Monday, June 6, 2011

First week in China

When I got off the plane in Beijing, China I was met by the rest of the students from our group. We were rushing to get the bus to the train station for our train to Wuhan. It was a bus provided by our school, and I realized then that we were lucky to have people leading us, because it is a little scary navigating through a foreign country where you don't know the language.

We missed the train so we stayed in a hotel for the night and all got to know each other. It's really cool being surrounded by people with this adventurous spirit. The next day we had our first authentic Chinese meal at breakfast in the hotel, and it was really good. We got the train and had to sit on little stools on the floor in the overload car because we were supposed to be on the previous train. Out the window we could see some views of rural China in between Beijing and Wuhan.

When we finally got to the university, we dropped our stuff off at the dorm and then our Chinese student leaders took us out to dinner. It was a restaurant with traditional Dinner tables with a rotating glass circle in the middle, so the food could easily be passed around to each person. I had some food i never tried at home, such as several types of mushrooms and fungus, and fish cooked with the head on. You can't go to a place to China if you're a picky eater.

On Monday, we took a tour of the campus, and it's pretty, with a big lake in the middle of it. In the afternoon, our leaders took us to the biggest mall I have ever seen. Throughout the rest of the week, we began taking classes, and we had several cultural activities. We practiced calligraphy and saw an expert actually write some. We saw a Tai Chi performance, played on a traditional Chinese 2-stringed instrument, and saw a famous artist draw a picture of Confucius.

One of the coolest parts of the trip is this market just a few minutes' walk away, where outside vendors sell all kinds of food. We had dumplings, meat on a stick, and a whole bunch of other food with unknown ingredients. We also went to karaoke in this neighborhood. In the restaurants we had a lot more good, and spicy food. On Friday, we went to an International bar with a friend we made from Costa Rica. It was kind of bizarre seeing so much diversity after being in China for a week. That was really fun.

I realized that we are very lucky to have our student leaders because it would otherwise have been very difficult to figure out how to live and get around here. The language barrier is sometimes frustrating, but we are quickly learning the basics in our class. I feel like it is a character-building experience to immerse yourself in a completely different culture and language like this. Next week, we have more class and activities, and soon we will be visiting Xi An and Beijing.

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