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China 2017

China 2017

China Short Term Study Abroad 2017

Posted by John Sigg at 6:51AM   |  Add a comment

Max Prestwich and Rodneil Pecson

Saturday proved to be an exciting adventure for the group as we geared up to tackle a number of Beijing’s iconic landmarks and structures.

For some people, the day began as early as 6am after choosing to participate in a complementary tai chi session with Dr. Costello before breakfast. Many of us however, decided to spend the extra hour sleeping in, in order to prepare for today’s excursions. We had a good time learning tai chi since we attended his previous session and met a professional tai chi master from Beijing Sport University on Friday. Today Dr. Costello stressed the importance of balance and equilibrium within the body. He also showed us how having coordination is important in martial arts rather than just having brutal strength. This is an important component because in the healthcare field, healthcare providers use movements similar to tai chi to teach older clients to improve their coordination and balance to prevent the risk of falling and injuring themselves. After finishing up the tai chi lesson, we all regrouped at breakfast before taking off on the hour-long journey to the Great Wall.

Once we reached the Great Wall, we quickly realized how incredible a site it was – we couldn’t stop taking photos and marveling at the beauty of the structure and the surrounding landscape; at one point, we were even able to race up part of the wall! But perhaps the most intriguing thing about the Wall is the history - it was evident that this site served for many centuries as a defense system to protect many of the past dynasties in China from outside threats (e.g. Mongolia).

After walking and taking picturesque photos along the south side of the wall, we visited the museum about the history of the wall and how it served the Chinese people. For more than 2000 years the Great Wall has served people since the earliest period in China called the “Spring and Autumn Period” all the way to the Ming Dynasty. As each era of dynasties passed, the expansion of the Great Wall increased, as well as the technology that served the country to prevail against their enemies. One of the most prominent parts of the museum was the gunpowder weaponry like cannons and guns that were on display.

We left the museum to have lunch near the great wall at a famous ‘dumpling house’. Once inside, we were able to cool off and enjoy a wide assortment of dumplings and vegetables on offer, as well as refueling and recharging for the second half of the day… the much-anticipated tours of a couple of the Beijing Olympic Venues!

After catching up on some sleep during another hour-long bus journey, we had finally arrived. We were awestruck by the incredible architectural designs of both the Water Cube and the Bird’s Nest! We first had a tour around the famous “Water Cube”, which hosted aquatic events such as swimming and diving during the 2008 Summer Olympics. We also discovered how they continued using the Cube after the conclusion of the Beijing Olympics by designating space for a public swimming facility and an awesome looking indoor waterpark. Heck, they even had a tennis complex on the 2nd floor! It turns out that the Water Cube will be holding the Curling events during the 2022 Winter Olympics. But we were also fortunate enough to learn and appreciate how much effort goes into building such a magnificent structure.

A quick 5-minute walk later and we were inside the “Bird’s Nest”, the famous arena that hosted the Opening and Closing ceremonies, plus the track and field events of the 2008 Olympics. Walking around the stadium, it was incredible to see the track from a range of different points and views; we were able to see it from the regular stands, a couple of the VIP rooms, and even a breathtaking bird’s eye view from the roof of the venue. But nothing compared to being able to run on the same track as elite athletes such as Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix. Being able to observe much of the different artwork in the stadium was also exciting, the stadium showcased both traditional and modern art designs that highlight the history of China, and impressed both the locals and foreigners who visited it. It is noted that we were very impressed by the continued use of these stadiums - rather than abandoning them (such as what happened after the 2016 Rio Olympics), these stadiums are still being used today as places for recreational purposes and concerts.

The evening was capped off by an unbelievable nine-course meal on a round table that seemed to fit around 25 of us! The food was fancy, but also delectable, and it was great to be able to meet one of the people in charge of the operation of the Bird’s Nest. The night was concluded with a spectacular light show that was used during the 2008 Olympics, and consisted of a mixture of English and Mandarin songs accompanied by lasers. Once we were all satisfied and exhausted from a long day of sightseeing and exploring, we headed back to the hotel and straight into bed.


Posted by John Sigg at 2:52AM   |  Add a comment

5.28.17

Aidan Fite

This morning Ray and I woke up by the sound of the hotel doorbell ringing and the door knocking, which I knew meant that we overslept. It was around 7:30 AM when I heard the noise and we were supposed to be at breakfast at 7. We were both exhausted from the big day before where we trekked up the Great Wall of China and then toured the water-cube and the birds nest, followed by an amazing 9 course meal within the VIP area of the birds nest. 

