Currently, I am sitting in the Beijing airport. I have not used Chinese in the past two days. In the Beijing airport, I’m treated like every other foreigner and I slip easily back into the comfort of English. Even now, I can hear the conversations of the coffee shops girls and it has become difficult for me to decipher the words that came so naturally only a week ago. I have a few hours left in China, but it doesn’t feel like I’m leaving. If it did not feel real coming and it does not feel real leaving, I wonder if it was all my imagination. It is hard to to say what I expected from China. Maybe, because I knew so little about it, I did not have real expectations. Regardless, it is safe to say I was not disappointed in China. It is cliché, but I am not the person I was coming here. If I was independent before, I feel invincible now. I correctly told taxi drivers where to go, ordered food, shopped, and bargained in Chinese. And if you didn’t already know, Chinese is hard as $&@?! I am more aloof and indifferent towards things - dirty public toilet? no problem! I even ate onions and large quantities of meat. If you know me at all, these are major accomplishments. I have to admit (grudgingly so) that after living under the Chinese government, I appreciate the US government a lot more. Right about now, my father is thinking HA-HAH! TOLD YOU SO! I crave uncensored Internet, an I shall have it in a matter of hours. Over the past few hours I have finished my finals, packed my life into two bags, and said goodbye to my important friends. I would never trade my time in China for anything. The good memories I have with my friends balance out any of the bad things that happened. If I had the opportunity, I would come back to China to study again. I have decided, I will definitely pass HSK 6 and become a fluent Chinese speaker.
[I wrote this in the Beijing Airport, but instead of hitting ‘publish,’ I hit ‘save as draft’ instead. oops]
As I was people watching, I felt it necessary to take a picture of this boy. Why in earth would you climb a mountain in slacks and a nice shirt?
Heaven’s Gate is at the top of the main part of the mountain. It’s like a symbol of hope to those climbing up.
This is the Cemetery of Confucius. I saw a freshly dug hole and when I asked, the tour guide said that even today the descendants of Confucius are buried in this cemetery.
I have mentioned before that the communication between Hebei Normal and the UNK group is not great. The trip to Shandong Province is a good example of that. Until we got on the bus, we had no idea that other international students were also going on the trip. Of course, there was no problem with that. It was just surprising.
After a few too many hours in the bus, we arrived in Qu Fu. Qu Fu is the hometown of Confucius. (If you know anything at all about China, you know the importance of Confucius in Chinese culture and the importance of this town.) We visited the Temple of Confucius, the Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion. The weather was nice, so walking around these sites was all the more enjoyable.
When we finished dinner and were ready to retire to our hotel, the rift between us and the other international students was evident. We were given keys to our rooms that were in the same hotel where we ate dinner, but the rest of the kids had to get back on the bus to go to a different, slightly less nice hotel. For some reason, I felt like we were jerks.
The next day, we went to Tai Shan or Mount Tai. It is one of the Five Great Mountains and is considered sacred because it has been a place of worship for thousands of years. From
The bottom, one can not help but look in awe at this mountain. Maybe because I come from a flat area that I am struck by the massiveness of every mountain I see in China. It is incredibly beautiful.
Having climbed a mountain or two during my time in China, I was not particularly excited when I looked up from the starting point to see straight path of stairs leading to the top. I could see people gasping for breath and sweating profusely within twenty feet of the bottom. So, I opted for a cable car up to the top. Regardless of how I got there, I reached Heaven’s Gate first. It would be about an hour before my friends reached the top, so I spent a lot of time walking around the top and people watching. Even though I was surrounded by hundreds of loud tourists, it was peaceful.
As I look back on my trips, it is becoming harder to say which one I liked the most. They have all begun to settle into fond memories, but this one was definitely high up on the list.
This was the place we stayed. I have mixed feelings about this place. It was incredibly cool looking. The inside of the room felt so…Chinese, instead of another anonymous hotel. It had character. But at the same time, two people shared a bed, there were no towels for the shower the water was cold, the heater was not very warm, and you could hear every sound people made.
Despite the cold in Pingyao, it was impossible to find gloves that were not fetus size. But we did find an awful lot of these hand warmers.