I didn’t have to wear a hazmat suit in Beijing. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to breathe in Beijing because I was told that the air pollution was really bad that sometimes you can’t see your hand in front of you, and in the winter, the snow is black. However, the factories were closed for the weekend, so there didn’t seem to be a difference in air quality compared to Shanghai.
Since we didn’t have a lot of time in Beijing, we only got to see a few things, but the things we did see were definitely worthwhile. We went to the Forbidden City, which was huge with more than 8,700 rooms for the emperor to hold court in and his family to live in. It was really pretty because almost all the roofs are yellow tile, which looked gold in the sun.
We also went to a food street, which had all kinds of weird food like scorpion, starfish, and seahorse. I was too afraid to try scorpion because they were still moving until you bought one, and then they would fry it and hand it to you. However, I did get an eggette (see picture), which I had been keeping my eye out for a while (well worth it too).
However, my favorite part of Beijing was definitely the Great Wall. Originally I hadn’t planned on going to Beijing because two out of five of us had already gone, but I’m so glad I ended up being able to go. The Great Wall really was amazing. It was so pretty, and even though the sun was out, it started snowing a little bit, which was a nice refresher since climbing the wall was more strenuous than I had expected. Every few minutes I had to stop and look around me because it took my breath away, both literally and figuratively because of the beautiful view.
After going to the current capital of China last weekend, we went to the ancient capital of China this weekend. Xi’an was the capital city of China in the ancient times for over 1,100 years with a city wall that was used to guard the city from enemies. The wall is 36 miles to go all the way around, and we biked the whole thing, which was a really cool way to see most of the city in 2 hours.
Then, we we decided to be crazy and hike a mountain starting at midnight to see the sunrise. It took us the full six hours to hike up the mountain, and we got to the top about half an hour before the sunrise. However, we weren’t the only crazy ones. There were actually a lot of people who were on the trail with us. You could hear people moaning in agony as we crawled our way up the steep steps of the mountain, but it was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling. Even though the sunrise was beautiful, my favorite part was the fact that when I needed to take a break, I could just look up and see what seemed like every star in the universe. The trail was lighted every couple feet, so it even looked like the trail was leading me to the stars.
The next day, we went to see the Terracotta Warriors. There are over 7,000 terracotta figures who guard the first Emperor of China’s tomb and are replicas of the imperial guard during that time, so each figure is unique. The warriors were discovered in 1974 by farmers who were trying to dig a well and kept unearthing terracotta instead of dirt. It was funny because we went into a gift shop and they said that for today only the original farmer was here and could sign a book about the Terracotta Warriors and you could take a picture with him.
We have been on so many trips all over China, and it has been really cool to see all the different cities. I know how to travel around China now, so it has made me want to travel around the United States more. At the very least, I hope to explore the area around my college. I have learned so much from studying abroad, and I can’t wait to use everything I learned when I go back home in a month!
Next weekend might be our last weekend to travel because finals are coming up sooner than is comfortable, and time is running out! However, we are trying to get as much out of our study abroad experience as possible!
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<p>Hi all! My name is Lucy Swett, and I am a sophomore at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. I am majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Chinese. I was adopted from Hubei China, when I was one year old, raised in the United States, and now I am excited to go back for the first time! I hope you join me in my adventure!</p>