China 2018

Katrina Verlinde

From A to Ph.D. | Education in China

     I knew prior to visiting China that the Chinese placed a heavy emphasis on education from a young age, but I didn’t realize how true that would be until I was actually in the country. One of the unique aspects of this trip was that I felt like I got an overview of the entire Chinese education system: I attended evening English school with 5-7 year old kids (who, after spending their entire day in school, went to even more classes in the evening—emphasis again on the fact that these kids are AGE FIVE TO SEVEN), visited a middle school with 12-year-olds who were nearly fluent in English and were about to start learning yet another language, and visited a university campus, where students gave me a tour and explained the rigors of college life devoid of extracurricular clubs and football weekends.

While I spent my high school years participating in music ensembles, playing ultimate frisbee, working a part time job, and hiking and hanging out on weekends, these kids spend their twelve years in school concentrating on one thing: academics. Unlike the United States’s college admissions process, which looks for some mysterious combination of good grades, standardized test scores, leadership positions, and extracurriculars, the Chinese education system cares about only one number: your score on one specific standardized test. This number, and this number alone, places you into a ‘tier,’ which determines the class of university you will be able to attend—essentially securing the success of your future. With such a significant focus on academics, it’s easy to see why so many Chinese parents hire after school tutors or send their children to evening classes starting at incredibly young ages.
Despite this, every kid that I met in China was just as fun-loving, creative, and silly as any kid in the United States. Yes, these kids endure a lot of hard work and discipline, but they’re just like any other kid. From the five-year-olds who played hide and seek and liked to show off their English vocabulary to the middle schoolers who teased each other about their “boyfriends” to the college students who bought us pea juice and walked around their campus with us, I was surprised both by how similar and how different China’s education system was from the United States.

An elementary school classroom

Greener Transportation

For as long as I can remember, bicycling has been one of my primary methods of transportation. I learned to bike at a young age, and, rather than taxiing me around in our gas-guzzling minivan, my parents encouraged me to bike to school, friend’s houses, appointments, and work. To this day, you’ll probably find me biking to at least 80% of the places I go, regardless of the weather, season, distance, and amount of stuff I have to load into my basket/backpack.

In the United States this is an anomaly.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that in China, many people rely on bicycles or small motorbikes to get around. I can’t recall a city or place that we visited that didn’t have a designated bike lane, and the bike lanes were often just or crowded or maybe even more crowded than the motor vehicle lanes. It wasn’t uncommon to see an elderly Chinese grandmother whizz by on a moped or a father pedaling a family of four balanced precariously atop a single-rider bike. (I also got a kick out of the brightly colored wind covers/giant oven mitts that seemed to be popular with bicyclists.)

I learned that this is because cars are very expensive to purchase and maintain in China, even more so than in the United States. Because China has extremely high population densities, particularly in urban areas, driving a car is often not the most efficient way to commute, and traffic can be heavy. For many Chinese, a bicycle or small motorbike simply makes more sense: it’s inexpensive, easy, and convenient.

It’s also much more environmentally friendly. I won’t go into them here, but there are hundreds to thousands of research-backed statistics showing that alternative transportation such as bicycles, motorbikes, and public transportation can greatly reduce carbon emissions and help stem air pollution.

Another thing that I thought was really cool about the bicycling culture in China were the bike-sharing programs, which allow you to unlock a bike via an app, bike to wherever you need to go, lock it again, and leave it there for somebody else to use. While I didn’t get to use this while I was in China, I talked to a couple of Chinese people about it, and it sounded incredibly convenient. Making bicycles easily accessible is a brilliant way to encourage people to take this one small step toward greener cities.

I had the benefit of growing up in State College, a small town which is very pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly. However, most major cities in the United States don’t have infrastructure that makes biking easy or even plausible—so even if people wanted to commute via bicycle, they don’t have that option, as cycling on a street without proper shoulders, signage, or bicycle lanes can be dangerous for bicyclists and drivers alike. Bicycle sharing programs, which are widespread and incredibly user-friendly in China, are few and far between here in the States. As the United States take steps towards reducing their carbon footprint, I think we could learn a lesson from China and other countries when it comes to eco-friendly transportation and infrastructure.

