Wednesday, May 18, 2011 – 6:17 AM
Woo! Finally made it! I have arrived to Beijing Sport University for my study abroad Maymester with Dr. Darlene Sedlock from the Health & Kinesiology department. There are a total of 13 students here on the trip. It’s super early in the morning here right now, but my body can’t handle any more sleep. I feel like I’ve just slept through the past two days. The plane ride to Beijing was pretty awesome considering I was upgraded to business class for free! I was pumped about it! It made the flight much more bearable. I slept nearly the entire 14 hours flight. I feel as if I’ll never be able to fly anything but business class again. Of course, my mom would only laugh at me. The amount of leg room that we got was incredible. I’ve been to China at least 5 times (that I know of), and I can honestly say that I have never been more comfortable. Anyways, enough about the plane. It was interesting to see the moon as we left Chicago, but once we arrived in Beijing, we stepped outside and there the moon was again! It was as if it were following us. It sure was a pretty one! We got into our rooms last night around 2 AM. Ryan and I weren’t sure if we were going to be able to fall asleep or not, but we were able to fall asleep around 3:30. We surely thought it was at least 8 AM when we woke up to daylight, but it was only 5:37, so we tried to go back to sleep. He’s luckily still fast asleep, but I’m ready to get the day started. Today, we have breakfast, a campus tour, lunch, a class, dinner, and then we call it a day. Hopefully it’ll be an awesome day. Here's a picture of my dorm room!
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 – 10:36 PM
So our first day in Beijing was pretty freaking awesome. We started off the day with breakfast. I think that was the first time I’ve ever had cucumbers for breakfast. The food has definitely been delicious all day long. We had a campus tour of BSU. I loved being able to learn about the facilities they have to perform their research and what is used with the athletes. It was awesome to see how they had such a large facility with their kinematic cameras and force plates. Inside their laboratory, it was very interesting that they had an “anatomy room”. The tour guide was telling us how they would have anatomy lecture, and then they would go to that room to study/observe things in a more visual way. Everything in the room was real! I really wanted to take pictures of the full body skeletons, muscles, and pretty much every single thing in that room, but unfortunately, no pictures were allowed. The campus is super relaxing. Here's a picture of just one of the few beautiful sights on campus.
Another highlight of the tour was visiting the national training center for the Olympic athletes! We had the privilege of seeing the 2012 London Summer Olympic athletes during their training. We saw the Chinese national teams of track and field, boxing, tae kwon do, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline. They are all so incredibly gifted. I could probably sit and watch the rhythmic gymnasts all day long. The tour of BSU was absolutely amazing. I think our whole group pretty much wants to transfer schools now because of all the fun gadgets and equipment they get to utilize. Not only was the daytime incredible, so was the afternoon! We had another wonderful meal at lunch, and then we had the opportunity to learn Chinese! It one of the things my mom wanted me to do during this trip, so I can’t wait to show her what I have learned. Tonight, we had an amazing dinner with some leaders of BSU’s International program. It was tons of fun, and of course, we enjoyed ourselves with all the new food. Some was new to me, but for the most part, I could figure what everything was out. It was nice to see that the other students were open to trying new things. I think we’ve got a great group, and I can’t wait for more adventures together, especially tomorrow when we’re off to the Summer Palace! Till then, it’s time for some shut eye. Here's a pictures of the group of students from our feast tonight saying, "bottoms up!"
Thursday, May 19, 2011 – 11:15 PM
I am pooped! Today was another great day. We started off with delicious breakfast, and then we were off to the Summer Palace. What an unbelievable place! I had been there before, but it was great to revisit. I took a few pictures in the exact place that I had before. When I get home, I’ll have to do a before and after shot. It was absolutely beautiful. I took sooo many pictures today. The history of the place was incredible. I wouldn’t mind living there. I think my favorite place inside the Summer Palace was one of our first stops simply because of the view ! We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. It wasn’t very hot, and we actually had a clear blue sky! It’s not too often that I have seen many of those while in Beijing. We even climbed to the very top of the Summer Palace. It was quite the trek, but the workout felt great.
We walked all over the Summer Palace, and I don’t think I’d mind living there one day. Ha! It was definitely an unforgettable place, just like all the other adventures we’re taking here.
