General

Role-play on the menu

EMILY HENNESSY

I’ve been in Beijing for a week now and one way to describe this huge city is cold and grey.

The day I arrived, the smog was apparently the worst Beijing had seen in a long time.

From my apartment window I couldn’t see the buildings a block away.

Despite this rather depressing sounding first impression, Beijing is beautiful in its own way as well as exciting and chaotic.

The frozen lakes are picturesque and on a clear day you can see the surrounding mountains behind the never-ending sprawl of high-rise buildings.

On the roads, everyone seems to have right of way at the same time, yet there are never any accidents.

The subway is always packed with people, yet there is always room for everyone (pushing and shoving is of course acceptable).

The food is delicious even though it’s not always identifiable. And nothing will ever go to plan but it doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the adventure.

Living in a large apartment building is something new for me but I’m getting used to it.

My apartment is supplied by work and is on the same block as the China Radio International building.

Each day I rug up to brave the cold for the short walk, flash my security pass at the policeman on guard and enter another towering high-rise.

Like Beijing itself, my workplace is a little chaotic but I’ve learned to adapt to any situation quickly.

I’m working on the evening shift at the moment and am responsible for a segment of the show called Newspaper Picks.

My job is to search other news sites both in China and overseas for interesting and quirky stories so they can be discussed on the show.

It’s not overly challenging work but it is good fun.

So far, I’ve only been finding the stories and writing the scripts, but this week I get to start presenting.

I’m nervous about going live on air but also very excited about such a great opportunity.

A lot of my colleagues in the English Department are Chinese.

English is their second language.

This means that I am somewhat of an ‘expert’ in the English language here.

I have become a go-to for pronunciation assistance and ‘English fixing’.

I have also been doing some translation voiceovers. When a subject in a news story is speaking another language and the English comes over the top, I’m the English voice.

Last week I got to be a Chinese pop star professing her love for her boyfriend and a Japanese mother concerned about contaminated milk.

My first week in Beijing has been a whirlwind.

I’ve learnt to ride the subway like a local, avoid being ripped off in a taxi (I learnt this one the hard way) and I now know the difference between 5° C and -5°C. (It’s three layers of clothing versus four).

I’m gaining invaluable broadcasting experience and learning to adjust my writing and content selection for a different audience.

It is providing me with new perspectives on political and cultural issues and an ever-evolving understanding of the world and the people who live in it. I’m never quite sure what’s going to happen next but that’s what keeps it interesting.

– Emily is a 23-year-old Perth woman who completed her Curtin Journalism studies this year and is now working in China. Emily is sending updates on life in Beijing and you can follow her adventures here on Inkwire.

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  1. Hello Emily, David in Canberra is a friend of mine; he came to Shanghai one year with me, and I met him and Cathy Cotter there another time. I’m taking a group to Beijing in September, so reading your blog is very interesting for me, since I haven’t been there since 1989 (yes, Tian’anmen Square time). Everything you write rings so fresh and true, it’s wonderful. Please keep writing just the way you do! Warmest, Roy.

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