head down to the Hanover Post Office or one of the major passport issuing centers in Boston or New York and get this done as soon as possible. You'll need two passport photos, and you'll need another two for your Chinese visa, so you might as well get those too. The Hanover Camera Shop on Main Street will do these for the exorbitant price of $7 or $8 per pair, but see if you can get them done at home or somewhere for cheaper. Be sure to sign your passport once you get it; it's not valid until you do so.

With regard to visas, your Program Director will keep you informed as to what you need to do. Generally, these are taken care of at an FSP group meeting in Winter or Spring term. It's incredibly important that you show up to this meeting--with your passport--so your visa can get done in time.

 

What to Bring

The key here is to pack light. You will almost certainly be coming back with more than you took to China, so leave room for the extra stuff you buy. If you don't have something on this list, don't go out and buy it. Unless it says otherwise, you can get it in Beijing, and probably for cheaper.

What should I pack in? It depends. Regardless of what you use, you will want to bring a backpack that you can easily put a weekend or a week's worth of clothes in, as you will need it if you travel anywhere within China. There are some rather functional imitation North Face bags available at Silk Alley (see page 23), though, so keep that in mind if you don't own such an item.

For the rest of your stuff, a large suitcase (wheels are essential!) and/or a quality backpack that will allow you to carry three months' belongings comfortably will probably work just fine. The backpack method will come in handy if you plan to travel a lot after or during the program.

Most international flights allow you two pieces of checked baggage totaling 70 lbs. plus a carry-on. Try to fit everything in one checked item, allowing you plenty of room to relax as well as get the extra stuff home at the end of the program. Label your bags inside and out with the program address, in both Chinese and English.

 

Clothing (Be practical! Beijing is hot, muggy, and rainy.)

 

*8-10 T-shirts (remember that you can buy T-shirts in China for cheap)

*3-5 pairs of shorts/skirts

*1 pair long pants

*1-3 nice outfits (this really depends on how often you dress up)

*Underwear & socks, of course

*Shoes (It's important that these be comfortable for walking and hiking, because you'll be doing a lot of that. Bring as few pairs of shoes as possible.)

*Rain jacket (you can pick up ponchos at Wal-mart for a few dollars)

*Sweatshirt (optional if your rain jacket is sorta warm)

 

White clothes are not a good idea, as they will quickly become dingy from the polluted air and your own sweat. Remember when you are packing that clothes are cheaper in China than in the States and most people do end up buying half a wardrobe there.

 

 

Hygiene

 

*Immodium A/D or Pepto-Bismol (Yes, diarrhea happens in Beijing.)

*Deodorant (I swear, it's rarer than gold in Beijing, though if you run out you can get some at inflated prices at the Holiday Inn Lido and other places catering to Westerners.)

*Toothbrush (Though American brands are now available, some have complained that the bristles are too hard. I personally haven't noticed any problems, though.)

*Sanitary Napkins/Tampons (The jury is still out on these. I've seen Kotex, O.B., and Tampax in Beijing--the grocery store just outside campus has the last two; see "Shopping"--but some women have reported problems finding their preferred brands. You can make the call.)

*Medications you're currently taking (see "Health/Immunizations" below)

*Contact supplies, including extra lenses

*Favorite shampoos and conditioners. Of course shampoo is widely available,but if you only like to use a certain brand, bring your own.

 

 

Other Items

 

*Textbooks (Every year, someone forgets these.)

*Sunglasses (Good name-brand ones are a little hard to come by in Beijing)

*Walkman

*Battery Alarm Clock

*Camera (Kodak and Fuji film is everywhere, though)

*1-2 English paperbacks (a good break from studying)

*Guidebook (Get this before you go; there's a lot that can't be written here that a good guidebook will tell you. The Lonely Planet guide is a favorite and widely available; I particularly like Cadogan's China: The Silk Routes, by Peter Neville-Hadley. Its focus is mostly on western China and Central Asia, but it has a spectacular chapter on "Anticipating China" and isn't nearly as annoyingly cynical as Lonely Planet. Try a big bookstore or www.amazon.com.) Lonely Planet also makes a nice phrasebook that can be much handier to use than a dictionary.

 

Optional

 

*Umbrella

*Glue stick (Chinese glue tends to be very runny, and the stamps have weak glue)

*External Speakers/AC adapter for walkman (most folks find they like to have music without having to wear it--these can be purchased anywhere here, so wait if you don't have them)

*Journal

 

 

Need anything else and you can probably get it in Beijing. As a side note, it is a good idea to change a small amount of money (not more than US $50) into Chinese RMB (R5n M^n B* »ÀÒ±", or "People's Money," often shown ¥) before you leave the states, as it will simplify things when you want to get to BNU from the airport on arrival (and eat dinner the first night).

 

 

What Not to Bring

 

*Hair dryers (they'll blow out the circuits in most places)

*Towels and sheets

*Sleeping bag

*Toilet paper (unless you have a favorite brand)

*Prepaid phone cards (see Telephone/Fax)

*Chinese-English/English-Chinese dictionary (but ask your Program Director first)

 

 

 

Health/Immunizations

 

What shots do I need? As soon as you know you are going to China, it is probably a good idea to start on your immunizations. The Off-Campus Programs office will have a health meeting in the spring that will discuss what immunizations you need as well as some other health concerns. However, if you start then there is a good chance you will be unable to complete the course of some of the recommended vaccinations, and in the past some students have complained that they could have taken care of their shots at home over spring break if they had known about them.

 

This is not an attempt to replace that meeting; it is important that you attend as the College often has important information to present. However, it is probably in your best interest to have your doctor look into what immunizations you need before you go to China early on in the process. Below is the list given to China FSP participants in recent years:

 

*Tetanus (booster)

*Polio (booster)

*Typhoid (oral pills)

*Hepatitis A (series)

*Hepatitis B (series)

*Japanese B Encephalitis (optional)

 

Be sure to talk to your doctor, as this list may change and the various shots may have some side effects. If you can't make it home, you can get the shots you need at Dick's House.

 

Also, if you have a condition that you're taking medication for, be sure to bring enough with you to China. Replacing medicines via mail or at the clinics in Beijing can be quite expensive.

 

 

Money

 

Fortunately, Beijing is pretty darn cheap, even though you will be living at a comfort level significantly higher than most of the population. Dartmouth will bill you for tuition and rent for the term, so that will already be taken care of. You will be responsible for your food, transportation, and other living expenses in China. You may also have to bring money for the longer organized trips that your group may take, though some years students have the option of giving the money to Off-Campus Programs before departing. Your Program Director will let you know what the situation is before you leave Dartmouth.

 

How much money should I bring? At present exchange rates (Spring 2000 -- 8.28 RMB to 1 USD), one can eat a lot of food for US $7-8 a day. If you have a small appetite or are just cheap, you can get by on as little as $3 (or even less if you eat in the student cafeteria, Xu5 Sh4ng Sh^ T1ng &emdash;ßS™ Ã). For the entire summer, $700 will certainly cover food expenses with room for going out every now and then to a nice western restaurant (i.e. Hard Rock Cafe or some such). Students on recent FSP's have spent anywhere from $800 to amounts in the several thousands over the summer, depending on how much they like to enjoy Beijing nightlife and/or shop. For the typical FSP participant, though, $1500 seems to be a solid amount that covers everything comfortably.

 

What's the best way to get money to Beijing? Traveler's Checks are the way to go. Get them from a major issuer (AmEx, Thomas Cook, etc.), and in reasonably large denominations--do you really want to bring $1500 in $20 checks? The two main reasons to take this route are that the checks are replaceable, and most places give you a better exchange rate than cash.