So after the Summer Palace was another delicious meal, lunch. We went to the mall after lunch. It was funny to get the reactions of some of the other students with some of the things they sold there. For the most part, I thought it was very easily comparable to what we see in the US. The best part of the mall… Hagaan Dazs! Deliciousness! This was definitely different from anything that I had experienced. You sit down, and you order your ice cream from the table, as if it’s a restaurant. It was awesome, and most importantly, mouth-wateringly delicious. We’ve already decided that we are going there on our next day off to really spoil ourselves.
After our adventure to the mall, we headed back to BSU for our Tai Chi with a sword class. Another first for all of us, and we couldn’t have learned more! The instructor is an older lady who has been teaching Tai Chi at BSU for the past 30 years. She is world renown for her work and a wonderful instructor. She taught us 3 different Tai Chi with a sword moves, and it felt like 30! She gave us demonstrations, and it definitely was much more difficult than we expected it to be. She has a very good teaching style, and she’s incredibly patient. She was kind and warming, but at the same time, strict, which is exactly what I pictured most instructors here at BSU. I wish I could upload a video in the journal, so I won’t forget the moves, but I think Sally (our translator for our trip to BSU) told us that we would be receiving handouts to take home to study. I’ll definitely be able to teach my mom then!
After Tai Chi with a sword class, we headed to dinner, and last but not least, the basketball courts! We got an opportunity to experience what the students do for fun at night. It reminded me of what we have at Purdue with intramurals. They had actual teams and a competition going on, and the students came out to cheer on their favorite team. We played basketball with Paul, Joy, and Li Ng (the student translator friends we have made – Sports Management majors). We have already made plans to go see a movie on Sunday with them and their friends. We’re all excited to see Pirates of the Carribean IV… possibly in Chinese! Bed time now… I’m pooped.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Well, I’m definitely very tired today. I woke up really sleepy, and it seems like the rest of the group is, too. I think it’s because most of us are done with the jet lag, but we have caught up to their times, so we are tired since it’s 7:30, and we are already going to breakfast. We went to the Xiang San Park today. Honestly, it doesn’t even compare to the Summer Palace. They did have numerous beautiful flowers and trees, but it didn’t quite have the “wow factor” that we were looking for. Joy was able to come with us though, so it was fun to teach her some American things, while she would teach us Chinese things. Here’s a picture of one of the calm and peaceful places at Xiang San Park.
Once we headed back to Beijing Sport University, we had one of the best meals we’ve had this far. I think we were so excited to finally have more fruit! We were limiting ourselves to just watermelon that was served with our meals since we can’t eat a lot of the fruits we normally eat in America. If we can’t peel the fruit skin, then we don’t generally take the risk of eating it. At lunch, we had the options of watermelon and bananas, as well as the pineapple that was in the “orange pork” or “sweet and sour pork”, depending on what you call the dish in America. They also served duck and numerous different vegetable dishes (which are always my favorite part of the meal). After lunch, we had some down time, so a group of us headed to the market for some more shopping. A lot of the students on the trip are amazed by how cheap everything is here. They’re buying Nike shoes for under $30, so they’re all loving the shopping here, of course. Personally, I can’t wait till the Silk Market because of all the shopping that we will be able to do there. If they think things are cheap here on campus, I’ll be excited to see what they think of places off campus.
Next, we had Chinese History and Culture class. We learned about table manners and food in China. It was interesting to actually be told some of the things that go on during dinner times. I’ve actually experienced most of everything that she told us in class, but I have never actually been told the meaning behind some of the actions done. For example, the dinner seating is very important when going to dinner. The host is always facing the door, and the second most important individual always sits at the host’s left. The guest of the host is sitting with their back to the door, across from the host. We also learned about different alcoholic beverages, which just happened to be the most interesting part for most of the group. The instructor shared with us other typical Chinese and Cantonese dishes. It was a very interesting class, and I can’t wait what we’ll be learning in our next Chinese History and Culture class that we have tomorrow.
