This July fifteenth through the thirtieth I traveled to Changchun and Beijing, China. I went through a program called the Confucius Institute that was based in Cleveland State University. It was not intended to be a family trip, but I did meet a long lost cousin during a layover in Detroit, Michigan on the way there. It was, quite literally, the trip of a lifetime, and the fact that I met Kaylee Scafe, a girl who is seventeen and coincidentally related to me, only made the journey that much more enjoyable.
First we stayed in Changchun Foreign Language School, where we spent every day improving our knowledge of the Chinese language and culture. We had classes for approximately three hours a day and did spent the rest of the time eating the usual cafeteria food and losing games of basketball and soccer against the Chinese students. The best part of our stay in Changchun was definitely the people. We grew closer the other students from the United States, and developed sure-to-be-everlasting friendships with the Chinese students. The worst part would have to be the dorms themselves. The beds were literally plywood covered in a blanket and smaller than the desks, the pillows were filled with rice, and the showers flooded the entire bathroom. We even created our own little “China Family” consisting of students from Ohio, Maryland, and Changchun.
We stayed in Changchun for ten days and then flew to Beijing where we got to do some real sightseeing. We saw the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Bird’s Nest, the Water Cube, and of course the Great Wall. All of these famous sights to see in Beijing were beautiful, but I am positive that my favorite tourist site was the Hu Tong that we visited. A Hu Tong is a Chinese village that was preserved from hundreds of years ago, and the structure and design are completely identical to how they were way back then. The only thing that changes in a Hu Tong is the generations that live there, and how they decorate the insides of their homes. The Beijing Royal School did not have much better food than the Changchun Foreign Language School, but we ate in restaurants most of the time, so that was not a big deal. Unfortunately, the dorms went from bad to worse, though. There were no bathrooms in each individual dorm, the walls were covered in shoe prints and dead mosquitoes, and the ground had some suspicious brown liquid splattered all over it. My favorite part of the Beijing chapter of our China Trip was again the people that I met. Although I did not meet many more Chinese students, due to the fact that school was out of session, I did meet kids from all over the United States. It was amazing and I hope to never lose touch with them.
I met Kaylee in the Detroit airport and we both got extremely excited because neither of us had ever met anyone with outside of our families with our last name before. I instantly knew we had to be related, because she looks like my sisters. Our parents did a little genealogy research during our journey abroad and discovered that we have common relatives in Wisconsin. It was proven! We were related! We were both ecstatic to find that, after getting to know and adore each other thousands of miles across the world, we were linked by blood.
All-in-all, my journey to China was fantastic and I will never forget the friends I made and sights I saw.
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