May 30th – 31st

Shanghai was our final destination on our trip in China.  A photo of Shanghai’s skyline that I took while standing next to the Huangpu River that travels through the city. In this picture includes the Shanghai TV station, the one that has two spheres on the top and bottom, and the Shanghai Tower, with is the second tallest building in the world, standing at 632 meters tall. This photo of the the skyline is actually my favorite photo I took on the trip. When we visited the Shanghai Tower, the main thing that stood out to me was how much the city of Shanghai had developed in the past 30 years. It was definitely a technical marvel that I have never seen before. The city was also the most diverse out of all the cities we went to. We got stopped for photos the least amount of times while in Shanghai. I guess people there are more used to seeing foreigners.

Our trip to Shanghai Disney was also great! Seeing all of the cultural differences from our own disney world in America was very interesting. I noticed people didn’t really care about cutting in line which I thought was funny. The food options there were completely different from the ones you would find in America. They also had Mickey mouse shaped rice and food. But overall Disney was definitely the most familiar location for me because it was an American Company.


Joel Sakyi

May 21st-2nd

When we arrived in the city of Chongqing, we all went to the zoo to see the animals. I think it might had been my first time seeing a panda in real life. The zoo had many pandas built on their own shrines. Very adorable. The weather was cloudy that day but it never rained enough to spoil our day. Some of us were allowed to go feed an elephant, which I’ve never seen in American zoos. But the zoo was a great place to unwind after the cruise. Following the zoo, we got to explore more of our hotel.

Hongya Cave was a hotel we stayed in. It was shopping center that attracts tourist and residents in the city of Chongqing. The lobby of the hotel starts on the top floor, and descends to access the rest of the hotel. The location included multiple restaurants and merchants to interact with. The structure is was built leaning on a mountain, right next to the Jialing River. I was able to explore the location and find many places to eat and try new things. I had some mango drink that seems to be everywhere in China. And I also really enjoyed the hot pot dinners we had. Hot pot is basically when they have a large pot of broth in the center of the table and everyone at the table dips their raw meat in the broth to cook it. It was a very interesting and fun thing to experience for the first time.

Joel Sakyi

May 16th, 2017


This photo of me was taken in Xi’an, were my class and I learn about the Terracotta Warriors. These sculptures were created during the 210 BCE, to protect China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, for an eternity in his tomb. It is estimated to around 6,000 of these sculptures buried under ground.  About 1,000 of the sculptures have already been uncovered, but they have decreased the amount of digging because they are trying to find new ways to preserve the color on the figures. The figures that have been found already have lost all of their color and turned gray. All of the figures were built on a 1:1 scale so they were created with a lot of detail and similar to the Chinese human body structure back then. The site, which started digging in 1974, has become one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.

We also explored the city of Xi’an. We went on top of the inner city wall and rode rental bikes all around the city on the wall. This wall was created during the Ming Dynasty under the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. This mall makes the city of Xi’an even more interesting because it is divided from its inner and outer city wall parts. We also saw a beautiful water show that was synchronized with an orchestra music.


Joel Sakyi

May 10th, 2017

These photos was taken on the third day of our trip at the Great Wall of China, outside of Beijing. The Great Wall was initially built during the time of the first emperor, but was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty. The Wall today is 13,171 miles long, and my group spent about 3 hours climbing up and back down a section of the wall. The steps were pretty steep and varied in sizes so it made it very difficult to climb. But during on ascension, we met many people from all around the world that also came to climb the wall of China outside of Beijing. It also gave us time to bond with the students that I had just met on the trip. I also bought a beautiful wall scroll from a store during the path. We were able to reach the top and back within three hours.

Afterwards we travelled back to Beijing and went to the Bird’s nest, the stadium built for the 2008 Summer Olympics. We learned about how the building was engineered and the history of it. Finally we travelled to Silk Road where we were able to go shopping for goods. It was the first time we saw how merchants were like outside of the United States. The idea of bargaining was pretty difficult for me to master. I needed a lot of help haha. But it was interesting to compete over the value of items with the merchants, especially not speaking the same language.

