Getting Lost in Beijing: Adventures and Escapades

Gretchen Trupp
June 13, 2015
very regal building from the old summer palace

It's officially been a week since I've landed in Beijing, but it feels like a year. The days have been filled to the brim with studying, making food, eating, and exploration. Now that orientation is over, I'm way more confident in getting around the city on my own-- the subway system is super accessible, even if you don't really know Chinese. So far a suprising amount of menus and signs have small English translations written in underneath, which is very helpful when you're trying food for the first time.

This week we got the opportunity to explore Beijing, and so me and a couple of friends decided to visit the 圆明园(old summer palace) for around three hours. It was a spectacular place, filled with trees and a giant lake, amidst ruins of former rooms of the emperor and his companions. It was so strange to find this serene place nestled in such a booming metropolis, but it really served to illustrate just how much Beijing is a city of ancient and modern juxtaposition. We also went to a tea market on Wednesday, which was a giant building filled to the brim with different tea shops, selling everything from small tea samples to bulk buying as well as teaware. We've also been to a bunch of different resturants, including one where you get to cook your own food!

This week I really got to see how the cultural differences between China and America shape the attitudes of the people and the places that I've been to. Tea culture is much bigger in China than in America, so there was a huge market, just for tea. People form lines a lot differently here, in America there's much more of an emphasis on keeping a respectful distance in line, but in Beijing people tend to crowd more, mostly because of the fact that there are so many people, but also the need to make sure that they themselves are accounted for in the grand scheme of the social body. This difference resulted in me getting cut in line many times, until someone finally explained that difference to me-- it just goes to show that little things can really make a huge difference.

Below is a collection of pictures collected from all over this city this week, including a painting that I did of a beautiful flower that I saw at the old summer palace, as well as a Chinese dish that we learned how to make called 粽子(zongzi):

Gretchen Trupp

<p>Hi, I&#39;m Gretchen, and I&#39;m currently a prospective Languages and Linguistics Major at Swarthmore College, PA. I was born in Rota Spain, and have grown up in various places around the states (notably Hawai&#39;i), and am very excited to be participating in the Beijing Summer Language Intensive program! I&#39;m really into all different types of art, and exploring that interest through all sorts of avenues (this blog will be one of them). On this trip I hope to gain not only language skills, but innumerable friends and experiences that last a lifetime. Join the adventures of an unapologetically queer, short (but not tiny) college student navigating one of the biggest cities in the world!</p>

Destination:
Term:
2015 Summer 1, 2015 Summer 2
Home university:
Swarthmore College
Major:
Undeclared
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