After we woke up today, I hurried down to breakfast where Hongwei was the only one still eating and Ray stayed in bed for a little longer. At around 8:30 we boarded the bus to head to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. After about a 45 minute drive we arrived at a ginormous dome shaped building surrounded by some a body of water. After departing the bus, Ray informed the group that the building was a theatre building. Instead of going straight to the Forbidden City, we actually got a tour of this huge dome and it was amazing. Our tour guide shared with us that this is the biggest building in the world for theatre/operas, and showed us rooms where both were preformed. The first room consisted of about 2,800 seats that were layered very high, and a stage that was the biggest I have ever seen. There was a tiny area before the stage where the band preformed, and the walls were made of Chinese silk to help absorb and reflect the sound. The dome itself was inspiring to look at and part of the ceiling consisted of fine Brazilian rosewood. It was a great pit stop before we entered the outside heat and made our way to the Forbidden City. 

The outside temperature was around 95-97 degrees as we dodged tons of people on our way to the Forbidden City. After making our way through a underground tunnel, we reached the entrance of the City and made our way through security. Ray informed us that the Forbidden City was an imperial palace from the years of 1420 to 1912 were it served as the home for emperors. In the scorching heat we continued through the main first gate and kept walking. The city was ginormous and seemed never ending. Each section consisted of a huge courtyard and an even bigger and beautiful palace that either housed the emperors or served as a place for business. As we continued to walk and get sweaty and tired, we eventually made it to the garden and then soon after the exit. 

After we left, we boarded the bus again and head to where we were going to shop. When we arrived we got a quick lunch at a Chinese fast-food joint that served chicken with rice and "Chinese hamburgers." After our food, we were all set loose in the mall to spend some money and bargain. While some people were better at bargaining than others, in the end people were pretty satisfied with their purchases. I got upset with myself when I realized that I did not get the best deal at first, but then I realized that bargaining is not part of the American culture and it will take some getting used to. As time went on, I got a little better and made some better deals. 

We ate an early dinner at the hotel at 6 PM, and afterwards everybody packed and got ready for a very early morning tomorrow as we head to Chengdu. It is crazy how fast a week went by, and we only have a week to go. 


Posted by John Sigg at 7:50PM   |  Add a comment

5.26.17

Kaity Schwartzer

Hello all! Today was both highly educational and fun! This morning we had the opportunity to learn Tai Chi from a Tai Chi master here at BSU! While the 6:30am start time was not ideal for many of us sleepy college students the class ended up being very enlghtening and entertaining. After working up a sweat for nearly two hours we returned to the hotel for breakfast.

Around 9:30am Hongwei and Dr. Sigg left to go to a conference while the rest of us went to get on a bus to visit the Summer Palace. The summer palace is a beautiful and popular attraction here in Beijing. The Summer Palace was built in 1750 for the purpose of being a summer home for the Royal family members of the Qing Dynasty. We spent the majority of the day walking (and sometimes hiking and rock climbing!) around the beautiful temples and gardens. After a day full of walking we stopped at a local restaurant for some amazing noodles for a late lunch.

Instead of the normal dinner we usually have here at the hotel, we had a surprise party for Ray as it was his birthday! We had many delicious foods but the group's favorites were: dumplings, Peking Duck, and sweet and sour chicken. At the end of the meal we had some wonderful cake and still have plenty of leftovers for our trip to The Great Wall tomorrow! After so much food, walking, and sun I doubt any of us will have any problems sleeping tonight!

