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Gap Year Abroad

7 posts categorized "Travel"


Did You Miss Me?


I can't help quoting one of my favourite television shows...please forgive me. 

So, you haven't heard from me since November. I meant to post about my trip to Sichuan, but I got sick with a lung infection which was in part due to the temperature starting to cool down and the near three weeks we spent with smog over the city and no sunlight. I had started having trouble breathing one morning, even though I was taking my asthma medication and I took my inhaler, and neither was working, so I had told my teacher I wanted to go to the hospital because I was feeling light-headed, sick, and I could hear myself wheezing slightly. The teacher's got a student intern to help me get to the hospital, where I was examined by a doctor who spoke English (and who I'm pretty sure was French). 

He checked my lungs and said he didn't hear anything wrong, and I thought he was just going to send me home, but I told him that I wouldn't have come if I didn't suspect I was getting sick and if I was actually able to breathe. So he had me go to a room for twenty minutes and do a breathalyser, which is basically where they give you medicine to help the lungs relax and open up. He wrote me prescriptions in case I got a lung infection; one was basic medicine, and one was a stronger dosage. Then the student intern helped me get back to the school so I could let the teacher's document the medicine. Everyone kept checking on me and bringing me hot water, which is basically the answer to everything. "Drink hot water" is one of the most common phrases here, or "He re shui" or "喝热水". 

Eventually I made it home and went to sleep for awhile, and when Nainai came over, she came into my room and woke me up to ask if I was okay, because usually I greet her when she comes in. I told her I was sick and had been to the hospital because I couldn't breathe, but I said this in a mix of words and gestures. She looked over my medicine and had me immediately take the regular dosage with some hot water and then told me to sleep. And when I woke up, guess who then had a sore throat and a nasty cough? I knew immediately I had a lung infection, as this wasn't the first I'd ever had in my life. Either way, I will write a separate blog post about this time, as I plan to spend the last few weeks of my winter vacation making blog posts about the past few months. But you should know I had the lung infection for about four or five days, went back to school for a week, and then the next week a second round of my lung infection came back. This was the three weeks Shanghai was shrouded in smog, rain, and cold temperatures.

So by the point I had completely recovered from what I like to call "my double lung infection," I was basically just doing my best to catch up with my classes, because there were a few points I could hardly bare to move from my bed or the living room couch because I was cold, coughing my lungs out, or purely exhausted. Thank god for understanding and loving teachers, and thank god for understanding and hardworking student tutors. I really don't know what I would have done without my wonderful, supportive community I have here in Shanghai. 

Not too long after I recovered from my lung infection I had got back on my volunteering bandwagon, teaching English to migrant children, which I came to love to do with my team, though I had to watch how loud I spoke or hurt my throat. 

Not long after that either, we had finals, and I started to review and also work on a project for my GAP class, and then planning out a skit with my group for the final group oral project. What I ultimately learned was our final was pretty much like any other test we took at the end of the week, except it covered what we'd learned throughout the whole semester rather than just the weekly topic. Basically I am no longer intimidated by midterms or finals. University is going to be a breeze!

Speaking of university, I have been accepted into a few, but I have yet to make a decision as I still await one more decision and then to see what scholarships I can also apply for. That's all I'm giving away for now. 

After I officially graduated from the first part of the program, I moved into the Chinese university's dorm with a girl who had been in my Chinese language class, as my host family is not paid to take care of me during the break, but I've been allowed to live free in the dorms. However, I have not been here all of my winter break, which started on December 19th. 

I also turned 19 on December 23, 2015, and my roommate and I celebrated by going to buy a birthday cake, which was absolutely delicious and perfect! I also left around 1:30 am the next morning to begin my month long travels. That day I flew to Singapore, where my friend Xinzhi, who I met in Taiwan that summer, picked me up with her friend and drove me to Malaysia. I will post a whole blog post about Malaysia and Singapore, and our friends, the Philippine brothers. 

I will also make a whole blog post about my week in Korea, complete with an entirely different hospital visit!

