Gaining Invaluable Language Experience by Exploring the Summer Palace

July 2, 2014

Sunday was another day out in Beijing, and our destination was the Summer Palace. Basically a huge park, the Summer Palace is a mix of natural landscapes and man-made features. We entered from the North gate, meaning we had to tackle Longevity Hill before we made it to the Summer Palace’s most notable feature: Kunming Lake. While on the hill, students explored the various pavilions,temples and bridges – of course, we took advantage of these great photo opportunities.

When we finally got to the lake, students were surprised at how big it actually was. It was also interesting to learn that the lake was entirely man-made! We walked along the Northern side of the lake, under the Long Corridor. This roofed walkway was constructed so the emperor’s mother could walk through the garden even when it was raining. Filial piety is an important part of Chinese culture, and hopefully our students return with some newfound respect for their elders after being in China for so long!

This trip was filled with lots of unexpected surprises; for example, many Chinese visitors were very curious about why our students were in China. This gave students a lot of opportunities to use their Chinese to talk with the Beijing locals. While communicating with the locals was a little bit difficult, students persevered, using a combination of Chinese, Charades and sign language to get their point across. Being able to interact with locals is one of the most valuable aspects of being at the Beijing Academy and we were happy to see our students taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

While we weren’t able to see all of the Summer Palace (it is quite large), we did get to see the most important parts, and definitely learned a lot while we were there. With the first weekend behind us, students are all set to return to the classroom and get ready for our adventures next weekend.

-Timothy Liu, Director of Residential Life