Traveling on the sleeper trains (didn’t get a picture of the bikes, unfortunately)

Food & Culture Colliding

One of the most unanticipatedly awesome things we got to do in China was visit something which has no American counterpart: the snack street. We went to two snack streets in China, and they were both unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

The concept of a snack street is pretty simple. It’s quite literally a street for snacks: a bustling route lined with vendors selling almost any kind of food you can imagine. For just a few RMB, you could purchase a jar of yogurt, freshly sliced exotic fruit, sugary rice cakes wrapped in plantain leaves, or maybe something a little weirder, like fried scorpion on a stick,
Just walking down snack street was such a cool cultural experience. The snack street in Xian was lined with lanterns, colorful banners, and LEDs. Chinese men artfully stripped meat off fly-covered, suspended carcasses of what I could only speculate were pigs or lambs, skewered it, grilled it, and sold it on a literal twig. Vendors aggressively hawked free samples of their snacks with rapid-fire sales pitches, hoping to siphon some money out of me. The snack street we visited in Xian was primarily Muslim, so much of the food was inspired by a smaller sect of Chinese culture that maybe isn’t what you immediately think of when you picture Chinese cuisine, and many of the vendors wore more traditionally Muslim garb.

Another cool thing about snack streets was that there wasn’t just one demographic represented. Walking down the Xian snack street were wealthier and poorer Chinese, young and old, couples, families, gangs of schoolkids—basically everybody you could imagine was there. It’s almost as if the snack street brought together Chinese from all backgrounds for some really good snacks.

The snack streets are just one example of how food in China can be used as a microcosm for the Chinese culture. Just like each city had its own unique “personality,” each place we visited also had its own trademark dish: hot pot in Chongqing, cold noodles in Xian, sea cucumber in Dalian, and so on. In China, meals are often viewed as more of a social event than a perfunctory daily action, which is how we tend to see them in the United States.
Since returning to the United States, I’ve adopted some of the food habits I picked up in China. I still like drinking a pot of tea with meals (pro tip: if you visit a Chinese-owned restaurant in State College, they’ll give your table a pot for free if you ask). I’ve started utilizing my rice cooker much more. And I’m much more likely to go a restaurant, order a bunch of dishes, and share them with everybody, just like we did so often in China. I learned a lot from the Chinese about how eating can be more than a repetitive daily routine, and how food can play a central role in bringing cultures and peoples together.

Sharing some hot pot in Chongqing

The Muslim snack street we visited in Xian

Some delicious snacks available for purchase

Hongqin Village: Untouched by Tourism

It’s hard to pick a favorite place that we visited while in China, but Xinli’s hometown, which I believe is called Hongqin Village, definitely ranks in my top three. This experience was incredibly special for me, as it was something I never would have been able to do had I come to China on my own. While climbing the Great Wall, visiting the Forbidden City, and taking selfies on the Bund in Shanghai were undeniably awesome, getting to visit such a non-touristy location was fantastic.

I first knew that I was in for something special when we almost died trying to drive our massive bus through the crop fields into the village. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but the road that we took into the village was clearly not intended for anything larger than a very small vehicle, was ridiculously bumpy and had steep inclines on either side. A couple of the villagers in the fields stopped what they were doing to watch us haplessly try to maneuver the massive bus into the village.

Thankfully, we didn’t die, and Xinli brought us to the village pharmacy, which looked like something straight from a fairy tale. While the pharmacy had modern medications, it also specialized in a lot of herbal remedies passed down from ancient generations. We then got a quick tour of the rambling village, including the house in which Xinli grew up. I was surprised to learn that the village had only gotten access to power in the last twenty years or so, and tried to imagine living without power in such an isolated place while I was there. One of the nicest places in the village was the school, located at the center of the village. I thought this was interesting, as it illustrates again the emphasis that the Chinese place on education.

The Anhui province where Hongqin is located had some of the most delicious food I had on the entire trip—which is saying something, because I had A LOT of delicious food on the trip (see my last post, haha). Every meal I had in Anhui—including the one we had with many of Xinli’s family members—was delicious, with a lot of similar foods that one of the locals later told me were traditional foods here.

After the meal, we got to see Xinli’s uncle (who is in his mid-nineties) write in beautiful calligraphy. Xinli explained that calligraphy is an ancient Chinese art—needless to say, this is much different from how we as Americans treat our handwriting studies!
In the evening, we explored the village, following chickens and dogs through the narrow walkways and playing hide-and-seek with the shy but curious kids that followed us and wading in the river that ran along its outskirts. We were sent off with a barrel of fireworks lit from the bridge, to end one my favorite experiences in China.

