Ni hao from Beijing. We arrived here a week ago and are now learning some Chinese for three hours a day, having other VSO training about Education,Culture etc and learning about what to expect in our placements. I'm here with eight other VSO volunteers who will be working in other provinces of China or in different towns in Yunnan province. The closest will be many hours away by Chinese bus but we have plans to meet in Yunnan province capital, Kunming, periodically. Nearly all the others are here for two years which is usual for VSO placements so I'm the cheapskate.
We've had some free time this week for sight seeing and do have a look at the photos of Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace and the Lama Temple for what I've been seeing. It's amazing to be here. I can already ask for a subway ticket and get round independently on the underground. For a city this size it's very easy. The pollution has been noticably bad on occasion but on the whole the hot weather has been very bearable.
I've had some moments when I've felt the need for more knowledge of the language and in Yunnan the problems will be greater - the language will be different and I'll be on my own with only one other European in my town. Wish me luck and keep in touch by e-mail, Skype etc. My mother was amazed how cheap and easy it is to keep in contact from so far away.