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First month in China

We've been studying abroad for about a month now and have been blogging on our own site ( Here are some of the highlights so far!


For Hannah’s culture and language practicum, they visited a traditional tea house and played mahjong.


In CIEE, we are assigned to work in a group of 3 for a culture and language practicum course. The course focuses on getting students off campus so we can use our language skills outside of the classroom.

For Brianne’s group, they traveled to the 798 Art Zone (798艺术区) in Beijing. This thriving art district exists on a former factory site that was vacated in the 1950′s. The district got its name from the location — the original area of the 798 plant — where the early art organizations and artists moved in initially. Today, the area holds important international art exhibitions and art activities.


Our CIEE program director, Patrick Lucas, took us to an autism institute in Tongzhou County, which is to the southeast of Beijing. This facility is truly one-of-a-kind, in that it serves children with various disabilities; in China, any disability is seen as a social stigma. At the school, we interacted with the younger children (ages 8 to 15) and also met the principal.


After face painting, we tried traditional paper cutting. Ours did not turn out nearly as good as our teacher’s did.

On Friday, we tried our hands at traditional Peking Opera face painting! It was surprisingly easier than we expected – getting the paint off, not so much.facepainting

After everyone finished, we took a few groups shots. Here are some of our favorites!



CIEE hosted themed dinners for us, so we went to one titled “Journey to the West,” where we ate traditional Muslim food. Shown above is one of the organs we ate before knowing exactly what it was – this one is a chicken’s heart! We also ate some kidney, and we agreed that the kidney tasted better than the heart.


After climbing what seemed like a thousand stairs, we finally reached the top of the bell tower and caught a traditional drum performance.


At Houhai, we got a tour of a neighborhood by rickshaws and talked with a local family. There were many great food stands – Brianne tried the local cotton candy.


On Thursday, we went to see a Chinese acrobatic show. At one point, there were eight motorcyclists in a metal sphere. We were amazed at all we saw!

lantern festival

We were so excited to see the lantern/spring festival, until we got there and realized it got canceled because of the air pollution. Nevertheless, it was still fun walking around Qianmen.


Here we are at the Summer Palace, which served as a summer get-away for Empress Dowager.

Tiananmen Sqaure

On our first day in China, we took a group trip to Tiananmen Square. We also saw late Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum.



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