My lungs burned as I gasped for the cold air. Each step was like a jabbing pain in my legs as I climbed the steep stone steps. As I reached the final stairs to the top, I looked back to see the winding Great Wall beneath my feet. The total feeling of accomplishment I felt after climbing one of the highest points of the Great Wall made my trip to Beijing, China over spring break worthwhile.
Spending a full week in Beijing had to be the highlight of all spring breaks. Walking through the Summer Palace, eating a traditional duck dinner, and dancing with the native people were just a few of the memories I made throughout the week. As a student in David Williams’ AP Human Geography class, I had the opportunity to take the trip and learn about the many different cultural aspects of Beijing. I mentioned the idea of going to China to my mom, but I never imagined actually boarding the 14 hour flight across the world.
As soon as we landed, I was quick to realize that I was no longer in the comfort of seeing and hearing the English language. Every sign I saw was in Mandarin and every voice I heard was like gibberish to my ears. It took the first two days for me to finally realize that I would have to conform to the new culture, but I loved every second of it. Visiting and eating in a local family’s hutong home, as well as worshiping in the Lamasery was a real eye-opener. Meeting the indigenous people and learning about their cultures helped shape my outlook on the different populations of the world.
Climbing the Great Wall, standing in Tiananmen Square and walking through the Forbidden Palace were some of the big highlights of the trip, but just being in a different country and practicing the different lifestyle was the best experience of my life. My favorite memory of the overall trip was having the opportunity to visit a local school and make new friends. Their immediate actions of being so friendly and hospitable left a lasting impression that I will never forget.
Looking back at the pictures and videos from the trip, it’s hard to believe that I actually spent a whole week across the world. Being in such a different environment and bonding with my classmates was such an amazing time. As I look back, I now realize that having the opportunity to travel and have a better interpretation of the world is something that I am extremely grateful for.
“China is a wonderful country!”