Your Eyes Are Always Bigger Than Your Stomach – China Day 4

Written and published March 6th, 2018

Today we flew from Beijing to Xi’an. Since it was a travel day and rainy we did not do that much. I will be posting photos today (taken on my phone because of the rain) from my shopping around the city, eating food, and watching the Tang Dynasty Show and dinner. My blog post tomorrow will hopefully be much more exciting.

– Anna

Ice cream with waffle bubble cone (photo creds to Savannah)

Steamed corn

Meat (lamb) on a stick

Vegetable dumplings

Mango juice drink with whipped cream, mango pieces, and matcha dusting

Making dough

Tang Dynasty Dinner

Tang Dynasty Show

Family Not Foe – China Day 3

Written and posted March 5th, 2018

Sputtering, the coffee, sweet milk, sugar, and boiling water drip into my cup, the size of a toddler’s. It’s my 5th cup of the day and it’s only 7 AM. I add a couple pork buns and watermelon to my plate and that completes my breakfast. I am still full from dinner and the Hot Pot yesterday.

Bundling up, two sweatshirts and a jacket, I head to the bus to start my day. Stepping off the bus I am greeted by an intricate archway to the Summer Palace. As we enter, an older group of people are practicing Taji with a ball and racquet. Our group joins in, but we are not able to keep the ball on the racquet like everyone else. We walk through the Summer Palace that looks over a lake and a mountain with a Pagoda on top. Everything is so beautiful, no wonder the emperor stayed there for most of the year.

Freezing, we rush to the bus, excited to experience a tea ceremony. There are five different teas, oolong, black with lychee, rose, fruit, and jasmine. The person leading the tea ceremony pours the hot water into the mug, leaves swirling around in the midst of creating a delicious drink sliding down your throat and warming you.

My ears pop and mountains flash by as we pull up to the entrance of the Great Wall of China. As I step off the bus I see the long stretch of wall that is more expansive than my line of vision. I begin to climb, my legs burning after only 50 steps. I didn’t think I was that out of shape, but the almost vertical incline has me winded. When I reach the top I feel victorious. The view is spectacular. I am able to see the vast wall and mountains, struggling to tell where and if they end. After taking in all this beauty I finally begin my dissent. While it is terrifying and I slip down it more than I walk, I make it to the bottom still in awe of my accomplishment and the wall itself.

After dinner, we head to a local market and street for shopping. There are so many stores and restaurants. While I want to buy everything there: egg waffle cones, matcha ice cream, churros, crepes and more, I only buy milk bubble tea. The streets are still busting, but it’s getting late and we have a flight to Xi’an tomorrow. Taking the subway back along with all the locals we reach the hotel and check-in for the night.

See you tomorrow!

– Anna

Trading the Old for the New – China Day 2

Written and posted March 4th, 2018

As I realized yesterday, it was very hard to write a blog post at the end of the day since I was so tired from everything that we had done. I’ve decided that I will post a written blog post every couple of days and other days will just be photos. Today will just be photos, enjoy!


Giant Panda at the Beijing ZooHackysack in the park Gymnastics as morning exercise Rickshaw ride to a local home for lunch Temple of Heaven Forbidden City Street foodPeaking Duck for dinner Hot Pot as our second dinner

24 Hours of Night – China Day 1

Written and posted March 3rd, 2018

Departing from Westtown (on Thursday) we took a bus to the Newark International airport. When we got to the airport, we found out that someone on the flight had a medical emergency and there was not enough oxygen for us to fly to Hong Kong. All of the options we were given were bad, especially with the impending winter storm the next day meaning we’d lose at least two if not more days. However, after much deliberation between the teachers and the airport staff, it was decided that they would give a stipend to thirty people who left, and our group had priority to stay. We all made it on the flight and landed in Hong Kong at 5:30 AM on Saturday. Hong Kong was the first time we had seen daylight in a little over twenty-four hours.

