A student abroad: A lesson on China
Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 3:13 pm | Updated: 3:19 pm, Tue Aug 14, 2012.
By Josephine Tedder | 0 comments
With many tears from my mother and a kiss from my boyfriend, I stepped through security on my way to China from SFO. For 12 hours on the plane I watched movies, tried to sleep, listened to music and then repeated the whole process over and over again.
Finally, I arrived in Beijing and started my first experience outside the United States. After a nerve-wracking search for International Scholar Laureate Program representatives (a college program for diplomacy and international relations), I was rushed onto a bus to my hotel. My jaw dropped the second I stepped into the lobby and saw an extraordinary crystal chandelier, high balcony and marble everywhere. After a short wait, I received my room key and officially began my two weeks of rushing around everywhere to see everything.
After dinner, we were introduced to the amazing people who I would spend the entire trip with. There were people from England, Australia, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and many other countries.
The next morning, I formed my research group with two women from the U.S. and Africa, and two men from Jamaica and Australia. We had to take notes throughout the trip and present our findings in the end. The first day we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I was amazed at the sheer size of the massive courtyard and its beauty. The government has people plant brand new flower decorations every month. The Forbidden City itself takes three days to see and that’s at a fast pace. The day I visited it rained, making time outside pretty miserable. I was thankful when it was time to get back on the bus and go to dinner for traditional Peking Duck. It was one of the best meals we had while we were there.
The next day we started at the Beijing American Center where we attended a lecture by U.S. Embassy staff. Later, we visited the Beijing Foreign Studies University where we listened to another lecture on Chinese Foreign Policy. We spent the evening with Chinese students studying English.
On our last full day in Beijing – my favorite day of the whole trip – we visited the Olympic Green. We had our picture taken in front of the Birds Nest, which is about all we had time for. We then rushed onto the bus and headed to the Great Wall. I will never forget the experience of how hard it was to climb, but also the beauty of the countryside. All you could see were rolling green hills with the wall winding its way across them and the city far in the distance, though I did refuse to eat the donkey burger they tried to serve us.
Last in Beijing was a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where we attended another lecture. Later we were given the choice to choose our own activities. I chose to ride the rickshaws through the older parts of Beijing. It was a scary experience as the drivers do not care if a car is coming. That evening we bade Beijing goodbye and started our journey in Xi’an.
Xi’an is a much smaller city and is the home of the Terra Cotta Army. I was amazed by the number of soldiers. It was the emperor’s entire army and every face was different, showing that the soldiers were truly all separate individuals. Other highlights of Xi’an were being able to walk along the city wall, which used to surround the whole city and visiting the Muslim section of the city, which is one large market. I found the market to be the best place for souvenirs in all of China. We then flew into Shanghai.
According to the itinerary, I was to spend only two days in Shanghai, but it became four. The first day we attended lectures and an acrobatics show, the best that I have ever seen. Our second day we spent shopping and then had our farewell dinner and our report presentations complete with many tears and goodbyes.
The following morning I was set to board my flight back to San Francisco. Everything went as planned and we boarded the flight on time, ready to depart. At take off the pilot discovered that there was a problem with the plane and he informed us that it would just be a half hour delay so we stayed on board. Well, the half hour became an hour and then another until it became four hours sitting on the plane. At the four-hour mark the flight was canceled and we were rescheduled for the next day. The next day the flight was canceled again, only we never actually got on the plane. That day we spent hours sitting on the floor of the airport trying to get a flight home. I was finally successful the following day but I had to fly to Beijing and then home. After such an ordeal I was thankful to step foot into San Francisco and am looking forward to my next trip, the Presidential Inauguration.
Josephine Tedder, 19 of Mountain Ranch, is a graduate of Mountain Oaks Charter School in San Andreas and a current student at San Joaquin Delta Community College.