Monday, February 25, 2008

First day of school

Today was my first day of classes at the Jingshan School and quite and exhausting experience. I had to get up at 6 am so that we could leave the house at 6:45. At home it doesn't take me nearly this long to get ready but my family here insists that I eat a full breakfast before I leave so that takes up extra time. I ride my bike to school which is an adventure in itself. All the streets in Beijing have bike lanes but there are so many bikes it's sort of like driving in heavy traffic. Motorcycles were banned a few years back so now people have motorbikes, bicycles that have been outfitted with motors so you can faster that pedaling speed. Once we get to school, my brother and I go up to class and then have to line up and walk to the auditorium. During the assembly all 2,000 students stand in rows by class. Our exchange group then had to introduce ourselves in front of the entire school in Chinese. Usually I don't get nervous speaking in front of large groups, but it is an entirely different experience when using a foreign language. After we present our gift to the school, we go back to class.

The day is scheduled so that we have five classes in the morning, with morning exercises between the third and fourth classes. Then we get an hour break for lunch and recess, after which we have two more classes. My exchange group has extra classes after school many days because we can't understand the regular classes. Some of the classes satisfy requirements for our high school and others are just to enrich our experience. Overall, it's a really good set up. Problem is, the extra classes don't start until our second week of school, so we got very bored during the day. Couple that with the stress of not knowing what to do during gym class and morning exercises and I was very tired by the end of the day. There's nothing like making a mistake in which was to turn when you are marching with the entire school, every student standing in straight lines in full uniform.

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