After one more plane ride, this time only two hours, we made it to Beijing. We met our tour guide Sunny at the airport. While we were driving, Sunny told us a bit about the history of China and Beijing. Sunny mentioned something called a political blue sky which I found interesting. A political blue sky is when a political leader is coming to Beijing and all the factories close so there is no smog and the sky stays blue. I was surprised that Beijing knows their air is extremely polluted but does not do anything to prevent it except for powerful figures.

Sunny also took us to lunch near the Olympic village and the Birds Nest, the Olympic stadium. The restaurant was similar to Westtown, in that it was family style. There was a lazy-susan in the middle of the table with all of our food which we spun when we wanted another dish. However, a major cultural difference was the utensils. I have never been good with chopsticks and while I struggled to use them, I know it will get easier as the trip goes on. Another cultural shock was the bathroom in the restaurant. I had to squat over a hole and bring in my own toilet paper, very different to bathrooms in the States.

When we went to the Olympic village we saw the Birds Nest, the swimming pool, a winter only man-made ski hill, and people doing tricks with rollerblades. The park also had buildings that, when looked at together, were in the shape of a dragon. After leaving the park we walked around the Houhai Lake District and went to dinner, which was in a similar style as lunch and was very yummy! While this was only a brief preview of my day, I’m experiencing extreme jet lag, so I am going to get some sleep. Thanks for reading! I’ll try to post again tomorrow.

– Anna


Entrance to the Olympic village

Birds Nest

Dragon made of buildings

Performance rollerblading

Lake Houhai District

Prologue​ to China: Classroom to Reality

Written and posted February 25th, 2018

你好, 我的名字是 Anna Harrison. For those of you who do not speak or read Mandarin, I said, “Hi, my name is Anna Harrison.” At least that is what I hope it reads. I (as well as the majority of the people reading my blog, I assume) do not know Mandarin either. I asked one of my good friends how to write that sentence and, hopefully, she is not making a fool out of me. I have tried to learn Mandarin, believe me. I have been using Duolingo every day, asking my friends how to say words, and going to the weekly cultural sessions my teacher, the trip leader, has been hosting since I decided to go on this trip to China back in October. However, learning a new language is not as easy as it seems. I should know. I have been taking Spanish since Kindergarten and, yes, I am in Spanish 5 at the moment. Yes, I can understand, read, write, and speak Spanish, although I am nowhere close to fluent.

You might be wondering, “Anna, you have been taking Spanish for most of your life and know very little Mandarin, why in the world are you going to China instead of a Spanish-speaking country?” Well, the answer to that question is, IT IS CHINA! I have been to Mexico a couple of times, for service and for vacation and, while I would love to go back or go to another Spanish-speaking country when I heard that China was an option for a Senior Project, I was incredibly excited! 14 days, 6 cities/provinces, mouth-watering food (Dim Sum), the Great Wall of China, Terracotta Warriors, Tang Dynasty show and dinner, and so much more! I could actually visit the Forbidden City, the former Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty, in person. Images from my five-pound, highlighter-filled history textbook would be brought to life. I also chose to go on this trip because it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Of course, you are thinking that sounds cliché, “once-in-a-blah blah, everyone says it, okay, we get it,” but it truly is. Without this trip, the opportunity Westtown and my parents and family have given me, I believe that I would have never gone to China. While I wish that was not the case because I love to travel and want to go everywhere, most travel abroad programs default to western European countries instead of Asian ones, and I do not think China is a place I would travel to on my own. I am extremely grateful for all everyone has done to put this trip together and cannot wait to be watching at least six movies (it is about a sixteen-hour flight) and relaxing on the plane four days from now.

See you in China!

– Anna

P.S. I want to let you know that my other blog posts will (I hope) not be as long as this one. I really enjoy photography, so I plan to accompany each post with lots of photos. I also want to let you know that China limits access to sites, and I may not have WiFi for a majority of the trip. I may have to post my blog posts when I get back to the States. However, feel free to keep checking in case I do get WiFi and can post. Thank you for reading!