Before I started high school, I went on another exciting journey. I was chosen as a People to People Student Ambassador to China. I had never been out of the country before and was quite scared that I would be doing so without my parents or anyone that I really knew very well. We traveled through Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shouzhou, and Xian, but Beijing was the city that left the largest impression on me.
First of all, there were people everywhere. More people than I had ever seen in my entire life passed by me every second. It was a huge city and I felt completely overwhelmed. It did not take long for me to feel very out of place. My blonde hair and blue eyes are common in Florida, but in China, people were asking me to take pictures with them and waking up their children to gawk at me out of bus windows. The cultural differences were vast, as I learned when I was told that I was being incredibly rude when I ate my pizza with my hands at the local Pizza Hut.
What caught me most off gaurd in Beijing, though, were the street vendors. They were vicious! While I was waiting in line outside of the Forbidden City, a woman came up to me screaming “10 purses, 5 dollar! 10 purses, 5 dollar!”. I quickly told her “I don’t want any” in Chinese (which is the only phrase they taught us) and expected her to move on to someone else. I turned around, and then felt a swift rapt on the top of my head. She had hit me! The woman started to beat me over the head with purses as I struggled to deflect the blows until finally our tour guide noticed the commotion and chased the woman away.
My trip to China was fascinating, exciting, and slightly scary at times, but it opened my eyes to a world outside the United States. I had never appreciated the history that such an ancient culture has to offer. My eighty year old house here is considered “historic”, while the Great Wall and The Forbidden City have been around for thousands of years. I plan to travel to China again as soon as I can afford to, I’ll just watch out for women with purses this time.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.