My Trip to Beijing...
A great chance to experience Beijing and to make friends with PKU students
After long hours of flying, we arrived at a spacious and spotless Beijing International Airport. I was very impressed by their architecture. Professor Zhang from the Peking University came with Dr.Lai to take us to our home for the next three weeks. As soon I stepped out of the airport, I noticed that the city was very hazy. During that 40 min ride to our hotel, I noticed the busy traffic with people riding their bikes, buses, and taxis everywhere. The place we were staying at was called the Global Village, they still had construction going on and we were the first people to use the rooms. Our suite was well equipped with our own personal desks, shelves, closet, internet access and most importantly, air conditioning. We also learned that we had someone to clean our bathroom, give us new towels and make our beds every day. I have always done that by myself so I felt very special.
I am not sure if it was due to my tiredness before my trip, but I did not have any trouble sleeping when we first arrived there. I would say we had the most comfortable pillow and comforter. I wish I could have brought it back with me. First couple days, we went to bed around 8pm. However, by the end of our trip, many of us were going to bed around 2am. It was tough in the beginning to trying to wake up early in the morning to go to lecture after not having classes for two months and trying to adjust to the new time zone. Other than small difficulties in communication, the local students spoke English fairly well. For someone who has never been to an English-speaking country, I was very surprised by their English skills.
Within the first two days of classes, I got a map of Beijing in English. That night, a couple of us sat down and combined all the places that we wanted to visit including the ones that we researched about before we left the U.S. It would have been impossible for us to explore the city without the help of the local students. All the students were very helpful at letting us ask questions and taking us around the city. In the beginning we were just classmates but by the end of the trip, we were all friends and we were able to joke around and laugh together.
After spending three weeks there, I got around okay only by knowing: hello, goodbye, thank you, how much is it and cold water. If I were to go again in the future, I would learn at least a little bit more Chinese so that I do not feel too misplaced. Overall, this trip was a great experience. Even though this trip was not a semester long, I felt like I gained a great experience within the three weeks. I observed such a different perspective of China by actually being in the country rather than just hearing about it though the media. I also enjoyed interacting with the local students. With all the help and the kindness that they shared with us, I would love to be able to help out international students here at Penn State. I hope all the students there would also have a chance to come to Penn State so that we can return the favor.