And I'll also post about the two weeks I spent with my friend Mindd from high school, and her sister in Thailand. 

I have so much to share, but I can't write about it all here, so I'm going to spend the next two weeks doing my best to catch everyone up on the exciting things that have happened! 

My winter break will officially end around February 28th, but I've not got much to do until then, so I will work my hardest on catching you all up! 

Talk to you very soon! 



Daily Life

One thing I think a lot of study abroad students overlook in our study abroad experiences is, if we are fortunate enough, the host family experience. It's not that this aspect of our time abroad is insignificant, nor is it necessarily a forgettable part of it. I think a lot of the time it's we study abroad students are swept up in the events going on around us, like classes, clubs and sports, travelling, etc., that we talk a lot about the interesting events that have been going on around us, but we deign to mention our day-to-day lives, or even our homestay experiences. I know not every study abroad student has the opportunity to stay with a host family, but I thought, because I never did find a lot of things written about homestay experiences, I would write about my own. Warning: this post may be a bit jumpy, as I'm not always the greatest at putting my thoughts together.

As you all know by now, I live with my host mom, Lena, my host dad, Chao, and my little sister, Joy. Nainai did live with us the first month I was here, but she moved out when her husband was finally able to retire and buy an apartment in Shanghai, so now the two live together. Nainai, thankfully, is still a huge part of our lives, despite living with her husband. Nainai usually comes over in the afternoon to clean the house, start preparing dinner, and if she has nothing else to do, to watch some television. Nainai picks Joy up from school everyday and will usually finish making dinner. Then she'll go home when my host parent's get home from work.


My host father is an accountant, very smart, and pretty funny. Both my host parent's are pretty young, his 37th birthday was a few weeks ago, so his wife bought him a tiramisu cake and we all shared. That was as special as it got. Lena is the same age, and for me, it's a bit strange having really young parents, because my American parent's, in age, are closer to Nainai's age of 64 then to my host parent's, so I've had to adjust to these younger parent's, which isn't a bad thing at all. Lena and I talk a lot and I could almost think of her as an older sister in some ways, even though she's my host mom. They all take care of me, though, so it is strange to have younger parent's, but I also get to see their parenting style for Joy, who's only five years old. 

Since I arrived in China, my host family has been like a team unit, and I felt like I fit right in real quickly. Early on we started figuring out schedules, I learned what they expected from me, and I learned what they would do for me and what I would do myself. In terms of chores, keeping my room clean and orderly, doing my own laundry, and getting my homework done is pretty much all that is expected of me. Everything else my host family does. I've tried offering help on multiple occasions to do more chores around the house, but they have told me plenty of times they will take care of it, and there was no arguing, it was their chore, I should study. 

Meal times are probably very stereotypical. During the week Nainai makes dinner. My host parents will make the rest of the meals. But usually it is my host father who gets up in the morning to make us all breakfast, and I know he gets up earlier for me, because I leave for school early, so it's a very sweet gesture on his part. He usually will make rice porridge, aka congee, and sometimes I get the special squash and congee breakfast. Usually we have other things to eat with it, such as sticky buns, fried bread (you tiao)--my favourite!, hard-boiled egg, or moon cakes. My host mom makes a lot of the other meals though on the weekend. However, when we eat, I'm the one always served the most amount of rice, and I have to tell them all the time I would like less rice, because lately I've been eating less and less. But when I ask for less they basically remove a few grains of rice and go, "Okay?" and I have to go, "No, a bit more," probably three to five times. This happens pretty much every night, too, they're convinced one night I'm going to eat that original serving of rice again. 

Sometimes my host family has surprised me with bringing me American food, and last month they even took me out to eat at a restaurant at the mall, and they let me try a bunch of new Shanghai special dishes. My first month I guess they could tell I was homesick because they stopped at a pizza place after going out and brought pizza and pepsi home for dinner and it actually made me laugh. The pizza is actually really good here, even though they put some strange things on the pizza, but, who cares if it's good right? Sometimes, they'll even surprise me with desserts, which is always incredibly sweet. My host father bought Haagan-Dass gelato home and we had that one afternoon. Another time they brought home pastries and we ate that. 

