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The End of 2020: Busy and Better Times

So, it’s that time of year again: the end! What a wonderful time it is, with a year of experiences and memories under our belt and looking forward to another great one. In Chinese culture, the end of a lunar calendar year, Chinese New Year, is a much bigger event than that of the Georgian calendar. Western holidays like Thanksgiving (see our Mid-Autumn Festival article to read about Chinese Thanksgiving) and Christmas are not national holidays. Although New Year’s Day is one, Winter Break for students typically does not begin until early January. This year, however, due to COVID concerns, our students ended their semester mid-December, in accordance with UIBE’s calendar. 

While the students sure enjoyed getting extra time off, it was definitely a grueling last few days. Our semester was shortened, and classes were added over the weekends in order to make up the required content. Exams, final papers, our year-end celebrations, course selections for next year, were all squeezed into a week. Some of our students had finals at 2 AM over Zoom, and others checked out only to fly home to take their exams the very next day in accordance to home school dates. Dates have been different for us all, but we can finally say that our students are home free around the 20th of December. (But some of them, we believe, will be nervous until grades come out in the first week of January, best of luck to them!)

As to how to celebrate, well, some of our staff are staying on campus, others are lucky enough to be able to return home. While our students have begun dispersing, some have remained in Beijing an extra few days to see the city, visit friends, and go on outings together (there’s a ski trip and a birthday celebration somewhere in there). Interestingly, as the Chinese cinemas have recovered, films that are unavailable anywhere else in the world have seen their first screenings here. Usually, Hollywood blockbusters only hit local cinemas six months to a year after their North American release. Still, this year, our community in China is extremely excited to be able to watch them early. Wonder Woman, The Croods, here we come! 

This year has been taxing on us all in different ways, and as always, we send our best wishes to our TBC community around the world. May we turn this difficult year into a rare learning experience and find the joy in the small moments. Around this time last year, our staff members in Beijing first heard of something over the horizon, and to our great relief, our staff members are well and safe this year. Here’s to a better 2021 for everyone!