My first trip abroad without my parents was my school trip to China during spring break 2011. I being a huge fan of Asian culture and not to mention of China itself, was ecstatic as a little child in a candy store. China for me was a dream come true, especially when we got to see the students at our sister school in Xi’an and thanks to EF Tours, I got to experience it. The trip to China not only made me more curious and interested in their culture but also made me want to move there and become an English teacher. Not to mention the squatting toilets, the China trip was the most wonderful experience in my life.
Our trip first began with a 12 hour flight. The longest most excruciatingly painful 12 hours of my life happened on that plane. The view was phenomenal, I mean, it’s not every day that u can see snowy Alaska and Russia. Our first stop was at Beijing, where once we landed, everyone in our group was flabbergasted. Of course the pollution was a bit new to us, we weren’t really prepared for that, but we got used to it later on. The hotel we stayed in was called the Red Wall which was next to the Forbidden City, which we got to see later that day. The first item I purchased in China was a water bottle because the water in China isn’t safe to swallow. So throughout our trip, we brushed our teeth using water bottles. Our next stop was at Xi’an where our sister school was located. That was the highlight of the trip to me because I got to experience something that not everyone can say they did. We got to mingle with the students and towards the end of the day; we introduced ourselves to a huge amount of students. Meting the students changed my view on the students; it made me realize that they have it harder than we Americans do because of the pressure added on them to pass the exams and them succeeding. Not to mention that they r the only child in the family, they have it harder than we do. After realizing this, I now realize to not take our education in America for granted because students like the Chinese would kill to have that opportunity. We spent dinner with the student’s families where we got to taste real Chinese food. I got to taste eel for the first time too, which was surprisingly tasty.
We then went back to Beijing to meet up with the rest of our group, the New Yorkers and the Virginians. There we spent 3 days viewing temples, the Forbidden City, and not to mention the Great Wall of China. Bonding with the New Yorkers and the Virginians was at first a hard task, they seemed a bit stuck up, and kept complaining about the squatting toilets (which by then we already got used to). But after getting to know them better, we all became friends and we still communicate with each other on Facebook. From there we went to Huai’an, where we got to see the Terracotta Warriors. And from there we went to Shanghai, which every girl in our group was anticipating for because of all the shopping chances we had.
The whole experience in China helped me learn new skills such as learning how to haggle prices because God forbid I pay 1,200 yuan for a knock off bag. I also learned how to use a squatting toilet, which I got used to and actually begged my mother to install one at our house. From all the haggling I learned some Chinese, enough to tell the annoying vendor to back off. One important thing that kept all of us from bad stomach problems was learning how to brush our teeth with water bottles and taking showers with our mouths closed. I got so used to it, that it still kept doing it when I got back.
What worked during the trip was getting to know my travel companions better. Even though I think we still gave our teacher a heart attack. Everything went smoothly during the trip, the one thing we weren’t anticipating on was the pollution and our teacher getting frustrated at us once in a while.
The China trip was an experience I have longed for and I’m glad to say it met all of my expectations. I am positive I will go back again, and maybe later when I can get a job there as an English teacher.
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