One of my favourite things to do with my host family is to go out together. They've invited me out pretty often with them. They've taken me to a nearby market, to a sporting goods store, and plenty of times to Tesco, the supermarket in the mall. Spending time with them makes it easier to feel like a family, and I love getting to interact with them and actually feel like I'm getting a real cultural experience. Of course I get strange looks for being with a Chinese family and for even speaking Mandarin at all, but it's something I've come to overlook because I only care about the experience of being with my host family and getting to practice my Mandarin. 

Tesco outings have always been pretty fun. My little sister is very active, so getting to run around a little is always good for her. My host mom has asked me to help her pick out meat and vegetables, and since I liked doing grocery shopping back home, I always enjoy the moments where I can help in some ways. Sometimes I do go shopping for food on my own, because of my sweet tooth or when my host family has been away, as well. Most of the time though, we go out to Tesco, and usually my host parent's will buy my little sister and I something, like a treat. Yesterday it was juice. 

Our day-to-day life though isn't much, but will usually go along these said lines;

During the week, I will go to school, go to tutoring. I'll come home for a few hours depending if I don't have class or volunteering, spend some time with Nainai before she picks Joy up from school. We usually have dinner, and then I'll go to my second tutoring. My parent's will arrive home around seven every day, sometimes I am home before them, sometimes after. Usually we will be up for a few hours, then they'll start getting Joy ready for bed. She's usually out around 9 pm. Usually I will go to bed around 10 or 11 pm. They usually go to bed between 11 and 11:30 pm, though they have stayed up later. 

On Saturdays they usually go out. To do what, I'm still not entirely sure. Sometimes Joy will spend the weekend with Nainai and Yeye, others she is home. Sundays, Joy has English school for a few hours, so I will usually stay home and work. We usually go to Tesco Sunday nights too, but as of this week, we went on Saturday.

Within my host family, Nainai and Joy do not speak fluent English, nor can they comprehend anything I would try to communicate with them, so a lot of my afternoon is spent communicating with Nainai and two of us doing our best to translate and for her to find vocabulary I understand and for me to explain as much as I can through as much as my limited vocabulary allows and to use as many gestures as I can. Joy and I will play games sometimes, and sometimes I learn some vocabulary words, but Joy also like watching television, and I will be busy with schoolwork, so the amount of time we get to spend together isn't always long. My host parent's are actually quite fluent in English, and I do my best to speak Mandarin to them, but if I need something and don't have the vocabulary, it's also very nice to be able to communicate what I need and for them to understand. Usually I go to Lena though, seeing as she is the "head" of the household. If I ever consult my host father, he always goes to his wife. 

My host parent's remind me of high school sweethearts. Lena is really beautiful, and her husband is incredibly smart. The two of them are a team. They both work full time, and they both carry out equal responsibilities in the house when Nainai isn't there. Together they will clean the house. Lena will cook and Chao will clean the dishes by himself. Lena will sweep the house, and Chao will mop it. Both of them take equal part in Joy's life. They both sit with her and help her with her English homework, and of course I help too. They both take part in giving Joy a bath, and in playing with her, though Lena is probably the more active one. Honestly it's really amazing to see. Both parent's say "I love you," to their daughter, something I was actually surprised at. It's rarely, if ever, said in public, but they say it to each other quite a bit in the comfort of their home. 

One day in particular, Chao decided to mop my floor after I'd finished dusting and sweeping and I laughed because I hadn't expected it, and Lena saw and she smiled and said to me, "He is a very good husband, he is very helpful. I love him very much." 

I would never have expected her to be so open about it to me, seeing as I had only been their for a month, but her husband just smiled over at her, and it was very sweet to see that love they have for each other, that they were so open about it too in the comfort of their home. It doesn't mean I don't hear bickering or their near shouting sometimes, which is something I'm not entirely used to, but it gives me insight to the fact this is a real relationship, and despite the disagreements and bickering, they still love each other and always put their daughter first. 


