Matthew Slomka is a 4th year Physics and Computer Science major. He studied on the UVA in Shanghai: Chinese Language program this summer. Below are some of his photos.
Jasmine Chiu is a 2nd year student studying Foreign Affairs. She is currently studying abroad in China improving her Chinese language skills at the UVA in Shanghai: Chinese language program. Check out her beautiful pictures below!
This tower is probably the most recognizable building from the famous Shanghai cityscape. Its unique circular form and pink-purple color draw tourists from all over the world. Here I am 863 feet up from the ground!
I got chills walking past Tiananmen Square. This year actually marked the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Just walking on the same ground where the tanks rolled and protesters stood was eerie and unreal. The event is still heavy on people’s minds. Any article, blog, or picture related to Tiananmen is inaccessible on the Internet. When Chinese locals bring up the incident, they hush their voices. I agree that this area is representative of the tremendous “coming-out” of Chinese society but it unfortunately holds haunting memories of political dissidence.
I researched must-do activities before heading to Beijing and one of them was to visit a night market. These night markets are so fun and interesting. The food selection is limitless. These vendors have everything from baked Beijing desserts to stinky tofu. Perhaps the biggest reason why tourists visit the night market is to try the weird food. For example, they sell snakes, seahorses, centipedes, bull testicles… the list goes on and on! I worked up the courage to try grasshopper, scorpion, snake and starfish. All of them were pretty good. The scorpion tasted like popcorn!
Shaolin Temple, now a huge park, used to be a place for Buddhist meditation and retreat. It also houses one of China’s most famous karate schools. After visiting the site, I now understand why monks chose to practice their religion there. The green mountains and white rock formations piece together to form a calming atmosphere.
Once you reach the top floor of this pagoda, you get a chance to see a beautiful view of Hangzhou. This pagoda is unique because each floor has its own special wall designs. For example, the first floor could have many different flower designs and another floor could have animal designs.
One can find the cleanest water at the Tiger Spring in Hangzhou. This area is praised for its pristine condition and fresh water. People line up for hours at the spigot just to fill up a few gallons of water. Hangzhou is also well-known for its longjin tea, so the locals praise the combination of the spring water and tea.
West Lake is the symbol of the city of Hangzhou. Many activities are centered around the West Lake and the city’s most popular tourist sites all border the body of water. Although it is a beautiful area, the lingering smog took away from its beauty (you can see the smog on the right side of the photo). Pollution is a problem in most areas of China (hot spots are Beijing and Shanghai), so it was disappointing to see it affect a place that deserves so much praise.
The Temple of Heaven is located in the center of a beautiful park in Beijing. Emperors would come to this temple to pay homage to the glory of heaven. This temple’s park environment was so peaceful and fun. For many seniors, going to the park is a part of their daily life. They usually go to sing, dance, and play sports.
I clearly remember the 2008 Olympics when Michael Phelps made his mark on the sport of swimming at this building. It was so cool strolling on the same sidewalks that Olympics also walked on. Today, although a lot of families do come here to play around, Olympic Park is simply a place where you can take photos in front of the Water Cube and the Bird’s Nest.
This art zone is definitely one of the most interesting art districts I’ve visited. It’s unlike from places like Richmond and New York because of China has a different political and social structure so the art produced here is reflective of this culture’s order. There were plenty of headless Mao Ze Dong statues (reflective of people’s disapproval of communism) but also pieces from different cultures: North Korea, South Korea, Japan, etc.
The Forbidden City is a huge square area in the heart of Beijing. It used to be the residence of the emperors of China. Although this site is filled with tourists day after day, it was amazing to see the traditional Chinese architecture and ponder why the emperor needed so much space. If you want to learn more about China’s rich history involving wars and leaders, the Forbidden City is the place to do it!
The Chinese equivalent of the SAT is called the Gaokao and it is every students’ nightmare. It’s held once a year in June and your score determines your major AND which universities you can apply to. I had the opportunity to visit the testing site and wow, the atmosphere was so intense. Not only were there signs telling drivers not to honk their horns, but the number of security guards was excessive. So many fathers and mothers were anxiously waiting for their children to walk out of the school gate. It wasn’t until the kids came flooding out of the school gates with long faces and tears in their eyes that it hit me. The heavy pressure of this test is incomparable with other countries’ college entrance exams.