Joel Sakyi

May 9th 2017


The first full day of our trip, we started our exploration of Beijing. We traveled to Tiananamen Square, the Forbidden City, and saw an Acrobatic Show. The first impression I got form being in China was that all of the people were very friendly and were more outgoing/ less hostile than Americans are. Having people walk up to our group to take pictures was very common and socially acceptable thing

One of the pictures below includes three Penn State Students (From left to right, Zion Emmanuel, Mohamadou Sow, and Joel Sakyi) at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. This city square is one of the largest city squares in the world. The structure in the background is the “Monument to the People’s Heroes”, designed by Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin in the 1950s. It’s dedicated to veterans who participated in Chinese wars from 1842-1949.

This photo was taken on a small mountain in Beijing that showcases the view of the city of Beijing, and more notably the Forbidden City in the background of the photo. This was the one of the first locations we traveled to on the first day of our trip. It was the imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing dynasty in 1912. It consists of 9,999 rooms, because 9 is a lucky number in China, and it located in the exact center of Beijing.

Joel Sakyi


Emre Karahan


Shanghai is what I would call a world city. There are people of all nationalities and lots of foreign culture elements along with traditional Chinese cultural elements too. There are all kinds of restaurants from Chinese street food to Michelin star foreign restaurants. We had a lot of free time to explore the huge city but we also had group activities. We went to the top of the second highest building in the world. There was a tall building museum on the bottom floor, which was very educational. Looking down from 600 meters and seeing this very big city under your feet was like nothing else. Next day we went to the ecopark, which is small city that only uses sustainable energy. It’s an important project for the future of sustainable energy. The day after we went to Suzhou, which was the prettiest ancient Chinese garden we went to. It was very large and hard not to get lost in. Disneyland was also a very fun day we had a day running around and having fun like kids. Shanghai is a city I would like to live in, especially after the exxon mobile trip and talking to a Penn State alum that works there. He only had positive things to say about being an expat in Shanghai.


Chongqing a beautiful city on a river. The lights in the city at night and the building with screens on them made the city look like it was out of a futuristic movie. Walking along the river side and exploring the city was very fun. Our hotel was a landmark of the city and was unlike any other hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Because of the steep hill the hotel was on every level was ground level. That made it hard to find the entrance in the beginning but something I probably won’t have in any other hotel I stay in. We visited two factories the Changan Ford factory and a cigarette factory. All cigarette companies in China are owned by the government to regulate the production. The factory was not working at full capacity because they passed their limit for the month. The Changan Ford factory was unbelievable. It was very big and we were able to see cars put together from scratch and a new car being made every 50 seconds. Seeing the assembly line work at such a large scale was very interesting.


Every city we’ve been to has had its own personality. In Xian you can really feel that it’s an old city. One of the main reasons why is because no building in the city walls is taller than the city walls. Which is different from all the other cities we’ve been to where the whole city was filled with tall buildings. First day we were there we cycled on the city wall. The wall was a great structure, it was intimidating with its huge size but also so elegant with the detailed designs on all the towers. It was an amazing experience ride around the huge wall where archers and Chinese soldiers used to guard the city. There were archer towers every 120 meters because the archers’ radii was 60 meters and this allowed the whole wall to be within thee radii of the archers. The wall was a great structure, it was intimidating with its huge size but also so elegant with the detailed designs on all the towers. The city had Muslim street where there were different kinds of food made my Muslim Chinese people which was very interesting. It was suprising how good the food was compared to the very cheap price we bought it for.


Even though we were here for only two days Dalian was my favorite city in China. The city was on the sea and had that seaside culture which I really like in any city around the world. The highlight of Dalian was definitely the dinners hosted by Xinli’s college friends. There were so many dishes I’ve never had before but I loved them all. Especially the dinner where we ate at a restaurant overlooking the sea gave us a taste of how rich people in China live. The food culture in China is very rich. Everyone shows their gratitude towards the host by toasting him. There are also little rules. One that was interesting to me is that the people who sit closer to the host are the more important people at that dinner. Dinner is definitely more than just food in China. Another highlight of Dalian was going to a middle school and seeing the middle school education in China and getting to know Chinese middle schoolers who were very happy to see us. Their system is definitely more demanding than what I went through and puts a lot of pressure on these children. But they seemed to like their school and didn’t really see the hard work as a problem, they seemed to think of it more as their duty.