Lena Sargenti

Today we got up at 6:30 am for Tai Chi with a 5th generation master. He and Hongwei are from the same Province and both went to BSU. We got a lesson in what tai chi means, more so than actually practicing the techniques. The master drilled it in us that tai chi means balance. You have to have balance throughout your body in order to move. Think of your body like a tree, rooted into the ground, unable to be knocked down and can only grow upward. Your body must flow like water, open up all your joints to control each motion. A lot of people think tai chi is slow and for old people. Tai chi is controlled movements, and yes they are slow, but that is because in real time they can be fast and powerful. Slow does not mean weak. You can have a lot of power in a slow movement. When you are rigid you can easily be knocked over. When you are relaxed you can absorb force and push it back. We practiced some movements with Chinese students. The class in total was about an hour and a half. Then we walked back to the hotel to have breakfast. Our next big adventure for the day was to the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is like a huge park. It has a lake and rivers, lots of mountains and trees, and of course palaces, temples, and even a pagoda! Our group leader, Ray, told us that it was established about 200 years ago during the Qing Dynasty. During this time period, the mother of the emperor was in control and she was the one who either designed the palace or got it up and running. Itís like a vacation home for the royal family. Itís now a wonderful tourist attraction. We had a great time climbing up to see the palaces, taking a boat ride across the lake, and crossing the bridge. We were there for a few hours, but by 1 oíclock we got hungry and asked to go out to lunch. We went to a restaurant nearby the Summer Palace. We all had noodles and they were delicious! Then we went back to the hotel, rested, and got ready for a birthday celebration surprise. Today was actually Rayís 20th birthday. We got him a cake, some wine, and some IC swag. His mother even came to the hotel to join us for dinner. We had a wonderful meal and sang happy birthday. Afterwards some people had the option to go see a film on campus. Tomorrow we see the Great Wall and the Birdís Nest. How exciting!!

Posted by John Sigg at 7:45PM   |  Add a comment

 5.25.17 Laura Schiller

Our morning began at 6 am in the courtyard across the street from out hotel, where we did Tai Chi with Mike-- and by, 'did Tai Chi with Mike' I mean, tried to be as coordinated as Mike doing Tai Chi--it half worked, just in case you were wondering.  Next up we made our way to Peking University to attend a conference on Sport and Health Culture in China.  Peking University is considered the Harvard University of China, and has been a leading institution for comprehensive higher education since it's establishment in 1898.  Peking University proudly boasts 30 schools and 12 departments, with countless opportunities for Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral students from all over China, as well as many different countries around the world. We attended two lectures while at the conference, the first being about exercise and cognition presented by Dr. Bruce Wexler, Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist of Psychiatry at Yale University.  The second was given by Scott Pederson of the University of Tasmania, presenting research about a computer program designed to encourage and motivate sedentary workers to take standing breaks to improve their overall health, wellbeing, and productivity.  I wish we had been able to attend more lectures, but unfortunately translators were few and far between, and our Chinese was just not up to snuff.

After our first lecture, we had a wonderful lunch with some PKU students, and we learned about their university experience, culture, and curriculums.  After lunch they took us on a tour of campus to learn about the campus's history and experience the campus's infamous landmarks. First we saw a statue of a highly regarded past president, Cai Yuanpei, who was known for his advocacy of the equal importance of five ways of life - Virtue, Wisdom, Health, Collective, and Beauty - Values which are still regarded as pillars for comprehensive education throughout China today. Next, we visited Weiming Lake which literally means "Lake Without A Name", our tour guide told us that it has remained nameless because it is considered too beautiful to have a name do it justice. While this doesn't compare to Ithaca's lakes or scenery, this provides a beautiful sight for students to rest or study between classes. Finally, we saw the iconic PKU West Gate which is known for the beautiful painted murals that adorn its soffits.


Posted by John Sigg at 9:04AM   |  Add a comment

5-24-17

Teresa Craugh

Today started our in depth tour of the Beijing Sport University campus. We visited two classrooms, one in the international dorms and the other in the teaching building. In these classrooms we learned about massage and calligraphy. The massage class way very informational and enjoyable. It was a hands on class that involved a native instructor and multiple brave students. We all had the chance to test out the different skills for relaxation massage. These were both painful and relaxing. The kneading skill was where the masseuse would put their fist into your back in order to relieve the pressure of the muscles in your back. If done wrong this can be painful but when done right it is very relaxing. We all had the opportunity to be the masseuse and the patient which helped with our understanding of the overall general concept of relaxation massage. We could actually tell if what we were doing would help a patient. This was a very fun experience.


After our massage class we went as a group to visit the vice president of the university we are staying at, Beijing Sport University. At this meeting the vice president discussed the history of the university and what the college is doing to prep for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Since the university trains Olympic athletes they have a strong tie with making sure the Olympic Games has the best representatives from China. They make sure that all the athletes are trained in the best facilities with the best coaches. One thing that I found especially interesting is that Beijing is pretty dry in the winter so the university has a campus in more northern China where they have been training for the outdoor events. This made me wonder about what they are going to do about the games when they arrive but it is cold enough to make snow so I am sure that is what they will do.


