After nearly 24 hours of travel, we made it to China! Our students coped well with a grueling flight (as did our teachers) to be greeted by our new chinese friends and colleagues for the next two weeks as we landed at Beijing airport.
Day 1 - Temple of Heaven
Just to ensure we didn't miss out, straight from the plane we were whisked off to our first bout of sightseeing. After a quick lunch (the food was delicious!), we were taken to see the Temple of Heaven. Students learnt how the emperor would use this space to make sacrifices to help bring about a good harvest. I think the only thing our students were hoping for at this time was a good balst of air con as we hit temperatures in the high 30s! After another quick meal, which followed a gap of only a couple of hours, we went to our hotel and settled into our home for the next week.
Day 2 - The Great Wall of China and The Summer Palace (Callum Kalley)
Today, we climbed the Great Wall of China; a long and challenging journey. The majority of our group were tired at an early point due to the steepness and length of the wall. Thrukaan, Leo and myself were the only ones who kept going. There were periods where we felt tired and there were certainly periods where we had to stop for breaks. Tiredness was not our only enemy; the heat was gruelling, but we carried on none the less. After climbing various stages, we almost gave up when we realised how close we were to the top of the section we were battling with. Exhausted, we journeyed on. Finally, we made it to the top! The views were well worth the struggle and the pain. After we had taken some pictures and had a rest, we made our way down to the rest of the group who were waiting for us. We all had medals made for ourselves to celebrate our accomplishment.
Later that day we visited the Summer Palace; a place built for the Emperor and his 3000 wives. Yes, this is not a typo, he really had 3000 wives! We learned about the history behind the buildings and artwork on the site and about the Emperor and the Dragon Lady; an impress first for China: a female Emperor.
After leaving the Summer Palace, we went to dinner where we tasted a range of different food that we are getting to know well and finding our favourites from. A well-earned rest was due to us as we returned to the hotel for the night.
Day 3 - Tian'anmen Square, The Forbidden Palace and The National Museum (Manbir Pandher)
Today was another wonderful, hot and busy day! We visited four stunning and famous places where tourists love to go to. First we went to Tian’anmen Square and it was really crowded, with lots of beautiful statues. It was huge! The largest town square in the world ad it was easy to see why; it was hard to see the details on the buildings at the other end of the square as they were so far away. The Congress building, Mao mausoleum, the National museum and the entrance to The Forbidden City; we were surrounded by mgnificent sights wherever we looked. We took lots of photos of them since they looked so amazing and it was so impressive to see how they were all so beautifully detailed. Also, around us were loads of people wanting to take photos with us; something we've become quite used: we feel pretty famous here
Day 4 - 798 Arts District and Beijing Zoo (Emily Patel)
This morning we visited the 798 Arts District; a region of Beijing that is densely packed with art and textile galleries. It also had small markets that sold everything from the tiniest tea cup to luxurious silk gowns. We loved seeing the art work and buying a few cheeky gifts during our exploration. After lunch we visited Beijing Zoo. First we went to see the giant pandas who, as a result of the soaring temperatures, were lazily dozing. Despite this lack of action they still remained really cute. After seeing a few more enclosures with a few more shading and sleeping animals, we spent the rest of the time in the gift shops. I was left feeling like a celebrity when local people came to take photos of us! After dinner we watched a play called “Choang Li” which was a Kung Fu show about a boy and his journey to becoming a Kung Fu master. Overall it was an extremely enjoyable day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow!
Day 5 - Confucius Institute and Hongqiao Market (Tajreeyan Islam)
Today is our last day in Beijing, and we are all so sad to leave this amazing city. Saying that, I had a great end to our stay here and I have gained new skills as well as experiences.
