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Useful resources for learning about contemporary China:

 English language Sinica Podcast

James Fallows - not always China-related, but always interesting

What's going on in Beijing:

TimeOut Beijing

The Beijinger

China Daily's Beijing Weekend 

Beijing Weather - Weather Underground

 

Useful language learning tools

Chinesepod podcast - free beginners' podcasts

Popup Chinese podcast - another very good podcast series

Hacking Chinese - interesting ideas on learning Chinese efficiently

Skritter character-learning tool for iPad/iPhone - really fun app

Sinosplice - John Pasden's site on many interesting aspects of China and the Chinese language

 

 

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Sunday
Apr302017

千里之行始于足下 - qiānlǐzhīxíng shǐyúzúxià - a journey of a thousand li begins with a single footstep

Many "Chinese" sayings in English are fake, but this one is not. Apparently it's from the Dao de jing, which I didn't realize until I looked it up now. Tomorrow most of us will take the first steps toward our rendezevous in Beijing on May 2 and this year's Global Course Connections - Beijing trip. This weekend was graduation and it was exciting to see how accomplished the former participants on these trips have become. This year's group has a lot to live up to, but I expect that it will be an exciting, productive, educational, fun, and occasionally frustrating trip for everyone. I'm glad, and honored, to be along for this journey.

 

 

 

Friday
May272016

Class, Art, BMW & Movies!

Today was overall an awesome day! My day started off very nicely because I got to try the pork sausage egg and cheese McMuffin at McDonalds. It is always nice to compare the McDonalds oversees. I really enjoyed the sandwich and couldn’t tell the difference between my breakfast sandwich in the states. It was nice to just get a bit of American food after days of eating only Chinese food.

Waiting for my breakfast sandwich at McDonalds

After breakfast we had our three-hour class with the BNU students, where we finished watching the videos that were comparing Chinese, Japanese, and American preschools. We engaged in more discussions and learned more about our differences.

We then went to a part of town that had beautiful art work displayed outside for everyone to see. I saw many beautiful pieces. My favorite piece of art was a statue of three girls who appeared to be dancing. They also appeared to be women of color which made me even more excited. Just down the street from the art, there was a BMW museum that we went to. I was amazed upon walking in as it was so futuristic and far beyond my imagination. There was a huge circular room that had screens all around the wall. It played a short video in both Chinese and English, which talked about the future of the BMW and the vision that they shared. I talked to several of the employees there and all of them emphasized the fact that everything they showed in this museum is the vision that they have for the future, not something that they had already obtained. They even created a model car of what they proposed the BMW is to look like in the future, which was really cool. My favorite part was when we got to participate in a virtual reality. They had goggles prepared for people to look in and see the inside of the future BMW car. You could move around and look at different things. It was as if you were actually inside of the vehicle. It was so much fun!

Piece of Art!

The future BMW car!

Trying to mimic the dance of these beautiful statues!

 Jessica entering into a virtual reality of the BMW!

We arrived back to our dorm in time to get ready for the movies. We met with a few of the BNU students at 5:15 who were kind enough to get our movies tickets in advance. We all walked over to the movie theater and immediately after walking in our noses were filled with the glorious smell of the popcorn. It smelled like maple syrup and made me want to instantly buy some. It tasted both sweet and salty, but mostly sweet. We walked into the theater and saw that it was enormous, bigger than any theater I had ever been in. Apparently we were in the largest movie theater in Asia! We got our 3-D glasses and enjoyed Captain America, which was about two hours long. Luckily the movie was in English and had Chinese subtitles. Although I had never watched any Captain Americas before that, it was very easy for me to follow along and really enjoy it. I had an awesome day and I am looking forward to what tomorrow has to bring!

Saturday
May212016

Week 2: Beihai Park, PanJiaYuan Market, Migrant School and Preschool, Mao's Tomb

Ending Week 1 was our first free day and large group of us went to a baseball game at BNU and then went to the BeiHai Park. We climbed up to a pagoda and hung out for a bit there before splitting up where some of us went to the Coal Hill and some us took a boat ride around the lake. 

We started off week 2 by going to the PanJiaYuan Market, which had cheap goods that many of us bargained good prices for. Many of us got souveniers for family and friends here. 

 

The following day was another relaxing day. We went to the Art District and checked out a few musuems and shops and some of us stopped at this really delicious frozen yogurt place. 

 

 

Later in the week we went to Migrant School and Preschool. At the Migrant School we paired up and taught english lessons to the kids. To our surprise, the kids barely knew any basic english words such as "How are You" or "What's your name," but we all had a fantastic time being able to play games with the kids all the while teaching them english. After class, the kids asked us for countless photoes and autographs...celebrity status for those monumental 30 minutes. At the Preschool, we went around to the classrooms and played with the kids and played some games in the courtyards with them. Overall from both the Migrant School and Preschool, I noticed how disciplined the kids were. No one talked when the teacher talked and when they were told to stand they would stand until they were told to sit. Quite different from American classrooms! 

On our free day, some of us ventured out to the Ming tombs. We were able to visit 2 tombs, one of the tombs had been raided and burned, the other tomb didn't consist of much either, but the countryside views and the walks around the tombs were very enjoyable for us. We were supposed to take a bus to get to the second tomb, but the bus was not opertaing because of construction, so instead we walked 30 minutes to get there, which I am thankful for because the scenery along the way was gorgeous.  Later in the day, we also went to WangFuJing aka the shopping district and food street. Some of us dared to try the scorpion and grasshopper, while the rest of us enjoyed some more "normal" looking snacks. 

Next we visited Mao's Tomb. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take any photos, but we were able to get a few of Tiananmen Square. 

 

Tuesday
May102016

Week 1: Lama Temple, Confucius Temple, and the Forbidden City

On Thursday, we visited the Lama Temple. This Tibetan Buddhist temple was built in 1694 and is astoundingly beautiful. 

Following the lead of other temple visitors, we lit joss sticks and said a prayer.

The Lama Temple is also home to an 18-meter high Buddha statue, carved out of a single piece of sandalwood. Naturally, selfies were in order.

 

Afterward, some of us decided to venture to the Confucius Temple, which was built in 1302.

 

On Friday, we saw the Forbidden City, which was the Chinese Imperial Palace from the years 1420-1912. It attracts more tourists than any other destination in the world!

 

 

Saturday
May072016

Forbidden City

The students on the trip will have more to add, but here's one quick picture from our day in the Forbidden City. (click on thumbnail for full size image).