After class was another fantastic dinner. I’ve been eating so incredibly much, that I decided to eat way less than normal for dinner. I feel like I eat every meal like it’s my last, so that’s not the best idea. If I don’t gain weight by the end of the trip, it will be a miracle. After dinner, we headed to the mall again. We explored all the floors. My favorite part was the baby floor! I don’t want to spoil all the fun because I decided that I’ll be going back again to take pictures. Till then, I’ll only tell you that there are baby bottoms revealed everywhere! After the mall, we were exhausted, so we headed back to our dorms for some Tosh stand up comedy, and now, it’s time for some much needed sleep.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Today wasn’t supposed to be a very eventful day, but it definitely turned into one! We had our usual breakfast time. We started out with Chinese History and Culture class. As always, I learned a variety of interesting facts. Today we were talking about the school systems and education in China. It was interesting to hear about the price of education here. The most interesting fact I heard was probably about the acceptance rates into college in Beijing. I already knew that school at all ages was competitive. In 2010, 81,000 students take an exam to come to college (the equivalent of our SAT’s). Out of the 81,000 students, only 101 are accepted to Beijing universities!!!! I wasn’t sure if the professor of the class meant Beijing Sport University or Beijing universities in general. Either way, that’s ridiculous. In Henan, another huge city in China, 952,400 students took the entrance exams, only 32 were accepted into college universities!! That’s INSANE!!! People think that American school is tough, I couldn’t even imagine the pressure to be a student in China. After Chinese History and Culture class, we had lunch, a break, and then we had Tai Chi with a sword class. Tai Chi is so much harder than it looks. For reals. We learned four more moves, and for our next class, we have to perform everything by ourselves. We’ve got lots of practicing to do.
After class, I actually got to meet up with my cousin! He’s from San Francisco, but he’s been traveling everywhere for about a month. He took Ryan, Lauren, and I to Donghuamen Night Market. It’s in central Beijing. It was incredible! It’s kind of like a market square. There is one street that had just common touristy stores. There is another street filled with high end stores like Rolex, Gucci, etc. Then the best part is the food strip.
It’s an entire row of food vendors with different exotic foods to eat and all for a decent price. I had some crazy food – snake, scorpion, seahorse, shark, and more!! It was awesome, and really didn’t taste as awful as I was expecting. I think a lot of it had to do with the spices they put on it. I think the only bad part was when the scorpion’s stinger got stuck inside my cheek. It was kind of like the size of a mini rose thorn, but I got it out painlessly. Overall, it was a great experience. It was nice to finally get off campus and actually go out to do something. We experienced our first Beijing taxi cab ride, subway transportation, and walking in downtown Beijing. The night was a huge success! Here are a few pictures of what we got to eat!
Sunday May 22, 2011
Wow! What an epic day!!! We started off with waking up super early to head to the Great Wall. I’ve been there before, but I had been to the part that we went to, Badaling. We arrived, and we just went for it. Parts of the wall got pretty steep, but our legs got quite the workout. We stopped at each of the towers, and got tons of photo opportunities. Here are just a few to share.
After the Great Wall, we headed back to BSU for lunch, a short rest, then to Olympic Plaza. Being there was definitely incredible. The Bird’s Nest looks wayyyyy better in person. I already thought it looked incredible when just watching on TV during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but it definitely doesn’t compare to actually being up close and personal. Not only was the Bird’s nest awesome, but the Water Cube, media center, and the Olympic torch were all incredible!
It was another epic day, and it didn’t even end there. We went to see Pirates of the Caribbean 4 with some of the other Chinese students. The best part… it was in English! It had Chinese subtitles. It was entertaining to go with the other students and mutually enjoy Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, and all of their greatness. It was a fun time. Needless today, I am incredibly drained of energy right now, so it’s time to get some much desired sleep.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I’m glad we didn’t have too much planned today. I think when they were planning out our itineraries, they knew we were going to be exhausted after the Great Wall and Olympic Plaza. Today we started off with Tai Chi with a sword class. We now have learned 12 moves, and next class, we’re supposed to learn 6 more for a total of 18. The teacher was explaining how we are doing “excellent” for how short of time we have. Each class we’ve had is 2 hours long, and today was only the third class period. She told us that actual martial arts students spend 2 hours on only just the precision of one leg movement!!!! How intense is that?! I’m not sure if Sally just didn’t translate it correctly and meant to say that they take 2 hours just to learn one movement, but either way. It definitely takes a TON of patience to learn Tai Chi, or any form of martial arts for that matter. On the last day of class, she said that we would be performing the entire routine by ourselves. I can’t wait to see how that goes.
