Thought I'd check in with all of you! I'm down to my last 3 weeks here and this week I got a mention in Beijing City Weekend, second only to the Beijinger for expat press here. Here's a link to the article:
Also, I have been picked up as a "volunteer" for the Dongcheng District Police. Essentially I pose for various propaganda photo shoots about the different types of visas and foreigner housing registration (everyone must register where they are living/staying within 24 hours of getting into the country). It was the strangest thing but they had me come out to an event one morning. I headed into it knowing only that it had something to do with the police. When I got there I was greeted by about 30 police officers (including the chief of police), several press members and a handful foreigners who were just as confused as I was. They just took a lot of photos of us accepting information pamphlets. It was great. It was supposed to have been in the local papers but as I can only really read the English ones I never saw it. They also did an interview with me that was supposed to have been for television. I had to talk about how helpful the police are (which they are!) and how much they've helped me since I arrived here. What I left out were my stories about the two times they've nearly broken down my door because of mix-ups with my housing registration!
So I guess I have some strange little celebrity status around Nanluogu Xiang. No idea how it came to be but my role as the Meiguoren hot dog lady seems to have become very official.
Aside from that things are pretty calm around here. Lot's of other foreign kids are headed home right about now and it's sad to watch them leave. I've pretty much made up my mind that I need to come back to study here in a year. We all seem to agree, there's something about Beijing that just sucks you back in, despite struggling with a love/hate relationship with the city the whole time you're here. I've met amazing people and have established a little bit of guanxi while I've been here, essentially the Chinese version of social capital (norms of reciprocity!) and I plan to use it upon my return.
Well that's about all I have to report now. I'm facing the end of my journey with a bit of excitement to come home (closed showers and milkshakes ahoy!) and a reluctance to leave. Either way, I'm so glad I dove head first into this experience. It has been unbelievable and life changing.
See you soon(ish),
Elly in Beijing