No matter where I am, school never stops being school, and try as I might, there is no way I could ever like everything about it. Regardless of what it will do for my future, it is hard to ignore the present and its annoyances. Most schools are not exactly a place people spend time in, and my school in China is no exception. One of the things I miss most about Newton North is all the opportunities students have. Clubs, electives, choosing your own classes, and activities after school are not as available here.
Below is a schedule of what I do on a normal school day. I also wrote a list of pros and cons to attending Beijing Jingshan Middle School (it's not just a middle school, but that is its name; it is also a high school and elementary school).
5:00am——I wake up. Or, at least, my first alarm goes off. It usually takes me about ten-twenty minutes to actually get out of bed.
5:15-5:25am——I take a shower. I think people here usually shower at night, but I got too used to showering in the morning to break the habit.
6:10-6:20am——Leave the apartment. I usually bike to the nearest subway station, then take line 6, switch to line 5, then walk to school. This takes almost an hour.
7:20-8:00am——Sort of a study hall, we usually just hang out and read, do homework, or study. If the pollution is not too bad, we at some point go out for a morning run (4 laps around the school if you are a girl, 5 if you are a guy) or do morning exercises. On Mondays, instead of exercising, we have a ceremony and raise the flag. This takes about 30 minutes.
This type of Morning Exercises is slower and less amusing than the others. I will post another video soon.
8:00-8:40am——First class of the day. Periods here are only 40 minutes long. However, the same class is often repeated one after the other in order to create a “double block.” For instance, I have Geography during first and second period every Tuesday.
8:40-8:50am—Break. We have 10 minute breaks between every class.
8:50am-12:05pm——Four more periods (a total of five periods before lunch) with breaks in between and five minutes for eye exercises. Video below.
Eye exercises between classes meant to relax your eyes and prevent eyesight problems.
12:05-1:25pm——One hour lunch plus one ten minute break before and another ten minute break afterward. Lunch does not take too long to eat, so we usually have time to catch up on books, tv shows, or attend school events.
1:25-1:30pm——Eye exercises again.
1:30-varies——Depending on the day, we might have two, three, or even four more periods (with their respective breaks) after lunch.
7:00-varies——After dinner, I will read, do homework, watch TV, edit pictures, do laundry, or do whatever needs to be done.
As you can tell, my experience in Chinese school is very different from that of the typical Chinese student. Although I enjoy the more relaxing pace, I definitely miss the learning and efficiency I felt when I was taking my old classes at Newton North. I also miss being able to pick what classes I want to take and the structure that NNHS offers.
In order to prevent getting bored, I have established goals I must achieve before leaving. It has worked wonders so far. Although it seems like the experience is very tedious (which it is sometimes), I would not give it up because I know I am experiencing something most people could only dream of. I am also well aware that the trip is so long it is impossible to make every moment a perfect moment.