Heya 🙂 It’s been a while since my last post and of course a lot has happened since then so I decided to put out a little update. I haven’t really planned anything for this, but I just wanted to talk to you without the pressure, you know?~

I did forewarn that my blog would undergo a lack of scheduling from the beginning of my year abroad in Beijing onwards, but I’ve had some topics in mind that I wanted to write about and just never did. The reasons are that I’ve been a bit ill, very busy; and kinda stopped wanting to post for a while. The last reason is probably linked to the first, but it’s nothing to worry about~ I noticed that there have been more new followers to my blog over the last few months, welcome and 谢谢!^^ I also thought you guys, and those who read my blog as a whole deserves reassuring that my page is still active~

A few more things to add. Theres a post that I gradually compiled notes for during my first term in Beijing and should have been up at least a month ago, but hopefully sooner rather than later 😁 The theme is something to do with identity and I have a feeling that you’ll like it, so please look forward to that~ Recently I have been reflecting more actively about taking a subsidiary language during the next academic year of my course (Chinese Studies) and I am deciding between Japanese and Korean. If you have any opinions or advice on this decision than please do share! 🇯🇵🇰🇷 If I can convince myself to translate my thoughts into words, you could expect a post on that too once I return to Beijing for my second term. Fyi: I’m on ‘Spring break’ at the moment and have returned to England, but due to return soon! 🇬🇧🇨🇳

I have lot’s of stories from what’s happened so far this year, but we can save them for another time😋Let me know how you’ve been and if you want me to research anything specific whilst I’m in China etc!

If you have a lot to do, good luck 世界。

此致敬礼,欣妍 – From Xinyan.


Beijing beginnings


It’s been just over two weeks since I’ve come to Beijing and I can’t believe we’ve managed to 办so many事’s. Unfortunately the domain of my blog seems to be one of the many sites blocked in China (shout-out to the people who I see reading my posts from within China…I see you👀), which is why this post is coming to you later than I had planned. I’ll leave it at that for now but this does tie in well with my previous post~

Whilst I’ve travelled a lot in the past (within the UK and to other countries) there’s usually been at least one ‘adult’ figure travelling with me, so this was my first time taking a flight on my own. But China is only around the corner, right?

Our course can seem a bit strange for many reasons. It’s very independent in that you have to book a plane ticket and organise your own accommodation etc. Whilst it may seem like this is because it’s an Oxford course, this seems to be unique to Chinese Studies o-o 好奇怪 For the first few nights a few of us stayed at a hostel we booked in England prior to arriving. It wasn’t amazing, but it also wasn’t bad. For one night there was a complication with my booking and due to that I can now at least say that I’ve experienced what living in a Chinese dorm would be like. I’ll leave it open to your imagination😉

Every year a handbook of ‘Studying at Beida’ is given to students at the end of first year before embarking on their Year Abroad. The year above has the task of editing the handbook with details that may have changed each year and I think I will put forward a note to warn that there will be a lot of walking. We walked a lot during the first week especially, but I guess its good it was before the health-check…

On our first night we went out to have dinner with the rest of our classmates who had also arrived in Beijing. Perhaps the restaurant we went to had a busy day because the waiter kept returning to our table to let us know that a meal we ordered had sold out. Most of our food eventually arrived and it was quite nice, but quite an interesting experience for most of us xD I think the waiters were equally confused since we ordered singular meals as it’s common to share dishes in China.

The first few days involved looking at apartments, looking for banks and 找到-ing Western Union for classmates to withdraw money, and then withdrawing the maximum from ATMs to save up for our initial instalment of rent. Due to all of this money business I had to restrict my purchases, but I recently went shopping with a friend from Oxford who came to Beijing^^ I also went to the ‘Electronic City’ in last week with a classmate to check out things like phone-cases (although all the nice ones seem to be for Iphones -.-). I hope to explore that area more since it’s nearby to 北大附中 – The Affiliated High school of Peking University, which is where I stayed last time I came to Beijing. –Btw we’ve now rented a penthouse apartment!

