Settling In: Kids' Perspective
Sophie: I think that the main way that Beijing is different from home is how crowded it is. Everywhere you look there are people, toting their wares on their bikes or in carts (left), squeezed into buses, stuck in traffic along the roads, or just walking around. At busy intersections huge crowds of bicycles force their way through the cars (right). Other, more lonely souls squeeze their way through the traffic on the highway (right, below).
Some old men sit on the sidewalks playing games of mahjong (right), talking and smoking together.
Because of the crowds, the fastest way to get around is to use the subway (here I am on the left practicing my Chinese with an amused ticket seller at the subway station) but as soon as you get out of the station you are again surrounded by dense packs of people and bicycles (right).
Griffin: Life in Beijing is very different than in California. The amount of people here is amazing, but somehow they fit them all in (left). Something that you see every now and then is a street barber. My Dad and I got our haircut from one. We told the people at our front desk to write down ďjust a trimĒ in Chinese, because our Chinese isnít too good yet. We didnít want him to cut it too short in case it was a bad haircut that would need repairing at a real barbershop. It turned out ok and cost about $0.60 each (right).
Sophie: School is fine, but a little easy. Corte Madera, my old school was more challenging. The only other big difference is its size. Sporting 1800 students from about 50 different countries, three stories, four gyms, and two large cafeterias it towers over a school like Corte Madera. Corte Madera has a mere 360 students, one gym, and no cafeterias. Out behind ISB there are four tennis courts, ten basketball hoops, two soccer fields, two baseball fields, and a track with a rugby/football field in the center. Here I am playing soccer at ISB.
Griffin: My school is out of the city, and it takes an hour to get there by bus. The trafficís quite bad in the city, but once we get outside of Beijing then the trafficís not too bad. The school is very large with three stories and elevators. (901) There are classrooms for pre-K through high school.
My teacher is Mr. Howland and he is from Woodstock, Vermont. We have a diverse class, with kids from many different countries. I have decided to play cello because we must play an instrument at school. I take Chinese almost every day at school, and my Chinese teacher gave all of my family Chinese names. My name is Kang Ren Fu, but with tones. It means Healthy Kind Rich. Not bad.
Sophie: For one of my electives/enrichments I am doing beginning strings. I chose to play the cello along with my brother. So far, I have only created screechy noises. When I practice my family members always come along and close the door quietly. When I come out of the room they always compliment me on my playing. Itís a little suspicious. Although we only know about 20 Chinese characters we always try to find them on every single sign we see. Usually itís a hopeless case, but it is very rewarding when we spot one.