The village street, as seen from the roof of Xinli’s home

Toasting Chinese Hospitality

Since returning from China, I’ve gotten the chance to talk to several people who are from China about my experience there. One thing that has struck home to me is how welcoming and friendly the Chinese are to foreigners (which, I’ve noticed in my other international traveling, is not always the case).

When I’d attempt a feeble “xiexie” or “nihau,” I was always given a gracious smile, or sometimes even an encouraging thumbs up in support of my well-meaning butchery of their language. I exchanged We-Chats with a girl from the middle school who told me that someday she wanted to come to Penn State. A Chinese woman and I discussed the merits of Bruno Mars and Cardi B over milk tea. I raced bicycles against two students from Xian on the City Wall and ended up talking with them about our respective countries of origin. The employees of Rockwell Automation gave me my own Chinese name after graciously fielding my many questions about how the naming system works. Rather than acting annoyed or patronizing me, an obvious foreigner (I learned the Chinese for ‘blue eyes’ after hearing them so many times in reference to my own), the Chinese that I met were happy to share their knowledge of the culture and the beauty of their country with me, making my experience that much more enriching.

I’ll admit, there were multiple times on the trip when I became flustered, got totally lost, or left behind important possessions. In other parts of the world, that could’ve been the end of my smooth traveling. Instead, I was blown away by how gracious, kind, and welcoming the Chinese people were; going out of their way to make a bunch of ignorant Americans feel at home and navigate the confusion of a completely new country. While the structures, history, food, technological advancement, natural beauty, education system, and art were undeniably incredible, I think it’s the hospitality I encountered along the way that will leave the most lasting impression on me.

The Chongqing skyline

China 2018

Beijing/First Impression 5/6

On May 6th, I arrived to the Beijing Capital International Airport, Terminal 2, and the course had officially begun. On the very first morning, we visited the National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Forbidden City. The Performing Arts Centre was impressive in its size and design; even though we did not get to see it be surrounded by water, we were able to tour some of the auditoriums and exhibits. The Forbidden City is the compound of buildings with a total of 9999 rooms built for the emperor, his family, and their staff. Our group walked through several gates as we explored the City. The tour guide Mike made sure we understand how Chinese culture traverses the architecture and mapping of the buildings. He told us the numbers 8 and 9 hold significance and are considered lucky and showed up everywhere in the Forbidden City; they showed up in every city and almost every monument we visited after.

Dalian 5/11

Next on the tour of China was the city of Dalian. It is a coastal city and used to be occupied by the Russians (shout out to my people). It was then known as Dalniy which means “the one far away” and indeed, it was in the far northeastern corner of China. We were less than 200 miles away by sea from North Korea! The air was much less polluted and the temperature slightly dropped. One of the first small changes was the food. Dalian’s coastal location makes it a great location for some local seafood dishes. During one of the nights, the hotel’s owner treated us to a fantastic dinner and we tried sea cucumber. It is a highly praised delicacy which everyone who goes to Dalian should try at least once. Even though the sea cucumber dish wasn’t my favorite, the generosity of the people continued to astonish.

Xi’an 5/13

The city of Xi’an first surprised me with the polluted air. Xi’an is the capital of the Shaanxi Province, the top coal producing province of China. The air did not stop us from visiting the Terracotta Army. We saw thousands of warriors along with generals, horses, and empty spots from the wooden chariots which had rotten away over the last two thousand years. The museum was fascinating in its size. Next, we traveled back to downtown to Xi’an and biked on top of the city wall! It was a loop of about 14 km and as much as Lois and I enjoyed the views, we mostly tried our very best to stay alive while riding the tandem. The city’s cuisine was once again different from the city before. Xi’an’s cold noodles were wonderful in the hundred degree weather. Eventually, we got more used to the pollution, but it was time to hit the railroad.

The Cruise 5/15

From Xi’an, we traveled to Yichang to board the cruise. Some of the most breathtaking views in China were the views of the Yangtze River. During the next few days, we saw beautiful green mountains, caves, skies, and other natural attractions. The first day of the tour, we visited the Three Gorges Dam. We had a chance to learn about the history of the dam and its many functions. The day after, we took a short boat tour off the main river and learned about the local people and their lives. This was one of my favorite days; my tour guide had wonderful stories to tell about her life and family. We also visited a buddhist temple meant to represent hell, but it seemed to had been heavily reconstructed and didn’t take my breath away like the mountains a day earlier.