What else has happened? I turned a water canister into a recycling bin using a cleaver, a craft knife and a lighter. I was offered a job by a woman who was impressed with my Chinese sounding ‘like a Beijing person’ and subsequently met her daughter the next day to teach her English. A lot of cool things happened that day (I got to see Qinghua University which is to Beida how Cambrige is to Oxford) but I don’t plan to continue with that particular job. We registered our residency at a Police Station, and we plan to register at Beida as soon as possible. We have Collections taking place fairly soon (Oxford termly assessments)…which is just cruel T.T

I’ve also been speaking a lot of Chinese, which is great fun! I engage best with spoken elements of a language and speaking Mandarin has always been my favorite part of learning Chinese. The rest if my class prefer the written element of our course like our history paper the ‘East Asia Survey’ and practicing written Chinese. However I’ve been trying to create a lot of opportunities to practice my spoken Chinese like in Taxis for instance and I’m grateful to have been complimented on it quite a bit^^ People have been telling me to make vlogs (video logs) with my new camera and so it’s something I’ve been considering. My flat mates also told me I should start a blog about fashion or photography but I’m not so sure 😅 I’ve been told to make vlogs and a fashion blog in the past, but we’ll see *害羞*


Another interesting thing that happened was our health checks. It seems like people staying in China for a long duration are required to take part on a health examination. A friend of mine who is doing an internship in Beijing over summer was required to do a health check aswell. It was quite strange and parts of it definitely were not accurate. We took a taxi to the center (we got there an hour early😴) and filled in a form, once that was given in we went into different rooms divided between two floors in which different examinations were set up. We had a blood test, x-ray, ‘eye test’ (the doctor just pointed at a letter on a board and let us walk off once we immediately identified it), ECG and more. All of this for £40~ But at least I now know my blood type!

The theme of the day (that I originally wrote this at least) is probably otherness and optimism. As I’ve mentioned before I’m on the team of the ‘glass being half full’ and so whilst there may have been stresses about things like adjusting to our new life I’ve been reminding myself and others of how far we’ve come and that we needn’t worry about things that are out of our control so long as we continue trying our best. Also people have rightly been a bit self conscious for sticking out as a foreigner, which brings me on to the theme of otherness. Personally I don’t find it a big 问题 since I’ve pretty much always been different, but I have been asked things like ‘你是哪国人’ (where are you from) a lot more than my classmates, and have had a lot of questions about my headscarf and religion. It can be awkward depending on the situation but I see it as pursing my duty to educate people about a curiosity sparked from lack of opportunity to experience other cultures. -Although I have seen quite a few Muslim women wearing headscarves since being here~ During the taxi ride from the health check our 司机 asked about my scarf and why my friend in the backseat wasn’t wearing one as well despite her being British like myself. He was in disbelief when I simply said that it’s because we’re different people. Adamant as he was and also curious as to whether my dad wears one as well as my mother (a headscarf is only worn my women but the concept of the hijab of general modesty applies to both gender, fyi), to which I asked if he was ‘the same’ as the man in the car ahead of us since he was presumably Chinese. He claimed that he was because they both had black hair -.- but sometimes you cant win. My point is that no two people are exactly the same and that’s amazing. Your differences make you as unique as your fingerprint, so embrace them ^-^ A quote that came to mind today is that you should be yourself, since everyone else is already taken~ Ameen.

A lot has happened since we’ve been here, and whilst it’s nice being occupied it sort of makes you feel like you’re losing your head sometimes. On a side note I’m quite pleased with how my writing style has been progressing. It fluctuates along with my general progression, but that’s kind of like growing up, and lately I’ve felt more and more like an adult.

If you have moved to another continent and have to be an adult, good luck 世界。

此致敬礼欣妍 – From Xinyan.

Also I’ve just uploaded a similar post written in 简体字 Chinese, check it out here if you want to try reading it!~

Year abroad✈️

我在这个品台几乎过了三年!噢!如果你是‘新的来这儿看我帖子的人’我欢迎你!How has your summer been? I realised recently that mine is being cut short by 2 months this year, but that’s because of the subject of this post.^

The commencing academic term will mark the start of my year abroad in you guessed it…China! Beijing to be more specific, and I’ll be studying there for the second year of my degree. I haven’t spoken much about my course but perhaps you might be able to venture a guess? It of course has something to do with China in that it is Chinese Studies. What does that actually mean? 首先 I think it’s best to think of it as ‘China Studies’ as we learn spoken Mandarin as well as both forms of written Chinese; Classical Chinese (which deserves a whole separate post one day); philosophy; history; literature, and a bunch of other nerdy things related to China! *Exhale*

Another detail I have missed out thus far is where I’ve been studying. For the past year I’ve been studying at The University of Oxford, 其实 it feels a bit strange to reveal. Of course due to the esteemed reputation of the institution along with the ‘unique’ subject I’m reading, I will gladly accept your questions and try my best to answer them^^ In the meantime you can read about some of the radical stories I’ve noted down from my teachers this year in my previous post.

