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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
May102015

The Great Wall 

Yesterday we went to the Great Wall and it was amazing!! It was pretty cool outside which was nice and no one got sunburned. We took about an hour bus ride to the part of the Great Wall we were climbing. When we arrived within ten minutes we were spotted by two Michigan alumni. It was great to see fellow Michigan fans halfway around the world. We then started the climb! 

The walk up the wall was a bit challenging at times, but looking at the view and thinking about the history of the wall made it all worth it. We went to a more secluded part of the wall, where fewer tourists go, and the views were AMAZING! Some of the BNU students came with us, and told us stories and myths about the wall and its history. We all brought snacks and had a little picnic on one of the seven wonders of the world - a once in a lifetime experience!snack time!

 

All matching in our Michigan psych shirts! 

Ran into some Michigan State fans at the Wall 

After our long day at the wall, we came back towards campus and ate at a Hot Pot restaurant. Hot Pot is when you cook the meat yourself in boiling water with different flavors, some were really spicy! At this restaurant they're known for their hospitality- they gave lens wipes for people with glasses, and hair ties to girls with their hair down. Also, if you have to wait to be seated (which lots of people do because it's so crowded) complimentary manicures and snacks are provided. They were also very theatrical, a man stretched out noodles in front of us before we ate them, and someone performed Bian lian - a dramatic art where a man changes masks without anyone seeing how! Overall, this day was really great (no pun intended) and everything from morning to night was awesome.

Stretching the noodles 

 

Friday
May082015

A Trip to The Forbidden City

Our adventures in Beijing continued yesterday, as the group traveled to The Forbidden City. To get there, we took the subway into the heart of the city. There was a sense of excitement, not only among the group but in everyone around us, as thousands of shuffled through the gate into the city. The gate itself was a spectacle to behold, spreading quite wide and rising far above the ground. Once inside the first gate, we were greeted by a vast open square that lay before the second gate. Once our tickets were purchased, we proceeded through the second gate. Many of us found the space and vastness of the city baffling as it stretched far and wide with ancient structures preserved throughout the centuries. Some of the structures included the emperor’s green room, changing room, and political strategy room. One common feature of many of the buildings was elegantly an designed throne on which the emperor would sit. One of the last features of the city that we visited was the imperial garden. Situated towards the center of the city, the garden provided an intimate and green space in a city characterized by relatively open courtyards. It was dotted with multiple gazebos and several unique rock and tree structures. Although we were able to witness much of the beauty of this iconic point of interest, there were still many features that we were unable to visit due to time constraints. This will most definitely be one of the most memorable days of our trip!

Friday
May082015

Yong He Gong Temple

Sherry and Emily here! Beijing has been a blast! Two days ago, the whole group went to the Yong He Gong Temple. We meet up at 9am to walk to the Chinese subway. The day before we recieved blue subway cards that had money preloaded on them. We have to swipe the card when we go on the subway and when we exit it. There's also a security check as we walked in, which was different than expected.

After Kevin and Kai navigated us through the subway system, we finally arrived at Yong He Gong Temple. At the entrance we each received a complimentary bundle of incense sticks. There are multiple temples within Yong He Gong. In front of each main temple, there is the option to burn three incense sticks to use for worship. Typically, you bow three times holding the incense in both hands, making one wish for each bow. For this purpose there were cushions in front of the temple for people kneeled on. Then, people placed their incense sticks up right in a metal bin filled with what appeared to be sand, allowing the incense to continue to burn. Areas designated for worship were also found inside the temples, but we were not allowed to burn the incense here.

 

 

Inside the temples were large, exquisite, detailed statues of famous bodhisattvas. In one temple, the was a Bodhisattva statue that three stories high made from a single tree. (It had a guinness record placard on the outside!) 

 

After we left the temple, we ate lunch at a baotzi restaurant, which are delicious steamed buns that we dipped in chinese vinegar. We had some pork ones as well as some with eggs and mushrooms. So yummy!!

That night, our BNU students visited us. It was great meeting them and we're looking forward to getting to know them in the next few weeks. 

Tuesday
May052015

It's 5am Somewhere...

Aric here. Eddie, my roommate, and I arrived to Beijing for the most part feeling as if we had overcome any sort of jet lag, going to bed around 11ish our first night, and waking up around 6 the next morning. The group headed out for breakfast and then sat in on a BNU class very similar to our own Psych 457. As described below, a group of us adventured the campus and the surrounding area of the city for a few hours, arriving back to our rooms at 3:30pm. We were told to meet the rest of the group for dinner at 5pm with plans to attend a class taught by our very own Kevin Miller at 6pm. Back to 3:30pm, with our legs feeling a bit weary, Eddie and I decided a quick nap before dinner couldn't hurt so we set some alarms on our phones and passed out...

I was awoken to Eddie saying this: "Dude, it's 6:30!..."

Need more be said? Eddie and I had slept through our alarms, missed dinner, and were now missing class. With no ability to text our fellow Beijingers, we helplessly waited in our rooms. Feeling absolutely embarrassed, no, mortified, we pleaded for forgiveness from our faculty advisors, and being the incredible, understanding humans that they are, they pardoned us for our embarrassing lack of control over our circadian clocks.Sums it up pretty well

Tuesday
May052015

Day One: Arrival, baby food, and street crossing

Lori, Mandy, and Nora here! After a 12 hour and 54 minute flight full of movies and questionable noodles, we made it to Beijing! A group of us took a van from the airport to Beijing Normal University, with limited personal space. We are all pleasantly surprised with the living situation! We're staying in an international dorm, which is pretty much like a hotel. After settling in to our rooms yesterday, we went to Friendship Restaurant, where we had our first taste of real Chinese food!! We got a bunch of dishes to share for the table, the best of which was called "stir fry baby food."

us and our luggage!

Today, we walked to get breakfast, grabbing some Jian Bing from a food cart. Jian Bing is like a crepe, filled with egg, scallions, lettuce and hoisin sauce. After breakfast, we went to a class at BNU and met our psychology counterparts! It was great to meet students who were doing the same work that we did back at Michigan. We're so excited to work with them to present our results at the end of our time here.

Kevin and Kai talk to the BNU students!

After class, we went to the BNU cafeteria to grab some lunch. Their dining hall is HUGE! The largest one is four floors, with different stations for meat, vegetables, breads, noodles and cold foods. There are so many options, and so many students at BNU, it was a bit stressful to grab our food! Once we did we sat with some students from the psychology class, and got to talk to them about their experiences here.

This is dining hall food?!

After lunch, we had some free time to explore the campus and city. A group of us explored off campus, succesfully crossed the street, and proceeded to have a celebration while people stared. We bought a bunch of snacks, including dried mango and mini fruit jellys, and then headed back to the dorms. Tonight, we're getting dinner and then going to a class taught by Kevin and Kai, and afterwards some BNU students are going to show us around! 

On a pedestrian bridge in the city!

We'll keep you updated :)