This afternoon we got the chance to play volleyball with some of the Chinese Sports Management students. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from the entire day, but I know that I had a ton of fun. The Chinese students barely beat us, but it was a lot of fun to just to partake in a friendly match of the Chinese students versus American students. After playing volleyball for about 6 years and then not playing for 3 years, I discovered today that I’ve still got the touch! We played for a while after our match, too, and I now have swollen arms and bruises alllll up and down my arms. I don’t bruise easily, so that should give you an idea of how hard the volleyball actually was. Either way, it was a good time. Not too crazy of a day, but it’s definitely bedtime! Tomorrow is a jam packed day…. Can’t wait!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Wowzers. What a day! It was jam-packed with sooooo much. Right after breakfast, we were headed to the Forbidden City first. It was even more impressive this time than the last. I was kind of bummed that we weren’t able to learn more about the different buildings inside the Forbidden City. When I go to the touristy spots, I’m used to a tour guide or someone telling me what is going on around me, as well as what the important parts of the area are. Unfortunately, we didn’t have this, so I felt like I was just walking around and taking pictures, but I can’t ever explain what all the buildings were used for. We did learn a few of the major ones such as the building where the Emperor’s mother stayed, where he was dressed, etc. I think my favorite fact was about the dragons. The more dragons that were located on the roof of them, the more important the building was. It was funny to see that the giant building that was used for the Emperor getting dressed for important outings had 10 dragons on the roof, the maximum amount that are found! Here are some awesome pictures of the Forbidding City. Of course, the pictures never do these places justice.
After the Forbidden City, we headed to Tian’anmen Square, which was right across the street from the Forbidden City. The last picture (above) is the picture I took when I was standing in Tian’anmen Square. It sort of reminded me of standing in the Vatican in Italy. I decided that the security for the some of these places really isn’t that great.
It’s interesting to see all the police and security guards standing outside of so many different places like all school gates, all major tourist locations, and even in the post office. It’s funny when we go through the checkpoints and have our bags go through the x-ray scanners. The security guards are always texting or not even looking at the monitor. Needless to say, I’m surprised at some of the lack of security, especially at some of the major touristy locations.
After Tian’anmen Square, we headed to an off campus lunch and then the silk market. If you want a comparison of what the silk market is like, I was told that it reminded them of the movie, Sex and the City II, when they get to go to the market in Egypt. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m sure that it was a decent representation of the sales people grabbing you and bargaining like their life depended on it. They sell everything there! Most of it is knockoff stuff, but they sell everything from clothes and jewelry to electronics and watches. The cardinal rule: you NEVER pay full price for anything. For example, Ryan bought silk sheets today. The saleswoman started at 2300, and he got them down to 700. I still say that he could’ve gotten the silk sheets for lower, but we were just getting warmed up with our bargaining skills. My mom tried to warn me that those places ripped you off, but for some reason, I still bought stuff. Luckily, I mainly only bought things that were souvenirs for people, rather than for myself. Looking back, I definitely did play too much for a few things even though I did bargain, but I figured that it’s not that often that you can ever argue prices in America, so it’s not good to be too greedy.
After the Silk Market, we went to Wangfujing Street. All we did was walk around. It was the same area as the Donghuamen Night Market. Since the night market didn’t open till 5:30, we just sort of walked up and down the strip mall area of all the expensive shops. There is no legal drinking age, and you can have alcohol out freely in the public, so we just had our beers walking down the strip without having to worry about a police officer giving you a ticket for public intoxication or anything of the sort. It was a great place to end a busy day. Tonight, I’ve just taken the night off and caught up on my emails and post card writing. Tomorrow, the day will be pretty open except for two Tai Chi sword class and Chinese History & Culture class. Night night time!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
We began the day by learning the rest of the moves for Tai Chi sword class. We have officially learned all 16 moves, but it’s so hard to remember them exactly without the teacher being there to guide us. Next class, we’ll be reviewing everything, and then performing it at the last class on Sunday. We also had Chinese History & Culture class, which was way more eventful than I expected. We learned about important Chinese holidays such as Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and more. We discussed the different types of food eaten at the meals during holiday’s and the significance of them. Also, we talked about such things as the importance of certain things, like number 4 and 8. Eight is good because it symbolizes rich and lucky, and four is bad because the Chinese pronunciation is similar to the word for “dead”. Besides learning new words in class, we also performed paper cutting. It’s exactly how it sounds. We cut paper, and make some awesome things. Today, we made the Chinese symbol for “double happiness”. We also made another pretty cut out, but it reminded me of cutting snowflakes. I love arts and crafts, so I thought it was great.