When I applied for the course I did find that there was less material to prepare myself for what to expect in comparison to other courses with a greater amount of students. For that reason I have been considering talking a bit about what my course entails as well as some other 有意思的 details in another post once I receive authorisation. -I do have some materials prepared…

I also wanted to 谈一谈 about what my year abroad will mean for my blog. If you haven’t already realised, since creating this blog in 2014 I’ve been uploading posts at least once a month~ However for the coming year I do not plan to follow this regularity as strictly as I previously have done. I’m sure my list of topics will grow due to my lifestyle being immersed into Chinese culture, I will just give myself more 自由 over scheduling, at least that’s the aim😝

I think that’s it for now~ Rather than uploading my post a few hours before a flight as I’ve done in the past, today I’ve gone for just a day before😅.

If you are going to study abroad, good luck 世界🌏🇨🇳

此致敬礼欣妍–From Xinyan.


Well looky here, I was tagged by 我的朋友 nakedstreetkid to take part in the ‘CREATIVE BLOGGER AWARD’ tag 谢啦🐼

The official rules are that you must: Nominate your top 10 blogs; 
Notify them by WordPress, Social Media and their links; 
List 5 facts about yourself
; List the rules. I invite anyone who is reading this and is interested to participate themselves! 😉

首先我是一个独生女。First fact, I am an only child. I think having no siblings was compensated by the fact that I had a lot of cousins and close friends who I grew up with. Being an only child has its pros and cons, as does everything else. On one hand it definitely made me quite self-reliant, and explains my unique personality. However when I was younger and I wanted someone to play with, I did imagine inventing a toddler sibling that I could play with and then “turn off” and store away in my cupboard once I got bored.

Second fact is about music (其次我跟音乐有特别的关系). I could probably talk about ‘music’ for a while, but I won’t get into a deep answer. In terms of my religion, I recognise that many Muslims may say that it’s sinful to listen to music, but as Islam advocates that sins are derived from intentions (to keep it short),  I’m hoping that I should be in the clear zone. When I was younger I gained the skill of memorising song lyrics from a couple of listens (gift or curse?), and now singing is still a hobby of mine. 我喜欢的音乐是形形色色的 I listen to a variety of types of music and I can rely them in tough times 💪

For the third fact I should probably tell you a bit about my personality. I find it awkward to describe myself so I asked a friend to tell me some of my personality traits etc, but I still feel a bit awkward about sharing what she said😅. I know that I get excited easily, but can also become bored easily. I’m usually introverted, clumsy (真的跟一部电影一样), thoughtful, ‘weird’/different, and 98% of the time I believe that ‘the glass is half full’ 杯子是半满–an optimist.

4: I have a deep interest in art. I’ve always been quite creative so I enjoy crafting from random resources, painting, scultpting etc. But I think even simple things can be seen as art. Such as words or Chinese characters because they each have their own stories. If this sounds strange 对不起 it’s in my nature.

Hmm what about number five? Something I am certain that you know by now from reading this post alone, and if you know me personally, is that I’m very enthusiastic about languages. I went into a mini back story in one of my first posts, but languages interest me because they all somehow link, everything has its own story (I did a lot of creative writing in the past but it sort of stopped when I started college), and of course languages are integral to communication. Perhaps it’s related to my ability to learn song lyrics, but I also tend to pick up on vocabulary and nuances fairly easily.

If you read all of my facts I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a bit better and please tell me some of your own facts. 根据我的经验 it’s surprisingly difficult to list facts about oneself on the spot, but nonetheless this was a fun tag.

If you need to list five facts about yourself, good luck 世界~

从欣妍 – From Xinyan.

2014 in review

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新年快乐!Happy new year! (it’s not technically the new year here in the UK, but it depends on which country you live in). WordPress has created an overview of my blogging year and I think its kind of adorable >.< There’s a little extract below but in essence it summarised my statistics from the year (although I’ve had this for half a year) and presented them with diagrams and facts. There was an option to publish the review but I think it’s a bit private (对不起这是个秘密) so instead I will show you some of the extracts…

“The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

…There were 36 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 61 MB. That’s about 3 pictures per month”.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 19.08.33Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 19.08.47

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have mentioned before that I have a list of posts that I plan to write, but for one reason or another I have not been able to complete them yet. The other day I did the photography for a post I planned to put up yesterday (trying to maximise primary sources😁), but a movie marathon came along and well now it is likely to become the first post of 2015. Stay tuned 😉

I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone that has engaged with my posts in 2014! It’s been half a year but feels like only 2 months have passed. Thank you to the silent supporters, as well as those of you who are subscribed to my blog; thank you for the comments, and thanks for the likes (翻译:谢谢为你们对我博客的称赞). Hopefully you can stick around to help me through 2015 so that we can continue to learn new things. 一起学习比自己学习是更好,你们同意呢。

If you take the time to review your year, good luck 世界 .


