China Week 4- Cultural Weekend in Xi’an!

The completion of week four means the halfway point hitting the halfway point of the program! I’m so happy with the language progress I’ve made so far, and I can’t wait to see how much more my fluency can improve in the coming weeks!

After we finished our semester midterm, we boarded an overnight train to Xi’an, a city right outside of Beijing. On an overnight train, you can either sleep in a soft double bunk bed with three other people in the room, or you can opt for the cheaper hard bed, in which you sleep in a multiple bunk bed in a communal room. We were fortunate enough to have soft bed tickets, and we made it to Xi’an in about twelve hours! Once we arrived, we stopped at the hotel to check-in and began our Xi’an adventure!

At lunch, we met the directors of the University in Xi’an that had organized our trip, and we were served local and traditional Xi’an specialty dishes. It was all delicious and very different from what we had experienced in Beijing. After lunch, we traveled to tour the Terracotta warriors, which were created to protect a Chinese emperor in the afterlife. The three tombs filled with the reconstructed warriors that were uncovered were massive, and it felt like a right of passage to see the amazing cultural phenomenon. After touring the warriors, we saw the coolest show I have ever seen that told the story of an emperor, his wife, and the enemy army, which was beautifully portrayed complete with special effects such as fire and water canons.

The next day, we biked eight miles around the Xi’an city wall, from which we were able to see views of the entire city. After the bike ride, we headed to lunch and a tour of Muslim street, named as such due to the high population of Muslims in the area. Although I wish we could have spent more time experiencing the different traditional food vendors and bargaining for cultural souvenirs, the museum that we headed to next was a very educational insight into Xi’an and its history as a city. At night, we wandered around the city center, taking in vibrant atmosphere and seeing all of the fountains and statues on our walk back to the hotel.

Our final day in Xi’an, we toured a series of Buddhist temples and were treated to a lunch of hot pot, which is like the Chinese equivalent to cooking your food using fondue. The meal was fantastic, and before I knew it we were back on a bullet train, heading back to Beijing, writing essays and preparing for Monday’s class. Xi’an was a nice break from the difficult weeks of class, and I’m so happy that Notre Dame organized the trip so that we could see one of China’s most important cultural cities.

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