After dinner, a group of us went and pampered ourselves. We went to a Chinese spa, and it was incredible. Some people got “the outstanding foot massage”, while another group (including myself) received the “body care”, which was the equivalent of a full body massage. The guy I had was so very strong and somewhat painful. I feel like when I wake up tomorrow, I’m going to be very sore. He used his elbows a lot to get every single one of my knots out of my back. He really dug deep into my lower back. In comparison to American massages, they give a whole new meaning to a deep tissue massage. Not only was the massage incredible and 70 minutes long, it was cheap! That type of massage in the US would be over $100, but here, it was the equivalent to 35 US dollars!!! They even serve us hot tea to keep us hydrated with all the detox that was going on in our bodies. We had a blast. Here is a picture of a couple of us after our massages.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Today was another fun day, of course. We headed to the Beijing Zoo after breakfast. The first stop once we arrived, the giant pandas!!! They were obviously one of my favorite parts of the entire zoo. Here are a couple of the cutest ones!
They had some interesting animals. It made me laugh that they had American animals. My favorite was the jumping raccoon. It was like he was jumping on cue. I got some awesome pictures, and I wish I could show them all, but if anything, you can find me on Facebook or something. I’ll share a few wonderful ones though.
Oh! And the zebras! They roam like horses in the US. Actually, a lot of the animals were really close to the people at the zoo. There was one zebra that just came up and nuzzled my hand, I obviously got really excited.
After the zoo, we had some nice chill time, and then we went to meet with the BSU students that we played against in volleyball for some friendly conversation. We sat and just talked and played games. It was just a time for us to ask each other questions about our cultures and daily life. We played games like “truth or dare”, leap frog, and other silly games. It was nice to just sit down and learn about their lives. I hope that it was insightful to some of the students. I think we take a lot of things for granted a lot of the time. Simple things as a hot shower, washer and dryers, or even air condition are things that are luxuries in China. In America, we expect each of these things in our own apartments and residence halls. I hope that all of the students receive a greater appreciation for what we have in the US compared to China. I know that it’s more of a reality check each time I come to China. I am very thankful for everything that I have. Most of all, the ability to travel so freely home. For example, Joy, one of our close friends here has to travel 20 hours by train just to go home. She makes it home only twice a year. Most students here are the same way if they live in other parts of China. They don’t have the money to just buy a plane ticket whenever they feel like. I understand that a lot of students in America are like this as well, but it seems like it’s much more common here at BSU than Purdue.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Today was another recovery day, and it was my catch up on post cards day. I ended up finishing all 18 in my package. I’m sure that I will beat them back to the States, but I think they’ll enjoy the pretty sights regardless. Something weird I learned was that I’m only allowed to mail out 10 postcards a day, so I have to wait till tomorrow to mail out the rest of them. I’m not sure if that was because I can only buy a maximum of 10 stamps a day, or if there really is a limit to how much I can mail. Today we had Tai Chi in the morning. It was a review day. It really helped me clear up some confusion on some of the steps, but I’m worried about remembering everything for our final performance class. I’m excited to see her in costume, so I can finally record her perform the entire routine. My mom said that I’m supposed to show her everything once I return, but I’m not quite sure how well that’s going to work. We also had Chinese Culture class. We learned more about the Chinese language, as well as the calligraphy and Chinese characters. To finish off the class, we had more arts and crafts time! We got to learn how to make Chinese knots. It was incredibly difficult, but I’m curious to go home and find out if my mom knows how to make these things, too.
After a day of classes, we were able to have a glorious night out with our Chinese friends! They took us out to KTV, which is the equivalent of American karaoke. Here, they do things quite a bit differently. First off, instead of going to a bar and singing like in America, here, you have your own private rooms for the group of people attending. You control the songs you want to sing, and then have songs in both English and Chinese, as well as numerous other languages. They had a ton of songs to pick from, and they also had servers for each room. You could order from menus and have drinks sent to your room. It was incredible! It was tons of fun, but of course some things got out of hand. Some students were extremely disrespectful, but I think there were mixed feelings towards the end of the night. Regardless, I still made the best of it and had a great time.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