 

After traveler's checks, cash and credit cards are likely the next two best options, in that order. Cash, though less secure, can be changed into RMB at slightly more locations than traveler's checks. Credit cards are still not widely accepted in China, often only at places where the high prices indicate that you're paying for the convenience. Cash advances are available, though at present the only two places where you are guaranteed to be able to do so are CITIC Industrial Bank (by the Friendship Store) and the main Tiananmen branch of the Bank of China (south of the Great Hall of the People). There is a service fee at both locations.

 

Wiring money and relying on ATM cards are not recommended. Wiring is expensive and slow, while ATM machines that accept US cards are rarer than taxi drivers who speak English (although there is a functional machine located across the street from the CITIC Industrial Bank).

 


 

WHEN YOU ARRIVE

 

 

At the Airport

 

It's really not as scary as you think when you get to the airport in Beijing. Admittedly, you'll be exhausted from your flight and will be suddenly confronted with heat, humidity, and lots of people shoving and pushing, but it's really not that bad. Take the arrival card you got on the plane, and politely but firmly make your way to the front of the immigration line. After that, wait for your baggage to show up on the carousel and scope out the customs check. Notice how none of the guards seem to be paying attention and how much work it would take to get them to care enough to actually turn on their x-ray machine. Keep that in mind. Regardless of whether or not they decide to do their jobs and make you x-ray your baggage, you don't have anything to declare and should proceed through the Green Lane.

 

When planning your tickets, it really is a good idea to come in with a bunch of your classmates. This sounds cheesy, but it makes things easier and increases the chances that BNU will have a bus waiting there so you won't have to mess with a taxi. If you do have to get a taxi (which you will know before you leave Dartmouth), go straight ahead out the doors and look to the left for the line of taxis and people waiting for them. Go stand in line, and wait for the cheapest cab you can find (of late it seems the best you can do is ¥1.80/km, but there might be a ¥1.60 or two). Most drivers know where BNU is, so telling them"B6i J%ng Sh% F3n D3 Xu5 D8ng M5nr ±±æ© ¶*¥Û&emdash;ß*´*" should do you just fine. Occasionally, they won't know, or will be unsure, so telling them "B6i T3i P^ng Zhu`ng ±±Ã´*ýxØ" will help.

 

It's probably a good idea to warn you of a few things at this point. When you're looking for the taxi stand, ignore anyone who tells you they can take you where you need to go or can find you a hotel. Some of these folks are legit employees of hotels in Beijing, and others are slightly less than honest. Regardless, you don't need their services. A simple "b{ y3o *ª"™" will work. The other thing to watch out for is the occasional person who decides to take advantage of a green foreigner and give them all their change in f7n ÷or m1o ´ notes. Examine your change carefully for the first couple of transactions you make in China, until you get familiar with the way the money works (see "Changing and Dealing with Money"). Also, there is no tipping in China.

 

 

Arriving at BNU

 

If you're coming on your own, the dorm you want is called X%n S8ng G8ng Y] &endash;¬ÀS*´'¢. It'll be easiest if you have the driver take you there, unless you like hauling your luggage around unfamiliar college campuses. Tell him to ask the guard at the gate how to get there. Once at the dormitory, tell the desk that you're with Dartmouth (D1 M] S% D3 Xu5 ¥ÔýÀº¥Û&emdash;ß, or D1D3 ¥Ô¥Û). Point out your name on the list of students and you will receive your key. You'll need to give them a ¥100 key deposit and fill out an arrival card, and after that you're all set. The rooms each have two safes (b2o xi2n xi`ng ±£|'|), so be sure to ask for the combinations or find out if someone is handling the distribution of them.

 

 

After your Arrival

 

Something you might want to do shortly after your arrival in Beijing is go down to the US Embassy (or your respective country's embassy) and register as a citizen living in Beijing. It isn't required for short term residents like FSP students, but it can't hurt to do so. In the unlikely event something significant happens, i.e. a natural disaster or the like, registering will insure that the embassy knows you are in Beijing and will be able to evacuate you if necessary. Additionally, you can pick up English magazines on what's happening in Beijing (see "Entertainment"). To get there, follow the directions under "Shopping" for how to get to Silk Alley. Once you get to Silk Alley, go all the way through the market until you reach the end and a fenced compound with a guard out front and an American flag. There will usually be a long line of Chinese nationals waiting to get an immigration interview. But, since you're a US citizen you get to enjoy the privilege of cutting in front of everyone. Show the guard your passport and go inside the little checkpoint station, and tell the guy in there that you want to register as an American citizen living in Beijing. Just keep telling people this until you get pointed to Citizen Services and get a registration card to fill out. For non-US citizens, it may be worthwhile to call your embassy in the US before leaving and get the address of the embassy in Beijing.

 

Additionally, shortly after arriving you will need to give the Foreign Students Office at BNU two to four passport-size pictures for use in making your student ID. There is a place very close to campus available to do this; go out the East Gate, take a left, and go straight until there is a large vegetable market on your left. Straight ahead of you should be a photography studio which will give you four instant B/W photos for ¥15. Go inside and head past the camera repair counter into the next room. Tell the woman at the counter to your left that you need a xu5 sh4ng zh7ng xi3ng pi3n &emdash;ßS™÷§|ý*¨ (student ID photos), and that they should be j%n ti`n q} de ýÒÃÏ»°µ (ones you can pick up today, or instant).

 

 


 

CAMPUS LIFE

 

 

Academics

 

What Classes Will I Be Taking? The FSP course load is three credits: Chinese 22 and 23, and Chinese 11. Chinese 22, 23 courses are taught by BNU professors under the supervision of the FSP Director, while Chinese 11 is taught by the Director. The distributives for each of the courses have varied in recent years, so you will need to ask the DAMELL office or the registrar at Dartmouth for that information.

 

Chinese 22 and 23: These courses typically take place each weekday morning from 8:00 to 11:30. Usually, you will see two professors each day, each for half the time. There is generally a break between the two halves as well as two smaller breaks halfway though each professor's time, dividing the morning classes neatly into four 50-minute periods.

 

There is a reasonable level of variance each year in the course content, due to individual professors' preferences and teaching methods. However, one constant is the daily t%ng xi6 Ãð&endash;¥, or vocabulary quiz, which usually covers between 10 and 15 characters or compounds. If this sounds like a lot, keep in mind that each lesson will typically have between 20 and 40 new characters/compounds, and that you'll generally go through four new lessons a week. Yes, this is a lot more than in first-year Chinese, but well within your abilities when you a) are surrounded by the language every day, and b) don't have other classes to worry about.

 

Beyond vocabulary, classes often feature a wide range of activities, from basic discussion and practice with grammar patterns to debates and role-playing exercises in Chinese. It's important to keep in mind as well that the FSP curriculum is somewhat flexible, and depends hugely on student involvement. If you've got a new idea for a learning exercise in class, suggest it to the professor or to your Director. If you intend to be a passive "rider" on the FSP, one can fairly say that you won't get much out of the program at all.

 

Chinese 11: Since the individual Program Directors teach this class, the syllabus changes each year to reflect the current Director's expertise and academic interests. Topics in recent years have ranged from "The Languages of China" to "Chinese Storytelling" to "The Anthropology of Beijing." This year, Professor Mowry (M1o L2osh% ´¿| ¶) will be teaching "The Chinese Language and Its Writing System". Generally, the class is held in what would be a 2A time slot, Tues. and Thurs. from 2-4 pm. Class requirements also vary from year to year, but usually involve final projects/papers and an exam.

 

Cultural Activities: Though not officially part of the course load, the FSP will also feature periodic cultural activities, such as midweek trips to see Chinese Acrobats or Beijing Opera, or weekend outings to the Great Wall or Forbidden City. Definitely take advantage of these, as they're a good chance to check out things you might not get to see otherwise, not to mention they're included in the program budget so you won't have to pay for them yourself. Even if a particular outing is sub-par, they all illustrate something about Chinese society, which is the point of the program.