Living with this host family has made me see a lot of the things I value in my own family, but also gives me insights into the flaws of my own American family and other families as well. I see some Chinese values within the way they live, but I also see the Western values that have influenced them as well. Living with this particular host family has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, one of the places I've learned the most through, and one of the places I'm so thankful to call home. 



Suzhou and Zhouzhuang

So what did I do on this mysterious weekend I eluded you about?

I had only just had my first week of classes, but the CIEE program had decided to send us on a weekend trip. There were four weekend trips, and I went on the one to Suzhou and Zhouzhuang: two beautiful cities probably no further than two or three hours from my school in Shanghai.

Saturday we spent in Suzhou and Sunday we spent in Zhouzhuang. My new friend and dear companion, Leecam, was almost always with me when we went out. We had a pretty strict itinerary that we stuck too, but, I must confess, we did end up late to quite a few places.

Honestly, it would take me a lot of time to go over everything that happened, so hopefully the videos below will give you some insight as to what we did in Suzhou and what we did in Zhouzhuang. Sorry that there are three of them and they are at minimum, eleven minutes long. But if you like nature and you want to know about what these parts of China look like I recommend you watch them all through. After all, it is the weekend for you all. (Quick note: I do apologise if there are any errors in the video or if it freezes or the audio doesn't play. It just does that but hopefully it will all go smoothly. My movie editing program is just being mean as of late...)




We did some market shopping, and there aren’t many pictures of either markets, but I did get some pretty amazing things. I have bought silk scarves (for incredibly cheap), a hand-made comb, a pocketwatch (that already broke), and a glass egg in which the artist painted inside and even wrote my Chinese name in!

The night I was away my host mom sent me a voice message of my little sister saying she missed me, and my host mom wished me well and hoped I was having fun. It really made me feel even closer to the family, knowing they were missing me, and of course, I missed them too. I was very happy to see them when we got back. I have now realized I literally do not like any restaurant food because it never compares to nainai’s food, even if it’s good, but nainai’s is the best food, likely because she puts so much love in it. I’ve eaten out in a few good places, but ultimately, nainai’s food is my favorite here in China.

As for the past few weeks…well. School has been an adventure, I will say. I have, of course, been learning lots of vocabulary and my speaking is getting increasingly better, especially at home. For me, speaking naturally with my host family is the time I’m most confident in speaking Mandarin, and they are always able to understand what I communicate. I’m also very happy, as I’ve also begun to understand some of the sentences and phrases my nai-nai and mei-mei have been saying to me. I’m very proud to announce I have been able to communicate with Joy and been able to play games with her. My tutor’s are helpful, but for me, it’s always a bit more forced when I have to speak, but I could just totally be adding extra stress there at the same time.

The homework feels like it’s never going to end, and I feel like I could very well be smothered by it all on top of the soon-to-be volunteering on top of meeting with the tutors. I remembered over the past week my goal for a gap year wasn’t to focus on grades. For me, my grades have been average, but I have been learning the material overall, even if some words/characters don’t actually make sense or register until a week later. I am certainly trying to do my best, but I do realize I do not have all the resources some other kids have (Pleco, Windows, why do you not have Pleco for Windows phones do you realize how much better my life could be), nor do I learn the same as they might, but I did speak with my teacher’s about my need for visualization when learning, and they have been more than willing to help out in that aspect. I do actually like how even on the oral tests, they will correct my grammatical errors and have me repeat the sentence until I can say it practically fluently. It is certainly my least favorite thing to do, but every one of my teachers and tutors will do this with me and it may take me five minutes of practice before it works, but I can not take for granted how much it helps in the long run.

I’ve been on break for over a week now, as it was the Mid-Autumn Festival, which had its ups and downs. But, considering how much I have splurged in terms of time with the videos, I will write another post and post it hopefully within the week, as now I have a VPN and can access this blogging website from home. Otherwise, hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week and make the best of it all!


It Must Be the Start of Something New

Hello everyone! Or should I say, 大家好!

