Many of the students visited an art district in Beijing, but there were mixed reviews of the place. Later, we had the midterm before heading off for a weekend trip in An’yang!
A group of CET students went to the 798 Art District in Beijing. Some students enjoyed the area and some had trouble finding interesting exhibits, especially since the buildings are spread out and difficult to identify. I enjoyed seeing some of the art galleries, like the 3-D paintings, but I wouldn’t recommend this trip unless you know you enjoy art museums and are in the mood to see them. That day, I would have rather spent my time exploring other parts of Beijing.
All the students had a midterm exam（期中考试）before leaving on a bullet train to An’yang, China. My midterm went pretty well, but I had to put a lot of effort into studying for it because I had to review so much material! All the students had a written and spoken exam.
I think my Chinese has definitely improved since the beginning of the program. I am really happy to have accomplished one of my goals, which is to be able to hold a conversation in Chinese! I think the thing I need to really improve on is my tones. There are a few sounds that are really tough to make! For example, Zhī, Chī, Qī (之, 吃, 七). They all sound very similar to me, like the beginning sound of “cheese.”
It was interesting to see some of An’yang （安阳）. Even though it’s considered a smaller city, it has more than five million people! On the train ride there, I could see a lot of buildings being erected, but near the hotel we stayed at, parts were still not as developed. Perhaps the strangest thing was the hotel. The electricity didn’t work unless you had the room card, and the shower was not separated from the bathroom sink and toilet. Overall, I am really glad I went on the trip. Almost all the CET students decided to go, but only a few Chinese roommates tagged along. I think our roommates were either busy or weren’t fond of hiking for an entire day.
Wang Xiangyan Mountain in Taihang Canyon
The first big excursion we did in An’yang was hike the mountain! It was similar to the Great Wall, but the paths felt more dangerous to go on. One part was a staircase winding along the side of the mountain, so it was kind of scary looking down! When we got to the waterfall, it was a good break, but I was surprised that there was even more of a climb to make. Some students decided to not climb any higher, but I tagged along with some people and walked up a very tall, spiraling staircase. I’m not especially afraid of heights, but it was still frightening to be so high up without safety straps. I am glad to have pushed myself and accomplished making it to the top! There was also a zip-line that took you across the mountain to the other side, where you could look down at the waterfall.
Peach Blossom Gorge
This was my favorite part of the An’yang trip. Although it was also tiring to walk along the river, it was much more leisurely than climbing the mountain. This area had many beautiful waterfalls and the rocks were carved from years of water flowing through. As I walked, I found it amazing how this beautiful place was created by a combination of nature and human effort. The natural scenery was amazing, and the paths that were created for easier access were also very fun to walk along.
Museum of Yin Ruins and Yang Ge Performance
The last day, we saw a museum that featured the Shang Dynasty. The oracle bones were really cool to see! I liked seeing how similar and different the ancient characters were compared to today. Many of the early types of characters were pictographic; for example, four fish swimming symbolized fishing, and a sprout coming from the ground meant a tree. After the museum, we went to watch a local dance performance（表演）at the Chenghuan Temple. It was nice to see part of their culture, especially the bright clothes they wear. I heard that Chinese people believe bright clothes symbolize luck and a happy life – 我听说鲜艳的衣服象征幸福的生活. One game was jumping on one leg and trying to push the other person over. Another game involved rolling a circle without letting it fall. The only game I was familiar with was jump rope, which was fun to bond over.