It’s bittersweet to know that I’ll soon be leaving China for the States. I remember that during the trip, I would get frustrated with certain aspects of Beijing, such as the inability to see blue skies only except after a rainy night or the fact that there is no such thing as “right of way.” But… I’ll miss all of that. I’ll not only miss the obvious things such as the famous landmarks like the Great Wall or Tiananmen Square, but I’ll miss the small daily things more. I’ll miss my daily walk to the classroom and back. I’ll miss the Peking University guards saluting me into the campus. I’ll miss starting my day off with Ye Laoshi saying “上课!” I’ll miss the small classes with Liu Laoshi and Zhou Laoshi. I’ll miss the walks to the Hollywood or Nongyuan cafeteria. I’ll miss the 一对一’s and the talks and words of advice that my teachers would give me about life. I’ll miss going to Rayma after class for some ice cream, and going back to the classroom again for office hours. I’ll miss Ajisen Ramen, because honestly that’s my favorite restaurant in the entire world. But I’ll miss the people more. I’ll miss Ye Laoshi and his playful fatherlike demeanor. I’ll miss Liu Laoshi and her bubbly personality. I’ll miss Zhou Laoshi and her inability to wear any other color besides black. I’ll miss my friends, especially Emma who is from Penn. I’ll miss her blue hair and her random outbreaks of dancing. It’s only been 8 weeks in China, but it honestly feels like I’ve been there longer. Not only did I learn Chinese, but I learned more about just what it is like to be in China.I thought that China would be some kind of wildly different place, but I realize that it’s very similar to the United States. There is a huge disparity between the wealth of those who are at the 1% and those who are playing music on the streets. There are modernized buildings and some skyscrapers. But most of all, it seems like most, if not all, of the people work incredibly hard. Not just in studies, but in life. I’ll miss these things and much much more about China. Being in China these past eight weeks really broadened my perspective about different cultures and people, and this trip has motivated me to explore more of what this world has to offer. 再见 China. I’ll see you again someday.
The last weekend, a few of my friends and I decided to go to places in Beijing that we missed out on such as the Temple of Heaven, Wangfujing Snack Street and we of course had to make a quick stop to the Silk Market. The Temple of Heaven was pretty incredible and I realize that when I get back home, it’s going to take a while to get used to not seeing thousands of years old temples and mosques. After we stopped by the Temple of Heaven to take a few pictures, we went to the Wangfujing Snack Street, because one of my friends JJ really wanted to eat a scorpion (little did he know, he was going to eat a live one).
When I first arrived at Wangfujing, I saw tall buildings and shopping centers everywhere. I was immediately reminded of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. We went into one of these malls and seeked out a dessert restaurant called Snow Monster, which is by far 在世界上数一数二 (in the world, top one or two) places you need to go. They served this thing that was kind of like a Korean dessert called Bingsoo, except it was a lot better. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was certainly a religious experience eating this ice cream/shaved ice/God-sent dessert from heaven. After this, we went to the actual Snack Street, which had delicious little treats like scorpion, larvae, starfish, and seahorse. Wow! Tasty! Haha I was too freaked out to actually try these things, but JJ and Emma (the blue-haired girl from Penn) were so down. While struggling to remove the tail of the live scorpions and getting ready to eat, JJ and Emma started to draw a crowd. Incredible. Because I had cringed so much throughout the entire half an hour of watching them eat/snapchatting their experience, I suggested to go back to Snow Monster. So we got another one.
This was probably my favorite weekend in Beijing and it’s hard to know that there are only a few more days left in this awesome city.
Hi friends. So while I was gone, I went to a lot of places that I went to before like the 798 art district! I learned a lot of important, valuable lessons this week; for example, don’t let your friends take the taxi in front of you, especially during rush hour. Four of my friends and I went to 798 and took a taxi because we thought it would save time as compared to taking the subway. Going by taxi was supposed to take 30 minutes, and taking the subway was supposed to take around an hour and a half. I found a taxi waiting near my dorm’s entrance and let three of my friends go first because we couldn’t fit five people in the car. They left and five minutes later my other friend and I found another taxi. It took us an hour and a half to get to 798 because we got stuck in Beijing traffic, and trust me, it’s way worse than LA traffic. We thought the other group got stuck in traffic too, but they said that they were waiting for us for an hour. Yeah, so in Beijing, don’t ever let your friends get a taxi before you. 好的 (good).
Oh yeah and the art district was pretty cool I guess. We took a lot of cool pictures, so that was fun.
I also went to the Silk Market again and didn’t get ripped off as much this time, so I think I’m getting used to this bargaining thing. I got a T-Mac Orlando Magic jersey, a pair of Adidas NMDs, a t-shirt, an I <3 北京 (Beijing) shirt, two phone fans, a wallet all for less than a hundred USD. I think I did well, but I’m not sure. I still probably got ripped off. I also went to this place called Dirt Market, flattering name I know, and it was nothing like the Silk Market. The Silk Market was in this huge air-conditioned building, whereas the Dirt Market was a huge outdoor marketplace. The Silk Market sold a lot of fake western things, while the Dirt Market sold a lot of traditional Chinese things like paintings and jade stuff. I didn’t really like the Dirt Market, but I thought it was an interesting experience nonetheless.
Hi everyone, so it’s been a while since I last posted. While I wasn’t posting, I went to a new city in China, which is called Xi’an. We went to Xi’an by train and it took around 11 hours. The train was really long, and because it was a red-eye train there were mini-rooms with four beds in them. I was in a room with two of my classmates and a random Chinese man, while my other classmates were scattered throughout the train.
