Summer and the Campus
Cliché as it may sound, Beijing is a city of many faces; the Beijing you encounter today will very possibly not be the same Beijing you’ll see tomorrow or the day after that. The UIBE campus suffers, or actually enjoys the same fate as all Beijingers! We go from marveling at the picture-perfect autumn hues from the orange skies and yellow rustling leaves, between September and November to the clear blue skies of the frigid and dry winters with temperatures that go down to -12ºC in the nights. Around March, the weather slowly transitions to spring with the sun, bringing out the green buds as it gets warmer by the day. The gradually rising temperatures eventually usher in summer – the most anticipated season of the year. Summer is anticipated not only because it’s when students can press pause and go on holiday, but also it sets the ideal atmosphere that urges the best of us to indulge our impulses and cross the fun things off our yearly to-do lists.
Even long before summer fully settles in, at the peak of spring, the UIBE campus looks nothing short of ready for the summer. Before you even adjust your wardrobe to fit the changing seasons, the campus itself is already en route to summer way before you. Very often the reminder that summer is coming is from the blooming of nature all over campus. From the wintry ghost-like figures now bearing fresh green leaves and shrubs on the sidewalks budding in full swing, to the March flower saplings coming into full bloom everywhere on campus; right at the entrance of the gate, behind the dormitories, gardens by the library, cafeterias and class buildings, all over. Altogether the beauty of this nature makes summer even more worthy of the anticipation with which we await it.
The majority of the trees on the campus grounds, particularly those growing by the water ponds and in the compounds, are dragon trees – scientifically named “paulownia fortune”, a deciduous flowering tree that’s native to Southeastern China. The other tree species are weeping willows – the scientists call this one “salix babylonica” and cherry plum’s name is “prunus cerasifera”. For the flower gardens, there are plenty of roses, magnolias, and cherry blossoms. Considering that weeping willows are like the signature tree on the campus, and that the story behind the name of the tree is from the fact that it is seen to be “crying” especially when rain pours down its long leaves. This would make one think that having weeping willows almost everywhere would translate into a sombre mood on the campus. However, this reality of “a crying tree” couldn’t be more far from the vibrant and zealous summer spirit that already fills the air on campus. The tree shades make the perfect spot for a chill afternoon, particularly in the gardens by the pond in front of 求索楼 (Qiu Suo Lou), it is actually a popular on-campus hangout location for a lot of students on campus on weekends and evenings. Over the past couple of spring semesters, this has been the ideal venu to meet up with my friends and classmates to host birthday picnics, watch the ripples on the water, take a lot of pictures by the bridge and even join in on Sunday night karaoke evenings .
The beautiful all-green UIBE campus, endowed with a wide variety of trees and flowers all in perfect bloom in the last weeks of spring leading up to summer, makes for spectacular scenery for photography. Besides, it also comes along with a blissful atmosphere that allows one to sit back and wind down with friends after a long week of classes. Of course, as the weather gets warmer, it will take a couple few cones of ice cream and iced drinks to truly experience the bliss of a perfect day on the campus – which makes summer all the more worth looking forward to!
Speaking of ice cream and iced drinks, the UIBE Campus has a handful of places you can grab an ice cream or an iced refreshment on any day at any time. My personal go-to place is the 蜜雪冰城 (Mi Xue Bing Cheng), an ice cream and fresh juice stall located in the Hui Mei cafeteria, which is directly below the building where TBC students live. It’s just mid- May and I’ve already been there a couple of times for an ice cream cone; imagine how many times I’ll have been there by the time it’s mid-summer?
Nonetheless, what’s not to love about summer in UIBE! Even the wait for it is exhilarating!
By Noel Atukunda, TBC Intern