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40 posts categorized "Intensive Chinese Language"


CIEE Beijing goes rural!

CIEE took us on a trip to two rural provinces in China – Shanxi and Hebei – for the weekend. For our first stop in Northern Shanxi province, we visited Zhangjiakou city and Tianzhen County. There, we saw old Ming Dynasty watch towers and an unrepaired section of the Great Wall, which was made of compressed earth. We also got time to hike in the area, and we found lots of goats!


On Saturday, we met our homestay families. The village was very small, with only around 50 people total. We spent the day with our families, where we got a taste of rural life. Hannah planted potatoes, and Brianne planted beans. At night, we had a “bonfire,” where we ate burned potatoes (which were surprisingly decent), and slept on kangs; a kang is a raised platform next to a stove, where the heat from cooking food warms the kang for sleeping.

Here is a glimpse of Hannah’s homestay experience!


And, here’s Brianne’s!


On Sunday, we left our families and took a six-hour hike into Hebei province. We walked along a sheep trail and finally made it into Yangyuan County, where we spent the evening.

Fun fact: Brianne had an allergic reaction to something that day.


Dr. Patrick Lucas took us to his favorite Buddhist Temple. It was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but is currently in the process of being re-built.



Brianne's adventures in Hunan

For the Labor Day Holiday, Brianne traveled to Hunan Province, visiting the cities of Fenghuang and Zhangjiajie. Due to traveling, she also had short stops in the cities Jishou and Changsha. She took the train to Zhangjiajie and arrived Friday. For her first meal, she and her friends had to pick out a live animal to eat – among the choices were boar, snake, chicken, mountain pheasant and badger. They collectively chose the mountain pheasant, which all agreed had not enough meat and was gamey.

Brianne spent the next day in Fenghuang, also known as Phoenix Ancient Town. This well-preserved town has not undergone much modernization, and is built on the Tuo Jiang River. The city is filled with the ethnic minorities Miao and Tujiao, so she bought some of their local crafts. Brianne now considers this city one of her favorite places she has been to in China.


That Monday, Brianne went to the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, which is about one hour away from the center of the city. The park is famous for its pillar-like formations (seen below), which resulted from erosion. A section of the pillars was officially re-named the “Avatar Hallelujah Mountains.” Fun fact: a photographer visited this specific section of the mountains, which then inspired James Cameron’s movie Avatar.


The last historic site Brianne visited in Hunan was The Yellow Dragon Cave, which is the longest cave in Asia. The caves are a karst formation, which is formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks and is characterized by sinkholes, caves and underground drainage systems. Touring the cave took over an hour, but it was worth it – especially since Brianne  got to ride a boat on the Xiangshui River inside the cave!



Baozis - a staple in Beijing


In accordance with the title of our blog, Brianne decided to show what baozis – steamed buns filled with meat and/or vegetables – look like. They are very cheap and great foods to have any time of the day. Usually, Brianne eats them with dou nai (soymilk), which is shown in the bowl in the picture above.


Qingdao for the weekend!

We went to Qingdao for the weekend since we got Friday off of school. We chose Qingdao because it is relatively close and it only takes a few days to see the whole city. We also loved being beach-side again!

Even though it was a little chilly out, we decided to walk along the beach. We were excited to make it to the other side of the Pacific Ocean!


We then stumbled upon a random pagoda near the beach. We climbed to the top and saw a great view of the city!


We went to the aquarium expecting to see different fish than what would be found in the states. To our surprise, the aquarium did not have any live fish, only preserved bodies of various sea life.


A taxi driver suggested we visit the TV Tower, which is essentially an observatory. There were four different floors – the highlights were an outdoor viewing deck and a haunted house. The haunted house was not scary but rather funny; Hannah particularly enjoyed a shaking bridge. The view was not as pretty as it could be because it was cloudy and raining that day.


On our last day, we walked around the city. We to a Catholic church and the Former German Governor’s office but couldn’t get in, and the Old Observatory. Also, we went to the Zhan Qiao Pier and bought some souvenirs.



Exploring Beijing!

Hannah visited the Forbidden City, which was the imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. She said it was really interesting but easy to get lost because all the throne rooms looked so similar. The garden was her favorite part!


Brianne and her language practicum went to a tea house where she tried four different types of tea and learned how to play mahjong. She also enjoyed a nice buffet, and said she would go back to play mahjong again! Watch this video of the mahjong board!


We went to the Beijing Zoo, despite being told that it would be underwhelming. But, we actually found it quite enjoyable! As you can see, we saw a great variety of animals. Brianne enjoyed seeing the white Bengal tigers, and Hannah loved the giraffes! Even though we almost got attacked by golden monkeys, we had a lot of fun.



This weekend's adventures around Beijing

This Saturday, Hannah went to Nanluguxiang with her language practicum. While there, she tried a couple different foods and bought some small trinkets...Brianne went a few days later and found it equally interesting! She recommends it for buying souvenirs!


We went to our first professional soccer game this weekend! It was a match between Beijing Guoan and Shanghai Shenxin. Everyone at the stadium was very excited and rooting the entire game for Guoan; we tried picking up a few of the chants. Although the game ended 2-2, it was still very fun!


Hannah went to Purple Bamboo Park, which is one of the seven largest parks in Beijing. At the park, she saw people fishing, dancing and sleeping. There was also a small amusement park, but unfortunately the rides were only for little kids.


Hannah re-visited the Summer Palace. This time, she went to the top of Longevity Hill and saw the Tower of Buddhist Incense, which is the highest building in the palace grounds.



The Great Wall - 长城

We went to the Ancient Badaling Great Wall, a section that has not been completely restored. The hike was steeper than expected, causing our legs to shake upon finishing the two-hour trek. The area was really dry and windy, but still beautiful.


Jiaozi making!

CIEE hosted an event where we could learn how to make dumplings (jiaozis)! We made quite a lot, and there was a process.

1. Knead the dough.
2. Make it into the shape of a circle, and then roll it out into a long log.
3. Tear off thumb-sized pieces from the log.
4. Roll the ripped pieces into a circle and flatten it out using the palm of your hand.
5. Use a mini rolling pin to stretch out the flattened dough, in preparation for it to be filled.
6. Insert the filling (either veggie, meat or both).
7. Fold the dough in half over the filling, and then press the edges while crimping to make sure the filling does not fall out.
8. Cook! You can steam, boil or fry them!



CIEE Beijing takes Shanghai and Hangzhou!

This past week, we got off two days of school because of the Qing Ming festival. During this time, Chinese people usually visit the graves of their loved ones and pay respect. We decided to take this opportunity to travel to the cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou. To get there, we took the fast train, which we could easily compare to the quality of any airplane.


We were in Shanghai for only one day, but we traveled to different sites. Our first stop was the People’s Square, a beautiful park near the center of the city. We were so happy to see some greenery for once!


While walking around People’s Square, we stumbled upon an amusement park and decided to try out a few rides.


We went to The Bund, where we could see the famous Shanghai skyline!


We arrived in Hangzhou Thursday morning and spent the entire day exploring the famous West Lake. We took a boat ride around the lake, and hiked in the nearby area.


We spent the next day exploring the tea fields. We climbed up the hills and saw people picking the tea leaves. Brianne tasted the tea, and said it tasted like edamame. We also played in a small playground, channeling our inner children.



New flavors in China

For Brianne’s second LP course outing, she and her group traveled to Wangfujing, a famous shopping area in Beijing. The area has great snack foods, where one can find various creepy crawlers to eat. Brianne ate a baby scorpion! The scorpion is served live on a stick, and they fry it in-front of you. She said it tasted like fried chicken skin!