Thursday, May 23, 2013
Today we had an early start and went to breakfast at 7:15. We all seemed pretty tired but ready to start the day. My favorite food at breakfast was the dough balls with meat in it. After eating, we went to a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) class where the students in it all looked excited that American students would be joining them. Professor Dong talked to us about the processing and preparation of the different herbs. I had never really thought about the processing of them, and also because I didn’t really know that much about TCM. There are many steps such as water processing, fire processing, and combinations of the two. We learned that different tastes mean and interact with the body to do different things. For example a pungent taste promotes the circulation of Qi, which is the energy within the body. Different color foods correspond to certain organs. Black foods help the kidneys, yellow for the spleen, and red for the heart. I think we are all excited to start practicing using TCM in future classes this week.
After the TCM class we went to WUSHU. We played a fun game that was like basketball where you try and get a ball in your net while the opposing team defends. The WUSHU Hall is extremely hot so just being in there made us sweat like crazy. We then went through the different leg kicks that we learned yesterday. The teachers taught us how to do different kung fu like kicks. And we practiced doing them by kicking a mat block that someone held. I had never done any time of martial arts so it was a little difficult for me at first to get down the fluid motion, but got better by the end of class.
Everyone was exhausted and extremely sweaty after WUSHU and was looking forward to lunch and a little break.
We then had a class taught by Mr. Yang learning about speaking/reading Chinese and about the city of Chengdu. He was a great teacher and made us interact and had a good sense of humor. We learned about the 4 different tones of the language and phrases like Ni hao ma? (How are you?) Zia Jian (goodbye) Bu yung xie (you're welcome). The transition between English and Chinese is so different, it amazes me how many people here are able to speak English and pretty well. It makes me wish that I learned a different language before high school.
After we are lunch Connie and Shirley (2 of the student volunteers) took us up to their dorm room. They both live with 5 other girls in a very small space that was very hot. Their bathroom is just a faucet and the toilet is just a hole in the ground. They have to walk to another building to shower. After seeing this, I will never complain about the living situations at IC.
We had a other WUSHU class after but we were glad there was a competition going on that we got to watch. The martial arts students did a routine with a sword while spinning and doing a floor routine. It was very cool to watch and it makes sense it's called martial arts because it really is an art the way they move their body in such fluid motions. Everyone was too tired to do more WUSHU so we did Tai Qi, which was nice because it kept the sweating down, although not by much.
We were driven to the Shun Xing tea house where we had another great feast. I love these big meals because there are so many different dishes to try. Even though I'm a picky eater, it's still fun to try everything. My favorite dish was fried pork in a sweetish sauce. The waitress just kept bringing out more food every minute it seemed.
We walked down to the room where the 'opera' was. It was a series of people showcasing different talents such as singing, using a diablo, balancing and spinning a pot and table on feet, and the famous mask changing performance. The performers masks changed before our eyes in a millisecond and know one knows how. We were all trying to figure out how they did it but I personally think it's just magic. That was a great cultural experience. We also got to drink some delicious tea during the acts. The tea house was beautiful inside. There were little ponds with bridges and even geese. We took many pictures just walking from dinner to the other room.
Everyone was exhausted by the time it was over and couldn't wait for bed. I bet we're all going to sleep well tonight. I'm looking forward to the fun activity-packed day tomorrow!
- Emma Lazzari
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Today (May 22nd) was our first full day in Chengdu China. Although most of us were still feeling the effects of jet-lag it was no excuse to get out of a fully packed schedule. We started off the day at 8:30am in the morning dressed in our best to meet the president of Chengdu Sport University. Before the meeting, we were escorted to breakfast by a few Chinese students who volunteered to help us out during our stay. They were extremely friendly and kind, with stories and words of advice to offer. They even introduced themselves using there english names because they knew we wouldn't have a shot of pronouncing or remembering their Chinese names.
Our first meal in China was exactly what I expected: I did not recognize a single dish that was served. Most of us took this as an opportunity for adventure, trying a little of each dish. The food is definitely something to get used to but it was still very good.
