Hello, November!

Well, October came and went, and I spent the last day of the month dressed up like a woodland creature and pranced around Beijing. This month when my stipend was deposited, one of the first things that I purchased was a Halloween costume off of Taobao. Sure, there were plenty of options that I could have gone with from the adult section… but I was charmed by a shop selling children’s onesies and managed to find a deer costume in a 170 cm size. How could I say no?

Here are some pictures of me, my friend Miri (dressed as Mario!), my friend Olivia, and my friend Hannah (who I convinced to buy a dragon costume from the same online store where I got this deer). For comparison, I’m also including the picture of the costume on the adorable child model from the online shop where I bought this… with this side by side comparison, can you tell who wore it better???

Halloween in Beijing was an interesting experience. On Friday night, I went out to one of my favorite bars in Gulou, which has recently been dealing with some unexpected closures because of a redevelopment project in the hutongs. (I’m hoping to write more about this later in the month, so if none of that sentence made sense… stay tuned!) It was nice to see that inside, nothing much had changed, even though the street has been completely changed. I guess that’s the pace of life here – you can’t get used to anything!

One of my classmates, Miri, is part of a local band that was performing that night, and it’s been awesome to see her singing live a couple of times. We went out again on Halloween night to see her, so I got two excuses to wear this costume. I’ve found it pretty comfy, to tell you the truth, so I might start wearing it as pajamas or to the library to study. 😉

It’s definitely starting to get colder here in the city, and there’s times when I miss the feeling of a good Philadelphia fall. My dad sent me some pictures of one of his recent bike rides, showing off the changing foliage out in Valley Forge – definitely inspired a bit of envy! Life on campus is turning a shade of gold though, as there are a surplus of ginko trees here. I really like the pattern of the leaves, and I’m eager to have a good weather day to wander over to Weiminghu Lake here at Beida, or over to the New Summer Palace, to see some more trees & nature there.

As it’s getting colder and darker, we also found time to celebrate another holiday – Diwali. Diwali, or Deepavali, is a Hindu festival of light celebrating the victory of good over evil. It’s celebrated in many parts of the world – and my classmates from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago helped set up an event on our sixth floor lounge and shared some of their memories of Diwali celebrations.

There was food and desserts, Bollywood music, and some swing dancing at the end of the night. (Swing dancing to Bollywood music might not be very traditional, but this was a Diwali celebration with Yenching characteristics after all!) I’m sharing a picture of the beautiful Rangoli that was made on the floor of our lounge – these patterns are normally made in the courtyard or living room of a home, and assembled with colored sands or flower petals (as it was made here)! I helped light some of the votive candles in the Rangoli – it feels really lovely and warm to be included in this celebration, and sharing these holidays with friends.

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This might be a short post, but it’s the first of (what I hope will be) many, thanks to my month-long writing challenge! That’s it for me for now… but keep an eye out for the next post, where I’ll be talking about tea and sharing some more pictures of Yenching! Coming up soon – I’m heading out on Friday with my friend Vaishnavi to travel to Hangzhou and Nanjing, so I’ll be sharing thoughts and photos of this trip as well!

Best,

Kristen

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