Recent Blog Posts

Post written by Dianie Chen '20 and Cora Barrett '19:

On June 2nd, we began the overnight train ride to Xi’an. It was a new experience for many, especially because of the tight space. Each room had two bunk beds, with about two feet of space in between the two beds. Many of us did not sleep well that night because of constant motion and noise. All of us were glad to get off the train in Xi’an at 9:00 am the following morning. 

On June 3rd, the day we got off the train, we went to go see the Shaanxi History Museum. It had many artifacts from the Tang Dynasty, as well as many other early Chinese Civilizations. The museum was an outlet into what life was like back then for Chinese people in the Shaanxi province. On this day, we ate lunch at a vegetarian restaurant next to a Buddhist temple. This restaurant and others near it are most likely vegetarian, because the people who attend this temple are part of the sect that does not eat meat.  After a delicious lunch, we went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The tour guide told us the story of the Pagoda, and how it was named. She said that the Monkey King’s master got lost in the desert and was dying of thirst, and on the seventh day without water, a big wild goose flew over him, leading him to water. When he returned back to his home, he named the Pagoda after the goose. A pagoda is a place of worship that also houses sacred texts, as well as other religious relics. It also often has many tiers. After that, we went to a dumpling banquet which included Tang Dynasty music and dance. We got to try one of every dumpling on the menu. Then, we watched the show. There were about eight acts, and we saw many unusual instruments including the Gu-zheng, and Er-hu. Most of the dances included a form of ribbon dancing where women have colorful dresses with very long flow sleeves. All in all, it was a very fun day. 
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The next day, June 4th, we left the hotel at 9:00 am to go see the ancient city wall. The wall was originally created for fortification and unity purposes. It is one giant square in the middle of Xi’an, with a perimeter of 13.7km. All twelve of us rode bikes the whole way around. It took most of us around 50 minutes, but there were some stragglers. It was interesting to see the ancient stone wall against the backdrop of skyscrapers and highways. 

After this workout, we went to see the Terra-cotta Warriors. These warriors were created to protect the first emperor of China in his afterlife. They are quite old, so many pieces were falling apart, and needed a lot of support. The coolest thing about this experience was seeing the two terra-cotta chariots in the exhibition hall. The purpose of the first one is to lead the way, and the second one is for the emperor. Next, we visited the Muslim Quarter. Here you can purchase lots of local food and drinks, though the tour guide suggested not to for sanitary purposes. You can also buy many souvenirs here, many of which highlight local art such as paper cutting. Some of us visited a shop where you could pay to sit with your feet in a tank of fish. The fish are called doctor fish because they eat the dead skin of of your body. It was quite a ticklish experience, and highly recommended. Finally, we went to eat hot pot. Each of us got our own little pot, and we enjoyed cooking our own food, and dipping it in our own signature sauces. 

At the Muslim Quarter
The morning of June 5th, Jing and Hank decided to hold a discussion about the differences between western and eastern culture in terms of mindset and action. They did this because they believe that in order to learn a language, you must also understand the culture. We learned that Western culture values individualism, and universalism, as well as having a monochronic mindset. People from the west tend to speak in a direct manner while expressing themselves. On the other hand, people from the East mainly go about life with a collectivist, particularist, and polychronic mindset. Here, it is also culturally correct to be indirect in communication. After this eye-opening discussion, we packed our bags so we could leave after eating Yang rou pao mo. This is a famous local food, which includes specially baked bread in lamb soup. We each received two pieces of bread, and were tasked with breaking it into small pieces. After a strenuous bread crumbling session, we finally got to enjoy the delicious meal. Next, we took the short two hour high speed train ride to Zheng Zhou. For many of us, it is the first time riding a high speed train. Looking forward to many more interesting and new adventures! 

1 comment:

  1. Great photos and nice write up. Glad you are all learning and seeing so much.