There was no better way to start 2012 than an amazing two week trip to Yunnan Province, where the largest number of Chinese ethnic minority groups reside. On the day of Chinese New Year, around 60 IES students hopped onto a 39 hours train and ready to start the adventure. Here was our busy plan: Kunming–Dali–Tiger Leap Gorge–Shangrila–Napa Village–Lijiang.
Kunming was one of my favorite places to be. During our two days stayed there, several fellow IES friends and I had twice danced in the Green Lake Park with local elders and other tourists and kicking Jianzi with little children. And not to forget about the delicious Over-the-Bridge Noodle we had, where ten plates of vegetables and meats combined together to make a single bowl of noodle soup.
Hiking Tiger Leap Gorge was also a big highlight and a proud accomplishment of the group. The 28 switchback hike was physically demanding, but the beautiful scenery, the horses and donkeys, and the people we encountered along the way made it all worth the while.
We also had the opportunity to stay with Tibetan families in Napa Village nearby Shangrila for several days, where we observed and learned Tibetan culture personally. My hosted family introduced traditional Tibetan food that I had never even heard of before, such as buttered tea (酥油茶),”zamba,” and Tibetan hotpot. I also had the luck of participating in my host father’s 36 year old birthday celebration that lasted whole day and night long where I met and interacted with different relatives of the family. It definitely felt great to immerse myself into a new culture and built connections with local people. During our last night there, the students and host families had a huge party together and many fellow students and I dressed up in Tibetan dresses. It was lots of fun!
The Yunnan trip was in many ways fantastic! The students bonded throughout the adventure, sharing our “laduzi” stories and helping each other bargain for low prices. By the end of the trip, I felt so much closer to my friends and classmates! The trip provided the opportunity for me to experience things I have never done before, like hiking Tiger Leap Gorge for two days and learning about Tibetan culture. The trip also made me more adventurous, flexible, and culturally aware as a person and those qualities are very helpful as I continue to adapt to China. The Yunnan trip was a unique experience full of learning and FUN! I want to do it again!
Location: Yunnan, China
Its being a week since I settled into the beautiful and cozy capital of China, Beijing, and its amazing doubtlessly so far! I already feel like a Beijinger!
The orientation week at IES center was really helpful in getting me oriented academically and socially. I was placed into 500 level Chinese language class and will be writing my first 15 page thesis paper in CHINESE. That is going to be really exciting and challenging too! I love my fellow IES participants here, who are coming from universities all over United States.
This week, I explore National Library of China, which is only two subway stops away from my dorm. The library is amazingly big, but there is also lots of security around. Librarians did not allow us to enter the library at first, insisted that my friends and I show our passports (I know, China!). However, we did manage to go in.
南锣鼓巷 (South Drum Alley) was my second exploration spot. It’s a beautifully preserved old Beijing alley with wide variety of restaurants, from tradition Beijing honey cake to fried scorpion. I also met a nice old couple around 70 years old at the alley, who spoke fluent English and were very excited to meet me. We had a great chat about my experience here in Beijing thus far, and their experience in US (their daughters are studying abroad in Missouri State!) and we had picture together. They totally made my day.
Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve! I will be celebrating new year for the first time in Beijing and right away tomorrow, the group will be heading to Yunnan, south west of China, for our 2 week mobile learning trip. There is no better way to start 2012 than this!
Location: beijing, China
So here I am in CHINA after spending like 20 hours in the airplane, watching 6 movies and sleep TONS.
I arrived in China one week early than the program starting date and my first stop is Fuzhou, Fujiang– my hometown. Unreal but it felt strangely familiar and comforting.
The immediate impression when I stepped off the airplane was: people. There are A LOT of people out in the streets in China. Think of holiday shopping season in a big mall in US– thats like everywhere and everyday in Fuzhou. There so many food stands in the streets selling vegetables and cheap snacks and hot food, and restaurants set up tents in the street for people to just sit and socialize with friends while eating food. There are people playing majiang out in the open too! A lot more daily activities are taking place out in the open, which really gives Fuzhou a greater sense of community and I am totally loving it!!!
And oh did I mentioned that there are LOTS of cars too, ranging from bikes, mini motorcycles (a very popular mean of getting around in Fuzhou), driving out of control because rules are lax and there are much fewer traffic lights in Fuzhou than back in state. The week I spent in Fuzhou, I actually needed to be escorted to cross the streets.
I did not get a chance to explore the city too much the week I stayed there because of jet-leg but I did went back to the neighborhood (仓山） I used to lived. Great I was still able to recognize the apartment I used to stay in but the surrounding area changed dramatically with new roads, buildings, and Walmart.
The internet in China really sucks so I can’t upload any picture
Until Next time.
Location: Fuzhou, China
My name is Lan Li, from the city of cheesesteak, Philadelphia. I am a junior double majoring in Labor Studies and Employment Relations and International Politics. I will be studying in Beijing China this coming spring semester, throught the IES: Language Intensive Program. Needless to say, I am SUPER DUPER excited to finish the last two weeks of chaos here at Penn State and fly to China in a few weeks!!!
I consider my upcoming study abroad experience unique because I am a heritage traveler. I was born in China and came to United States when I was ten years old. Yet, as much as I lived in China for a while, it does not deterred my excitment of studying in China at all. In fact, I am expecting to experience some rather interesting perpective and insight as a someone returning to my homecountry.
I will be doing plenty of travelings in China like a tourist, eat all the great food that I can’t wait for, make new friendships, and experience China to its fullest. Meanwhile, I will also be traveling to my hometown locating along the southcoast of China, called Fuzhou, Fujiang Province…and bring back good old memories I had as a child…revisiting the elementary school that I went to, walking on the beach my cousin and I used to play around, and hopefully “bumping into” my classmates.
Be sure to be on the watch out for my upcoming stories!
Location: Beijing, China