[Also if you haven’t noticed, I occasionally include short phrases in Chinese like I have done in this post but I wanted to point out that what follows in english usually is not the translation. If you’re bored you can try translating them using a search engine, but I will leave that to you].

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Writing letters

Does anybody still write letters? The other day I received some letters from another one of my friends in China. She lives in 临海 Linhai, but has now moved to 杭州Hangzhou for the purpose of education. The envelope was very impressive! -It’s the most colorful envelope that I’ve ever seen (it’s not as sad as it seems). What do you think of it?


On top of that, there were loads of stamps! When I was in Beijing last year one of the things on my shopping list was stamps, but I couldn’t get hold of any and my teacher didn’t know where I could purchase some of the standard type (but I did look through a booklet of Olympic stamps). Nonetheless, the collection of stamps stuck on the envelope was most impressive. Here are most of them, but I couldn’t get the rest into the frame of my photo without including my address so I couldn’t show them 对不起.


The back of the envelope was quite cute as well;


My friend had told me that she purchased some elegant style paper and stationary from online and that she was going to send me some but I had forgotten about it after a week or so, plus I didn’t expect her to send letters along with it. To my surprise the envelope was filled with letters that she told me that she took the time to write despite being busy with her new school, and also a few keepsakes. She gave me a very finely detailed thin metal bookmark, as well as a map that she brought from the Imperial Palace at Beijing (I usually send my international friends a map of London and they send me one back if its available). The map was really big when I unfolded it, so I leaned it against our TV for me to take a picture:


This is what the front design of the bookmark looks like:


I recognize that this post is 70% pictures (although you shouldn’t quote me on the figure), but I thought it necessary to share with you the contents of the letter. These are two of the ‘stationary’ things that she sent;

P1030489Antique coloured paper with ancient Chinese style writing,

P1030491and an A5 size opaque envelope embossed with pink flowers.

I couldn’t take photos of the actual letters because the messages she had written would have been included, but here’s something she illustrated on top of a letter she managed to write on her birthday:P1030490

I’ve been sending letters to my ‘penpals’ for a while now and I have a lot that I need to reply to. Also the first time I sent letters to people in China I was certainly stumped with the format of the address! Just like many other Chinese concepts, the address format is very dissimilar to that of England (the American format wasn’t too bad). I’ll take the opportunity to include a photo of one of the packages sent to me by another friend:

2014-02-11 17.55.40(This was to compensate for the fact that I can’t locate the picture of the package that I last sent to one of my friends).

If you ever need to send letters to people abroad then good luck 世界 :s

Lost my voice

我的说去那? … I’ve learnt from that and moved on.

I found the picture that I’ve posted below while I was going through a folder of some photos from my friends in China. What I remember is that my voice was not in its best condition at the time and I had sort of lost my voice. I cannot remember if the picture that I drew was prompted by a request for an audio message, but it seems likely in my mind. What I had to do as a result of my ‘lost voice’ was translate the message into Chinese. This proved to be a difficult task. If I were to relay the message now I would have improved my translation due to the expansion of my vocabulary, but to be honest I’m still a little stumped. However I don’t feel bad about that because I showed my former Chinese teacher the picture that I drew to ask for his translation…and he was stumped too. You may be wondering why I’m sharing this as it does appear to be slightly out of the blue; but the reason is to show that communication has various forms. During exams we are told that both verbal and non-verbal communication will get you disqualified, just like a simple shrug of the shoulders could communication a feeling of confusion, or frantically waving your arms could be an indication of imminent danger; at times one of the most basic forms of communication that we may come to rely on is drawing.


I have adjusted the quality of the picture but I cannot remember if that was the final drawing. As you can see that is as basic as a drawing can get (-stick people) but having to communicate the idea that I had lost my voice was an amusing scenario so don’t be fast to judge me here.

Translations: The writing in the first box says ‘This is me’. The second reads as ‘My speak…go where?’ And lastly in the third box ‘I do not have speak’.

嘿嘿 (you can translate that in a search engine if you’re curious). The character 说 that I had used in my desperate comic can be translated to say, speak, tell or talk. None of those options quite fit what I was trying to say. Thankfully the fact that I am able to spot the mistakes in those short lines shows that I have improved. For example, now I would at least say rectify the second box and change the text to ‘’我的声音去哪里’’ (wǒ de sheng yīn qù nǎ lǐ) which is a more accurate translation of asking ‘where is my sound?’, or “我丢了我的声音” which literally means “I lost my voice”.

Hopefully you shall not lose your voice and become as frantic as my stick woman who was subsequently led to despair.

If you ever have problems with a language barrier (quite likely to happen) 我说 good luck 世界 (嘿嘿).

从欣妍 – From Xinyan