This is an area in Shanghai that used to be occupied by the French. Visiting this neighborhood was really interesting because you could walk in and completely forget that you’re in Shanghai. Unlike the busy, noisy city streets, the alleys of this neighborhood are quiet and the architecture is very European.
Here it is! Shanghai’s famous cityscape, the one that shows up in textbook after textbook, travel guide after travel guide. In my opinion, this panoramic view of the city is the symbol of Chinese prosperity and innovation. Even though I’m not a Chinese citizen, I still feel a sense of pride.
This was my favorite part of the UVA-in-Shanghai excursion to Beijing. Ignoring the fact that I’m a huge fan of nature walks and hiking, the Great Wall hike was absolutely incredible, especially because the Beijing weather cooperated and gave us a sunny, clear day (a rare occurrence). During the climb up, my friends and I were really struggling (these steps were equivalent to climbing a ladder) and I just could not imagine how people actually built thousands of miles of this wall. I was simply amazed by the strength and perseverance of humanity. Reaching the top was the ultimate reward. I sat up there with my friends and listened to “Imagine” by John Lennon while I looked out at the never-ending mountains, the wind tousling my hair and the sun browning my skin. I cannot think of a better way to end a fruitful journey.
It’s almost mid-June, a month since classes finished on-Grounds. Many students on U.Va. summer programs are already back in the States or off on another summer adventure. We hope you’ll enjoy these posts from our students! Our first post is from Winnie Yang.
Hello! My name is Winnie Yang（杨盈盈）and I am a rising third year at the University of Virginia studying linguistics and elementary education. I am a learner of languages, having studied Spanish in high school, Mandarin since my first year of college, and Korean from second year. I am a native speaker of the Fuzhou dialect of Chinese and speak English as a second language. This past spring, I decided to apply for the UVA in Shanghai program for intensive Chinese after concluding that it would be difficult to study abroad in the coming years due to the nature of my major programs. I studied abroad in Tuscany, Italy in January 2013 for two weeks for a short term, so this two month program in China will be my first time abroad for an extended period of time. I am so excited to write about my experiences along this journey!
**My entries will also be documented at <yeohaengka.tumblr.com>.
Tuesday | 2014.05.28 | 09:20 — The most important thing
…according to my parents, aside from travel documents, that is.
I am writing from my departure gate at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, and for some reason, I felt like I knew I’d end up doing this; as a pre-departure entry, I thought it’d make sense to write after I finished packing—and indeed, it still makes sense to me. However, it ended up taking me a lot longer to pack than I thought and thus this is being written too many hours beyond what I expected.
I’ve always been someone—I wouldn’t really say a procrastinator, exactly—who does things very last minute, and packing is one of those things. This morning, my parents intended for us to leave the house by 8:00 to beat the traffic to the airport, yet just half an hour before that, I was still packing snacks and miscellaneous things for the plane into my backpack—now that I think about it, I realize I forgot to pack the one sitting on the table.
From today begins my journey to China, a home that isn’t home, a place that feels familiar yet is ridiculously foreign. Just a moment ago when I was setting up my laptop at the gate to type this entry, an elderly Asian woman walks up to me and asks, do you speak Chinese? At first, I almost said No, but I replied in Chinese, so there goes ignoring the lady since I just gave myself away. I guess if two years of Chinese study has been any bit useful, then now would be the time to put it to use. I was surprised by how much I actually understood, but I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to respond because her questions could be answered simply with a yes or no. It seems that she is also traveling to Shanghai this trip!
As I sat at the breakfast table by myself, I watched my parents as they scrambled around. Did you pack your computer? Yes, mother. But then she glanced at the floor beside the sofa—you forgot your charger! Did you remember your toothbrush? Yes, dad. Finally, my mom runs back into the living room from the bathroom, holding something white in her hands. My dad nods, and agrees as he stuffs it into my purse. Here is my parents’ advice for me as I travel to their homeland: a roll of toilet paper is the most important thing to have.