I have about seven weeks left of my sophomore year when a group of my teammates and myself decide we should go on our school’s required study abroad program. We go on our university’s website and open the study abroad program portal to see what our options are. Since it is late in the year, our options are very limited. There is only one program left with enough spots for all of us to join: Beijing, China.
I learn a little Mandarin and then board the plane for Beijing. After 14 hours of flying with my seat crammed between 2 people, I finally land at Beijing’s massive airport. Before I even leave the airport, I notice people are wearing surgical masks that people would wear at the doctor’s office when they’re trying to prevent spreading their cold. As soon as I walk outside I realize why. The air pollution is very noticeable and has a distinct smell to it. Once I get to my hotel in the middle of Beijing, I realize the number of people in this city would put New York City to shame. There were crowds and lines virtually everywhere I went. However, the population and pollution were the only two parts I did not enjoy about my trip.
My program instructors planned a lot of really interesting things for our group to do over the course of two and a half weeks. One of the first things we did was visit the Forbidden City which was a massive palace. We also got to visit the Olympic stadiums used for the 2008 Olympic games which was really interesting to see. One day we climbed 6,000 some steps to reach the top of Mount Tai which seems like a lot of work (it was), but it was worth it once we reached the top. The second to last day we visited the Great Wall. I’ve seen in it pictures many times, but pictures don’t do it justice once you actually see it in person. One of my favorite things about my trip, was getting to try all the authentic Chinese foods. Chinese food in America is nothing like actual Chinese food. Overall, I had a great trip and I was really glad I got to see a lot of what Beijing had to offer.