After breakfast, we made our way to 'The White House', a massive white building with pillars on each side where met with the present of Chengdu Sport University. During the meeting we exchanged gifts, which demonstrates respect between the two parties in Chinese culture. We presented the president with a small wooden paddle that was engraved with both the Ithaca college and Chengdu Sport University logos with the quotation "Separated by Sea, Connected by Heart". In return, all the students received a set of white, silk Wu Shu uniform, which we wear during our martial art lessons. After the official greeting and gift exchange, we were taken to a campus tour. During the tour, we visited the university's museum, which housed many works of art that depicted the history of Chinese sports. We also got the chance to bond with the Chinese students, who very quickly became our friends.
After a lunch break and some rest, we had our first class. We were introduced to traditional Chinese medicine; why it is used, the theories behind it, and how it compares to western medicine. After the class we went to our first Wu Shu lesson. The class was in a big, hot room that was completely covered with thick carpets. We were taught different hand positions, how to kick and punch. Then we had to put it all together in one fluid, coordinated movement. It was incredibly difficult and required an enormous amount of focus, which was hard to do considering the other fifty students in the room who were also practicing. Not only were they playing with swards and spinning through the air, but they were also watching us less coordinated group. Although this made everything a little more intimidating and embarrassing, it was still a very fun lesson.
After Wu Shu, we had a short break and all of us rushed to get ready for the official welcome banquet hosted by the Chengdu Sport University president. This was probably the highlight of the day. We were brought to an exclusive room on the third floor of a very nice restaurant and seated around a colorful spread of dishes. The food was amazing and of course, completely foreign to us all. We all took turns making toasts to each other and celebrating the fact that we were actually in China experiencing such a great and exciting culture. Although we had just met everyone that day, the atmosphere around the table was one family.
To end our first day in Chengdu, we went to Jinli street with the students we had met. This street is a major tourist attraction because of the ancient architecture and design. There are also many shops and bars that line it. The street was very crowded, filled with people, things to buy, and bars every few hundred yards. The whole experience was very overwhelming but extremely exciting. Despite the jet-lag and the heat, our first day in China was unforgettable. Everything from the people to the activities to the food we ate was an adventure.
- Ariel Mack
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Spending 14+ hours sitting on a plane in economy seats that recline exactly one inch and that have exactly zero legroom may not be the definition of fun, but the excitement of arriving in China somehow made it all seem okay. There were endless choices of movies to watch, and you couldn't even make it through an entire film before they seemed to be bringing around more food! We had three full meals to be exact, including chicken & rice, cheeseburgers, and "noodles." Oh yeah, can't forget the fortune cookies which had English labels and looked conspicuously like the fortune cookies that you can get at any Asian restaurant in NY.
Our seats were scattered throughout the plane, with some of us sitting in the coveted window seats (awesome pictures of the North Pole, Greenland, and Russia), some of us sitting near babies, and others sitting next to middle aged men who laughed incredibly too loud while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. The moral of the story is that we all made it safe and sound and sleep-deprived to Shanghai. From there, we met up with our professor Dr. Hongwei Guan who has arrived in China a week earlier to set up the program and activities for us. Dr. Guan helped us navigate the domestic terminal of the airport and find gate C88, from which we departed to Chengdu.
The seats on the last flight seemed the most comfortable for some reason, though I have a feeling we could have slept on anything at that point. We were served a mysterious meat or seafood concoction and slept our way to Chengdu. I know what you're thinking, sounds like a pretty leisurely day to just sit around, watch movies, and have food delivered to your seat...trust me, you have no idea.
We were met at the airport by our enthusiastic friends from Chengdu Sport University who pushed our luggage (and us) onto an air-conditioned bus that took us to campus. You wouldn't believe the giant lighted gate that you must pass through to get onto the campus! Our rooms are the Hilton of dorm living with private bathrooms, flat screen TV's, and beds that definitely aren't twin extra-long. We are all looking forward to some sleep in anything but a sitting position.
Looking forward to a full day of fun tomorrow!
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Follow 8 students and Drs. Hongwei Guan and Nick Quarrier who are traveling in China for 2 weeks starting May 20th, 2013. This will be the seventh group of students since launching the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance Study Abroad Program in China. The students are going to learn about culture, health, healing and sport. Meanwhile, they are planning to observe pandas in the Panda Research Center, climb the Great Wall of China, and visit the Beijing Olympic Venues including the Birds Nest and Water Cube where Michael Phelps won his eight gold medals.