There was quite a lot of sightseeing this week, including a traditional opera, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace.
The CET activity for last week was seeing an opera performance at the Li Yuan Theater. There were three parts with different stories. One story was about a woman disguised as a man who traveled with her horse. I can’t remember the second story, but the last story was about a king who was outnumbered in battle and was forced to retreat. Their efforts seem hopeless since the enemy will soon encircle their campsite. His favorite concubine sings and dances to try to relieve his stress, but in the end, she commits suicide in order to make it easier for him to escape.
A classmate and I traveled to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City together. It was a great feeling to be comfortable enough to find our own way through the subway and streets. There were so many people! At first, we weren’t really sure where Tiananmen was when we arrived at our stop, but after going through security and walking around more, we were able to find the landmark.
The Forbidden City 故宫 is as beautiful as people say. With over 900 rooms, the palace with gold-painted roofs is definitely fit for a king. My classmate and I decided to walk around the palace without a tour guide, which made it harder to appreciate the significance, but I am glad I made the trip to see the intricate architecture and scenery. The Forbidden City started with the Ming Dynasty and ended with the Qing Dynasty, so the walls provided shelter for royalty for almost 500 years. One of the most relaxing places was the imperial gardens. Although there were many tourists, I liked to imagine how quiet and peaceful the garden must have been when the emperor and other high-class people strolled around the stone paths.
My class focused on Chinese history this last week, so we took a field trip to Song Qingling’s house, which is now a museum to commemorate her contribution to what is now the People’s Republic of China. Song Qingling 宋庆龄 is Sun Yat-sen’s 孙中山third wife who aided in his revolutionary conquest, ending feudal rule in 1911.
CET brought us to the Summer Palace 颐和园by boat on Friday after our weekly exam. Unfortunately, the boat ride was not enjoyable since we were crammed in two-three person seats, which made the cabinet extremely hot, and the only scenery we saw was the side of a canal and locals who stared at the white students. However, when we arrived at the Summer Palace, everyone was happy to explore the beautiful grounds. My favorite part was seeing the lily beds and tall bridges scattered around the lake’s inlets.
After the midterm, everyone struggled to get back into study-mode. I was pretty burnt, so the week after An’yang was my worst academic performance since the start of the program. I managed to motivate myself to do better the week after, but I’ll have to keep going for this coming week of new lessons and then make a final push during the last week of classes.