Anyways, when we got to Xi’an we experienced a lot of different cool things. For instance, the day we arrived at Xi’an we went to see the Terracotta Warriors, which was an unreal experience. The hundreds of Terracotta Warriors and Horses were constructed approximately 2,200 years ago by the First Emperor Qin. He ordered the creation of the army of Terracotta Statues to be buried with him because he believed that objects like statues could come to life in the afterlife. So naturally, Emperor Qin thought that an after-death army was a necessity.
We also watched an incredible performance of the Song of Everlasting Regret, which is about a very powerful emperor Hsuan Tsung and his great love for Yang Kuei-fei. As Hsuan got older, he met this young woman, and they spent their time together in passionate love. Everything was good and all, except for the fact that the army got jealous that Yang’s family was getting too much power because of the emperor’s love for her. So the army decided to kill Yang and Hsuan gave up being emperor and let his son rule. The performance was outside and there were hundreds of people watching the performance. It is very hard to describe in words, but here are some words I would use to describe it: colorful, explosion, birds, glamorous, fireworks, grandiose music. Yeah, I didn’t exactly understand what was going on when I was watching the performance, but everything made sense to me when I read the plot online.
My favorite part of the Xi’an excursion trip was that I got to ride a two-person bike on Xi’an’s CITY WALL! It was insane. For one of the first times I was in China, I felt like I was breathing in fresh air. The city wall covered 8.5 miles in length and from each part of the city wall, I could see the city’s expanse with its temples and modernized buildings jutting out.
So week 5 just ended, and China keeps on surprising me with new and awesome things. The next three weeks are going to be bittersweet, and I’m looking forward to making the most of them.
Hi friends. So it’s been less than a week since I last posted, but I did a lot of cool stuff! For instance, I went to the 798 Art District and was immersed in Chinese art. To be honest, I didn’t think have any expectations for this Art District, but I was stunned.
I had thought that the 798 Art District would display a lot of traditional art around its galleries, but I found more modern art than anything else. Some of the art included a headless Chairman Mao, political cartoons about North Korea, and paintings/drawings depicting the issues China is currently facing. I went to a little store and bought some small things, which included panda propaganda postcards and movie posters. My friend bought a pair of fake Ray Ban sunglasses for 69 RMB, which is the equivalent of approximately $10.38. What a deal!
This past weekend, I also went to the Silk Market and I ??? (didn’t realize) that the Silk Market was actually a huge shopping mall! It looked modernized, and it reminded me of the shopping malls back home near Chicago. The basement was full of small shoe stores that sold exactly the same thing, and the store owners hiked up the prices to around 600 RMB per fake pair of shoes. For instance, a pair of fake Yeezy Boosts was like 625 RMB. Converted into USD would be around $93.84: way too much for some fake Yeezy’s. I didn’t buy the Yeezy’s but I did get ripped off for some gray T-shirt. It’s okay though because I learned a good life lesson. When life hands you a 200 RMB T-shirt, don’t say 150 RMB, say 10 and you’ll be good. Well I’ll see you guys next week when I talk about my trip to Xi’an!
My plane ride to China best symbolizes what I expect my experience in China to be. I expected my United Airlines flight to be like any other long flight: watching movies on the mini screen in front of my seat. As I arrived at my window seat, I was in utter shock and horror because guess what? There was no mini-TV! Even better was that I couldn’t watch Zootopia like everyone else because my earphone cord didn’t work. The one thing I do when I’m stressed is sleep. So, naturally, I slept. When I woke up, there was an old Asian man who looked to be about 70 years old sleeping on my shoulder. I spazzed out and woke him up. He immediately started speaking Chinese to me, and I could only make out one of the things he said; “Are you Chinese?” “No, I’m American.” And that’s how the plane ride went from depressing to interesting. I barely reviewed Chinese before coming to China, and it definitely showed during our conversation. As he talked to me in only Chinese, I had my first taste of what China was going to be like (which involved using a lot of my Chinese-English dictionary). This is what some of the conversation looked like:
I had a huge headache the entire plane ride and felt like a 3 year old child trying to talk to Albert Einstein. But throughout my terrible Chinese, I learned that his son is a professor at Penn, a story about a man named Wu Song who killed a tiger, and (after holding up the flight attendant for several minutes) how to say red wine in Chinese. Long story short, my plane ride was my first taste of China: and it tasted weird but interesting.
I noticed a lot of things that I took for granted in the States. For example, TOILET PAPER. Public bathrooms here are not only holes in the ground, but they also don’t provide toilet paper, so we have to carry these little packs of tissues. Ice water is also huge. Restaurants here don’t provide us with ice water, so we have to drink hot water. But it’s ok. Everything is really cheap here and the people are really nice (except when they’re driving: it is terrifying).
NDiB is pretty challenging, in both the academic and cultural sense. We have a lot of work to do and I still don’t know how to say napkin in Chinese but it’s aight. My classmates and I suffer together, but we also have fun together hahaha. We went to a few “cultural excursions,” 比方说 (for example) we went to the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. The Great Wall was super sick. There were a lot of foreign people struggling to hike the Great Wall, but the view was incredible. 8/8 would highly recommend. Tiananmen Square is cool too, but there were a lot of people there, which made me feel pretty uncomfortable. There were a lot of Chinese people taking pictures of us because we were American (well mostly my caucasian friends), so we felt like celebrities.
In conclusion, even though there are some things that I don’t care for in Beijing (air quality, dense masses of people, and 90+ degree Fahrenheit weather), overall I really love it here. The people are chill, my classmates are fun, the teachers are awesome, and the city is bumping. See you guys next week!