So this is what freedom feels like

I'm not sure when it happened but at some point, my life here in Hangzhou became my "real" life and all my memories of Sydney were just that - memories. I've become so comfortable here that most days I don't even think of what's going on at home. And on the occasions that I do, my thoughts don't linger because I am then reminded that there is an end date to this break-from-life and that 10 months from now, reality will come crashing down on me. And it will come crashing down hard.

Sneaky paparazzi shots of the crew chilling on the steps outside the international dormitories
But for now, I love the fact that here, I basically have no responsibilities or duties apart from going to class for four hours a day and completing the assignments that my university back in Sydney sets me. Last year, I had university and work obligations for 42 hours a week, not to mention almost a 2 hour commute every day from my suburb to the city and back. I mean, I enjoyed work but on some days I felt like I was a drone in a Shaun Tan book or something - just going through the motions of day-to-day life and not slowing down enough to enjoy things for what they were.

It's different here. The classes are relatively easy (if you don't sleep through them) and they're only for three-four hours a day. This means that I usually finish at 11:30 am on most days, leaving me with the most free time I will ever have in my life. No really, I haven't felt so free since the 3 month break after my HSC back in 2012.

Chinese grandpas ain't got nothing on me when it comes to Chinese chess
 It might seem like with so much time on my hands, it'll be super easy to get bored and antsy but surprisingly that isn't the case. The perk of living on campus is that there is always something to do or someone to hang out with. We've done everything from playing basketball to Chinese chess, mafia nights, UNO and Cards Against Humanity games, etc.

And of course, when you're new to a city, there is always something new to explore/instagram/throw money at.

Hangzhou Tourism should hire or start paying me or something.  
Hangzhou is definitely not lacking in cute cafes. This is the one that I'm sitting in right now - it's called XieXie Coffee & Tea and it's situated not too far from the West Lake. Actually, everything in Hangzhou has kind of been built around the lake (the pride and joy of this city) so I guess that doesn't really mean much. 
Some cafes, such as Beans Cafe located across from my university, are not the best place to try to do some studying because they come equipped with cute little furry distractions
This is the Zijingang Campus of Zhejiang University. It's not the one I stay or study at but it is actually the main one. Fun Fact: Zijingang is the largest single university campus in Mainland China and consequently, the largest in East Asia. The place is basically it's own city, complete with roads and every single facility you could possibly name. 

This is (half of) class 2.6. We're infamous for constantly losing and gaining new students and half the time, the class is either hungover or zoned out; not to mention, the speaking teacher hates us with a passion. But that doesn't matter because hey, at least we look cute in photos!

Photo credits: Joy eonni, Kay's phone
Dinner at the Green Tea Restaurant, one of Hangzhou's more famous places. Their bread and ice cream dessert is to die for.
Perks of having a Korean oppa in the same dorm, he is happy to cook for you if you just ask nicely haha
Cost of living is also ridiculously cheap here. One month's rent on campus equates to approximately AUD $309.78. That feast in the first of the two food pics? It cost about $8.70 (and we ordered more than we needed).

I rarely feel guilty about going out, catching taxis or eating at restaurants here in China because of how low prices are in comparison to Sydney. Yes, I know that the costs will add up over the year but at the same time, I was prepared for this (hence why I worked so fucking hard last year). So it's not something I'm really stressed about.

Selfie credits: Andrea
And last but not least (cheese warning), the best part about my life here are the friends I've made from all different parts of the world. Never again in my life will I get the chance to be so immersed in such a culturally diverse setting and so I know that I have to make the most of it. I've met people from Germany, Spain, Peru, South Korea, the US, Sweden, Finland, France, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Italy, even Uzbekistan and I feel like I'm constantly learning more about the world. It's awesome.

Up next:

  • Rockin' out and camping at a music festival in China - yeah, you read that correctly
  • My very very belated post on a weekend in Suzhou and Zhouzhuang

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