Beijing is a very old city, the capital of China and the second largest city in China. Beijing means northern capital in Chinese. Beijing is the first place we visited in China and gave us a very good first impression. Our days were full of activities, because it is an old city there were many ancient structures to visit. Out of all the places we visited the two that I was most impressed by was the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. Everyone in the world knows about the Great wall but actually being there and experiencing it was something I will never forget. Learning that it is actually not visible from space and that it’s actually 12000 miles are cool facts I will share with my friends back home. Walking up the Great Wall took about an hour and a half up uphill walking. It was hard but it was very worth it because of the sense of accomplishment and the scenery. The Summer Palace is where the emperor went when the Forbidden City was too hot in the summer. It was on a lake and had a bunch of building with beautiful Chinese designs and beautiful art in it.

Beijing – May 8th ~ May 13th

When we first arrived in China, I was very surprised that I was not in the least bit tired. Even after realizing my suitcase was broken, I was beyond excited to get out of the airport and start my adventure in China. On the second full day in China, we climbed the Great Wall of China. The climb looked rough but I had no idea it would be as hard as it actually was. The steps were consistently uneven and the rest stops were few and far in between. I took a few breaks and was able to get some nice pictures. The climb was indeed steep, but the view was 100% worth it and more. We also visited the Summer Palace while in Beijing, and I thought it was named Summer Paradise at first because of how beautiful the scenery was. The lake was bright green and while not see-through, it was still very relaxing and pleasant to just sit and take in the view. We were also able to see some interesting statues, one being a weird looking dog/dragon creature. It did not look friendly and I was glad I was not able to hear the tour guide talk about it.

Posted By: Ariel Noriega

Xian – May 15th ~ May 17th

Of all the cities we visited throughout the trip, Xian definitely was the most quirky. The terracotta warriors were smaller in size than I had originally thought, but the land surrounding them was so modern looking, I had forgotten that we were there to see statues at least 2,000 years old! There were a few warriors that had been left as they were found, which was smashed or broken, and it was quite creepy seeing the bodies that had their faces crushed in or their torso missing an appendage or two. I was unaware there would be statues of horses too, so I was surprised to see small little animals in the pit as well. Xian was interesting because there was a huge mall across the street from our hotel, and on our free day, I began my quest for a new suitcase. (Mine broke the day I arrived in China) After much searching, and a few pit stops in a funky arcade and a movie theater with interesting statues, I finally found what I had originally came for. There were some funny dolls in one shop, and a sign outside an elevator telling us to use the stairs in case of a firf.

Posted By: Ariel Noriega

Shibaozhai – May 19th

We were able to visit Shibaozhai, also known as the Precious Stone Fortress on a very hot day. We had to cross a seriously questionable looking bridge in order to get there, but we also got to walk through a very old city. The trek there was almost as awe inspiring as the fortress itself. Once getting to the base of the pagoda, we were told that the climb inside is not for claustrophobic people as the interior was very small and only got smaller the higher you climbed. I decided to just go for it as I figured the inside could not be any hotter than the outside, considering the inside was shaded. I was pleased to find out that I was right, and once at the top, we were able to walk through these little shrine like areas that had statues depicting various gods in Chinese culture. Our tour guide told us some stories about the different gods and goddesses along with some of their ´powers´ that helped create or protect the earth. We also walked past a very ancient looking wall, I missed whatever our tour guide said about the wall, but I still enjoyed looking at the intricate script.

Posted By: Ariel Noriega

Chongching – May 20th ~ May 22nd

The two days we spent in Chongching were some of the most memorable. The first day we visited the Chongching Zoo. The animals were so close! I got to see several pandas, and being my favorite animals, I enjoyed seeing them laze about their enclosures. I was even able to feed an elephant! It was so cute and an experience I did not imagine I would get to have before going on this trip. Even on a rainy day, the zoo was a lot of fun to walk around. We also visited a cigarette factory, and it did not smell as bad as I though it would have. The process of making a cigarette looked to be entirely automated and the packs came off the production line really fast. Once we got back to the hotel we discovered the city looked amazing at night, almost like it came straight out of a fantasy book. We were told we would have the night to ourselves so we made the most of it and explored the city, eventually coming upon the giant bridge that overlooked the Yangtze river. The city had a lot of things to offer, and had we had more time to explore, I believe we would have had even more unforgettable experiences.


Posted By: Ariel Noriega