 

Additional Classes: If there is sufficient interest, informal classes can often be arranged in Calligraphy, Cooking, Chinese Dance, and T3i j^ qu1n ôº´» (Tai Chi), among others. However, be advised that starting a class and then dropping out after one or two sessions often leaves a very bad impression. One way to avoid this might be to ask if a demonstration for the group is possible, after which people can decide whether or not they want to take the class. Talk to your Program Director or Chinese professors if you're interested.

 

Also, every morning around 6 am you can witness Tai Chi in action and join the large group of people practicing in front of the campus library. Sometimes the instructors will offer private lessons in the afternoon for a small fee. They have more than Tai Chi to teach you and may talk with you about Chinese history, thought, or traditional medicine. Take advantage of this opportunity!

 

 

 

X%n S8ng G8ng Y] &endash;¬ÀS*´'¢Home Sweet Home

 

As of this writing, X%n S8ng G8ng Y] &endash;¬ÀS*´'¢ is the newest and best foreign students' dorm on campus, though a newer and bigger one is under construction (which will also apparently rent out office space). The rooms are all one-room doubles with private baths and air conditioning, amenities which have greatly eased the mosquito and toilet odor problems of years past. There are still mosquito problems at times, however, so keep a vigilant eye and be sure to use the electric mosquito repeller (the little blue thing that says "RAID" on the side) as well as let the staff know if there are any pest problems.

 

You will have daily cleaning service to sweep the floor, change the towels, and if you're really nice, make your bed. However, the messier your room, the less likely the f{ w] yu1n Ò'± (service attendant) is going to be to do anything at all to your room, much less make the bed. It's your call. Experience has shown that small gifts (fruit, cosmetics) will often help improve the service, though smiling and saying "N& h2o Ý" and "Xi7.xi7 &endash;ª&endash;ª" will do a lot too.

 

The rooms also have phones, TVs, and cable. Additionally, there are cardphones in the lobby (see "Telephone/Fax"). On the second floor, there is a small store with snacks and various beverages, as well as a lounge area, which is often quite smoky. Each room will likely receive a plastic bucket from the Program Director for laundry; when you need a load done take it down to the first floor and to the laundry room past the mailboxes and to the right. A bucket will usually run ¥10, though smaller loads are ¥5. When your laundry is ready, you'll either get a phone call or it will be waiting at the front desk. Do not forget to pick it up! The laundry doesn't have a dryer, and in the humid Beijing air, it doesn't take long for wet clothes to start smelling really gross and mildewy. Hang it up somewhere to dry, though you should be advised that afternoon thundershowers are common in the summer, so outside might not be the best place.

 

The front desk will also do photocopying for a very small fee (depending on the paper size) as well as send and receive faxes (see "Telephone/Fax"). Generally speaking, it's a good idea to make friends with the staff, as they're pretty nice folks and will do a lot to help you if you keep good relations.

 

 

The Campus

 

BNU is located in the northwest part of Beijing, just south of the Third Ring Road. The campus is actually rather conveniently located, as there are numerous restaurants, markets, and small shops nearby. The two entrances with which you will become most familiar are the East and South Gates, respectively. You most likely came in the East Gate when you arrived on campus; it's north of the dorm and opens on to X%nji4k0uw3id3ji4, &endash;¬ý÷ø*Õ¥Ûý÷ which runs straight into downtown Beijing if you follow it south, and the Third Ring Road if you follow it north. The South Gate opens on to Xu5yu3n N1nl]--&emdash;ß'Ý|¬, useful if you want to go west into the H2idi3n (Ý£µÌ)area or south on X%nji4k0u &endash;¬ý÷ø*.

 

On campus, Xinsong is located directly across from the library, which has a computer center useful if you need to type things. Additionally, there is another computer center located on campus where you can get an Internet account to check email (see "Blitzmail?"). If you go straight after exiting the dorm, after a while you will encounter the school athletic fields, with basketball courts, a track, and some fields good for soccer or ultimate. Finally, your Program Director will be living two buildings to the west of you, in the same building as the W3ish*ch] Õ ¬¥¶, or Foreign Affairs Office.

 

 


 

LIFE IN BEIJING

 

 

Changing and Dealing with Money

 

Before you've been in Beijing too long, you're going to need to "hu3n qi1n ªª«Æ" or change some money. What you've got is probably in US dollars (m6i yu1n ¿'™) and what you want is R5n M^n B* »ÀÒ±". There are actually quite a few places to do this in Beijing, reflecting the fact that China depends on tourism for a lot of its hard currency. Wherever you go, you'll need your passport and whatever form of money you're going to change. The easiest place to get things done is directly across the street from the East Gate at the branch of the Agricultural Bank of China (Zh8nggu9 N9ngy7 Y^nh1ng ÷&endash;*™©"µ"¯&endash;&endash;). They are open from 9-5 daily, but you can only change money on weekdays. Go out the East Gate and over the pedestrian bridge (ÃÏ«), then go in and head to the second counter from the left. Tell the woman you want to "hu3n m6iyu1n ªª¿'™" though if you're obviously not Chinese she will probably have figured this out already. You'll need to fill out a form with your name, passport number, and address in Beijing, and give it, your passport, and your money to her. The exchange rate is set by the government and is the same everywhere, so there is no need to shop around for the best deal like in some countries.

 

After a short wait, during which you'll wonder exactly what it is that takes so long, she'll hand you a wad of different colored bills of varying size. What does it all mean? Starting with the biggest, the blue ones that say 100 and have a picture of Mao and the three other historic "Great Leaders" of the PRC are worth ¥100. Same size, but yellow-green in color, are the ¥50 bills. The next size down is ¥10, which are blue and are smaller than the ¥50 bills but larger than the ¥5, ¥2, and ¥1 ones. Those three are all the same size, slightly smaller than the ¥10's. The next size down are m1o ´ (or ji2o ý« in written form), which are worth ¥.50, ¥.20, and ¥.10, respectively. Note, however, m1o are units of ten each, so that when you buy stuff, ¥.50 is w} m1o ´. Finally, you'll probably have some small aluminum coins or tiny bills that look like they were freshly minted. These are f4n ÷, which come in denominations of ¥.05, ¥.02, and ¥.01. These are pretty much worthless, unless you can get them together to make a m1o ´, and about the only time you'll see them is when you change money--which explains why they all look brand new. Additionally, there are coins for all the denominations up to ¥2, but these aren't very common either.

 

You'll get a copy of the form you filled out back with your money. You don't really need to keep this, but you should hold on to at least one to change whatever RMB you have at the end of the summer back into hard currency. You definitely want to do this. It's not illegal to export RMB anymore, but its value plummets once you leave China, and you can't change back to US dollars without proof that you changed at least that much into RMB at some point in the past.

 

Other useful places to change money include the Friendship Store, the Bank of China on the top floor of X%d`n &emdash;µ*, the main Qi1nm5n « branch of the Bank of China off of Tiananmen Square, and the CITIC Industrial Bank next to the Friendship Store. The last two also currently allow money in US dollars or RMB to be drawn from major credit cards, though it makes little sense to draw in hard currency if you plan to change it later. There is a 4% service charge, but if you get the money in RMB you avoid paying a money-changing commission.

 

There are safes in your dorm room, so use them. It's silly to lose money due to theft when it can easily be avoided. Additionally, you should only carry as much money as you think you might need, especially when you're going to crowded places with a high number of foreign wallets floating around (such as on the No.22 bus, Silk Alley, etc.).

 

 

Getting Around

 

There are multiple options for getting around Beijing, each with a unique set of advantages. In general, though, even taking taxis all the time is not that expensive by American terms, so there's really no good excuse not to get out and check out the city.

