This past month has been extremely busy; hence the lack of blog posts! Nonetheless, there has been a whirlwind of exciting things happening. During the last week of October we had midterms. This was a stressful time, full of studying and cramming and preparing for the tests. On midterm day we all arrived at school at 7 am, prepared to take 5 finals. Once the tests began, it was silent, all of us working hard to try and remember everything we have learned. We were given assigned test taking seats, had to leave our backpacks in the hallways, and were all trying to finish our tests in the allotted time period. The atmosphere reminded me of finals week during high school! Very exciting though was the week following midterms, we went on a trip! Here is us below 🙂
The international students all went to Chengdu, a city in Southwestern China that has a population of 15 million people. It is the capital of Sichuan province and is famous for its historical, cultural, and natural sights. The two biggest factors that draw people to the city is pandas and the amazing food!
We began our trip with a 4 am wakeup Tuesday morning. We headed to the train station, where we boarded a bullet train.
We were loaded with snacks and books and movies which would keep us entertained on our 8 hour ride. (Which would take 21 hours if you were driving)
Once we arrived in Chengdu, it was nonstop sight seeing, excursions, food, and new experiences. Also – homework! Every night we had to (in Chinese of course) answer questions, take notes, and reflect on what we learned throughout the day.
Here are some of the highlights from Chengdu!
We went to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding; one of the most famous panda conservation facilities in China! People from across the world come to see giant pandas, baby cubs, and red pandas. Absolutely everyone was so amazed and in awe of the pandas, whether they were sleeping, playing, climbing trees, eating bamboo, or rolling around, it was so cool to see them. Everyone loaded up on super cute panda gear (featuring Mia and Brian repping it below)
Another super cool place we went was called Dujiangyan, an ancient functioning irrigation system. This amazing feat of engineering is a wonder of the world, built circa 250 B.C.! It helped Sichuan become a successful and prosperous region of China for thousands of years.
It was built to stop the annual runoff from the river that continuously damaged property and killed people of the region. An official in the Kingdom of Qin wanted to fix this, so he enlisted the labor of tens of thousands of workers to build the complex system of networks and dams that still exist today. This lead the area to become an agricultural hot spot with abundant harvests. The new agricultural output helped sustain the Qin kingdom’s large army.
We also visited the Wuhou Memorial Temple. It was built in honor of Zhuge Liang (181-243 CE) He is one of China’s famous historic figures, and he was a renowned minister and military strategist for Emperor Liu Bei (161-223) of the Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period in China. The temple is also dedicated to Emperor Liu Bei. It was built during the Qing dynastyin 1672. (chinahighlights.com)
We also went to Dufu’s Thathced Cottage – a museum and memorial for one of China’s most famous poets who lived during the Tang Dynasty. (712-770 CE) During a war Dufu took refuge in a thatched cottage in Chengdu. The memorial for him was originally a temple that was built a thousand years ago during the Song Dynasty. The memorial has a recreation of his cottage, ancient temples, structures, and gardens. Below is Alex and I, both super happy to be at such a beautiful place!
One of the highlights of the trip was the food.Â Chengdu is very famous for its food; it is known for its spicy and flavorful cuisine. Every meal on this trip had new dishes, and I tried them all! Some of the interesting things I tasted here included duck blood, cow stomach, and a bug!
It was fun because during most meals, we were eating things we had never seen or tasted before. Often the food was spicy and left a numbing taste in your mouth. Just a few of the many famous dishes include: Mapo Doufu (tofu, ground meet, chili bean paste, Sichuan peppercorns, and red hot chilling oil, Fuqi Feipian (sliced beef tripe in chili oil with peanuts), and Chuanbei Liangfen (mung bean jelly with numbing hot sauce).
Another thing that was really special about Chengdu was the streets we visited, many lined with traditional food stands and shops and vendors. These market style areas were some of the coolest places to visit- containing a very authentic Chinese feel. It was so much fun seeing all the things for sale, practicing our Chinese through bartering, and trying new things.
Whenever we came back from the trip, we all had to write a 500 character essay as a culminating project for our trip homework! But overall this trip was full of new adventures and amazing times with my friends.
I really enjoyed getting an opportunity to be in a new city. It was so nice to be at so many beautiful nature areas! As someone who really values being around green spaces and the natural world, it was a super relaxing break from living in a big city. I hope one day to return to Chengdu!