I was so relieved when the other IES Abroad students and I actually made it to Chengdu. After booking the tickets online, getting through security and customs at the airport, and using public transportation to get to our hostel, I was just glad I was in one piece.
The first thing I saw when I walked into the hostel was a sign that said keep your things in the safe at the receptionist desk if you don’t want it to get stolen. That freaked me out a little, and I was wondering how I was going to explain to my parents that I was going to be living in a hostel for a week. I had never been to a hostel before, but since all of us are college students, we wanted to find a place that would fit our budget.
That night, I discovered that there is a bright side to staying in a hostel. Since there was barely any space to move in each bedroom, many of the lodgers chose to hang out in the lobby before going to sleep. One guy was singing rock me mamma like a wagon wheel and playing guitar. Many people were talking to each other about why they were in Chengdu, and what they have seen so far in their travels. Everyone was so friendly that I even talked to a guy while I was brushing my teeth who lives in the same city I was born in!
The lobby had a pool table, and I have to admit it was pretty fun winning twice against a seven-year-old boy because he was so impressed with my skills, even though others might argue that my pool skills are lacking. After we played pool, one of the other IES Abroad students and I got to practice our Chinese with the boy, and he even sung You are my Sunshine in English, which was so cute!
After feeling better about where I was staying, the other IES Abroad students and I set out to see the city of Chengdu. We went to the Jinsha Site Museum, which has tons of cool relics that were found from the civilization of the ancient Shu State from around 3,000 years ago. The coolest piece was the golden sun bird, because there is a legend that the sun disappeared one day, and four elders of the Shu State went to go search for it. Apparently, a wizard had captured it, so to prevent that from ever happening again, the elders turned themselves into birds and now protect the sun.
The history in all the museums we have been in has been so interesting that it is almost too much to fathom that people had created these things almost three thousand years ago! I didn’t realize how much history America lacks until I went to all of these Chinese museums and thought about how America doesn’t have a lot of museums like these because our history is so much shorter.
My favorite thing we did in Chengdu was see the pandas because they were so cute! I think I am related to pandas because all they do is eat and sleep. At the Chengdu research base, I learned that in the wild, if mothers give birth to twins, they can only raise one baby, but at the research center, they have been able to replicate the care that a baby needs, so they can raise both the twins. We saw two baby pandas wrestling and even though it is kind of looks more like fighting, I knew that they were just playing with each other.
We only have a little bit longer until we move to Jiao Tong University to start the school semester. Up until now, we have just been taking a Chinese class with the teachers at IES Abroad, but soon we move out of the center of the city. I’m excited to see what school is like in China, but I will miss being so close to all the cool things in the middle of the city.