For those of you who don't know, my name is Sage Cheyenne McCormick and I am 18 years old. I am currently a GAP year student (which means I've taken a year off between the end of my senior year and the beginnin of my freshmen year of university). I come from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is a beautiful, cultural city, but can also be very cold for at least seven to eight months of the year. 

So why did I choose China of all places in the world to go? Good question.

My mother is a practitioner of Chinese medicine, so my interaction with Chinese culture and language started then. When I got to high school, they offered Mandarin Chinese as one of the langues, and I certainly wasn't going to take Spanish or French (because everyone else was taking those)! So I studied the language for four years, my first years under a Taiwanese teacher, and the other under a Chinese teacher from Shanghai, which is where I'm currently located! Somewhere between those two teachers, I made up my mind that I wanted to travel. Europe was on e of the first places that came to mind, but I was learning a language that not many people without Chinese roots know, and I knew quite a bit about the culture, but had never actually lived in a culture so different from my own.

It took a bit of convincing, but eventually I got both my parents on board. I spent time applying to exchange programs instead of colleges, and here I am now.

I have officially been living in China for a week now, and have been working on getting video footage and photos of all the things I have seen. It's been a busy week of orientation and getting to know the city I live in and how to navigate it! 

I will be sure to make a post in the next few days of everything I have captured by camera (having some technical difficulties in this new country). 

But the most important things are, I love my host family. I truly got paired with the perfect family, and I can't wait to show and tell you all I can about them. 

Stay tuned as I will be posting in the next few days and you can truly see all the wonders of Shanghai with me!



Now that I'm back in the land of speedy internet, it's time for some long-overdue file sharing. First, videos!


A video of the performance in the Sichuan restauraunt we went to during Orientation.


Going dancing in the park with my host mother (not pictured).


Rolling hills from the Shanghai-Lhasa train.


More views from the train, this time with the pop music in the background that played for the majority of the 50 hours we were traveling.


Part of a show we saw in the Guangxi province.

In addition, for our Chinese History class, one of the projects I needed to do involved reflecting on my time in China. Now that it's been handed in, I though I might share a few of the better reflections on this blog. Here's the link for them:


Beyond Shanghai

Hello again!

Since I last posted, I’ve had finals and welcomed the visit of a family member, all while managing to squeeze in no fewer than three overnight trips outside of Shanghai. I feel like my Chinese is improving daily, and the idea of Shanghai as my home has grown to feel practically normal. However, on this entry I only have time to deal with one topic: the CIEE gap year trip.

We went on this four-day excursion a few weeks ago, with the five of us and two teachers. We were off to Guilin and Yangshuo, two cities in the south of China. All of us bravely got ready for a 7 am flight by meeting one cold Wednesday morning at 5 outside the university front gate. One plane, three buses, and a hike up an uncountable number of steps later, we arrived in Ping’an Village.That area is mainly notable for its beautiful scenery of rice patties, but we also noticed the colorful traditional clothing many villagers wore, and the delicious noodle soup the region is famous for. IMG_2242Here’s a picture of the CIEE gappers – from left, me, Mason, Evan, Jamey, and Jack.

Maybe Shanghai’s been getting to me, because the next morning I voluntarily got up early to explore Ping’an and its environs. It was a really beautiful time of day, and I shared it only with farmers planting their crops and a few other wide-eyed tourists frantically snapping pictures. Here are some of the dozens I took that might possibly explain why I was perfectly fine with waking up before the roosters.



This is the village we stayed in that night, about as different from my normal home as imaginable.

That day we went to Huangluo Yao, a neighboring village known for its women with extremely long hair. It is the custom there to cut it only once their entire lives, in their teenage years, which has drawn tourists their from inside and outside the area. Just outside, we noticed some people whose cameras were unusually large and numerous even for tourists. They turned out to be newscasters filming a segment about Guangxi,the province we were in, for the occasion of its 60th anniversary. They were only too eager to talk to the friendly foreigners, so first Evan, and then me offered our opinions in English and Mandarin. IMG_2333

So many cameras!

