Int’l Education Week: Travel & Exploration

Jennifer Ushakov
November 18, 2014

In China, the first week of October celebrates Golden Week, a national holiday. During this weeklong celebration, over 1 billion people travel throughout the country to reunite with family or visit popular tourist sites. Since IES Abroad gave us the week off, everyone chose to travel to different parts of China, including Beijing, Taiwan, Guangzhou, etc. My roommates and I visited Huangshan, which directly translates to “yellow mountain.”

We took an 11 hour, overnight train ride to Anhui province. The first day was spent exploring Huangshan City, which is around an hour away from the actual mountain. It was a cool experience because I got a chance to use more of my Mandarin skills. (Shanghai has a major expat population and it’s easy to get around using very little Chinese). Huangshan had few English speakers and it was great to see how much my speaking and comprehension had improved since first coming to China.

The next day we boarded a small bus at 6AM and were at the mountain by 9AM. Our first day there was beautiful. We hiked around for hours and saw so many breathtaking views. There were SO many steps. Coming there, I had expected paved or dirt paths. Instead, all the established paths had hundreds of steps to lead people from peak to peak.

There were also a ton of tourists, as expected. We met an older couple from Hong Kong that spoke perfect British English and told us about the start of a student political uprising (later called the Umbrella Revolution). This was the first time we heard anything about it. The most interesting part was that within an hour, our Instagram accounts wouldn’t work without a VPN. In mainland China, Facebook, Youtube, and other similar sites are inaccessible without a VPN. Instagram was one site that we could access with no problem. Apparently, many pictures of the protests had been posted via Instagram and the government immediately stepped in to shut it down. It was really incredible to experience how much control the government really has.

Fairy Bridge

Our second day wasn’t as fortunate with weather. The day started off foggy, but we were determined to hike to Fairy Bridge – the largest natural arch in the world. On our way there we got caught in the middle of an incredible lightening and thunderstorm. We ended up running some of the way since there weren’t any trees nearby – making us the tallest objects within range. By the time we got to the bridge, we were soaked. Even though we didn’t have much of a view, the hike was entirely worth it and it made for one hilarious story. The hike back to the hotel was an uphill battle, pun completely intended (did I mention the stairs?).

Livin’ life on the edge ;)

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Jennifer Ushakov

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi! Originally from Harrisburg, PA, I am currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a degree in Finance with a minor in Chinese language. I&#39;ve been studying Mandarin since high school and am incredibly thrilled to have the chance to practice my language skills abroad this fall! In my free time, I love binge watching Netflix, experimental home-cooking, and spontaneous outdoor adventures. Come along as I explore the heart of Shanghai this semester!</span></p>

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