Class on a Boat?

Class on a Boat?

Shyree J. Clark

Meet ... Shyree J. Clark

China Study Abroad Major: Psychology
Location: Beijing, China
Studying: Spending four weeks immersed in the Chinese culture while visiting majestic, historical sites and studying at the prestigious Institute of Chinese as Second Language of Peking University.

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Our last class of China today was on the famous marble boat of Peking University. During this class various students from our group presented articles that have to do with issues that China is now facing today. The students who presented were Kurt, Sam, and Sarah.

As stated in earlier blogs of my peers we always attract a lot of attention for being Americans. During the presentations we had a lot of people stop, stare, and take pictures.

This is the usual, but we actually had someone join our circle this time! He sat right next to Dr. Jing Luo. Even though he did not speak English he smiled and clapped when we clapped. It was pretty funny. To me this man’s actions were unusual but probably not to him or anyone who is a native of China, because here personal space does not exist.

Aiming for Success

Living in Beijing, China for a month definitely gave me a culture shock. Some things were not too hard to get use to like the stares and random strangers taking pictures. However, some things took more time to get use to and at the end of this trip I can definitely say I still am not comfortable with the squatting toilets.

Jake MacLean, a fellow classmate who studied abroad a year earlier than I told me to practice my squatting. I really thought he was joking but the joke was on me. Luckily this year the student dorms had American style toilets. However, when I am in public I hope and pray I do not have to use the restroom.

Although being in China for a month from time to time I am forced to embrace the difference and “do my business.” Here is a tip for new travelers. During your normal exercise routine grab some weights and do some squats, because that leg strength will definitely come in handy.

China’s Public Transportation

China’s public transportation is not much different than transportation in the U.S.. China offers buses, subways, and trains like the U.S. but with a population a little over 1.3 billion. This countries capital can get a little crowded. I have never taken the bus anywhere in China because of how crowded it is but I have taken the subway and the fast train.

The subway is a Yuan more than the bus so it’s not as crowded. That Yuan is well worth it you can get to many places for cheap and you will get there avoiding the frequent traffic jams of China. Getting off and on the subway can be difficult and frustrating but a few friends and I kind of made it into a game.

The rules for getting on the train are as follows:

    1. Run onto the train
    2. Squeeze in as much as you can
    3. Get to a safe area before the door closes.

For getting off the train it’s pretty simple, don’t get left.

The Great Wall

Shyree Clark I wish this blog would say the great wall was amazing, and you should go it’s a once in a lifetime experience … but I can’t. It actually was not that great. Maybe I’m being a bit pessimistic, because it poured and the fog ruined any view of scenery around the great wall. Maybe it was the “30 minute” stair climb that gave me horrible flashbacks of Mount Tai. Either way I was miserable. It was very humid, the rain cooled us off but ruined the view, and the stair climb reinjured my ankle.

Because of this I had a hard time keeping up with the group and was not in the group photos. To make this all even better the night before the group went out and there was tap water in our drinks. The number one rule of travel is not to drink the water. I think I don’t need to explain any further how much of a crummy day that was.

On our way back to campus the rain was getting worst. That day was said to be the worst rainfall Beijing has had in 60 years. So instead of eating on campus a few of us stayed in and ordered Papa John’s Pizza. That was definitely my favorite part of the day. It was the exact pick me up we needed.

Bidding Farewell

I am sitting in my dorm the morning of our departure, and I realize how bitter sweet this moment is. I miss my family and my best friend, but I am already starting to miss people who left China early. I know for a fact I will definitely miss China. I am not ready to leave just yet.

A month was not long enough! Even though I don’t want to leave, I am very grateful for this experience. I thank God for protecting all the students during this time, and I thank my family for their support. This experience has opened my eyes to a new world. I am no longer confined to United States. I am not afraid to travel out of the country, and I am no longer confined to the ground.

After this trip I am no longer afraid of flying. Living in China where means of living is low really helped me the things I have. In America we complain how we make only minimum wage $7.25/hr, and there are people who has to raise a family on 1,000 Yuan month ( approx. 148 U.S. Dollars).

This trip was more than going to China for a month. It was one of the few periods in a person’s life that makes them who they are today. I can say after this trip I am a different person … a better person.

    — Shyree J. Clark, psychology major