Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why do we waste so much, America?!

After being here for only a week we've taken in a lot of the culture already. I was going to save this until later, but I just can't seem to wrap my mind around it and I'm sure everyone's already written plenty on Tian'an men. So one thing we all noticed was so far was that almost everything we buy here is expired.

My initial reaction to this was, “Oh my gosh, I keep drinking expired things... I need to make sure to check everything!!” But the more I thought about it the more I realized these things I bought are still fine, and I bought them all pretty cheaply...

There's nothing wrong with Coke, juice, chips, or shelf food after it's been expired. Yet, in American, we just throw it all away.

 I thought that maybe it was just at this store we usually go to that sells expired things, but we continuously checked at every place we bought things and so far the only that was not expired was a bag of Doritos Ashley bought.

I just can't wrap my mind around how much we throw out in America. I can remember plenty of places I've worked at home where my boss would tell me, “that's been sitting out over 2 hours, throw it out.” But it's not like it was sitting out on the side walk with the sun beating down on it making it sour. It's been sitting in a nice little cooling shelf.

And now I come to China and find they don't waste things like we do. What is wrong with us? I've been eating expired food and drinks for a week now and I promise, I'm still alive!

The Longest Plane Ride I've Ever Taken

Thirteen and a half hours sounds long; it is, but it is totally worth it! If anyone is using the long plane trip for an excuse not to come to China, you're really missing out. A lot of my friends told me before I left, they wouldn't be able to handle it, but it's really not that bad at all. One thing most of us didn't know: you get to fly over the North Pole!

We were all looking for Santa on our trip. I'm not going to tell if we saw him or not, you'll have to fly here on your own to find out! I think we all did get a little restless after a while though. The worst thing I could have done was checking the time on the video map every hour or so (but I couldn't help it I was too excited). Here are a few things made the trip more comfortable for me, maybe you'll find them useful if you decide to make the journey yourself.
    1. Wear comfortable clothing
    2. Bring plenty to keep you occupied
    3. When the seat belt sign is off “Go to the bathroom!” and by that I mean, get up and move around bit when you can
    4. Having friends next to you who you know doesn't mind if you fall asleep on their shoulders. (the seats don't move much and not everyone can sleep in a sitting position).
The plane ride was long, but hey when I got off the plane I was on the other side of the world! Nothing beats that! So there's no excuses and as I'm sure anyone can see we're all pretty psyched to be here!

I really get to stay here?!

Before we left for China, I kept saying it's not going to sink in until I get there. Well I'm here and it's still hard to believe sometimes. The first day that we got to check out the campus was after our exams on Monday the 1st. The campus is huge! It's almost as if the campus is a small village of its own; there is so much to do. I could sit here for hours trying to think of something that I can't do on campus that I need to. There's a post office, bank, grocery store, park, you name it!

This is so different to Bloomsburg where it's almost impossible to get anywhere without having a car. Don't get me wrong, plenty of people here have cars, as you can see, but it's definitely not a necessity. While studying at Peking University, we're staying at the the Zhong Guan Yuan Global Village, which is where a lot of the international students are staying.

I've never lived in any kind of student housing before, so I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a bit of an adjustment for me, but adjustments are just that. So far, I really like living in student housing. Everyone's right here.

 We have study sessions at night because we live so close. If we need some one, they're just up or down the stairs. Don't get me wrong, it's not all sunshine and rainbows, but I'm really liking the experience.

The park in north campus has been my favorite place to go on campus so far. It's a maze to get through it, but it was no problem with a bike. Among the many lakes and ponds there are also monuments, temples and even a marble boat, which our group met for class on one day.

When I biked through the park on Sunday, it was filled with so many students taking their graduation photos. All I could think was “wow, they're so lucky they get to go to school here!” It still doesn't seem real to me that I get to study here, I didn't even realize: hey, I am studying here! I am so lucky!

The Legend of Kongfu

On July 10, we went to see a Kongfu Show at the Hong Theatre in Beijing. I wasn't sure what to expect and I kept asking if we were going to see a play or just a bunch of people showing off some Kongfu. Either way I was excited, but I was curious because I didn't have much of an idea what we were going to see. Little did I know, it was both and much more.

The play called The Legend of Kongfu, which began with a boy who was afraid to start his studies in Kongfu and leave everything else behind, so his new teacher told him the story of another boy was also afraid to leave his home. Throughout the story there was loads of Kongfu and amazing performances using aerial silks. I thought it was so neat to see how they did not use any safety lines, just the aerial silks.

I've only ever seen this once before back home at Music Fest in Allentown, but this one kind of put that performance to shame. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures in the show, but after they invited the audience to come on stage to take some pictures with the performers, which I've never been able to do at a play before. I'm wondering if that's a Chinese theater thing, or if I haven't been to enough plays, but the ones I have been too have never just invited everyone up.


Am I on a plane?! Nope, a train! I know, it's insane. Okay, I'm done rhyming now. I wish we had these in America! I absolutely loved my first bullet train experience. Today on Friday the 12th we left Beijing to go to Tai'an in Shandong Province for the weekend. Tai'an is about 500km away from Beijing. The least amount of time it would take driving according to google maps would be over six hours!

I know to most people that wouldn't be much, but hey if we can cut 4 hours out of travel time, I'm all for it and according to the student from the Washington group, their bus ride was not a pleasant one, it took them 11 hours. I'm so glad our school sprang for bullet train tickets. Even before I got on I felt like I was about to get on an airplane.

 The train station was just like an airport with lots of shops and stuff to do while waiting for a train. They also had the very familiar security lines and pat downs, but luckily the lines for that were much quicker than at an airport. I really hope we get this in America some time, it just seems so convenient and perhaps it would free up our very crowded airports a bit.

Our Mt. Tai Adventure

I don't think I can describe the trip to Mount Tai as anything other than an amazing adventure. I felt like I got a real challenge that day, not in the fact that there were 3000 stairs for us to climb, but I personally conquered two fears that day. Heights and lightning!

 After the first hundred or so stairs we all kind of split off into our own little groups and went at our own pace. I was with Ashley and Sarah and we were somewhere in the middle.

However, what started out as an unspoken race to the top turned into just wanting to make it to the top once the fog grew into a heavy rain. I think some of us were relieved at first to get a nice refreshing rain, but then came the thunder and soon after the lightning. By this point, Ashley had run ahead and Sarah and I were about a little over half way up the mountain. Many people were hovering under the sides of the mountain as we got to level grounds in between steep parts of stairs, but we kept going.

The closer we seemed to get to the top the more lightning we saw. One of the bolts hit pretty close to us and I even got a little shock from it while holding on to the railing (I'm not going to lie I screamed like a little girl). But we made it to the top and when we did you couldn't keep the smiles from our faces. We reached the top, in the rain and the storm and we didn't get hit by lightning. We were so happy, and sick of stairs,on the way back down we sang the whole way to pass the time. And as Laura said, we got stairs and stares the whole way down.
    — April Mavroleon, French major and Chinese minor

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