The show we watched portrayed typical events in their culture, which happened to include a marriage ceremony. This was the audience participation portion, and you’ll be glad to hear the Americans were well represented. JohnPaul, our Chinese history teacher, and Mason have now tied the knot with their new brides, after singing, dancing, carrying their brides piggy-back, and enduring a local custom of pinching the groom on the butt to show you love him. I managed to get a few pictures of the happy couples:

This left us just enough time to drive to Guilin that afternoon and see the Moon and Sun pagodas in the river followed by a trip to the local night market for deals outrageous even by Chinese standards.The next morning we got on a boat that took us down the Li river from Guilin to Yangshuo. Along with many other tourists, I spent most of it on top, appreciating a view so beautiful as to be put on the 20 RMB bank note.

Can you see the resemblance? 

The tour guides on the boat would inevitably say something like “And this is the peak that we call Nine Horses Mountain, because it clearly looks like nine horses”. Half the fun was trying to see the resemblances, which occasionally took a very active imagination.

That afternoon we went to see Silver Cave, known for being extremely beautiful. It certainly didn’t disappoint, as we wandered through chamber after chamber to see each one contained some structure more bizarre and wonderful than the last, with names like “The Ten Thousand Year Old Glossy Ganoderma”. To make things even more interesting, someone had apparently decided that the cave wasn’t beautiful enough by itself, and decided to string Christmas lights everywhere that sent a rainbow of colors all up and down the walls. The whole thing reminded me of some science fiction novel, with the addition of a few hundred tourists panting from climbing up all the stairs.


That evening we went to see Impression of Sanjie, directed by Zhang Yimou, better known for his work directing Hero, Curse of the Golden Flower, and House of Flying Daggers. The theme of the night seemed to be bigness. The show had a cast of hundreds and the world’s largest theatre, which used nearby mountains as backdrops. We managed to sneak into seats up front, and from there had an amazing view of the entire amazing performance. Unfortunately my camera didn’t work in the low light, but that’s okay since I was too busy picking my dropped jaw up from the floor to take any pictures.

The final morning was free time, which I decided to spend enjoying the surprisingly summery weather. For about a dollar and a half I rented a bike for the day, and took it up all around Yangshuo. I got completely lost on tiny dirt roads, and asked for directions in multiple languages (and on one memorable occasion, gave them). After eating lunch by a field on the side of a road, I passed farmers planting their food, families enjoying a lazy Saturday, and cows enjoying just another lazy day (it’s always Saturday to a cow). All in all, a wonderful ending to a great trip.



Trips, Inside and Outside Shanghai

In this post I’ll go through the excursions I’ve been making these past few weeks. Even though I’m taking classes five days a week, it’s wonderful to still have enough time to get to know the world beyond the library (and yes, it turns out there is a world beyond the library).

Generally, CIEE plans activities on Friday afternoons. The Friday before last we went to the Pearl Tower, a pointed structure with large pink spheres along its length that will show up in almost all pictures of Shanghai. From up there we could get several amazing views of everything except the Pearl Tower. Perhaps the most hair-raising part, though, was the section with a glass floor. I’m not sure I want to share what was going through my head when I stepped out on it, but I did at least bring photographic evidence that I did go.

IMG_1087 It’s a long way down.


And here’s a more conventional view of the city that's now my home.  IMG_1072I call it “Skyscrapers in the Mist”. 

That same evening we went on a river cruise of the city. By daylight, the buildings had been impressive. By night, they became extremely beautiful as well, and the entire scene reminded me of a circus.  IMG_1104 The view of the Bund. The eclectic style of its buildings reflects Shanghai’s past and many dealings with foreign countries.    IMG_1107 A view of the Pudong area near the river. The Pearl Tower is near the center of the picture.

The very next day we went on a whole-day trip to Suzhou with members of CIEE’s Study Abroad program. Suzhou is about two hours by bus away from the city, and is a popular tourist destination. Its gardens are considered some of the most beautiful spots in China. Interesting fact: It used to be larger and more important than Shanghai.

