Wednesday, March 26
Our final full day in China was a two hour bus ride to Suzhou. Our students were entertained on the trip as we were joined by the British group and a small Japanese group of students. At Suzhou, there were beautiful temples and gardens. Specifically, we visited “The Tiger Hill” and “The Lingering Gardens”.
Photo: LFNY students at Suzhou with their British & Japanese friends.
Once we returned our students met their exchange students and went home. Mme. Wei and I were told that there was a small party planned in the evening to celebrate the last night. Tomorrow, we are flighting back to New York.
Tuesday, March 25
After spending the weekend with their exchange families, the students started the week at the China Art Museum of Shanghai that was highlighted by an ancient scroll that took up an entire room. The scroll was over 1,000 years old and depicted life on the river in Ancient China. The museum had animation and sound to go with the scroll as it is the museum’s main feature. Kemly told me that she liked the “special effects” as it made her feel as though she was living with the Chinese peasants. We had lunch next to the museum where the main dish was lemon chicken.
At the transparent observatory of the Oriental Pearl Tower.
In the afternoon we visited the Oriental Pearl Tower which for many was the highlight of the trip. At first the tower was disappointing because it was foggy so we didn’t see much on the sightseeing floor. However the students had a lot of fun at the transparent observatory and on the indoor roller coaster. They will tell you that the roller coaster “wasn’t worth the money” but they were screaming while they were on it. They also had fun with the 5D Cinema where they pretended to be falling from a second floor window.
Thursday, March 20
The students were in class all morning and after lunch we all met up to go to the Shanghai Museum. I asked them to write one to two sentences about the first night with their host family:
Mael: Everything is great. The family is nice and accommodating.
Kemly: A wonderful experience so far. The family couldn’t have been nicer.
Theo: Awkward but efficient as I spoke a lot of Chinese and learned more about Chinese culture.
Soline: The food was amazing, highlighted by the chocolate dumplings.
Julia: The conditions are good and the food is really, really, really, really good.
Charles: The food was really yummy and spicy and I finished it all. My Chinese buddy gave up his bed for me.
Ariane: The food was good, the family was kind and the home had a good vibe.
Rachel: The family embraced me and taught me how to make dumplings.
Wednesday, March 19
At Fudan University.
Today was a travel day. We left the Beijing hotel at 10:00 am and arrived at Fudan High School in Shanghai at 7:30 pm. The majority of the trip was a five and a half hour train ride that took us through rural China. Dora took many photos for her dad as he told her he wanted to see the countryside. Sophie and Julia worked on their English essays for some of the trip while the majority of the students were busy on their computers. The students were very giddy on the bus ride from the train station to the high school as these were their last moments before going with their host families.
Tuesday, March 18
Today we visited the Summer Palace that was highlighted by a Dragon Boat trip along Kunming Lake. It was a huge palace (4 times bigger than the Forbidden City) with the world’s longest covered corridor. On the way out, Mael told me that the palace had a relaxing atmosphere and he could understand why the various emperors would use it as a vacation home. After the palace we visited the Freshwater Pearl Factory which gave us an opportunity to buy gifts.
Photo: At the Pearl Factory.
For many, our lunch was the highlight of the day. We had Peeking Duck at the famous Quan Ju De restaurant. Julia, who considers herself a ‘duck expert,’ enjoyed showing others how to make the duck pancakes. After lunch we were given a tour of Peking University, which included Asia’s largest university library. Rachel told me that she would want to attend the university for a summer program or trimester in university because it would improve her Chinese and give her a chance to observe the similarities and cultural differences compared to France and the United States. We returned to the hotel early today to give the students a chance to pack and swim in the hotel’s pool.
Monday, March 17
All of us thought the Great Wall would be a nice walk and an opportunity for more photos. Instead, it turned out to be a hike that left many in the group tired but with a sense of accomplishment. The steps were steeper than expected and it was fifty minutes uphill until we reached the top. Albeit at different speeds, all twelve group members made it to the top, including Kayaneh who was wearing dancing shoes!
Photo: At the Great Wall.
In the afternoon we went inside the Olympic “Bird’s Nest” Stadium and visited the Temple of Heaven. At the temple, we entertained the locals by trying to imitate them by playing shuttle cock. At night we saw a show about the legends of Kung Fu that taught the students about Buddhism and the cycle of life.
Sunday, March 16
Sunday, our first official day, was filled with the main attractions of Beijing. It started with us walking through Tiananmen Square before our tour of the Forbidden City. All the students enjoyed this, mainly because of all the opportunities to take photos with the impressive architecture in the background. We then took a rickshaw ride through the Hutong Alleys to a local home where we had a home cooked meal.
Photo: Posing in front of the Forbidden City.
Besides Mael, the students were hesitant with trying the “real” Chinese food and preferred to fill up on the chicken and rice. We saw pandas at the Beijing Zoo followed by a tea presentation at a local tea shop. Here, we drank a variety of teas and then bought the flavors we liked most. Dinner was at the Laoshe Teahouse which featured a puppet show that left everyone a bit confused, except for Mme. Wei.