July 23 Beijing Academy Student Posts!
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Today the entire Middlebury group took a trip to the Great Wall of China. At first I was really excited, however when we arrived the AQI was pretty bad and it was around 95 degrees. We took the shuttle bus to the top, and my friends and I went up at least 15 flights of stairs to reach the actual wall. After a 25 minute trip to the wall, including breaks, I was already drenched with sweat and wanted to head back. It was an incredible view at the top, and my friends and I got some good photos of the wall surrounded by nature. After two hours of walking up and down, we finally headed back and I got a great T-shirt and one of the local stands. The guy there was terrible at bargaining, starting price 80 and I brought it down to 15. Afterwards we took one class picture and headed back to Capital Normal University. Once we came back to the university, we had a small break and then we went with our classes to have a final dinner before we left. Our class went to a popular Nanjing restaurant, with at least over 100 people and the second that we walked in I knew that the food would be great. My favorite part about restaurants in Beijing, and Asia in general, is that everyone shares the food so we all get a little bit of everything. Finally, after finishing our delicious meal we headed back by subway to the campus.
Our journey in Beijing has nearly come to an end, marked by today’s journey to the Great Wall. We embarked at the early time of 7:30 this morning, all a little sleepy-headed, but still fueled with excitement for our last, and perhaps most long-awaited, excursion. Watching the city skyline of Beijing fade away and welcome rolling, lush hills was quite a change of scenery despite the rather short hour and a half bus ride to our destination. We passed by smaller villages and plenty of nature, much different from the bustling city life we have become accustomed to over the past month. Arriving at the Great Wall it was incredibly hot and still hazey from the pollution, but beautiful nonetheless. Getting off the bus I could spot the Great Wall rather far up from the parking area, not yet realizing the amount of strenuous physical exersion I would soon endure. Another short bus ride left us at the bottom of the wall where we were let free to roam the premises. My friend and I opted to take the north entrance up to the 10th gate, also known as the “hard way (but shortest)” to get to the top. Keeping a positive mindset, we started up the stairs. Stairs, after stairs, after stairs. At one point we stopped to ask some Chinese students how far we had to go in fear that the stairs would never actually end. Thankfully they did and despite reaching the top drenched in sweat, breathing heavily, the view from the top was spectacular to say the least and well worth the trek up. I think the climb is a perfect analogy for my experience in Beijing. There were difficulties and hurdles I had to jump over during my time in Beijing. However, each and every step brought me to where I am today, whether that is standing on the top of the Great Wall this morning or taking about Beijing’s air pollution in my final presentation last night. With every step I have acquired greater strength, physically and mentally, in a multitude of different ways, not just through improving my Chinese capabilities. I have learned the significance of the climb in acknowledging where you end up. I couldn’t be more grateful for my experience adapting to all aspects of Beijing. This process, although not easy, has truly changed my perspectives and views of the world and has left me a more insightful person as a result. I know I will miss Beijing; the culture, the people, the lifestyle, the food, the language. But I am ready to return home, knowing that I will return soon to what I consider now to be my “second home.”
Today was definitely one of the best days of the program. We woke up a little earlier than usual and got on the bus to the Great Wall. It was a two hour bus ride today – easily the longest yet – which was actually a treat. It was two full hours to nap and/or listen to music on our phones (which we get on excursions to take pictures with), as well as relax and talk to people. The Great Wall itself (in my personal but not entirely undisputed opinion) lives up to the hype. The view is undoubtedly the best part. From the stone watchtowers you get a great view of the landscape on either side, which is mostly hilly forest. The pollution—mist actually makes it more interesting in a way, because the hills disappear into the fog, which makes for a cool effect. The hike up to the wall itself was actually surprisingly tiring – we spent a solid 15 minutes climbing pretty steep stairs to get to it and were drenched in sweat by the end. But it was definitely worth the effort!
July 22 Beijing Academy Student Posts! July 21 Beijing Academy Student Posts! Beijing Academy Student Posts from July 20!