A Day in the Life of an LTL Student in Beihai
This blog has been written by LTL’s first ever student in Beihai, Chris from Ireland. We hope you enjoy his “day in the life of” account during his time at LTL.
Ever wondered what it’s like to study and live in a small Chinese city?
Away from the bright lights of Beijing and Shanghai, in a city where nobody speaks English and you’re one of just a handful of foreigners in a population of 1.5 million people (not that small I guess).
I spent four wonderful weeks living with a Chinese host family in the beautiful seaside city of Beihai in South-Western China. Here is an insight into a typical day I enjoyed totally immersed in the Chinese language while enjoying all that a course at LTL has to offer.
Getting up – 07:55
Breakfast – 08:00
Time to Go – 08:25
上课 (Class Starts) – 09:00
Lunch Time – 12:00
下课 (Finish Class) – 14:00
Time to Explore – 15:30
Dinner Time – 17:00
Head to the Beach – 18:00
Meet Anna – 19:30
Bedtime – 23:00
07:55 – Rise and Shine
After a couple of snoozes of my alarm I am still gaining consciousness when I hear a call of “chifan!” 吃饭 (mealtime) from my host mother in the kitchen, followed by a flurry of movement from the various bedrooms as four hungry mouths aged between 6 and 65 jump out of bed.
08:00 – Breakfast Time
My host mother has a knack of consistently cooking up elaborate meals at suspiciously short notice, I’ve never met a Chinese person that couldn’t cook.
I scoff down my hearty breakfast of Baozi 包子 (steamed buns) and go back into my room for a morning shower.
“I don’t understand why foreigners shower in the morning!” my host father comments.
Life Outside the Classroom in Beihai: Chris’ Story
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08:25 – Time to Go
With class starting at 9 I leave my apartment and hop on my scooter to go to school.
It’s just a 15-minute drive, but I like to leave early so I can grab a coffee on the way.
In my first week I took the bus to school, but after learning from my host family that I could rent a scooter for just ¥20 (€2.50) per day I figured it was worth it for the flexibility it affords me.
And the extra time in bed!
09:00 – 上课 (Class Starts)
Class begins and we get straight into it, Anna doesn’t waste any time.
Anna offers me absolute flexibility over my class schedule each week.
I opt for 09:00-14:00 as I am a relatively early riser and happy to have all of my classes finished by early afternoon.
But Anna offered that I could start earlier, later or indeed split the classes between morning and evening depending on my own preferences.
12:00 – Lunch Time
At noon we take a lunch break before the final hour of class.
Lunchtime is a godsend as I find that my concentration wavers severely on an empty stomach.
I hop on the back of Anna’s scooter and she drives us to a nearby restaurant where we have noodles with wonton soup.
The damage is about ¥15 (€2) for a meal that you would struggle to match in a 5-star restaurant in Europe!
14:00 – 下课 (Finish Class)
Class finishes and I drive home. I’m tired but happy as today was a productive morning.
My biggest struggle with Chinese language learning has been reading Chinese characters so Anna is helping me to overcome this.
Beihai people take a form of ‘siesta’ in the afternoons, with shops and restaurants closing for several hours before re-opening at night.
The concept was alien to me at first but I have now embraced the idea of an “institutionalised late-afternoon nap“.
15:30 – Time to Explore
I awaken and ready myself to head out again.
I find that reinforcing what I’ve learned in my morning classes is crucial before I prepare for an evening of socialising in Chinese.
I drive to a nearby café to go through my class-notes. As I sit struggling through relatively basic vocabulary, amused locals offer to help.
“Don’t worry, I used to struggle reading too, but then I grew up!”
I am reassured by a wise 7-year-old.
17:00 – Dinner Time
I return home in time for dinner. A meal of dumplings, pork and rice fit for a king.
I chat with my host brothers who have warmed to me over the past few weeks after initial suspicion towards this strange foreigner.
Mealtime is great conversation practice for me and I try to cover as many topics as possible.
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18:00 – Head to the Beach
After dinner, I grab my towel and head straight for the beach.
Taking a quick dip in the sea before sunset has become a daily ritual.
I figure that any moment I don’t spend enjoying this tropical seaside lifestyle is one I’ll regret when I am sheltering from the rain back in Ireland.
I take my notebook with me too, for quick revision while lying on the sand. Not the worst setting for studies!
19:30 – Meet Anna
I have made plans to meet Anna for the evening so I drive to our usual meeting place near her apartment.
We head to the walking street to soak up some of the local nightlife.
I think that this cultural experience is as important to me as the classes.
The walking street (Beihai Old Town) is a great place to people-watch, and crucially a great place for me to continue practicing my conversation skills.
“American!” Two teenagers shout at me in amazement.
“No, Irish!” I retort.
“Ahh, English” they reply, knowingly. I tried.
23:00 – Bedtime
It’s bedtime. I resist the urge to turn on my VPN and check western social media.
I try to minimize contact with people from home in order to commit to full language immersion while I’m here.
A quick text home every few days to confirm that I am still alive suffices at this time.
I have one last glance over my Chinese characters before drifting off to sleep.
Several thousand more characters to go, but tomorrow is a new day!
The Ultimate Guide – Things To Do In Beihai
Complete Guide of Things To Do In Beihai (2020) In a country full of behemoth cities, Beihai is quite little compared to most. In fact, you ask a group of Chinese people where Beihai is, most will have never even…
Thanks Chris for a brilliant rundown on daily life in Beihai, sounds pretty sweet doesn’t it… now its YOUR turn!
Classes at LTL – FAQ’s
Yes both are absolutely viable and depend on your needs and wants. If you have a good level of Mandarin already we would recommend studying individually so you make progress faster.
Yes our school is brand new as of 2020. Details are:
Address: No. 0510, City Plaza, No. 183 Beihai Ave. Haicheng
In Chinese: 北海市海城区北海大道183号城市购物广场 0510号
Tel: +86 (0) 10 65129057
Email: [email protected]
Our programs run for either 4 or 6 hours a day (standard or intensive).
Absolutely. It’s very different to the likes of Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen but there are a multitude of things to do in Beihai and it boasts some of the best weather all year round.
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