Thursday, August 29, 2013

I could barely believe where I was

Today, the Washington and Bloomsburg groups went to an acrobatic show. I was excited for this because the martial arts show was really amazing and I was told the acrobatic show was even better. We, once again, took a bus through rush hour traffic to the show. It took some time to get there, a little over an hour, but it was worth the drive. When we all got there, there was time to look around the auditorium and shop. Everything was more expensive at the acrobatic show than the martial arts show, but the items sold at the martial arts show was more interesting.

I looked around at some fans and scarves for a little while and went to get a water and popcorn. I was really thirsty and willing to pay a little extra for the water, but the popcorn was so much money that I decided against getting a snack. We were soon ushered into the theater area to watch the show. The show started with this really tiny girl balancing on a chair. She then added another chair on top of the first chair; she did this until she was balancing on one hand on top of about ten chairs. I thought that was so cool and couldn't think it could be topped, but I was wrong.

There were then more acts that followed, each was equally or more impressive than the first. There was a group of two boys and girls that balanced on top of one another while the girls held ceramic pots with one foot, girls spinning umbrellas with their feet, guys jumping downstairs on one hand, and a really exciting and nerving racking finale involving motorcycles. At the end of the show, everyone that was part of the show came out and bowed. People all around me were cheering and standing up because the show was so amazing.

On Saturday we went the Great Wall of China, which I discovered is called chang cheng. Our group did not go to a very popular spot because we were trying to avoid a large crowd. It took almost two hours to get there, but it was in such a beautiful place in the countryside I was stunned by it's beauty. We had to walk a really large hill to get to where the stairs were to get to the Great Wall, but I had learned my lesson from Mount Tai and decided I would pay 60 kuai, 10 American dollars, to take the sky lift to the top and walk down the stairs. I know a few people who walked felt sick afterwards because it was so hot. I was glad it was a bright, clear, and sunny day though because it made it easier to see the view from the wall. I was so amazed when I got to the wall, I could barely believe where I was.

There were so many people there from so many different countries, speaking different languages, but it wasn't crowded. I liked the area of the wall we went to because on the one side was a small town in a valley and the other was magnificent mountains, unlike any I had ever seen before. We went pretty far down the one side of the wall and had the freedom to go by ourselves which was nice because I was able to spend my time with who I wanted and doing what we decided to do. After a while, the wall got repetitive, but was still beautiful no matter how much it all looked the same. I loved the way it winded like a snake through the mountains. It was my favorite place in China.

Although nothing was planned for today, my friends and I decided to go to the Bird's Nest Stadium where the Summer Olympics were held in 2008. It was the last week for us to be in China and we had all been so busy with school and trips we didn't have the opportunity to do things around Beijing that interested us as much. I had the opportunity to go to the Silk Market on Sunday, but decided to stay at the dorms instead. We took the subway to the Olympic Park station. It is the nicest, cleanest, and most efficient subway I had ever been to. Every transfer line there was always some type of art that made the subway different and have some uniqueness about it. I also think it's smart to decorate each station and transfer line differently because it's easier to remember.

When we got to the Olympic Park we walked down a long, wide sidewalk filled with vendors to the stadium. They were all selling silly touristy things that I mistakenly purchased my first week in China. As we approached the stadium, I realized how huge it actually was. There were silver beams jutting in all directions that were all curved on the outside to give it an almost oval-like shape, just like a bird's nest. As we reached the stadium we paid our entrance fees, which was half price with a student ID. I forgot mine and had to pay double what everyone else paid, but in comparison to American dollars, it was not very expensive. We walked around about half the stadium, taking pictures, looking at the Olympic highlights, and some pictures of the history of the stadium. We went up the stairs to get a better look at the Olympic Park and the stairs were each painted to create a picture when one looked at it from the ground floor. I thought that was really cool. I also like that when we visited the stadium, it wasn't very busy because it was a Monday afternoon. I'm really glad I got to see such an interesting piece of architecture and visit a stadium form Olympics history.

As part of the China Today class, we were required to take our teachers out to dinner to a restaurant of their choice. The Wednesday before we left China, the four other Bloomsburg students in my class and I met our teacher on the West side of campus, from there our teacher took us to a place with restaurants that lined the street. While the one side of the street was full of places to eat, the other side was lined with street vendors. It was so interesting. I didn’t know such a place existed and so close to campus. I was so intrigued that I almost didn’t want to go to dinner, but I planned to go back to the vendors later that week. We soon arrived at the restaurant where we met our other teacher. Then we ordered a variety of traditional Chinese dishes. One of which was an eggplant dish. It was so delicious that our group got another order of it. After dinner, one of our teachers took us to a dairy queen. I was so excited to have an American dessert because it was so difficult to find sweets that I was familiar with since coming to China. After that, the other students and I returned to our dorms to prepare for finals the next day.

Today was finals for all the students in the four week program. After all of us were finished with our spoken and written finals, several of us met up outside of the dorm building to go to the zoo and aquarium. I had been so excited the entire trip to go to the zoo because I wanted to see pandas. We took the subway to get there and the ride was very quick. The zoo and Panda House was inexpensive, but the aquarium was a lot more money. The zoo and aquarium was decent. I really liked that I got to see pandas, but they just slept the whole time and it was really crowded.

Most places in Beijing were crowded and I had adjusted to the crowds by the time we went to the zoo. However, it was really hot that day which made the crowds less tolerable. There were also a bunch of elephants and lemurs at the zoo. There were also raccoons in the North American exhibit which was really funny because they are everywhere in Pennsylvania. We then went to the aquarium which was also crowded, but it was nice to get out of the sun for a while. It was really cool to go to the aquarium because there were whales, jellyfish, and dolphins. After the aquarium we quickly saw the rhinos then left because it was so hot. We all took the subway back to campus to get some rest after a long day.

  This was our last day of class; we mostly played games and learned some words we didn’t have a chance to study during the four weeks we were in China. After class, the Bloomsburg group went to the Temple of Heaven and the Pearl Market. This was one of my favorite things we did while we were in China. The Temple of Heaven was so interesting; we learned the emperors used to go there once a year to pray. There was a place on a circular platform that the Chinese believed to be the center of the universe. There were also several temples that were all circles that got larger as one continued through the courtyards. After that, we took a bus to the Pearl Market where one could bargain and get almost anything. It was set up like a mall with all different kinds of shops throughout the five story building. There was so much to buy, such as silk scarves, jewelry, electronics, and shoes. I got a lot of things there that I got to bargain to a price I thought was acceptable. It was a good way to end our trip so one could purchase last minute gifts.
    —Jacqueline Simon, French major

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