 

Bike: The Great Proletarian Transportation Tool. There aren't as many of them around as there used to be, owing to people actually owning cars now as well as widespread use of taxis. Bikes are still a great way to get around Beijing, though, combining low price with flexibility and allowing you to carry more than you could on your back. However, as mentioned, Beijing is really hot and muggy in the summer, so a long ride is liable to leave you dripping. Additionally, one has to be somewhat patient...Beijing's traffic is pretty crazy, and sprinting around on a bike the way you would in Hanover is liable to end with a busted watermelon, if you get the drift. Bicycles are definitely still recommended, but if you buy one get the cheapest (not more than ¥300), most beat-up one you can that still looks safe, and get a good lock if not two. Bike theft is rampant, and the area in front of Xinsong is probably not the best place to leave your bike overnight. Try the lot over by your Director's apartment. Talk to your Chinese profs to find out where good places to buy used bikes are. Most likely your new wheels will need frequent pumping up, or other repairs. Just look for the men with the "Xi[ch4 &endash;Þµ" signs on nearly every street's sidewalk. They'll fix you up in no time.

 

Bus: A bit less convenient, and definitely more crowded than a bike. The 22 route runs directly in front of the East Gate, and goes down to Qi1nm5n «(the south end of Ti`n`nm5n ÃÏ* Square) via X%d`n &emdash;µ*(see "Shopping"). There are other good routes, but the 22 will take care of a lot of your needs. Fares range from ¥.50 to ¥1.50 depending on how far you go; talk to the conductor. Theft in the form of pickpocketing and bag-slashing has been on the rise, especially on the 22 bus, so a better option would probably be the numerous xi2og8ngg-ngq*ch4 &endash;°*´***sµ (minibuses) that run the same route until X%d`n &emdash;µ*. They're ¥2, but you're guaranteed a seat of one sort or another, and listening to the conductors' sales pitches is pretty entertaining. They will have the route number posted on the side, but you'll be able to hear the conductor's yelling long before you can read the number.

 

Subway: A personal favorite of mine, the subway is fast, cool, and never as crowded as a bus. The problem? At present, there are only two lines: a ring running under the Second Ring Road and an east-west line starting at Xidan and running west. The number of places served is therefore pretty small, but the subway's still a good deal at only ¥2 a ride. The closest station is J%shu&t1n ªðÀÆã¨at the intersection of X%nji4k0u &endash;¬ý÷ø* and the Second Ring. It's a decent walk from campus (think River Cluster to New Dorms), but you can take the 22 for five mao or a xi2og8ngg-ng &endash;°*´** for ¥1, which still works out to be a pretty good deal. Useful stops include Ji3ngu9m5n ý®*™ (east of the US Embassy and Silk Alley), Ch9ngw5nm5n Á (north of H9ngqi1o ÝÏ« Market), X%d`n &emdash;µ*, Qi1nm5n «, and B6ij%ngzh3n ±±æ©'æ (the Beijing Railway Station).

 

Taxis: There's a good chance you'll use taxis more than any other way of getting around Beijing. Despite being the most expensive option, they're still relatively cheap. There are four kinds: small hatchbacks, xi3l*s |¿s (think Geo Metro), larger sedans, and VW Santanas. The rates are ¥1.20, 1.60, 1.80, and 2.00 per kilometer.

 

At any rate, to get one just head to the street and stick out your arm. If you can't get anyone to stop, make sure you're not standing in a no-stopping zone (indicated by the character t^ng Õ£ with a big red line through it), or try some other method of making yourself more attractive. At night, the way to tell if the taxi is empty is by the red light on the dashboard. Though it's doubtful your driver will speak anything resembling the Chinese you hear from your profs, conversing with drivers is one of the better ways to practice your Chinese. Just be sure they actually use the meter (a rare problem, but more common at night). One other thing: make sure when coming home that the driver knows you want BNU, not Sh0ud[sh%f3nd3xu5  x*º ¶*¥Û&emdash;ß or B6ij%ngd3xu5 ±±æ©¥Û&emdash;ß. Neither of these are even vaguely close to BNU. They may also try and take you on a tour of Beijing that you didn't ask for, making frequent turns and going way out of the way to run the meter up. Tell them that you want to go straight to your destination and once you're familiar with the routes you'll know when the driver takes off in the opposite direction you want to go.

 

 

Eating Out

 

What do I eat? How do I order? Well, you don't really have much of a choice about the matter, since it's either restaurant food, student cafeteria or instant noodles in your room. Rule no. 1 about going to restaurants: Chill Out. You'll be much more understandable if you're not stressing out about what you want to order. Roll with it and be adventurous. If you get really desperate, either point at what other diners are having or pick random dishes from the menu and have the waitress pronounce them clearly for you so you can remember the names if you like them.

 

Three things you will need to know how to say and recognize regardless of what you order are: "J& w7i º*ª", "Q&ng z3i l1i y^.g7 «Î'*¿¥"ª*&endash;," and "M2id`n ¬Úµ*." The first is what the waitress will ask you when you walk in, and the answer is how many people are in your group. The second is "Please bring me/us another ___." If it's something that you don't already have, get rid of the z3i '*. And the last is the equivalent of "Check, please."

 

Below are a few common dishes to get you started. If you don't already know, most Chinese dishes are named by having a cooking verb, the main ingredients, and often a description of how the ingredients are cut. For example, everyone's favorite Sweet and Sour Chicken is usually rendered T1ngc] ë¥x (Sugar-vinegar) j% º¶ (chicken) ti1o Ã* (strips). So a lot of times you can mix-and-match. Also, note that the default meaning for "r-u »" in Chinese is pork, so if you want some other kind of meat you need to specify.

 

As far as trying all the exciting stuff you see being cooked on the side of the road, feel free to be adventurous and check it out. However, you might want to go a little gingerly at first to make sure your system has adapted to being in China. If eating in normal restaurants is giving you trouble, it's probably best to hold off on the street food for a while. Otherwise, go for it. If it looks reasonably clean and hasn't been sitting out getting cold all day, it's probably fine, but be your own judge. The same goes for fruit as well as restaurants. You might be a little cautious at first, but don't forget to be adventurous sometimes too.

 

 

 

Meat Dishes _________________________

Sweet & Sour Chicken T1ngc]j%ti1o ë¥xº¶Ã*

Sweet & Sour Pork (tenderloin) T1ngc]l&j^ ë¥x¿Ôº*

Chicken Slices over Rice Crust Gu8b`j%pi3nr *¯Õº¶*¨*

(think Rice Krispie treats w/out the sugar)

"Iron Plate" Beef Ti6b2nni{r-u Ù£»

"Iron Plate" Squid Ti6b2ny9uy{ ÙÂ&endash;|"

Shredded Chicken w/Spicy & Sweet Y{xi`ngj%s% "|º¶Àø

Garlic and Mushroom Sauce

Kung Pao Chicken G8ngb2oj%d%ng *´±£º¶*°

Green Pepper Beef Q%ngji`on^ur-u «ýý£»

"Old Woman's Tofu" M1p9d-ufu ¬È****Ø

Hot & Spicy Tofu M1l3d-ufu ¬È¿±***Ø

 

 

Vegetables _________________________

(Most of these can be ordered "Q%ng ch2o «Â¥" or "S] ch2o Àÿ¥," which means stir-fried either with garlic or in soy sauce.)