It was another lovely day in Beijing, minus the ridiculous heat. I can’t believe how we only have tomorrow left!!! I feel like I just arrived, but at the same time, I’m so excited to move on to the next city. We are headed to the Beijing airport at 6AM on Monday morning. Today we started off our day going to the 798 Studio. It is a contemporary art gallery district filled with different studios, cafes, and gift shops. I found some perfect souvenirs for my artsy friends, and I liked that we went to a not-so-typical tourist area. The chill area was much more relaxing than I expected, and I’m super glad that we didn’t feel rushed and we could have even had a taste for some of the cuisine in that area. One of my favorite things there was this bird that I found in one of the art shops. You had to say “ni hao”, which is the equivalent of saying “greetings” in English, and it would say it back to you! It didn’t look like a parrot, but it sounded like one. It was crazy! There were other art exhibits in the area, and they all were unique and had their own energy from them. It definitely reminded me a lot of something I would see in Indianapolis or Chicago, but here, it was displaying the amazing talents of some of China’s most famous artists,
In the afternoon, we played another match against the Chinese students in volleyball. Instead of a close match, we dominated them! Again, it was another fun and friendly match, and we made even closer friendships with the Chinese students. At night, a group of us headed to an antique/jade mall. Everything there was absolutely incredible. They had a ton of different types of jade, paintings, and more artsy stuff. Rochelle, Ryan, Emily, and I went exploring until closing time. Of course, they all thought I knew Chinese, but I had to keep repeating that I was an “ABC”, which is “American born Chinese.” Once I told them, they understood and laughed. This whole getting laughed at thing is getting old. I really should have listened to my mom when she told me to learn Mandarin. Another prime example of how mother’s ALWAYS know best. Our adventure was fun. It took us awhile to hail down a taxi to take us back to BSU, but it was a fun night. Tomorrow is our last day in Beijing. I know there will be tears with our new Chinese friends. It’s going to be a long day, I’m sure.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Today was one of the most emotional days I’ve had in a really long time. There were times where I was happy, sad, depressed, and excited. I’m pretty much exhausted with all of the mixture of emotions, plus a lack of sleep from the past couple of days. We started out the day with our very last Tai Chi sword class. I think I’m really going to miss it actually. It was a wonderful learning experience, and I honestly can’t wait to perform for my mom. I think I may give an attempt at teaching her, but I already know that’s going to be a massive fail because I don’t know it well enough my self. I’m glad I was able to get a recording of Ms. Liu (our instructor) performing all 16 moves with music. I can just have my mom learn everything that way. I think Ms. Liu and Sally were very pleased with our performance. I believe that we all worked very ard to impress and improve throughout our time at BSU. It was the perfect class to end our time at BSU. Not only did we do great performing, BSU even let us take the swords home as a gift!!! As you can imagine, everyone was jumping up and down with excitement. They have shown nothing but kindness to all of us, and I will truly miss this place. Here’s a picture of the girls with their swords.
In the afternoon we headed to the Temple of Heaven and the Pearl Market. I had been to the Temple of Heaven before, and it’s just as magnificent as before. It continuously amazes me of how large and pristine all of the architecture is in China. It seems as if it was built just a few years ago, rather than a few hundred years ago. The Pearl Market was close to the Temple of Heaven, so it was another opportunity for even more shopping. It wasn’t as large of a variety as the Silk Market, but it was along the same lines. I made sure not to spend much money, but I did find a couple of great deals on some souvenirs. I think I’ve learned this trip that you can always find something that you want way cheaper than you think, especially with touristy gifts. I simply just have to search a little harder for the stores that are willing to have the crazy awesome prices. Here’s a picture of the Temple of Heaven in all of it’s glory. It’s the largest building of worship in China (or the world, I can’t remember exactly).
Once we were completely done with our shopping, we were back to BSU for a quick shower and a change of clothes for our farewell dinner. Oh what a treat it was! We had some delicious food along with a show. There were different acts of acrobatics, singing, tricks, martial arts, and more. It was incredible and full of unbelievable talent. I think I was most impressed with the little Chinese girls doing acrobatics. It was funny to listen to the reaction of all the other students; some thought it was awesome, while others thought it was like child slavery or something. I think that they forget that China isn’t the only country to have their kids to acrobatics starting at such a young age. Personally, I find it a lot like parents in the US putting their kids into basketball or running or some other form of physical activity starting at a young age. A child’s body is very flexible, which is why the girls were able to contort their bodies into such amazing positions. There were other interesting acts like a couple of young boys performing some juggling acts with hats, which was kind of cute and creepy all at the same time. There was a martial arts performance by a few guys, as well as a couple Chinese opera performances. I have decided that Chinese opera is definitely not my cup of tea. The sounds coming from that woman’s mouth were interesting, to say the least. I accept that Chinese opera is a part of the Chinese culture, but I think it may be the least enjoyable thing I’ve seen while in Beijing. The farewell dinner was nice, but I was hoping really wishing that Joy and Paul were able to come because they mean so much to us. Here are a few pictures from the night.
