Thursday, August 29, 2013

A better understanding of the language

As we come to the last week of our adventurous trek, home becomes a lot sweeter. We’ve experienced life in Beijing first hand; we all bought bicycles, we all have indulged in the traditional and everyday dishes and seen the huge income disparity gap of people. I’ve come to appreciate my life in the states more and more. Living in the states can be hard for many people but we are not bartering goods everyday to eat. The simple necessities such as food, clean water and toilet paper are scarce and hard to come by if you do not have a stable flow of income. I’m not sure if the government provides simple welfare for its people; I see people who beg for money every day and they are mostly the elderly.

There are many college graduates with no jobs and are still subjected to living with their parents because of huge debts and ridiculous home and apartment prices. Needless to say, the economic boom here does not trickle down to the everyday person and the struggle here is just as real if not worse in these huge inner cities. Despite the realities of living in Beijing, for us international students finals are coming fast and studying at the Global Village cafe have become daily routine. Once finals are over we can finally reach the Temple of Heaven, a site that I have been longing for and a site certainly to see.

Last week we took a bus to the Great Wall of China and this time the weather was gorgeous. We could all see for miles out and the mountains were immense. We had limited to time to explore, but we all still took the challenge of climbing to the wall as opposed to taking the car line up. The heat was relentless as we all hiked up the steep steps toward the wall, even though the challenge was not as difficult as the hike up Mt. Tai it was a hike indeed and it wasn’t raining so we pulled through. As soon as we reached the top you could see an endless stream of walled stone, it seemed as though there was no beginning or end. We walked toward a high point of the wall to catch a glimpse of the beautiful view. Harry, Chris and I did our traditional side show as we pulled in yet another crowd. Seeing the wall gave me a new feeling of humanity, looking outward at those mountains let me know that my hard work in the states has allowed me to be here and we all deserved it.

The first week back feels pretty good; over stuffing myself with the foods I didn’t have much access to felt fulfilling. Even though my time in Beijing was enriching, returning home felt that much sweeter. Seeing my family was rewarding in the sense that Beijing has a way to drawl you in and it’s a struggle leaving. Our last night was an exciting night as we all tried to stay up and wait for the flight to sleep. As sleep deprived as we were, we made the shuttle bus to the airport on time. The flight back was grueling, I had to sit by the walk way and sleeping was not really the most comfortable thing to do. Luckily there were some cool movies to keep me awake, after the third movie I believe I fell out. The food on the flight wasn’t too bad; the sandwich was the best I’ve ever had on a flight.

Leaving in the morning in Beijing and returning to the states in the morning is a funny feeling. I felt myself slipping in this sleepy stupor for days afterwards. The brain is active at a time when the norm on the other side of world is just getting up to start their day. It took awhile to get use to it; I think I’m back to normal for the most part. I ate a huge bowl of cereal the first time I set foot in my house and it was the best bowl of cereal I had in ages. I would love to return to Beijing, China one day; the next time I go I’ll have the upper hand in knowing where the good places to eat are located. I also have a better understanding of the language; with the day to day interactions I’ve been able to comprehend sentences a lot faster than before. I can’t thank Dr. Luo enough for presenting this opportunity to me, I will always be grateful.

Thank you.

    — Devon Walton Jr., political science major

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