Suzhou is also well known for its role in the trade of silk, so our first stop was a modern silk factory. We saw every stage of the process: the silkworms eating, the sorting of the cocoons (see below), boiling and spinning the thread, right up to “tourist buys expensive silk product”. 

They let us keep the broken ones! I wasn’t too fond of the idea of having a silkmoth fluttering around my room, though, so I passed.

Soon afterwards we were on a cruise, seeing exactly why Suzhou is called “the Venice of China”. Why, you ask? This is why:

IMG_1138 It's probably more beautiful during holidays than a random Saturday in September, but it's still a pretty cool part of town.

Our last stop was the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the most famous of those in Suzhou. The entire area was intensely cultivated. Covered stone walkways wandered by canals as they linked together small but incredibly beautiful cabins.IMG_1155 All the bridges were designed in zig-zag patterns like this, for some reason.IMG_1163 A covered walkway

This Friday brought another trip – to the World Expo! Alas, the Expo ended last year. However, the Chinese Pavilion was still running, and an afternoon there was fascinating enough in itself.

IMG_1238 A view of the pavilion from the small garden behind it. It might be hard to tell in this picture, but the building is HUGE. To get to the first floor (where the supporting columns meet the actual building) is two or three stories up.

The inside basically walked us through a tour of China: its history, its present (including many pictures drawn by Chinese kids), and its future. This last part placed heavy emphasis on the search for renewable resources, which struck me as a bit of an unusual focus to chose. The entire exhibit varied between pro-China and ridiculously nationalistic, which just added another layer of interest to the exhibit. Here are a few pictures of the inside. Unfortunately, after at least ten hours of wading through various sites, I’m unable to upload any of the videos I’ve been taking. I’ll give it another shot in a few days, but in the meantime I highly recommend checking out my friend Laura’s YouTube stream at thejokerpenguin18, especially (when she posts it), the ten-minute quasi-propaganda video they showed us at the start of the Chinese Pavillion tour. What I did get pictures of were:

A screen the length of a long hall, playing scenes from a traditional Chinese village. Note the large crowds even now!

IMG_1225 The designers went out of their way to make each section interesting. Someone compared this section to walking through a forest in Pandora. (Fun fact: The movie Avatar was based on the Huang Shan mountains in China, something many Chinese people are extremely proud of).

Evan, one of the kids in the Gap Year program, had actually been to the Expo itself last year, and he said the Chinese exhibition was universally considered one of the best. His evidence? The length of the wait was ten hours, versus a more modest three or so for less popular exhibits. I agree with the sentiment, but I’m still very glad we didn’t visit during the actual Expo.

In our free time, the Gap Year group has also been making trips to other spots around the city. Last week we browsed M50, an art neighborhood with lots of galleries. One of my favorite exhibits was called “Follow! Follow! Follow!” The artists stitched small cloth people into various scenes. One of the designs ran the length of the gallery.

IMG_1199 A wide view (tallest point is maybe thirty feet high)

IMG_1200 And a close up.

This Sunday we made a trip to a bookstore with an English language selection, and followed that up by exploring the Jing’an Villa neighborhood. This last area has lots of small shops selling everything from tea to high- and low-priced trinkets to dinners. Most importantly, we found a library with a fairly extensive selection of English books, complete with tables for studying, a refrigerator with drinks and (unfortunately) a monthly membership fee.

Now, it’s back to class, at least for the moment. The first week of October is the National Day holiday. We don’t have class, so everyone in China (or so it seems) is planning a trip. Our destination? The Gap Year group (plus one Study Abroad student) is headed to Tibet!


Gap Bloggers

  • Eva - Gap Year Abroad in Japan
  • Eamon - Gap Year Abroad in Spain
  • Sage - Gap Year Abroad in China
  • Kira - Gap Year Abroad in France
  • Smith - Gap Year Abroad in Chile
  • Maddy - Gap Year Abroad in Japan
  • Hannah - Gap Year Abroad in Italy
  • Chloe - Gap Year Abroad in Chile