Diary of a Taiwanese in Beijing (note 1)

This is the first installment of translations from the facebook notes of a Taiwanese exchange student in Beijing. Read my preface of sorts to these translations, here.

What I find interesting in this note is Yi-jung’s expectation that Beijing will be a world apart from Tainan, not to mention a romanticisation of pre-liberation Beijing.

Before going to Beijing (18.2.2010)

Travelling to Beijing, I don’t know what kind of people I will meet or what will happen. I don’t know whether I will like these people and things or not. Maybe some of them I won’t like, but I’ll just have to learn to accept them. After reading my Mainland friend’s writing, I was overwhelmed and surprised that she still remembers me. In fact, the biggest reason that motivated me to apply for exchange study in Beijing was that I wanted to meet my old friends in Mainland China again. If I just fly over there, I can certainly meet up with them again. But I really want to know what the city and society they grew up in is like.

So I think if I can stay in Beijing for a short time, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to better understand their culture. Even though we speak the same language, there are still differences between us.* I want to go and see Beijing, and see how different after all it is to the book I read once, Memories of Peking: South Side Stories, by Lin Hai-yin. I know new Beijing will not be like the book’s description of old Peking anymore; things have changed over many decades.** I’ve already mentally prepared myself, Beijing may be just like other big cities I’ve been to, with so many skyscrapers. Maybe I can only like that Beijing of my imagination, and not the real Beijing. I simply don’t know.

If you go for a stay in a city you’ve never been to before, wouldn’t you be afraid?

And here’s the original note (in 繁体字, of course, her being Taiwanese):

行前 2010-02-18

此行去北京,其實我無法預知會遇到什麼人,發生什麼事。我不知道那些人事物會不會讓我喜歡,還是也會有我不喜歡的人事物,但是我也得學會去接受。看到我的大陸朋友寫的文章,有點讓我受寵若驚,因為她還記得我。因為其實讓我有最大動力申請去北京大學交換,是想再去中國大陸看看以前認識的朋友; 如果我只是專飛過去,我確實也可以見到我的朋友。但是我更想知道他們成長的城市和社會是什麼樣子。

所以我覺得我若可以在這個城市待一短暫的時間,也許我有機會更了解他們的文化。我想去看看北京,到底和我以前讀過林海音寫的城南舊事中的北平,差別在哪裡? 其實我已經做好心理準備了,北京也許就像我曾經去過的那些大城市一樣有許多高樓大廈。也許我只喜歡那個想像中的北京,而不是真正的北京。我真的不知道。



* this sentence isn’t in the Chinese above, but Yi-jung had written it in another draft.
** ditto. Yi-jung also mentions she first read the book (which is set in the 1930s) as a teenager.