 

Snow Peas H5l1nd-u ÝS¿º**

Broccoli X%l1nhu`&emdash;¿ºª®

"Empty Heart Vegetable" K8ngx%nc3i ø'&endash;*À

(Green, stalky stuff that doesn't translate well)

Potato T}d-u Õ¡** ("Dirt Bean")

Potato shreds stir-fried with vinegar C]ch2ot}d-us% ¥x¥Õ¡**Àø

Eggplant Qi5zi «&emdash;x"

Tomato & Scrambled Egg F`nqi5j%d3n ¨«&emdash;º¶µ or X%h9ngsh*j%d3n &emdash;ÝÏ ¡º¶µ

Corn with Pine Nuts S8ngziy]m& ÀSx""Òx

Winter Melon D8nggu` *¨*|

"Home Style Tofu" Ji`ch1ngd-ufu º"£***Ø

 

 

Basics _________________________

White rice M&f3n x*

Noodles Mi3nti1o ÊÃ*

Noodles in soup Mi3nt`ng Êÿ

 

 

If I have to eat Chinese food again, I think I'm going to die. What else is there? As you will no doubt have discovered by the time you get to this point, there are at least three Korean restaurants and one Japanese one in the immediate area around BNU. Two of the Korean places are located in the vegetable market just north of BNU's east gate. Both feature nice staff, and are perennial favorites. (Look for the group photo of the 1998 FSP in the long, skinny restaurant.) On the way to the vegetable market, you'll pass the H9ngy7 ÝÏ"* (Red Leaf) Japanese restaurant, which is a tad more expensive but has a 20% student discount and also has really nice staff.

 

Uyghur food has become a favorite of FSP'ers in recent years, probably more for the fact that it resembles western food but is available at Chinese prices than anything else. The most popular dishes are usually spaghetti-style l`mi3n ¿Ê (pulled noodles), n1ng (flatbread), and y1ngr-uchu3nr &emdash;Ú»¥Æ* (mutton kebabs). If you really want to show off, greet the waiter with "Yakshimusiz?" (Uyghur for "N& h2o ma? ݬ") and order "laghman," "nan," or "kawap," respectively. To get your Uyghur fix, you've got three main options. There's a small place serving noodles and kebabs down "Xi2ox%ti`n &endash;°&emdash;ÃÏ," the large market/alley south of BNU on X%nji4k0u &endash;¬ý÷ø*. Look for a place with a kebab grill out front and lots of people sitting outside, and probably some fellow with a shaven head shouting at you to come and eat at his restaurant.

 

The other two main places are by Nationalities University (M^nz{d3xu5 ÒxÂ¥Û&emdash;ß) and an area called G`nji`k0u * º"ø*. Both are large Uyghur neighborhoods. To get to the first, go out the BNU south gate and tell the taxi driver you want "M^nz{d3xu5 ÒxÂ¥Û&emdash;ß." You'll go straight on Xu5yu3n N1nl] &emdash;ß'Ý|¬ for about 4km, and then you'll make a left turn on to B1ish^qi1ol] x Ø«¬. Look for the big tree in the median (it's noticeable for being the largest one), and have the driver stop there. Head down the alley to your right, and pick any restaurant that looks good. (If you go all the way down to the end, there's a Tibetan restaurant on the left.) To get to G`nji`k0u * º"ø*, tell the taxi driver that's where you want to go, and that you want to go to the Uyghur restaurants (W5iw{6rf3ngu2nr ¨·*s**ð*). That should do the trick; if not get out at G`nji`k0u * º"ø* and just keep asking directions until you find a street lined with Uyghur restaurants.

 

If it's western food you want and you don't mind paying for it, try the Hard Rock Cafe (Y*ngsh^c`nt%ng "* Ø*Õø, or try Ch1ngch5ngf3ndi3n §«*µÍ, the adjacent Great Wall Sheraton), always good for a fun time. The Lufthansa Center has a nice Italian place as well as a good German restaurant, and there are a few more of both down on S`nl&t{n »ð¿ÔÕÕ (or Sanlitunr, as the cab drivers like to say) as well as 1001 Nights, a 24-hr Middle Eastern place famous with Beijing expats. Mexican food lovers will be mostly out of luck, though Mexican Wave on D8ngd3qi1ol] *´¥Û«¬ makes a good attempt. Try the chicken burrito, and the sangria is great on a steamy Beijing evening.

 

For Chinese food that's a little bit different, try H4it}d* Ý*Õ¡µÿ (Black Earth), a place specializing in Cultural Revolution-era kitsch and peasant food; it's on H5p^ngl& d8ngd3j%e ÝÕ*ý*´¥Ûý÷. Additionally, you shouldn't leave Beijing without having hu0gu8 ª*¯, or Mongolian hotpot. You order a bunch of raw meats (of which mutton is the centerpiece), vegetables, tofu, noodles, and other goodies, and cook them by throwing them in the pot of boiling soup (spicy or plain) sitting in the middle of the table. Though the spicy broth is fun just to watch everyone sweat, see if you can get a split pot with both kinds so you get a break from the heat if you want. There are hotpot places all over town. Finally, check out the nightmarkets that pop up in various places around town during the summer. There's actually a really good one in front of Nightman Disco on weeknights; do your homework early one night and head over.

 

Shopping

 

Yes, of course. You want to know where the good places are to buy stuff. Beijing is in an interesting state right now; you've got, as one past FSP'er put it, "A brand-new luxury shopping mall opening up right next to the old man selling plastic hair clips laid out on a blanket." The basic rule is that you shouldn't let appearances deceive you, in either direction. There's some really great stuff in places you wouldn't believe, and some absolute junk marketed as the real thing.

 

Where do I get basic, everyday stuff? A couple of easy options here. If you need stationery and other random "school supplies," try the store in Xinsong (not the cheapest, but definitely convenient) or the stationery place next door to the H9ngy7 ÝÏ"* Japanese restaurant. Due to China's proximity to Japan (center of the world for cute and intricate stationery), this little shop has an incredibly wide selection of nifty pens as well as cards and notebooks of all kinds.

 

For bigger stuff like coat hangers, water bottles, soap, shampoo, and inflatable furniture, try L*k7l9ng ¿søÕ¬°, on the Third Ring Road just east of H2idi3nl] Ý£µÌ¬. If the cab driver doesn't know where you mean, try "Shu`ng`n de du*mi3n À´*µ*'Ê." Shu`ng`n À´* is a five-floor department store with lots of clothes, cosmetics, sporting goods, and the whole bit. Think JC Penney's, with a video arcade on the top floor. Also good for basic needs and groceries is the supermarket down the alley from the Korean restaurants, which doesn't have as much of a selection but wins big for convenience. It also carries some Western brands of sanitary napkins and tampons, as does L*k7l9ng ¿søÕ¬°.

 

If it's something western you need and you can't find it anywhere else, you've got two other main options. For over-the-counter drugs (including antibiotics), toiletries, and most notably, deodorant, head to Watson's, the drug store at the Holiday Inn Lido (L*d[f3ndi3n ¿&endash;*º*µÍ), but be prepared to pay American prices or more for whatever you get there. For food items, the Lido Market, also at the Holiday Inn, has a good selection, but be sure to check the expiration dates. For closer, cheaper, and fresher western foodstuffs, try Jenny Lou's, a little convenience store in the Sanlitun area down the street from 1001 Nights on G8ngr5nt&y]gu2nb6il] *§»ÀÃÂ"ð*𱱬 (Worker's Stadium North Road, G8ngt&b6il]*§Ã±±¬ for short). Most exciting, they have real milk and good cheese. Yum.

 

That's nice, but what about clothes and other useful stuff? You'll have a wide range of things to choose from; everything from designer apparel to imitation designer to just normal, everyday stuff is available. Keep in mind, though, that what you may view as regular, casual clothing is often viewed as high-class, so it might be a bit harder to find than you think. T-shirts are a prime example here. Additionally, if you're taller than about 5'9" for men or 5'5" for women, you might have a harder time finding things that fit, with Silk Alley having some exceptions to that rule. Also, if you have large feet, you may have trouble finding your size.