Huangshan 5/23

Fast forward a couple of stops along to the way to Huangshan. In this city, we got to spent the most time relaxing and self exploring without a big tour group. There was some difficulty ordering food in restaurants since not a lot of the locals spoke English, but we made the most of it and successfully avoided all allergens in the friend group. One of my favorite parts of the stay was visiting Xinli’s mom in a tiny village of a couple thousand people right outside of the city. Every resident was warm and welcoming and I even saw some silkworms in action! This was also the city in which I got a bit sick. I was forced to miss a couple of days of instruction and see a doctor, but this experience almost made the trip better. After all, it was yet another cultural experience and one that left me feeling physically better unlike climbing the Great Wall or biking in Xi’an in a hundred degrees Fahrenheit.



Sasha Pershanina

China Tour 2018

BEIJING 5/7 – 5/11

  • Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, was the first stop on our engineering abroad tour. Many of us took a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and flew into Beijing Capital (PEK) Airport – we landed in Terminal 3, which is one of the largest airport terminals in the world.  The airport itself was magnificent, and marvel of its own.  One of our first major stops was the Forbidden City, which house emperors for a couple hundred years – it was amazing to observe the immense size of the palace, as well as the design (and the fact that this place was built hundreds of years ago).  Another highlight of Beijing was venturing out to see a portion of the Great Wall of China.  The views in every single direction were breathtaking (even though it was quite a climb to the top)!  Lastly, one of the most fascinating elements of Beijing was the architecture and the layout of the city.  The most interesting building was the CMG headquarters, often called the “Pants Building” – what was so fascinating about this building was that constructing this structure was only made possible recently by improvements in finite element analysis technology.  Beijing was certainly a fun destination to begin the trip and was rich of history and culture I’m glad I got to experience.

XI’AN 5/13 – 5/15

  • Our third stop on the trip was visiting the city of Xi’an. Xi’an is one of China’s most famous inland cities but is well known to tourists for its Terra-Cotta Warriors museum.  The Terra-Cotta Warriors museum is fascinating itself, but my favorite part of visiting this city was getting to bike the City Wall – 8.7 miles long, this wall was built in the 14th Century, with the purpose as a military defense system.  It has been refurbished many times, but it is a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.  Another interesting part of Xi’an was getting to tour the Muslim Snack Street – tons of exotic food vendors lined up on the sides of a pedestrian streets, with bright, colorful signs.  Xi’an is also famous for its noodles, particularly its cold noodles, and its pork-burgers – the food here was some of the best in China.


  • In the middle of our tour, we took a cruise along the Yangtze River – our boat was called the Century Legend. This is the longest river in Asia and is home to breathtaking scenery as well as The Three Gorges Dam.  This recently constructed dam was built for several reasons – to control flooding downstream (which has been catastrophic some years in the past), to provide hydro-electric power (this dam provides 1/9 of all of China’s electricity), and to increase shipping capacity along the Yangtze (primarily between Chongqing and Shanghai).  Other highlights of this river cruise were getting to explore (on planned excursions) some of the gorges via smaller boats, performances, and visiting the Shibaozhai Pagoda (full of many different Buddhist statues and exhibits, including the temple of hell).

CHONGQING 5/19 – 5/22

  • Our final stop on the river cruise was docking in Chongqing in the morning, and this city was very different than the previous ones. Many foreigners know of Shanghai and Beijing, but Chongqing happens to be one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world as well – I was surprised with the cities geographical layout of steep cliffs, windy, narrow roads, and how the buildings were adapted to the landscape.  Highlights of Chongqing include the colorful lit up buildings at night, the zoo (seeing the giant panda), and eating hot pot.


  • The last city we visited in China was Shanghai, the largest city in the world – about 24 million people call this city home (three times the population of New York City). This was by far the most developed, wealthy, and foreign-friendly cities.  Because this city is so large and populated, traffic and pollution were a problem, but the sights of the city made up for this.  We had a chance to visit the Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world, topping over 2,000 feet (and home to the world’s tallest observation deck).  The view was incredible at the top of the building. Additionally, our hotel was located a walk away from The Bund – a view of the CBD skyline at night across the river that is absolutely stunning.  One of my favorite parts of visiting Shanghai was getting to experience the metro (subway), high-speed train (day trip to Suzhou, where we visited the gardens the city is famous for), and the magnetic levitation train to Pudong Airport.  The Shanghai maglev is the fastest operational train in the world, reaching 268 miles per hour.  Shanghai was definitely my favorite city we visited, and I would love to visit this city again because there is so much more to see.