After the dinner, we had our farewells with the Chinese students. Joy, Paul, Chen, Lingenberry (nickname), and Veronica came up to visit. We exchanged gifts with everyone, as well as pictures and letters. Tears were shed, and some memories that will last forever were shared. When we exchanged letters, we agreed that we wouldn’t read them until after we left. Tomorrow morning, we leave BSU to say our “see you later’s” (never goodbye’s). It’s going to be a rough morning to Hangzhou.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Well, I was definitely right about it being a rough morning. The tears were flowing all the way to the airport. We all miss the Chinese students a ton. The two hour flight wasn’t too terrible. I really wanted to sleep, but there was some lady who talked super loud, so once I would fall asleep, she just started talking loud again. As soon as we stepped outside to Hangzhou, you could immediately feel the stickiness on your skin. It was my first time to this city, and it seems much more modern. It’s definitely cleaner than Beijing. The majority of the group seems to like Hangzhou more than Beijing. Today we pretty much had the whole day to ourselves. I didn’t end up doing too much because a few of us just simply wanted to catch up on rest since tomorrow is going to be a busy day. The hotel we are staying in is pretty sweet. It’s a 4-star hotel, and our next stop, Shanghai, is another 4-star. I feel like we have been completely spoiled this entire trip. We did do a little exploring through Hangzhou. We were craving some American food, so we went to a Western restaurant for lunch. I thought it was pretty delicious, and it was an added bonus that they had all types of food. The best part, it was delicious and cheap! We discovered some amazing fruit markets around the hotel. The only bad part was that some of the fruit was crazy expensive. I had some lychee and couldn’t have been happier. You can get this type of fruit in the States, but it’s sooooo much better in China. We also walked down to the lake for dinner. John, Steve, Ryan, and I went to a Thai restaurant that was actually really good. Afterwards, we treated ourselves to some Dairy Queen! All in all, it was a good and relaxing day. I’m excited to explore the city tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Breakfast in the hotel this morning was amazingly delicious!! It was buffet style, and they served everything! They even had French fries for breakfast. It was really weird, and I obviously didn’t eat them, but it was still something interesting to share. We started off by going to West Lake, which is very famous throughout China. On the back of the 1 Yuan bill, there are 3 pagodas coming out of the water, which is one of the many sights on West Lake. It was disgustingly hot outside today, but since Hangzhou is in southern China, we can only expect to have warmer temperatures since it’s closer to the equator. I had a very big accident while at the West Lake. When we were in line to get on the boat to take a ride around the lake, I had my camera around around my wrist. Somehow, my camera hit the railing, slid off my wrist, bounced off a few rocks and landed in the freaking water. It was like watching it in slow motion when it bounced off of so many rocks. It was a very depressing string of events. Luckily, it landed on a rocky right below the surface, so Steve was awesome enough to hop the railing and grab the camera for me. I took out the SD card and battery immediately. Fortunately, I put all of my pictures onto my computer each night, so I didn’t have anything from today on there yet. The bad part, I don’t have a camera for the rest of the trip. I may just have to steal Pat’s, since she seems to be the awesome photographer of the trip. I’m sure I’ll figure it all out eventually. I’m planning on getting some rice to try and dry it out. I’m not sure how well it will work, but if worse comes to worse, I already checked prices on eBay and they don’t seem too terrible. That was my big booboo for the trip.
After that mishap, we hopped on a boat and took a sail over the West Lake. It was beautiful, hot, and sticky. We then had some free time just to walk along different paths around the lake, which was very beautiful. We then went driving into the mountains to have lunch. It was delicious! We had our first real taste of Hangzhou. We learned that their style of cooking uses more sugar. After lunch, we headed to a Tea Village known for its green tea. They suckered us into buying so much tea!!! They did provide some awesome demonstrations to show how green tea cleanses our body after meals and throughout the day. I didn’t realize how good the tea was for people, so that totally explains why Asians stay so slim even though they eat some very fattening foods. I could tell how excited the saleswomen were about our purchases. I am sure they got nearly a $1000 US dollar (if not more) sale from us. It was delicious tea though; I think it may just be worth it.
