The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, and the pollution is getting worse. It’s finally fall! It’s really, really, fall now, and as the temperature drops, so does my motivation to walk 20 minutes to class everyday. Thankfully, China has the perfect thing for me. One of my favorite things about China is the convenience! Specifically in Beijing, it is so convenient to order food, get around, and pay for anything with the click of your phone. However, one of the best things in this city is how bike sharing apps have taken over! There are tons of bike rental apps in Beijing, seriously tons. In an intersection you’ll just see a sea of bicycles, all lined up waiting to be used. These bike apps are so convenient, extremely cheap (less than a dollar per ride, or you can buy a subscription plan) and very good for your body and the environment (no pollution)! I’m a fan.
This weekend the fall festivities included a fun night out with my friends Sarah and Will as we all went to a Beijing Guoan soccer game at the Beijing Workers Stadium. It was Beijing versus Shanghai and a lot of people came out to support. It reminded me of a Portland Timbers game because Beijing’s main color is also green, and there were a bunch of flags, cheering fans, and lovely green smoke! Although the Chinese League of Soccer is not very popular or as prominent of a league, it was still a great experience and our tickets were only $14.00! We actually bought them from a scalper on the street in front of the stadium, which many people end up doing because buying them online can be tricky and requires a Chinese ID.
Another thing that went down this week, was Halloween! And I know you’re all wondering, can you celebrate Halloween in China? The answer is yes and people do! However, I noticed some differences in Halloween traditions here versus the United States. Halloween in the U.S. is a huge party time for young people and the best part about Halloween is wearing that super cute costume that you look amazing in to your friend’s party, however in China, Halloween is more about looking scary than cute. My Chinese friend Jaye asked me what she should wear for Halloween, saying her Harley Quinn costume was not going to arrive in time, and I told her she could easily DIY a cat costume or something to that effect. She was very confused and asked “isn’t Halloween supposed to be scary?
Don’t you dress up as fictional creatures or monsters and ghosts?” I told her, that I had never really thought about just how much Halloween has changed in the past 20 years. I told her anything goes for Halloween now, many people dress up as celebrities, internet memes and cute animals. She thought that was very interesting and then I noticed that all the costumes I saw Chinese people wear on Halloween were all very scary, fantastical or ghoulish.
There was not much of a party on Halloween because the next day was CSI’s big Speaking Contest. Students from both the language immersion and non-immersion track could sign up for this competition and had to prepare a 5 minute presentation in Chinese. The topic was totally up for the contestant to decide. Most topics were about Chinese culture, but a few others opened up about their experiences in China. My presentation as about China’s Fifth Generation film directors. China’s fifth generation directors were a group of directors whose films the 80s and 90s gained internationally acclaimed for their controversial and raw depictions of life in China, especially during the tumultuous periods of the 1930s to the 1980s. This time period includes the Japanese invasion, the Chinese civil war, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. I first learned about these directors from Prof. Christopher Keaveney’s Intro to East Asian Film class at Linfield my freshman year. We watched films and learned how to analyze techniques and styles, and also learned about the historical and cultural significance of films in general.
I really loved that class, and it stands out as one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taken. I decided to do a presentation on these directors because I love their films, but more than that, I love what they stand for. This group of directors created art because it was important to share the stories of the Chinese people. They could’ve been jailed or killed for making these movies but they did it anyway. It is an extremely brave thing and upon watching these films you will find the themes of their work are universal. They are about the resilience of the human spirit.
I worked with my one-on-one teacher to create my script for the presentation and then it was memorize, memorize, memorize. I used a sheet a paper when presenting but could only use it for reference, and was not allowed to read off it. In the end, I didn’t win any awards but I was very excited to compete. I would’ve never expected to do something like this before coming to China and being a part of the CSI program. I had absolutely no confidence in my Chinese speaking ability and the thought of giving a presentation in Chinese absolutely terrified me. I’m so thankful for the support, encouragement, and help in the development of my Chinese skills by everyone in this program, and can’t wait to do even more one day!