 

For the Chinese department store experience, start at X%d`n &emdash;µ*or Shu`ng`n À´*, and go from there. Shu`ng`n is newer and thus less crowded, but the surrounding area doesn't have as many other shops as X%d`n does. Also of note, but also of higher price, are Beijing New World Center (X%nsh*ji7 sh`ngch2ng &endash;¬ ¿ýÁSð, just south of the Ch9ngw5nm5n Á subway stop), the Lufthansa Center (Y3nsh`zh8ngx%n &emdash;ýSØ÷&endash;&endash;), and the whole Wangfujing area (W1ngf}j&ngd3ji4 Õ**ÆæÆ¥Ûý÷), which is presently under major reconstruction.

 

So what's all this about Silk Alley? The last major type of shopping in Beijing is the market-style, haggle-till-you-drop gift shopping. The most famous is, of course, "Silk Alley" (Xi]shu&ji4 &endash;ÀÆý÷), a crowded collection of stalls just south of the US Embassy and east of the Friendship Store (Y0uy*sh`ngdi3n "&emdash;"ÍSõÍ). In the department stores, bargaining is not looked highly upon, as prices are generally firm, but on the street, if they agree to the price, it's yours. Silk Alley has, true to its name, silk in just about any form you could imagine: scarves, boxer shorts, pajamas, underwear, nightgowns, ties, carpets, and so on. It might be worth going to a fabric store or some such in the States before you leave and checking out what different grades of silk feel like, since all of the stall owners will of course insist that their goods are pure silk (zh4ns% 'ÊÀø) of the finest quality.

 

Outside of silk, the market also has a substantial trade in other apparel of all kinds. Some of this is fake, some of it is pirated from factories in the south, and very rarely, it's the real thing. You can get "North Face" and "Helly Hansen" jackets, as well as "Nike" and "Reebok" shoes and "Teva" sandals. Also available are Patagonia, J. Crew, Gap, and Timberland clothing, backpacks from North Face and other manufacturers, Beanie Babies, and lots of pirated CDs. Be warned: if you want the real thing, either know exactly what to look for or wait until you get home. If you want a reasonable facsimile that looks good for a fraction of the price, go for it. To get there, either take a taxi--the taxi drivers all know the place--or take the fast and cheap route and hop on the subway to the Ji3ngu9m5n ý®*™ stop. Take the northeast exit (if you don't go up a big escalator, you're at the wrong exit) and walk east past the Friendship Store until you see a big sign that says "Xi]shu&ji4 &endash;ÀÆý÷" or something to that effect--they're rumored to be reconstructing part of the market.

 

The other major market is the H9ngqi1o (Red Bridge) Sh*ch2ng ÝÏ« &endash;°, located just outside the east gate of the Temple of Heaven (Ti`nt1n ÃÏÃ). Again, taxi drivers generally know the name of the place, but it's a long cab ride. Alternately, you can take the subway to Ch9ngw5nm5n Á and take a walk south a little farther than the distance from BNU to the J%shu&t1n ªðÀÆà stop. The lower floors feature stationery, toys, and most notably, electronics. Upper floors have clothing (avoid the endangered animal skins/furs; among other things, they're hard to get back into the US legally) and Chinese antiques/curios, respectively. The main draw here is the electronics section, where you can get audio equipment with features not available in the US for a good couple of months for a substantial discount. Additionally, you can get external speakers for a walkman, voltage converters, and AC adapters here pretty easily. Try before you buy, but generally the merchants here have been rather good about returns of faulty goods. Also popular are laser pointers, which the stall owners are particularly fond of shining in your eyes, despite the safety warnings.

 

Also worth checking out is the antique/arts market across the street and inside the wall of the Temple of Heaven park. Most of the artists and calligraphers there will do work on commission for rather cheaply. Additionally, there are lots of fun pre- and post-Liberation "antiques" in a lot of the stalls. Finally, Li{l^ch2ng ¡¡ßß is worth a look, but don't be afraid to bargain extremely hard there as the shop owners are quite aware of how much most foreigners can afford to pay and have moved prices up accordingly.

 

How do I bargain? This is a skill that will get you a decent amount of mileage in China, though less than it used to. Everything from vegetables to silk to electronics to, in some unfortunate instances, taxi rides, can be bargained for. The main rules are not to let the seller know how much you can really afford to pay or how much you really want the item. Also, try and be friendly about the whole thing. No sense in getting in a fight with someone over what amounts to a couple of dollars.

 

Basically, it works like this: you ask how much (du8sh2oqi1n *ýS*«Æ?), they reply with a price, and you say "t3igu*le ô*Û¡À Ask if they can lower the price (K6y& pi1n.y% y*di2nr ma øS"'±"À"ªµ¬?), generally they say yes, and then expect you to make an offer. At places like Silk Alley, it's usually good to start with a third to a half as much of the original asking price, and work upwards from there. It's good to have in mind the maximum you're willing to pay, so a little research among classmates who've already bought what you want is a good idea. Beyond the simple haggling over price, there are a few things that can help: 1) Complain that the item's not exactly the way you want it. Too big, too small, not quite the right color, you don't quite like the design, etc. 2.)Remember: you're a poor student (Qi9ngxu5sh4ng «Ó&emdash;ßS™). Compared to most of the people buying this stuff, you are. 3.)Keep the BNU pin you get upon arrival, and pin it on your bag or show them your student ID. 4.)Buying in quantity or with friends always helps. It's the rare merchant who's not willing to give a discount for more than one item or a sale to more than one person. If all else fails, just walk away. Tell them you're going to take a look at other stuff, or that it's just too much money, or whatever. Usually, the price will fall with each step away from the booth. Keep going until you hear what you want, or come back later and take the last price you heard. Don't shake hands before you've agreed for certain on the price, though, and pick out exactly which goods you want before you hand over the money.

 

Are there any other shopping options? Invariably, one of your Chinese profs will have or know a tailor. If you have something in mind that you want made, bring a picture or a pattern with you, and pick out the fabric when you get to Beijing. Most students are very pleased with the clothes they get, as they're inexpensive and look pretty nice. Be sure the tailor understands what you want, though, or mishaps can result (such as bathrobes that don't close in front).

 

One other thing: it's usually a good idea to avoid buying things at official gift shops on tours, at tourist attractions, and in hotels. In most of these official shops you'll find stuff that you could usually get elsewhere for much cheaper, sold by folks who are pretty slick and have a decent command of English, which for some reason seems to make people spend more than they would at other places. You should probably use these places for research and little else.

 

 

Entertainment

 

So what's there to do in Beijing, anyway? For museums, palaces, and the like, you should definitely check out a decent guidebook, as there's too much to cover otherwise. One word of advice: if you bring your camera along, be sure to ask people before taking their picture and observe signs that forbid cameras.

 

Some of the best experiences come from just setting out on your own into unknown territories. Take a walk down an alley and you'll probably find children playing mah jong, people hanging their birds out for some air, or just groups of friends talking. Despite the inquiring stares you may even make some new friends. I must warn you that a stroll across Tiananmen Square may turn out to be more than you asked for. You may find yourself a bit of an attraction, especially if you have blond hair. People will probably approach you and ask to have a picture taken with you. Be nice about it, but escape before a line builds up and people start handing you their babies. Bike rides around the city are fun, just remember to bring your map. The most important thing is to get out into the city, explore, and meet lots of people.

 

Yeah, yeah. What about nightlife? As far as nightlife, every year FSP participants seem to turn into nightclub fiends. Obviously, a growing segment of the Chinese population is doing this on the weekend, but try to keep it under control. Going to China and doing nothing but going to clubs and discos is something like living in New York and never going to see a Broadway show.

