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How did PKUers overseas get ready for the new semester?

SEP . 30 2020
Peking University, September 30, 2020: School is finally back and the campus is back to life! PKUers are kick-starting the semester with their usual routines which are very much missed. While some are hustling for the second week of school on campus, another group of overseas PKUers are preparing for classes at their home abroad. Today, our student reporter Li Wanqi offers you a glimpse into the life of our fellow students overseas.

Tham Yong Bao
Guanghua School of Management

I've just had my first summer holiday since university started. At first, my plan was to visit the other provinces in China, but that had to be scrapped because of the pandemic. As such, my summer holidays were spent in my hometown, Malaysia. Besides meeting up with my friends, I also studied for the IELTS Test, learnt a new language and attended a webinar to share my PKU experience with my juniors.

I'd expected that we would not be able to return to school for the upcoming semester, and have made adequate preparations. I tidied up my desk and made a conducive studying environment. I also downloaded the e-books for my classes beforehand. Furthermore, in order to successfully choose my lessons, I had emailed the sports department early on to see if there were any restrictions I would face.

As I will be having my math exam when the semester starts, I had to prepare for the exam and get into the 'study mode' as soon as possible. Seeing my friends around me working hard for math brings me back to the week before the end-of-year exams.

As I see the photos taken on campus of friends who have returned to school, I am filled with longing for life on campus. I hope that the blend of online and offline learning will end soon, and look forward to reuniting with my fellow schoolmates.

Yoon Sung Won
School of Arts

This is the first time I've spent such a long time in Korea since starting university. Of course, no one had expected that winter holidays would turn out this way. Fortunately, I was able to enjoy the company of my family and make up for lost time during my high school years. On a side note, my brother wanted to learn Chinese and I became his personal tutor. I also started preparing for my TOEFL exams.

Near the end of the holidays, I received news from the school that Korean students were given the choice to return to campus for the next semester. Though I really wanted to go back to school, attend classes in the Science Building, dine in our cafeterias, and enjoy the camaraderie in our hostel, I was afraid of the risks involved with living in communal areas. Hostel fees were also a primary concern. It's unfortunate that I had to make the choice to stay in Korea for now.

We took online classes for the first time last semester, and in retrospect, I was pretty underprepared for what was to come. For one, I couldn't get a hold of the textbooks required for class. Attending virtual seminars and communicating online was also disorienting. Participating in discussions through Wechat with the Chinese students also had its difficulties. Hence, this time, I am confident that with prior experience, I will be able to prepare the necessary material and steady my mindset to embrace the upcoming online lessons!


Wu Peici
Department of Chinese Language and Literature

As the holidays arrived, my Singaporean friends and I took the opportunity to reconnect. I shared with them the interesting stories of life in PKU, and also introduced our PKU cats. Many took a liking for Jiangsi, or 'Ginger Slice', and exclaimed that they'd love to come to PKU one day and shower the chubby ginger tabby with affection. I've also caught up on the hottest Chinese dramas, like "The Romance of Tiger and Rose", "Serenade of Peaceful Joy", and "The Bad Kids". I've definitely gained meaningful insights on the rapid ascent of Chinese film and television through my watch.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, most of friends and I will not be able to return to school. Still, I am confident that this will not be a problem. In order to ensure that students not on campus will be able to receive online lessons, PKU has organized training for our teaching faculty. This is really touching and puts me at ease! I hope that I'll be able to reunite with my teachers and classmates online soon!

Larry Ng
School of International Studies

Right after our summer holidays started, Singapore eased the "circuit breaker" measures and loosened restrictions. While adhering to social distancing guidelines, I started catching up with groups of friends whom I've not met since coming to PKU. As most of our winter break did not coincide last year, this was ironically the only chance all of us could come together since university started.

Of course, with dining-in being allowed once again, my parents and I headed to hawker centers for a taste of local cuisine. If anything, this pandemic has reminded me of the importance of connecting with our loved ones and never to take things for granted.

On top of relaxing at home, I have also been working at a part-time retail job and it has indeed been an eye-opening experience for me. This has made me appreciate our service staff even more, especially our frontlines workers in essential services who have been (and still are) toiling even as most of us working from the comforts of home.

In fact, the passage of time has been exceptionally tangible this time round. My nephew was born in February and this summer has allowed me to witness his growth from day one.

Speaking of the passage of time, it's been nearly eight months since we left Beijing and I really hope to be able to go back soon. I believe many of us can't wait to travel once again and more importantly, fly back to Beijing to meet our friends in the picturesque PKU campus.

The new normal in hawker centres and markets

Suniva Chitrakar
School of International Studies

Summer holidays for us PKU students is coming to an end, meaning people could feel two ways: 1. happy that the school is finally starting, or 2. dreading the end of sweet, sweet summer. I happen to fall right in between these two.

When I say this, you'd think that I'd probably thoroughly enjoyed my summer or that I did something productive at least. But no. I've been staying indoors and binge-watching shows like 'Orange is the New Black' and reading books that have nothing to do with my major (like 'When Breath Becomes Air' by Paul Kalanithi). Oh, and also taking baby steps towards learning French.

'Normal life' as we once called it, still hasn't resumed in Nepal. COVID-19 cases are still increasing day by day, and going outside or meeting people is still highly risky. So while I highly enjoyed some much-needed family time this summer, I've been bored out of my mind to the point where I can't wait for classes to start once again. In fact, I just started reading 'China's Quest: The History of the Foreign Relations of the People's Republic of China' by John W Garver in hopes that it'll help me for a class next semester. Also, I've become bored to the point where I've willingly started doing yoga again.

One thing that I need to start doing in order to prep for next semester is waking up every day at 5 am, since Beijing time 8 am is Kathmandu time 5:45 am. Ah, how I look forward to attending classes at 5 am.

Although my summer may be a little atypical in comparison to other students in PKU (just cause of the absurd amount of laziness), I sort of can't wait for classes start again. I am a bit worried since I can't attend classes in real life like our Chinese friends but I bet (or hope) it'll be okay.

Written by: Xu Haolun
Edited by: Amanda Hu, Zhang Jiang
Photo credit to: Peking University Media Center
Source: United Nations