All these buildings and mountains…Beijing, Fall 2010 - Language Intensive
It’s been a while since my last post! The first week I arrived we had a massive orientation with nonstop meetings, fun, and exploration. It was like a crash course in Beijing and getting to know our fellow IESers. Also, a mysterious virus went through the whole dorm and almost everyone, including myself, got sick for at least a week. Some of us had to go to the hospital (which was surprisingly clean and nice) but we are all very well taken care of by IES staff. Unfortunately my illness interfered with the beginning of classes, and with language intensive courses catching up on what you missed is definitely a challenge…
Beijing is so different from any city I’ve seen in America. The sidewalks and streets are so wide, and everything in general is very spaced out. It’s a little strange for me to be surrounded by big buildings but not feel cramped or overwhelmed. We took a day trip with IES to a village called Cuan Dixia located right outside of Beijing. It’s a small village from the Ming Dynasty and has a very long and interesting history. Apparently everyone living in the village all have the last name Han because they are all descended from the same family. As soon as you leave the city there are mountains everywhere! And I think Chinese people love stairs because there were stairs everywhere. We climbed stairs all the way to the top of a small mountain next to Cuan Dixia and there was nothing but more mountains in every direction. After that we were allowed to explore on our own and my friends and I found more stairs and paths into the surrounding mountains. We found signs pointing the way to a spring called the “Fairy Avatar Spring.” We thought we would find some gorgeous magical spring in the middle of the forest. Nope. It was a smelly, muddy-watered puddle in the middle of some rocks. But the adventure getting there was fun since we climbed into a valley and part way up another mountain. We also explored the village temple and heard some sweet Chinese karaoke. And I definitely tried chicken feet for lunch, which wasn’t that bad! It’s all in your mind. Once you forget that it looks like a tiny hand it’s all good. I’ll def post pictures from Cuan Dixia in a later post!
Even though it’s only been a little over 2 weeks since I came here it feels like years have gone by. The Chinese people on campus are very friendly and I’ve already made friends with other international students from Korea and Germany. So much happens every day that I sometimes can’t believe all the things I’ve already done, and I still have 4 months to go!
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