Wangfujin and the scorpion
At the end of my first week in Beijing it was time my group and I felt that we should go out to the city and discover what Beijing life is about. A bunch of us set out to go to Wangfujin, the tourist center of the city to get have a Chinese dinner and enjoy the Beijing night life.
We ended up going to this traditional Chinese food court where they sold some of the weirdest things I had seen in my life including fried scorpions, seahorses, beetles and the like on sticks.
We sat down in front of the most American looking store and ordered some fried noodles. That was without a doubt the best fried noodles I have ever had.
After dinner, I decided on trying out a fried scorpion on a stick despite what my stomach had to say about it; I figured I may regret eating a scorpion that night, but I would regret not trying it for the rest of my life. The first bite I took of the most vicious looking thing I ever had, tasted like actual food to my surprise. I actually liked that twenty five Yuan worth of scorpion I ate and would not mind eating more of it later.
Having been placed in Chinese level three, my first day of class was a little scary because I was there with students who have been studying the language for at least a year or two longer than I have.
As feared, both of the two parts of class, the speaking and the writing, were incredibly intimidating because of the caliber the material taught in class were in, and the fact that the classes were taught with Chinese as the language of instruction made it even scarier.
The very next day I asked to be placed in Chinese level two and the program administration acted as per my request and put me in Chinese level two.
Having to wake up at 7 a.m. five days a week for my 8 a.m. classes seemed like a bother, but was one I could do nothing about. Both the speaking and the writing parts of Chinese level two were perfect for my level of Chinese and I did learn a lot in class.
The first of many cultural dinners that came with our study abroad program was the Peking Duck dinner. The group met up with Dr. Jing Luo in front of the Global village building four (we all were staying in building six) as we usually did for all our group meetings. As we walked to the restaurant we were going to have Peking Duck in, the group stopped to find a guy on the street selling popular brand headphones that e displayed on a mat on the ground.
The headphones he was selling were the cheapest ones I had ever seen, he sold headphones that you had to pay $20 to $30 for in the U.S., for 10 Yuan (less than $2). After some fruitful headphone shopping we went to the restaurant and were seated in two tables.
They served us different parts of the duck in different dishes all of which were mouth wateringly delicious. That had to have been without a doubt, the most amazing dinner I have had in China and any Chinese restaurants anywhere else in the world.
Tienan Mien Square and the Forbidden City
Among Beijing’s biggest landmarks are Tienan Mien Square and the Forbidden City, and getting to go there was one of the most exciting parts of our month in China. On this trip however, we were accompanied by the group from Stony Brook University, New York.
The two groups travelled to Tienan Mien Square on a bus hired by the university. Tienan Mien Square was one of the two most crowded places I have ever seen. Government buildings and monuments were all you could see around Tienan Mien, a plane, cemented, tourist filled area in the shape of a square.
After about half an hour, the two groups walked to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was the other most crowded place I have ever seen. We couldn’t enter all the buildings to see what exhibits they have because of the crowd; it was however fascinating to see a royal the ancient Chinese built.
Lost in Beijing
As we left the Forbidden City on our way to the bus, the crowded side walk we were on was crawling with hawkers who were desperately trying to sell us things. This one lady was trying to sell John, one of the students from my group, and I small wooden Buddhas very persistently.
We ended up bargaining with her and buying the Buddhas and some other stuff. After we were done with her, John and I realized that we lost the group. We kept walking on the direction the group was going in search of the group but couldn’t find them. John and I decided to give up on the search and go back to global village on our own; I called Dr. Luo and let him know.
Walked around asking for directions to the nearest subway station and found a massage parlor on our search for the subway station. We both got full body massages that lasted an hour. Afterwards we found the subway station and took the subway back to Global Village. It felt great to have found our way back on our own and it was overall a very fruitful day.
— Salman Haque, international business major