It has now officially been a month and a half since we departed from home on this unimaginable adventure. We chose to dive head first into an unknown culture hoping we would be able to tread water long enough to learn to swim and I believe, so far, we have. All of us have found our comfort zones, our escapes from life’s pressures, and our security blankets here in Beijing. For some that is the cat café down the street (yes, a coffee shop filled with cats), for others that is found in the silences of the dorm rooms in the middle of the afternoon. Either way, we have learned to find our own tranquility within the occasionally chaotic city of 22 million people that is Beijing.
All of us came in with different language proficiencies, different travel experiences, and different family styles. What amazes me is the way that we have come together, despite our backgrounds, to become a family and a cohesive unit of 20 eager students ready to take on the unknown. IES Abroad has provided us with a strong safety net composed of our RAs, our teachers, and our Chinese roommates. The first half of our semester so far has been filled with countless memories. Looking forward to the second half, I am eager to see what lies ahead. I know that our time left here is rapidly decreasing and it will be over before we know it. All we can do is make the most of it and try our best to learn to swim before our time in the pool is up.
Below: I have attached pictures from our Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City trip a couple of weeks ago. IES Abroad put together this trip led by a former IES Abroad Beijing Center Director. Tiananmen Square is one of the top 10 biggest city centers in the world at around 109 acres and was the site of many important events in Chinese history. The Forbidden City served as the imperial palace of China from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (1420 to 1912) and now houses the Palace Museum. His knowledge of these famously historic places was pivotal in providing us with an informative and unforgettable look into two of the most iconic landmarks in China. Seeing the stark contrasts between ancient and modern day China was a brilliant experience and just another piece of the remarkable journey that is this semester.
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<p>My name is Brandon Berardo and I am a junior from Wofford College. Through my travels abroad, I have discovered that there is so much to see. People say that pictures are worth a thousand words, but I am hoping that some of my pictures will leave you speechless.</p>