 

That said, there are a few places that have been popular among Dart-folk the past few years. Nightman Disco features decent music and free cover for foreigners and students. Banana has also been growing in popularity among the expat crowd, and of late The Den seems to be a hot place to go. Keep In Touch and Scream are big hits with the local crowd, featuring live music almost every weekend, and are good places to go to see what Beijing's young and disaffected are up to. However, which clubs are hot and which aren't is something that changes almost weekly, so it's almost certain that by the time you arrive in Beijing things will have changed.

 

The way to find out what's happening, from movies to clubs to Verdi's "Requiem" and art exhibits, is to check out Beijing's flourishing English-language magazine press. Beijing Scene is the oldest of these magazines and has the best regular columns, though it seems to be getting a bit creaky. Newer, more vibrant arrivals are City Edition and Metro, both of which have in the past year begun to cover a wider territory of places and events than Beijing Scene. Picking up copies of these can be a bit tricky, however, as distribution sometimes varies. All are free for the taking; good places to look seem to be the Lido Club at the Holiday Inn Lido (try the American Club of Beijing on the second floor), the Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy, other big western hotels, and many of the restaurants down on Sanlitun. Keep your eyes open. Also, try the Internet. City Edition is online at http://www.beijing-cityedition.com/, while Beijing Scene is at http://www.beijingscene.com/. Finally, there's a weekly email listing of events happening in the capital called Xi3nz3ib6ij%ng |÷'*±±æ©; send mail to xianzai@listserve.com with the subject SUBSCRIBE, or take a look at http://www.xianzai.com/. Be careful, however, as the weekly mailings are usually in the 40K range, which can take a while to download over HotMail or other email solutions (See "Blitzmail?").

 

Outside of the expat-targeted press, other things worth checking out are the night markets--whole sections of Beijing turn into outdoor shopping venues once the sun goes down. One such place can be found on H2idi3nl] µÌ¬Ã*just north of the Third Ring Road, with everything from posters to puppies to pirated CD-ROMs for sale. Also, feel free to just wander around. Take the bus or a taxi to somewhere you haven't been before, and just go down the back alleys. This is obviously best done during daylight, but doing so allows you to check out the H{t-ng ݙը(alleys) that make up one of Beijing's unique features (make sure you take advantage of these artifacts because currently most of the hutongs are being destroyed for new construction). The neighborhoods east and west of the Forbidden City are good for this sort of thing.

 

 

 

 

THE OUTSIDE WORLD

 

 

Mail

 

Postal mail usually takes 7-10 days to get to China, though in rare cases letters have arrived as quickly as 4 days after being sent, usually from the West Coast. Though each room at X%n S8ng &endash;¬ÀS has its own mailbox in the rack by the elevator and laundry room, Dartmouth mail is generally placed in a communal mailbox labeled as such. If the staff can't figure out the address, which is somewhat common in the early parts of the program, individual letters may end up on the shelf under the blackboard, next to the elevator.

 

English-addressed mail seems to have little trouble getting to BNU, but as alluded to above, there are occasionally problems in getting it to the Dartmouth box once it arrives on campus. Photocopying the Chinese address in this book, or writing it out to be photocopied for the folks at home, will help and will often speed things up.

 

 

The English address for the FSP is:

 

(Student's Name)

Dartmouth College Foreign Study Program

Foreign Students Building

Beijing Normal University

Beijing 100875

CHINA

 

The Chinese address is:

 

÷&endash;*™±±æ©&endash;¬ý÷ø*100875

±±æ© ¶*¥Û&emdash;ß

&endash;¬ÀS*´'¢

¥ÔýÀº¥Û&emdash;ß Ó**ý

 

 

Sending letters is pretty straightforward, though mail takes longer to leave the country than it does to get there. Stamps (Y9upi3o " *±) and envelopes (X*nf4ngr &endash;*) can be purchased at the store in Xinsong or at the Li{xu5sh4ngl9u ¡Ù&emdash;ßS™¬* next door. Though envelopes are cheap, it might be a good idea to bring some just so you don't have to worry about buying them. The rates for international postage are pretty comparable to those in the US; ask the people selling you stamps what they are as they change every year or two. Also, there are different rates for letters as opposed to postcards (M^ngx*npi3n &emdash;&endash;*¨), so specifying can save you some money.

 

With regard to packages, they are generally delivered in decent condition, though not terribly fast. It's somewhat haphazard as to whether or not a particular package gets delivered to the dorm (occasionally), to the B6it3ip^ngzhu`ng (Post Office) ±±Ã´*ýxØ" µÁæ÷ usually, or to the main International Post Office off of Ji3ngu9m5n ý®*™ (rarely). If either of the second two happens, you'll either get flagged down by one of the staff on your way in or out or you'll get a phone call from the front desk telling you that you have a package (b`ogu0 ¸*¸), and they'll give you a package slip. Do not lose this slip. You can still get the package without it, but it takes a near act of God. Well, actually of B* l2osh% ±|¿| ¶, the woman who handles foreign students' mail, but she's a nice lady and it's best not to trouble her.

 

To get to the B6it3ip^ngzhu`ng Post Office, head north on X%nji4k0u &endash;¬ý÷ø* out of the East Gate. The post office is on the north side of the Third Ring Road, so go underneath the freeway and turn right. You should now be walking east with storefronts on your left and the Third Ring Road on your right. After about 200 yards you'll come to the post office, noticeable by the large signs advertising EMS, the Chinese version of Priority Mail. Head in and go to counter no. 8, or just look lost and usually one of the staff will come and help you--no joke. You might need to be a bit aggressive in line if it's crowded, but show the folks at the counter your slip and you should be OK. This is also the place to come if for some reason you need to ship a package out of China. Bring your unsealed box to the post office and go to the same counter, or just bring your stuff and have the guy selling boxes pack it for you. You'll need to let them inspect your box before you can have it shipped.

 

The easiest way to get to the main international post office is to take a cab to Ji3ngu9m5n Y9udi3nj{ ý®*™" µÁæ÷. The cab drivers know it and you shouldn't have any problems aside from the horrendous traffic in that part of town.

 

 

 

 

 

Telephone/Fax

 

Below are the major telephone numbers for the FSP:

 

BNU International Office, Director: 011-8610-6220-0577

-6220-0262

 

Dartmouth FSP Director Hua-yuan Li Mowry:

Rm. 1506, Foreign Experts Building. 011-8610-6220-7573

 

 

BNU Xinsong Dormitory 011-8610-6220-0275

(Dartmouth FSP dorm): -6220-0277

 

 

BNU Xinsong Dormitory Fax Line: 011-8610-6220-0276

 

 

To call a student in Xinsong, the number is 86-10-6220-0275 or -0277. Once the operator picks up, the caller will need to give the student's room number in Chinese, so it might be worth going over the numbers in Chinese before leaving if you don't come from a Mandarin-speaking household. Alternately, you can call home the first time from Beijing and give the folks at home your room number in Chinese, reducing the amount of memorization needed.

 

Calling back to the US is generally best done using a calling card from AT&T, MCI, or Sprint. To reach an American operator in Beijing, dial 10811 (AT&T), 10812 (MCI), or 10813 (Sprint), first adding a 0 if need be--some pay phones require it--or a 5 if you're calling from your room in Xinsong. Prepaid phone cards, either from the US or bought at the front desk to fit in the lobby pay phones, are not recommended very strongly, as the return on the investment tends to be rather short. A ¥200 ($24) China Telecom card usually lasts about 5-10 minutes at most. In general, it's best if parents can manage to call Beijing, rather than students calling home. For most carriers, this is significantly cheaper, and many have international calling plans which have good discounts. The operators at Xinsong are also generally tolerant of foreign-accented Chinese, and will do their best to connect to the right room. If all else fails, setting up an appointed time for students to call home weekly often works out well. Remember, Beijing is 12 hours ahead of the East Coast. Also, the Xinsong phone system places a 20-minute limit on calls coming in or out, after which the call is automatically disconnected. This can be a significant bother if one pays a large initial connection fee. The lobby phones, however, are not subject to this limit, and if you use the operator numbers above you don't need an additional card to make the call.

