Final farewells mixed with a few first sightings
On our last morning in Zibo several of the American students woke up bright and early to take one last walk around the SDUT campus with two fellow Chinese students who, in such a short amount of time, had become our close companions.
Originally we wanted to see the sunrise from a high point on campus but unfortunately the sun was already up at 4:30 am. So, still a little groggy, we climbed to the top of the technology building and from there, we had an aerial view of the majority of the campus.
We all used the time we had on the roof as a last moment of reflection before we would leave the school that had been our home for the past 3 weeks. We made it back to our dorms in time for a little last minute packing and before we knew it, we were waving goodbye to our friends Ben and Kai as we drove off the campus.
Our train to Beijing took about three hours, but I was happy to see some of the countryside of China as the train moved through areas I knew I might never have the chance to see again.
When we finally reached Beijing I was amazed to see all of the foreigners who were among the Chinese in the city; hearing them speak Chinese inspired me to study the language more intently than before.
We settled into our new dormitory quite quickly and after dinner, a few of us felt adventurous enough to take the subway to the famous Bird’s Nest. The subway was very clean and Katie (Haughey), Michelle (Ni) and Morrey (Longo) found it easy to navigate as they figured out exactly how to get to the Olympic stadiums.
The Bird’s Nest was huge and incredibly beautiful but we could only see the outside because we had gotten there so late. Yet, despite the late hour, there were still so many tourists walking around the area; people from every corner of the world had come to take pictures by the modern stadium.
It also seemed that there was an entire culture of Chinese people who came to the Bird’s Nest every night just to hang out. The culture reminded me of a skatepark in America, groups practiced skateboarding, rollerblading, speed skating and various other sports out in the open air.
What was different about the culture here was that there were people of all ages and sizes joining in the recreation. They all seemed to know each other well and even though they seemed really close, they were so welcoming to us.
They invited us to try their ‘skateboards’ that were different from any we had previously seen. They waited patiently and tried to help Dan (Copes), Katie and Michelle as they all attempted.
Later on in the night several men brought out whips and began cracking them, the noise embodied power and stength and immediately I was transfixed, I tried but it was much harder than they made it look.
I was awed at how kind and willing they were to teach us about their culture but eventually we had to leave as the Olympic area closed for the night.
I hoped that we would have the opportunity to visit them again in our last days in China but I knew we would be so busy.
— Deanna Barnes, junior art history major