On our way out of the garden we (Joshua Meyers, Ed Davis, Jackie Simon, and Ashley Boehmer, and myself) were stopped by an older Chinese man and his grandkids; they wanted to take a picture of the Americans. It was fun, and they were very nice and friendly. Although, that was an interesting experience because not too many people stop and take your picture randomly. Overall, walking through the secret garden felt to me like a very “Chinese” experience, and it was a great experience to share with my friends.
Eating in China
I would first like to start of with this statement. Living in China is not at all like living in America. One major difference is an obvious one: the language barrier. Virtually no one in Beijing speaks English, and those who do are not fluent in it. Even simple things like ordering food suddenly become a challenging undertaking. You really gain a unique perspective on the things that seem so natural to do at home like ordering food, buying everyday supplies, or connecting to the internet.
Only by getting out of your natural element can these seemingly easy things be seen as a valued privilege. Ultimately the China study abroad experience has been absolutely fantastic; one of my favorite experiences thus far has been attempting to eat at what we have started to call “The noodle house.” Keeping pace with the fast moving life of the Chinese people has not been easy, and lunch time is no exception. Lunch on one of our first days was perhaps one of the most frustrating ordeals I’ve ever been through. All we wanted was to eat some noodles, however one thing about China food place is all of their menus appear to be in Chinese, go figure.
Right as we walked in it became very clear we didn’t understand the language at all. Everything on the menu was in Chinese; we witnessed other Chinese people getting noodles, so when we went up to the lady who would get our noodles we tried to explain what we wanted. So we tried saying what we wanted in Chinese, but everything we asked for they didn’t have. Everything is so much more difficult here. Don’t get me wrong though, I love everything about it, the challenge, learning the language, making friends with new people, everything. One thing I do miss though is American food.
Never thought I would say that, but there is not a whole ton of sweet stuff here. Not that that’s actually a bad thing, it is clear that Chinese people eat a very healthily. Even the “sweet” stuff is way healthier tasting than American sweet stuff, which is interesting to me. Living in China for one week has already opened my eyes to so much stuff, and I’m looking forward to continuing my education here. Lastly, the weather here is awesome, it’s always hot. You never have to worry about wearing a sweater here; it has been over one hundred degrees consistently. Live long and prosper humanity!
Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City
That was a very different experience. The Forbidden City was particularly interesting to me because of the Chinese architecture, it’s so unlike anything we have in the United States. It’s amazing what people were able to build without the technology we have today. Overall, I really enjoyed walking through these two areas, and I’d highly recommend anyone in Beijing to check it out.
Bartering in China
We later learned after talking to Dr. Luo that we should probably have only paid about 50 yuan for both of them instead of 50 each. So for the next time we know a little more on how to barter. Even though we overpaid, it was still a fun experience because we were able to interact with Chinese natives, and practice our Chinese at the same time! Which the best way to get better at speaking Chinese; get more exposure to it.
One of my favorite experiences since being here was getting to see the Chinese Kungfu Show. The show was about the legend of one of their Kungfu masters. The show was full of fantastic acrobatic demonstrations as well as many dramatized fight scenes. The special effects of the show were also very cool. One of my current hobbies is martial arts, which is why this was so interesting to me. It was great to see a little bit of what Chinese fighting involves.
Kungfu is much more form based, as well as the principles behind it are more about peace than actually fighting. There were also many kids in the show with considerable skill in Kungfu. The discipline they have to train their selves to be that good is pretty amazing. It makes me wish I had started studying martial arts when I was a young child, especially because children are like sponges when it comes to learning. Overall, it really was just an entertaining show and a great exposure to Kungfu.
Climbing Mount Tai
The steps were extremely steep at some points, almost to the point where you could actually crawl up if you wanted to. Even better, about 30 steps away from the top, it started down pouring. It made climbing up the rest of the way very difficult, we went from being hot and sweaty to being very cold and wet, very fast. Eventually we made our way to a restaurant to get out of the rain and wait for the rest of our group to arrive. There we had some interesting conversations in Chinese with some Chinese natives. It was great to realize how much Chinese we really have been learning. We eventually had lunch with the group at the top of the mountain, which was good, especially after the exhausting climb up.
The way back was even more treacherous though. It was raining cats and dogs out there. People were slipping and falling all over the place, it was very scary coming down the mountain. We had to tread very carefully, but we eventually made it down safely. At the end I was extremely wet and very tired, but I felt accomplished. It was a great adventure.
— Andrew F. Rector, digital forensics major