In the morning, we went to the Confucius (Hanban) Institute and this experience was completely different than I had envisioned- not only was very informative as well as being enjoyable and practical. As soon as we entered, we all felt a sense of unity as the flags of different countries surrounded us (and of course we had to take pictures with them). There were so many interactive activities such as taking photos, trying out royal traditional costumes and traditional Chinese paper cutting, where we were all able to make a beautiful paper cut out of the animal that represents our birth year from the Chinese zodiac.
After lunch, we visited the world-famous Hongqiao Market, also known as the Pearl Market. This market is different to any other market in England - this is where I mastered the art of bargaining and haggling. I have to admit, I negotiated quite well to bring the prices down, but the best negotiator had to be Daisy - she used her charm and her confidence to get the best possible price for everyone. Personally, I think this was the best part the trip - who could say ‘no’ to three hours of shopping?! Overall, it was a fantastic day and I’m looking forward to our journey to Shenyang tomorrow where we get to meet our class mates for the next week in a Chinese school!
Day 7 - Our school experience begins and we meet our new Chinese friends (Leo Ronson)
Today, we attended our first day’s experience at the Northeast Yucai International Institute, our school home for the next week.
The first thing we did was go to our home room, where we began our first class of Chinese language lessons; challenging yet hugely interesting. We were taught the different tones for different letters, as well as the pronunciation of different letters.
After our tea break, we were taken to our Chinese calligraphy lessons, where we learned the technique of writing Chinese symbols. We were taught to draw the characters from the top-right to the bottom-left of the page; a unique experience considering we are so used to writing in the opposite direction! This was, as we soon realised, easier said than done. We were also told to think of writing the characters as a form of art, which was certainly easy to do considering how beautiful so many of the characters are. We were also told about the four treasures of writing; the calligraphy brush, rice paper, ink, and the ink stone. These instruments are what we used to create our Chinese calligraphy.
After lunch (we were given a variety of amazing foods to try), we were paired in threes and introduced to our host student. I was with Daisy and Manroop, and our host was a student whose name was Ben. He took us to a science exhibition which had a variety of amazing artefacts and fun, educational activities. It seems that all children the world over have similar favourites as after we finished looking around the educational facility, we went out to eat at McDonald's.
Day 8 - Our school days continue! (Daisy John)
To be honest can I start by saying it’s pretty awesome that we are in China with no parents. We were told to wake up at 6am but us being children, we don’t listen right? So of course good old Mrs. Handley came banging on our door. My roommate and I showered and dressed and ran downstairs to get breakfast. As soon as everyone finished we started out on our 30-minute coach ride to the school. When we got to school our new teachers for the week gave everyone a bottle of water and sent us to class. The class, that all of Seven Kings are in, had a Chinese lesson first where we learnt how to ask who people are and say our names. We then learnt about numbers, money and time. We then finished our lesson, had a 10-minute break and then did paper cutting and designed some very unique and wonderful things. Lunch came after, where the school catered for all needs and there was something that everyone could eat. After lunch there was a group photo. Next came kung Fu and trust me, if you thought our school was big or even our gym is big, you won’t believe how gigantic and beautiful both the school and gym were. we trekked (and I mean trekked) back to our homerooms were we did Chinese knots and made a bracelet. Dinner was delicious; Peking duck! A total treat! Then they took us on a campus tour and it took 40 minutes and we only saw 3 departments of the school. It huge! They have 15,000 students. Two GIANT greenhouses and a teacher whose only job is to be a gardening teacher. It was a special and unique place and we feel so pleased to be part of such an experience. That, ladies and gentleman, is how big one school in China is. The school gave us an hour of free time for sports or computing and all of us chose sports but we did lounge by one of the play area (note: the school does have a playground, a running stadium, a swimming pool, a diving pit and a gym with seating that makes it look like a pop concert arena!). We then got on the bus and had a 30-minute drive on the coach with some new friends and saw the sunset. The sunset in England is truly nice but in China it is unbelieve and the views are completely magical. When we arrived at the hotel, we talked, we chilled and now I’m just about ready for bed.
Have a nice evening everyone,
Over and out