So far, life is good.
Having never been to China before, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived. My flight domestic transfer flight from Shanghai to Chengdu was delayed. Luckily for me, a middle-aged couple adopted me for the day, but since I speak no Mandarin and they spoke no English, our interactions were limited to smiling and them feeding me, which I had no problem with.
Once I finally got to Chengdu, however, things became much more enjoyable and a little less sweaty (air conditioning, u r bae). To reference Ferris Bueller, I did things. I ate brains and yak meat. I (didn’t) feel my mouth go numb from murderously hot Sichuan peppers.
I was asked to take photos with many strangers. I got lost on my first day of work (sorry again). I ate far too much yogurt. I collected photos of bad translations.
So far, life is good.
I learned that traffic laws and seat belts are more mild suggestions than standards. I went on a quest for yoga shorts, and discovered spandex is nearly impossible to find. I visited a dog rescue center (the one Kelly talked about). I played with an adorable puppy.
Lark Trumbly is going to be a junior at Stanford University studying psychology, with a double minor in computer science (hard) and history (fun). As a member of Nerd Nation, she does crosswords and watches Jeopardy for fun. She is a California free spirit.
Here I am, my homeland, China. It’s been almost a year since the last time I left this nation and what on earth could be better than going backing home?
Sichuan is not the place where I group up but it’s fantastic here. On July 6th we went on a climbing tour of Emei Mountain that is famous for its Emei Kungfu and Buddhism. At least that's what I had heard previously. There were cable cars on Emei, but the whole team chose to climb it up step by step. The stairs seemed infinitely long, as we didn’t know how many stairs were still remaining. We started to breathe harder as the altitude increased. But, the feeling of accomplishment when we finally reach the Golden Peak made us feel that the pain was worth of it.
Today, we visited the Leshan Big Buddha. Leshan appears to be a small hill compared to Emei Mountain. As we went over the large crowd, as you typically would see in every tour sites in China, the huge Buddha sitting next to the river appeared in front of us. The erosion caused by acid rain seemed obvious all over the Buddha’s face. It is said that there used to be gold and jade covering its body, but they have vanished for some reason you might or might not know.
Everything in Sichuan is fresh to me and I look forward to the future trips.
Shawn Cheng is an upcoming junior at University of Michigan, majoring in Industrial and Operations Engineering. He grew up in China and went to USA for college. He enjoys tennis and working out (beginner) in his leisure time.
Our final day in Shanghai had come. After an interesting month, I was heading out to meet the other interns. I was effectively trading my three Shanghai aunts for three Chengdu interns. In a day’s time, all of the Educatrium interns, minus Matthew (I miss you my child), would be starting our vacation tour in Beijing.
The air was cleaner than I had imagined. The sky was surprisingly blue. The gray smog I had been expecting was nowhere to be found. Meeting us at the arrival hall was our tour guide, John. He brought us to our hotel, located close to Tiananmen Square, before letting us settle in for the night. As it was quite late, I did the only logical thing: challenge my boss to a game of billiards. I lost. I blame the fact that I’m smaller than the cue stick. But it’s fine.
Between Shanghai and Beijing was a seven-hour long train ride. Since our vacation technically did not begin until we hit Beijing, Zubair and I had a productive train ride. Along with my two suitcases (I didn’t overpack I swear), I brought my excel talents with me onto the train. As the miles went by, so to did the spreadsheets. Hundreds of miles and hundreds of cells (Excells, not eukaryotic ones… sorry, biology major Vincent) later, our train pulled into Beijing.
Grace is a sophomore at Yale University who plans to major in Applied Math and English. In her free time, she enjoys petting dogs, reading post-modern lit, and picking puns out of rap songs. She is highly proficient in Excel.
When I left home to go to Washington DC’s Dulles International airport at the bright and early time of 7am, I was expecting to be on a flight to Shanghai in just a couple of hours. I had been waiting for this day for a while – I had just finished finals week (whoo!) at the University of Chicago the week before and had been busy packing in the days leading up to the long flight. Little did I know that my flight would be cancelled. Frantically, I had managed to rebook my flight to Beijing and travel to Guangzhou from there. In Guangzhou, I would finally meet the rest of the interns at Educatrium, the education startup I would be working at for the summer.
My first day in Guangzhou turned out to be incredibly busy, fun, and unexpected. When I got to the office, I immediately plunged into the constantly moving and buzzing atmosphere of Educatrium. I spent the day presenting information on the college application to wide-eyed, impressionable high school students, bonding and joking with my fellow interns (and new friends!), and being surprised by the eagerness and openness of the students I was talking to. Before I knew it, the time was approaching 6pm, and I was starving. With all of our responsibilities done for the day, the other interns and I packed up and grabbed a delicious dinner of 排骨 (Chinese spare ribs) and fried rice at a nearby restaurant. Feeling a bit heavier (with my eyelids taking most of the weight – it had been a long day), I walked off our meal on the frenetic streets of Guangzhou.
It was a whirlwind of a few days, starting off with a cancelled flight and ending with the rather pleasant feeling of a full stomach after a meal with friends, the hum of upbeat conversation almost lulling me to sleep. After collapsing onto my bed and pulling the covers over me, I had one last thought for the night: this was the beginning of a two month-long adventure in China, and I was already looking forward to the next day.
Stacey Chiu is a junior at the University of Chicago. She has just discovered the amazing show, Dance Moms, and has been trying to stream it on spotty hotel WiFi since coming to China. When not marathon-ing Lifetime reality shows, she likes to play tennis and eat.
Here I am, four months later, back in Chengdu. Chengdu is pretty: the scenery, the people, and the pandas. Unfortunately, Chengdu is also hot and humid. The weather never goes below 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, nor does the humidity dip below 85% either. Coming from the Wisconsin border of Illinois, the polar opposite of Chengdu, I am suffering. I like the cold and I like dry. 65 degrees and slightly breezy is my definition of perfect weather.
In addition to temperature, the food in Chengdu is extremely hot, temperature-wise as well as number of chili peppers on the menu-wise. And, don’t mean flaming hot Cheetos spicy. I mean, my mouth is completely numb spicy. I generally try to only eat food that doesn’t hurt me. Sauce has never been my thing, let alone spices. I’m working on it though, taking little, baby steps to adjust to the food. Currently, I can handle two chili peppers on the menu… while being in immense pain that is. I can’t say that it’s all that enjoyable though. It’s ok though, I’ll stick to the bigger chain restaurants. In the words of Mentor Grace (Yale University ‘18), “it's fine it's fine.”
Apart from the general heat, I like Chengdu a lot. It’s clean, cheap(ish), has fewer people than Shanghai, and everything is located within a five block radius. On that note, I’m excited to spend the next month here. Maybe I’ll even develop an affinity for spicy food… once I can feel my tongue again that is.
Vincent Song is a Junior at Columbia University. In Shanghai, he is most looking forward to exploring the nightlife, as he grew up in a small town in upstate Illinois.