General

Into the groove

EMILY HENNESSY

Six weeks have now passed since I first arrived in Beijing and – with the Year of the Dragon just around the corner – I’m gearing up for double shifts.

At work it’s been a fairly hectic six weeks with a lot of people taking leave over the Christmas and Chinese New Year period.

It’s meant that I’ve been thrown in the deep end and given more responsibilities than I otherwise might have had.

But I’m glad – because it’s also helped me learn quickly and I’ve received lots of opportunities to prove myself.

I’m getting plenty of on-air experience and my presentation skills are getting better. I’m feeling more relaxed on air every day.

Life here is starting to feel a little more routine.

I don’t get lost as often as I used to and I’m starting to discover favourite places to eat, drink and shop.

I’m getting a sense of how much things should cost and I’m not getting ripped off as much.

But spending Christmas in a foreign country away from family and friends can be difficult.

Luckily, my parents came to visit. I come from a rather large family and it was odd to have Christmas lunch with just three people.

But it’s a Christmas the three of us will not forget anytime soon.

Visiting a local landmark with my father.

I was surprised by how much Beijing got into the spirit of Christmas – which is not a public or religious holiday here.

Despite this, many young Chinese people have taken up the practice of celebrating with friends and exchanging gifts.

I even managed to find a little Christmas tree to give my apartment a bit of a festive feel.

Having my parents here also gave me an opportunity to do lots of sightseeing.

Beijing has a lot to offer the tourist: Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square – you get the picture. There are some specky sights!

Now that Christmas has passed, it’s time to look ahead to the next big event on the Chinese calendar.

It’s a week out from Chinese New Year and the city has been swamped by a sea of red lanterns.

Firecrackers are already being set off day and night.

There are many superstitions and traditions associated with the lunar new year.

Hairdressers are apparently full at the moment because it is bad luck to get your hair cut in the first month of the new year.

We’re heading into the Year of the Dragon, the most auspicious of the Chinese zodiac, and so the country is preparing for a baby boom.

I also happen to have been born in a year of the dragon, and have been told that when it is your year you have to wear something red every day for good luck.

“Just tie a piece of red string around [your] wrist so you don’t have to think about it every day,” was one suggestion.

But the show must go on and I have to work double shifts over the New Year period to ensure our Chinese staff have an opportunity to have time off to visit their families.

Still, it will still be exciting to be in the Chinese capital to see the celebrations for the much-anticipated lunar new year!

– Emily, 23, completed her Curtin Journalism studies in 2011 and is now working as a reporter in the Chinese capital. You can follow Emily’s updates on life in Beijing here on Inkwire.

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