Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day in the Life of an HNC Student: Chelsea Toczauer

Meet Chelsea Toczauer, one of our new student workers in Nanjing! Chelsea is a first year MAIS student. Read on to see what life is like at the HNC for Chelsea.

大家好!My name is Chelsea Toczauer and I’m beginning my studies at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center as a first year masters’ student.

Today I wanted to give you a glimpse into a day in the life of a student at the HNC.
Ready for the Opening Ceremony
Upon arrival at the HNC, all of the students attended Orientation Week. During Orientation Week we learned more about our different programs- Certificate, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA, and MAIS and the requirements we had to complete for each. As a first year student pursuing my masters’ degree in International Studies here at the HNC, I am required to take the majority of my classes in Chinese to prepare for writing my thesis in Chinese next year.

At the end of Orientation week, the HNC hosted a ceremony to welcome all of the new and returning students. It was so much fun to meet all of my new classmates. It’s been a month now since getting to the HNC so I have my courses all picked out for the semester and am really starting to get into the swing of things! 

Besides academic studies, there are a lot of interest groups and activities going on at the HNC. Currently I work part time as a member of the HNC Coffee Interest Group. Some mornings I have the opening shift so I will run the coffee shop in the student lounge starting at 7 am before my classes. I like working here because I can talk to other students and professors I might not have gotten the chance to know yet. Besides that, it’s always a good opportunity to feed my coffee addiction-haha. Besides the HNC Coffee Interest Group, I also serve as a student representative on the class committee. The class committee plans events and represents student interests-but I will have another post on that soon!

HNC student-run coffee shop
 After working at the coffee shop I go to class. This semester I’m enrolled in five classes- the MA Interdisciplinary Tutorial (Chinese/English), Politics of Rural Development (English), Social Issues of China’s Modernization (Chinese), Comparative International Economies-US and China (English) and Comparative International Politics (Chinese). I have to say, I really love my classes. The professors are engaging and really care about facilitating student dialogue in many of the classes. I came to the HNC because I wanted to also gain insight into Chinese students’ and professors’ perspectives on issues. Everyone here is also really helpful. I have my first paper in Chinese due next week for my Social Issues class! The topic for this paper is sources of inequality-social and economic- in contemporary Chinese society. I’m a bit nervous but glad to know that my Chinese friends and other students here are willing to help me edit it before I turn it in. 

Running at the Xuanwu Lake
After class I normally like to exercise and unwind a little before studying. Although the center has a small gym space, the weather has been too nice lately to not go outside! Autumn has arrived in Nanjing. Leaves are starting to turn colors and fall. I like to run from the HNC to Xuanwu Lake which is about 2 miles away. Some students will run to the lake and around for an 8 mile or so run. I normally stick to 4 or 5 miles though.

The lake is still lush and green, so I’m excited for when the fiery reds begin to bloom. It’s a nice reprieve though. Nanjing in general is much more lush than Beijing, where I’ve studied before. The lake though is beautiful and now is the perfect time to enjoy it!

Nanjingers are also making sure to enjoy the lake and it’s nice weather. I ran to the lake yesterday and walked around for a bit. Ladies and gentlemen-apparently on Saturdays there is a dating market at the lake. Well, if you’re a grandfather or grandmother looking for a date for your grandson or granddaughter, that is. 

Dating market

There were long lines of string with papers hung from them advertising single 20 and 30 year olds. I walked around for a bit reading some. Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match? But alas, I found none. So I ran home.
When I don’t run to the lake I’ll sometimes participate in exercise and interest classes. There is a fitness interest group run by students this year that will often organize group classes for students. Besides our interests in Chinese, all of the students here each bring their own special talent or interest, which we all share. Joaquin, also a first year masters’ student is our resident Ashtanga yoga expert. He holds classes once a week. Ceci and Andrew, both amazing dancers, will also host sessions for students to learn different dances biweekly or so. Last week I learned how to dance the tango!

Dance class

Yoga at the HNC

After exercising it’s time to study. I’ll normally stop by for an afternoon pick-me-up, be it juice, coffee or a smoothie at Big Train Coffee on Nanjing University’s campus. Then I’ll head up to my favorite study lounge and hit the books for a bit.

Study lounge
Big Train Coffee

After studying on weekdays I might drop in the lounge to mingle a little, but then it’s time for bed.

Thomas Mao

So that’s a brief look into a day in the life of a HNC student. I’ll have more posts later on my favorite places to go, my classes, and events we have at the HNC. There’s so much going on!
Hope you guys all have a good day. More soon!


Written by Chelsea Toczauer, MAIS Student