Saga Ringmar

City Weekend Beijing: “Gap Year: Is It Really Worth Your Time?”

When I graduated from high school and embarked on what would become two gap years, I started to call myself “the drifting spinster.” Spinster, because I was single and single people take to exaggeration and self-pity; and drifting—because that’s exactly how it feels when you’re out of high school.

In most parts of the world, the fad has yet to really catch on. According to UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), only five percent of UK-based students took a deferred year in 2015. Numbers in the U.S. vary, but according to PBS, deferred students account for only one percent of American college freshmen. In China, gap years are virtually non-existent since the education system does not give extra points for any creativity outside the classroom. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Live Like a Local With These 5 Useful Language Tips”

“The Chinese language can drive you crazy, but learning Chinese is not impossible and can be—dare we say it—a lot of fun. Get the lowdown on how to get your Chinese from mamahuhu tochaojiwudi…” Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “How to Detect Problems with Your Child’s Eyesight”

In the first years of your child’s life, their eyes are going through a lot of changes. They start out their existence seeing only in shades of gray, but by their first birthday, bam! The world becomes full of light, shapes and a dazzling array of colors.

However, sometimes things can go a little wrong, but if your child is very young, it’s hard to detect emerging problems with their eyesight. What are common eyesight issues children face—and what symptoms should we be (ahem) keeping an eye out for? Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend: “When Your Child is Being Bullied by their Chinese Classmates”

“Bullying happens all over the world. Victims are targeted for a variety of reasons, but much of it comes down to perceived differences. If your child attends a local school and is a bullying victim, you’re definitely not alone—many other children have grown up in similar circumstances. Sara (a pseudonym) is a teenager who recalls being bullied at her local elementary school in Shanghai. She agreed to talk about her experience anonymously. ‘[The bullying] was mostly verbal,’ she explains. ‘The students would say mean things to my face and behind my back, sometimes they would talk about me when I was around like I was not even there to hear it. Or they would play tricks on me … sometimes people would even push me.’…” Read the rest of the article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “How to Tackle the Complex World of Calculus”

Calculus—the name alone is enough to make high school students groan. So what can calculus teachers do to make this demanding subject a little less dull and confusing? We talked to some of the city’s differential buffs to see how they tackle the subject in the classroom.

Damion Walker, IB math teacher from Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing), has experienced his fair share of baffled students. According to him, one of the biggest problems with calculus, as compared to algebra and trigonometry, is that the concepts are very abstract. Walker stresses the importance of learning the concept itself and understanding why you do these calculations. Solving questions in calculus involves a lot of smaller algebraic and trigonometric equations, so if students lose sight of the calculus concept behind the question, they can be overwhelmed by the amount of random steps that lead to seemingly unimportant answers. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Education: Public Speaking”

Everybody loves a cool, calm and confident public speaker—they make teachers drool and parents quiver with pride. But the prospect of giving a speech fills a lot of us with paralyzing fear. Jerry Seinfeld once quipped that, according to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking, while death was number two: “This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Hilarious—but definitely not true. How can you help your child develop this critical life skill and become fearless on the stage? We ask some confident speakers in Beijing about their top tips when it comes to speaking to an audience. Read the whole article here.

City Weekend Beijing: “Carbon Emissions to Decrease in Northern China”

The news is that Shenhua Group, the state-owned mining and energy company, has completed its upgrades that will dramatically decrease coal-burning in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

So does that mean more blue skies, sunshine and good times? Well, maybe. But when the environment is concerned, things aren’t always that simple.

Shenhua Group’s new upgrades mean the annual emission of dust, SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and NOx (nitrogen oxide) in the north will go down by 84 percent, 71 percent and 83 percent respectively. The upgrades have taken 3 years and have cost the company 2.35 billion yuan. However, when you’re sitting in a gas chamber it’s hard to empathize with a state-owned coal-power house’s financial plight. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Catherine de France’s Keratin Protein Treatment”

After the strain of a polluted and freezing cold winter, it’s about time someone gave your tangled locks a good seeing to. We headed over to Catherine de France to check out their keratin protein treatment to see if it could tame our stressed-out hair. We were led into a dimly lit room where an assistant was tasked with applying shampoo and administering a scalp massage while the mellowing voice of Billie Holiday emanated from the speakers. Back in the salon seat, another technician paints the keratin solution over each strand of hair. The process takes about 10 minutes, which is a good opportunity to catch up on celebrity gossip courtesy of the many English-language fashion magazines (just like the salons at home). After the wait, our hair was blow-dried and straightened to within an inch of its life, but instead of them looking over-processed, the result was dazzling—our strands glowed and were silky smooth to touch. The treatment is supposed to last three months and, if you care for it correctly, the result is shinier, smoother, and thicker hair for much longer than a typical treatment would last. Catherine recommends doing the treatment before the summer starts, so you won’t have to scout out a salon on your vacation (you know, after the heat tries to kill it dead). The treatment costs from RMB2,000-3,000 depending on hair length. Read the whole review here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “6 of the Internet’s Best Chinese Learning Tools”

Sometimes Chinese can be a nightmare. But you have a whole summer ahead of you, why not try to catch up a little on your mandarin language skills? Here are six useful online tools to get your Chinese from mamahuhu to chaojiwudi:

 

ChinesePod (depicted in the article’s title image)

Chinesepod has Chinese lessons that work. Chinesepod’s podcasts consists of a short sketch which the two hosts disect – explaining the new vocabulary and cultural concepts in depth. The sketches are fun, quirky and you’re bound to relate if you live in China. A personal favorite is an episode called the “DVD Ploy”, a lesson all about netflix-and-chilling China-style. Levels range from beginninger to advanced and members get a free trial for a month after they subscribe. After that, classes cost RMB90 per month and RMB195 per month for Premium. It sucks that it’s not free, but if you’re dedicated to learning Chinese, Chinesepod is worth the price tag. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Wonder Woman: Amy Li”

The first thing I notice about Amy Li is her elegant style and beaming smile. She tells me to have a seat while she finishes a conversation with some friends. I sit down in a corner and flip through a menu.

It’s lunch time at Pak Pak and the restaurant is packed, the zesty smell of Thai curry rolls over to me in waves. The seats are leather and the décor is composed of a lively palette of greens, blues and browns. When Li comes over to me, I realize she is dressed in a similar color scheme. She also seems incredibly happy here.

Li soon explains why the restaurant resembles her so closely, “Pak Pak is just a representation of my inner world,” she says. “The restaurant is a little society … I want people to see the inner world that is inside of me.”

Li already owned Susu, a gorgeous Vietnamese restaurant located deep within the hutongs; her restaurant mini empire now includes two branches of Pak Pak, one in the CBD, the other in Wangjing. I ask Li how this all started—and it was clear that the road here has been a long one. Read the whole article here.