After spending all of our money at the Tea Village, we headed to the Lingyin Temple to make peace with our purchases. Actually, we went to learn about Buddha’s and simply enjoy another part of the Chinese culture. We ended climbing to the top of a hill hat was super intense, and I was sweating bullets with the intense heat today. It was a great day with tons of sightseeing. I’m hoping that Shanghai will be a great time.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I rode my second bullet train today. It was an early start to my day with taking the bullet train to Shanghai. We originally were supposed to take a bus, which would have been a 3-hour bus ride, but instead, we took the bullet train, which was only a 1-hour ride. It was a long day and full of grumpy people. We started of our day in Shanghai by visiting a silk factory. Another opportunity to buy stuff, and by then, we were all sort of done with the shopping scene. After the silk factory, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was our first taste of Shanghai, and I’ll admit; it wasn’t too bad. After the lunch, we went to Yuyuan and Old Town, which was basically more shopping. It was interesting to visit the street market and vendors, as well as explore all the different types of foods they had. I had Starbucks for the first time in a few weeks, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Another touristy area we visited was Nanjing Road. It reminded me a lot of Wangfujing in Beijing. It was another place to try the different cuisines of Shanghai, as well as walking around different shops to buy trinkets, souvenirs, or simple outdoor cafes to enjoy the passing traffic, which is exactly what we did. We had dinner at an outdoor café that reminded us of back home. I think we’re all getting homesick and ready to head back to the states because we all ordered American dishes. It was the first time I had bread like I could find at Panera. It was delicious.
After dinner, we headed to the much anticipated Huangpu River cruise! You have no idea how incredibly bummed I was that I didn’t have my camera. It was a beautiful and relaxing way to spend our night. It was pretty foggy that night, but it kind of added a sort of picturesque scene to the city night life. It was amazing to watch the city light up like that. Our tour guide, Echo, told us that the side of the river that was all lit up did not exist 25 years ago. When you sit and think about it, it’s crazy how fast they built the city. It’s filled with tall city skyscrapers, incredible architecture, and apartment high risers like you wouldn’t believe. China, in general, is just somewhere you have to go yourself to really believe everything you’re told about the place. One more full day in China left to go!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Soooo... I really can’t believe that today was my last day in China. Time flew by, but it always does when you’re having fun. I’m sad that we’re leaving, but I think I’m ready to go back home. I am so happy to have met so many wonderful friends along the way. I’ve missed Joy and the rest of the Chinese students every day. We’ve already exchanged contact information, so I’m pretty sure I’ve got a new pen pal. Today was packing day. I didn’t too much many exciting things today. We just hung around the hotel to pack and walk around. We did end up walking through a nearby park. The coolest thing we saw there was probably a very old Chinese man doing the splits on a park bench. It was kind of awkward, but I was definitely very impressed with his flexibility. Other than that, it was a nice peaceful walk through the park, as well as a nearby mall we found for lunch.
For our final evening, I didn’t want to just sit around the hotel room, I wanted to go out with a bang, and boy did I! Two other lovely girls and myself went to the Shanghai Acrobatics show. It was mind-blowingly awesome!!!! They had so many different acts, and again, time flew by. The hour and a half show felt like 10 minutes. We enjoyed different acts with body builders, spinning plates, magic tricks, motor cycles in a globe cage, and all sorts of acrobatics. It was amazing!!! I was really bummed that everyone else didn’t want to join, but I couldn’t have picked a better way to spend the night. It was amazing! Here’s a link: http://www.tour-beijing.com/shanghai_attractions/shanghai_acrobatics.php. It gives a little description of the performance and what they do. Well now that I’ve had my fun, it’s time for some more packing.
Friday, June 3, 2011
So, it’s time to leave. China, you have been amazing to me. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. I have learned so much and made incredible friends throughout my time here. I’ve created lifelong friendships, that I can’t wait to continue back in the States. My favorite part of the trip was probably the Great Wall. I’ve been there before, but I’ve never seen such amazing weather in China. We had clear blue skies and a nice breeze that day with incredible scenery. I don’t think there was anything really too negative I had about the trip other than that I wish we could have stayed longer at some places and stayed shorter at others. For example, I wish we could have had four hours at the Summer Palace instead of just two. We all seemed to be through with shopping by the time we got to Hangzhou and Shanghai, so I kind of wish we could have maybe done less shopping and more sightseeing while we were in those cities. Also, I was hoping for more learning experiences at Beijing Sport University. Don’t get me wrong, we learned a ton from the culture, history, and tai chi courses from the instructors, but I was hoping to get to sit in on the Chinese students classes and other such things. BSU was an amazing host to us, and we couldn’t be more thankful. I only hope that one day, they will be able to come to Purdue, so we can show them a good time, too! Well, it’s getting closer to boarding time to ship us back to Chicago, so I think I’m officially done with my blog. I loved all of my experiences, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’ve got tons of pictures (of Beijing at least), so if anyone ever wants to see them, just find me on Facebook or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Hope you enjoyed reading and always remember to BOILER UP!
--- Elise Leung
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