Our last educational experience was in the teaching building where we learned calligraphy. This was similar to painting Chinese characters on paper. Though that description makes it sound easy, I assure you it was not that easy. There is a correct way to hold the brush (perfectly horizontal with a pen writing grip) and a way to apply the perfect amount of pressure to get a clear character in the end. The instructor began the lesson teaching us about the different types of script and then after each one we got to try it on paper. As we went from the grandfather to the three sons the writing got harder and more lazy. The last script, Kai shu, was difficult to read but fun to try and write. We all got the chance to write down a fourteen character saying which explained the importance of education. This was a nice way to end our fun day of education and classes.


Emma Venard Today we got to give each other massages! It was both fun and very relaxing, especially after a long day of travel yesterday. We got to try a bunch of different techniques on each other such as chopping, clapping, and pushing. Everyone loved kneading, where you roll your fists into the person's legs and back, the most.


We also got to meet the Vice President of the Beijing Sport University and then we got to walk around campus and see the different elite teams and their training facilities. We had the opportunity to watch the current national rhythmic gymnastics team prepare for Tokyo 2020. We also got to take a picture with the coach who trained the 2008 silver medal winning team and meet a former member of that same team who is also now a coach. We saw the elite trampoline and track and field areas, as well. It was amazing and humbling to stand in the very place where Olympic champions had spent their lives perfecting their craft.


After lunch, we took a calligraphy class. We got to practice drawing Chinese symbols and at the end, we all collaborated to make two large sheets of paper. Each of us contributed one character, and the end result was an inspiring message about the importance of education for all. It looked so cool, even though my calligraphy skills left a lot to be desired.


Finally, we had a very big dinner at the hotel restaurant, complete with Chinese beer, which we all agreed was much better than the Bud Light they have in America. For the first time, we were served lots of smaller plates heaped with food instead of our usual buffet style meal. We were all full by about the halfway point, but we kept taking more with each new plate because we wanted to try everything! We all tried multiple new things (even if we only took a small bite) and took another step towards broadening our food horizons. Even the picky eaters loved the sweet and sour pork, and all of us can officially say we visited Beijing after trying the Peking duck. We talked and laughed the whole time and everyone was able to get to know each other a lot better.


By the end of the day, we were pretty exhausted but I know we all had a great time and are very excited to be here. Everyone knows tomorrow will be just as new and exciting, as well.

Emma Venard

Today we got to give each other massages! It was both fun and very relaxing, especially after a long day of travel yesterday. We got to try a bunch of different techniques on each other such as chopping, clapping, and pushing. Everyone loved kneading, where you roll your fists into the person's legs and back, the most.

       We also got to meet the Vice President of the Beijing Sport University and then we got to walk around campus and see the different elite teams and their training facilities. We had the opportunity to watch the current national rhythmic gymnastics team prepare for Tokyo 2020. We also got to take a picture with the coach who trained the 2008 silver medal winning team and meet a former member of that same team who is also now a coach. We saw the elite trampoline and track and field areas, as well. It was amazing and humbling to stand in the very place where Olympic champions had spent their lives perfecting their craft. 

       After lunch, we took a calligraphy class. We got to practice drawing Chinese symbols and at the end, we all collaborated to make two large sheets of paper. Each of us contributed one character, and the end result was an inspiring message about the importance of education for all. It looked so cool, even though my calligraphy skills left a lot to be desired.   

       Finally, we had a very big dinner at the hotel restaurant, complete with Chinese beer, which we all agreed was much better than the Bud Light they have in America. For the first time, we were served lots of smaller plates heaped with food instead of our usual buffet style meal. We were all full by about the halfway point, but we kept taking more with each new plate because we wanted to try everything! We all tried multiple new things (even if we only took a small bite) and took another step towards broadening our food horizons. Even the picky eaters loved the sweet and sour pork, and all of us can officially say we visited Beijing after trying the Peking duck. We talked and laughed the whole time and everyone was able to get to know each other a lot better. 

       By the end of the day, we were pretty exhausted but I know we all had a great time and are very excited to be here. Everyone knows tomorrow will be just as new and exciting, as well. 


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