Chinese Resources

Monday, July 25, 2011

China Update: July 25th, 2011

This week was filled with a lot of studying and our midterm exam, but the highlights have got to be the time we spent outside of the classroom. 

Monday morning we headed out bright and early to Black Bamboo Park, which is located just a few blocks away from our campus. Arriving at the park gates we were greeted by a group of street calligraphers gracefully coating the ground with Hanzi (Chinese characters). Their brush, made of PVC and a delicate sponge filled with water, was the perfect tool for perfecting their art form. With the early morning sun beating down the characters quickly faded away, giving us but a fleeting moment to enjoy their masterful craft. Once inside the park we ventured to and fro, enjoying all the amazing sites.

Finding respite from the suns rays under some trees, we played a rousing game of Chinese hacky sack, while a group of locals danced to China's modern classics. Before I knew it, one of my teachers took the liberty of finding me a dance partner, an older women who was a retired dance instructor at Minzu University. She was a wonderfully patient teacher, and I quickly progressed beyond learning the Chinese three step, and began incorporating basic spins and a "feel for the pace of the music" to my routine. After a few dances we pressed on, stopping to enjoy the various forms of Tai Chi being practiced in the park. 

I hope that before I leave Beijing I will have an opportunity to return to Black Bamboo Park. My first time there was an experience that I will not soon forget. The park was a mix of tranquility and turbulence blending together to create something truly magical amidst "normal" every day city life. 

After our midterm we ventured out of Beijing to Cuandixia, a village suspended in a time now past. The entire village was made out of stone and perfectly preserved by the local population (with the help of Chinese law forbidding any exterior changes). The villages history dates back to the Ming and Qing Dynasty, with a few wall paintings older than America itself. We spent our day hiking in the mountains and getting a taste for the local flavors. I spent the night "looking at big mountains," which in Chinese is a turn of phrase for chatting about any and every topic under the sun. When it was finally time to turn in for the evening I was surprised to find that the kang (a heatable brick bed) I was sleeping on felt as soft as a Tempur-Pedic... who am I kidding, it was hard as brick! 

Monday marks my last full week in Beijing. I can't believe how fast time has gone by. After that I am off to Nanjing with my program, followed by roughly 20 days of travel around China. It is sure to be a grand adventure and I look forward to sharing it with you all. 

Gao Jian

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