Well, it hardly seems it, but I've now been in Beijing for 3 weeks, and I've got to say, it's starting to feel like home!
The first week here, I, along with over 30 other TTC interns, stayed at the Candy Inn near the Lama Temple, so we could celebrate Chinese New Year and get to know Beijing before beginning orientation at the UIBE. The time we spent at the Candy Inn was fantastic. I'll be honest, I didn't get to see many sights, as I spent the entire week partying and drinking too much, and being tired and hungover most days. Still, I think it's safe to say we all made a lot of friends, who we will definitely be keeping in touch with. I for one will be going back to the Candy Inn, and for anyone wanting to go to Beijing, I definitely recommend it! The staff are amazing, the rooms and food are nice and the atmosphere is laid back, but fun. Plus, it's very cheap!
The 2 weeks at the UIBE, were equally fun. I'll admit, those of us who stayed at the Candy Inn sort of settled into a little click and spent most of our free time together, but we did meet more people and introduced them to the joys of Propaganda (I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, considering the effect that place has had on our livers). When we weren't studying, we spent a fair bit of time in Lakers, the local western bar, which offered cheap beer and free wifi. As a whole, the group of interns (all 152 of them!) got on like a house on fire, partied it up Beijing style and bonded well (some of us maybe a little too well...).
Yesterday, most of us were shipped off to our placements. It was definitely upsetting to leave everyone I'd gotten to know well, and I'm really going to miss our times at the Candy Inn, Tango, Lakers, Propaganda, and everywhere else we went, but we're all going to keep in touch and visit each other, so bring on the partying (again)! As for my placement, I was ready for my journey further north to Shenyang, despite the Arctic conditions there; however, at the last minute, my placement changed, landing me a spot at Fang Cao Di International school in.... Beijing! At first, I wasn't too happy with the change. I wanted to get away from Beijing and see some more of China! But after hearing about the school and talking to the other interns with whom I will be teaching, I think I'm more excited about this placement than I was with Shenyang!
My flatmate Lauren and I moved into our new home yesterday, and we were both pleasently surprised. The living room is spacious and modern, the beds are big and comfy and the kitchen has a stove and a fridge! It's a little dirty, so we're having a good clean up later, but it's much better than either of us expected. We're pretty far away from the school, but the school send a taxi for us on a morning and have given us a subway card to get home with, so it's all good.
For anyone considering the Teach in China Internship, I'd say do it. Definitely. It's expensive, and you can earn a lot more going at it alone, but it was worth every penny for the experience at orientation and for all the friends I've made. I'd also recommend heading out early and staying at the Candy Inn, so you have a chance to chill out and party before orientation, because then it's all go, go, go. The TTC advisors are great, the weekend course is a lot of fun, and Beijing itself is fantastic (especially the Silk Market - Uggs for £15 WTF?).
That's all from me for now, but I'll keep you posted about my time in Beijing, and about teaching when I start on Monday (gulp).