 

Faxing is available at the front desk at Xinsong, both sending and receiving. The fax number is 86-10-6220-0276, and faxes cost ¥2 (25c) per page to receive. Recipients' names should be written clearly in block letters, so the front desk can call you when faxes arrive.

 

 

Blitzmail?

 

Amazingly enough, it is now possible to send and receive e-mail while in Beijing. Several options exist for this. The first is to use the computers in the lobby of the Foreign Students Building li{xu5sh4ngl9u ¡Ù--ß...™¬* just next door. Your second option is to pay per use at one of the numerous "Internet Cafes" or business service centers popping up around the city. MIC Business Services, located three doors north of the East Gate, is one such location. World Wide Web usage is ¥1 (12.5c) per 2 minutes, or ¥100 ($12) for a card worth 220 minutes of web time. Cheaper rates are available for simply using email, i.e. composing off-line and then dialing up to send and receive messages; ask inside. The third option is to get an account at the campus computer centers in the library or directly west of Xinsong; this is cheaper but significantly slower than going to MIC. During the 1998 FSP some students downloaded Blitzmail on to several of the lab computers which reportedly sped things up, but this might be necessary again after a year or more.

 

If you plan to take any of these two options, it might be worthwhile to consider getting a free account at one of the numerous web-based email sites now in existence. It is possible to simply use Blitzmail over the web (https://basement.dartmouth.edu/blitz/), but the server is a bit slow for access on the other side of the world, and the 3:00-4:00 am server backup in Hanover translates into an annoying service hole in the middle of the afternoon in Beijing. Both Yahoo! (http://mail.yahoo.com/) and HotMail (http://www.hotmail.com/) offer free accounts, both of decent quality. A China-based (and perhaps therefore faster) option is http://www.263.net/, but the site is all in Chinese, so get out your dictionary.

 

Finally, for those planning on bringing a laptop and modem to Beijing, it is possible to purchase a local Internet account and dialup from one's room. However, this has two major disadvantages. The first is cost; for example, initial setup with China Telecom is ¥100 with a monthly charge of ¥100 for 6 hours of connect time. Over the course of the summer this is roughly $48 at minimum, while you would probably spend more due to the Capital's notoriously slow and traffic-clogged ISPs. The second is convenience; as mentioned above, the Xinsong phone system has a 20-minute time limit on incoming or outgoing calls, after which one would need to reconnect. A possible solution to the second problem that would only marginally increase the first would be to take the computer and modem (preferably a PC card-type) to one of the ubiquitous private telephone stands and pay a nominal fee (less than .5¢ per minute) for the use of their phone line while dialing up. MIC is one potential location, but there are many in the area surrounding BNU. If you do decide to take the dialup approach, City Edition, Metro, and Beijing Scene are all full of ads for ISPs, and new ones seem to be continually starting up, in addition to China Telecom's state-owned service.

 

 


 

AFTER THE FSP

 

Continuing your Chinese

 

Hopefully after being in Beijing for a summer you'll have decided that Chinese is just about the coolest thing you've ever studied and that you want to keep going with it. Of course, if you don't feel that way, it's fine too (this author certainly has a love-hate relationship with the language), but it does make sense to at least maintain your Chinese skills after you've done all the work to get them where they are. If you do want to keep going with Chinese, it's definitely advisable to do so somewhere in Asia during the fall after the FSP, as the additional three to four months of language immersion can have a huge impact on your Chinese abilities.

 

The most popular programs among Dartmouth students in the last few years have been the CET program in Harbin, H4il9ngji`ng //¡™ý!= Province, and the program at Tunghai University in Taiwan. Both of these involve daily courses in advanced Chinese as well as the chance to see what Chinese life is like in an environment different from Beijing. For information about these and other language programs, ask in the DAMELL office, or talk to your Dartmouth Chinese professors. Additionally, it's almost assured that among your drill instructors or the other advanced Chinese students you know, there's someone who went on one of these programs. CET also usually sends a representative to campus to talk about their programs. Keep in mind that if you plan to get transfer credit for the classes you take on non-Dartmouth programs, you need to talk to the DAMELL office preferably before you leave campus, and definitely before the end of the term in Beijing.

 

 

Traveling in China

 

As you may discover before the term in Beijing ends, traveling through China is definitely cheap by most standards, especially if you A.) take the trains and B.) get out of the major cities of the east (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, etc.). Once you've already spent the money to get over to the other side of the world, it makes a bit of sense to take the opportunity and see a bit more of the country before heading back to the familiar environs of home or the Hanover Plain. If you plan on doing this, though, you should definitely invest in a good guidebook. Also, your Program Director and BNU Chinese profs can be good sources of information about possible destinations and how to make arrangements. BNU is also often willing to arrange for visa extensions for a few weeks to allow students to travel a bit before leaving.

 

If you really don't have that much time or money, one good way to "travel" without spending a lot of either is to depart China from a city other than Beijing. Most commonly, this can be done by leaving through Hong Kong, since Americans don't need a visa to enter and most major airlines that fly to China also fly out of Hong Kong. The train to Guangzhou, and then on to Hong Kong, takes about two full days, and Chinese train travel is an experience not to be missed in any case. Again, ask around for information.

 

 

Other Opportunities

 

Dartmouth students tend to be industrious and imaginative types, and as a result many have found other interesting things to do in China and East Asia after the FSP. The most common of these is probably teaching English in either China or Taiwan, with the latter having some fame as a place where one can (quasi-legally) make good money as a private English teacher. Mainland China, especially in the bigger cities, is also catching up in this regard, with private English schools growing rapidly in number. Some students have also taught at Chinese public schools, seeking a more "authentic" experience, but also receiving a smaller number of "creature comforts."

 

Outside of teaching English, there are also internships and jobs to be found in the region for which Chinese language abilities can be a benefit. Keep in mind that beyond the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore all have significant--and growing, in the case of Hong Kong--Mandarin-speaking populations and industries that may need native English speakers with Chinese abilities. Many of these jobs, however, may have little or no salary or fringe benefits due to visa regulations or a company's own fiscal matters. Additionally, you will have to use a large amount of personal initiative in tracking down these opportunities. Talk to your Dartmouth Chinese professors to see if they know of things off hand, and talk to your drill instructors. Take a look in Career Services or in the online listings before you leave Hanover, or get the Dartmouth Club contact information for the cities you might possibly live in and use alumni contacts as a resource.

 

 

 

 

Back at Dartmouth

 

Obviously, once you are back in Hanover the most readily available options for continuing with Chinese are the upper-level Chinese courses offered through DAMELL, and generally taught by the visiting professor from BNU. However, another commonly overlooked opportunity is living at the Asian Studies Center--that place where you may have had Noodle Hour, a Chinese New Year party, or other events. The rooms are large, the house has a huge backyard, and you get regular dinners of generally delicious food. Additionally, since the visiting BNU professor at Dartmouth lives in the house, you get a good amount of Chinese speaking and listening practice as well as ready access to your professor if you're taking more Chinese classes. The house does have one or two disadvantages, among them the occasional grease fire in the kitchen and the sauna-like heat on the third floor in the summer. On the whole, however, most residents are pleased with their experience. As with other options, talk to your Chinese professors or ask in the DAMELL office.

 

 

Have a great trip!

Updated 5/2000

 

Silk Road Trip Map



Last Modified May 12, 2000, by Phuoc Le.