Submitted by William Snyder

China 2018

On the second day of being China, we visited one of the coolest places I have ever been, The Great Wall.  I was amazed by the Chinese architecture and technology to build this 13,170-mile-long wall.  The climb was filled with stunning views of surrounding China and the hike up the wall was quite long and steep.  It is amazing the Chinese built this structure without any of modern days technology.  After the Great Wall, we saw the Forbidden City which had even more amazing architecture.  The Forbidden City had 9,999 rooms and was built with no nails.  I could not capture a single picture that justified the beauty and impressiveness of the City.  You have to visit to see its true wonders.

Visiting Number 7 Middle School was another life changing experience.  We received a warm welcome from all the kids standing outside holding Chinese and American flags and singing to us.  We then got paired up with a buddy (mine is pictured below) and got to talk to them and make a new friend.  Some students gave us a talent show in the auditorium and we were given a very nice welcome speech.  We then made a card for our moms (it was Mother’s Day) and learned how to say “I love you mom” in Chinese.  After the tour and other small activities, we got to eat lunch with everyone.  I had really enjoyed my visit and I got my buddies WeChat and he told me he would never forget this experience.  I will never forget as well.

When we first got to Chongqing, we got to go to a zoo.  This was one of my favorite stops because I love animals and seeing different zoos.  Whenever I go on vacation, my family makes it a point to try and stop at a local zoo.  Seeing the zoo in Chongqing was such a cool experience.  They had around 20 pandas and I have only seen a few at other zoos before.  They were so much fun to watch and so cute.  After the zoo, we went and visited a Chinese cigarette factory.  I was amazed by the number of cigarettes that were being made and how efficiently and smoothly everything ran.

My favorite meal of the trip was in Chongqing, the hot pot.   I am usually not a big fan of spicy foods, but this style of eating was so much fun and very tasty.  I was fortunate enough to sit with Xinli and he was able to order all the best foods and really show us how to properly eat a hot pot.  We ended up making ours spicier and I was definitely feeling the spice and could not go much hotter, but Xinli was explaining to us that the overall spice level was already brought down around 50% of what the locals eat.  That blew me away of how hot their food could get and be consumed.  My favorite plate was Dove Eggs and the black chicken.  I have loved all the food in China but I really enjoyed my hot pot experience and hope I can have another one day.

The final destination of our trip was Shanghai, which was such an amazing city.  I loved everything we did here.  My highlight though would have to be going to Disney.  I loved going to Disney as a kid in Orlando, so seeing my childhood favorite vacation in China was something special.  I really enjoyed riding Tron and the Jack Sparrow ride.  They had this really cool adventure course that we got to play around on for over an hour and a half.  They had a night light show and it was amazing as always.  They also did my childhood favorite pin trading game with the workers.  Overall, I loved my trip to China and will never forget that experience.  I have a 10-year visa and I plan on coming back at least once in the next 10 years.

Xie Xie China, Wo ai ni!



Beijing was our first stop in our Chinese adventure. Seeing the capital of China to kick off the program was eye opening because it was nothing like I had ever seen in my entire life. Some parts of it reminded me of New York City, but it makes any city in the United States seem so tiny. We first went to the Red Theatre. This theatre was built because a political leader was fond of an actress and wanted a beautiful theatre for her. This was the first time the Chinese people took pictures of us so I immediately felt like a celebrity. After this we went to the Forbidden City. There are 9,999 rooms here and the 10,000th is considered in the sky for the emperor. The yellow signifies the sky and the royalty of the emperor. There are no nails at all in the Forbidden City; we attended a Kungfu show and attended a traditional Chinese dinner where we ate my favorite, Peking Duck, and various dishes that were new to me. The following day we bussed to the Great Wall of China. We hiked up the stairs, which were very uneven in most cases to the top. Once we reached the top, we took lots of pictures of us and of the amazing view. Seeing the wall on all of the mountain peaks in the distance really put into perspective how difficult this wall was to make. The wall is a little over 13,000 miles, which is about 13 trips from Pittsburgh to Florida. In the afternoon we visited the Bird’s Nest and Olympic village, and then bargained for clothing and shoes in Silk Street. We definitely bought some cool stuff to up our clout. The next day we visited the National Museum of China. This was really cool, especially The Power of Truth exhibit because there were a lot of communist displays, such as Karl Marx’s philosophies and other communist ideas. This was really eye-opening because these ideas are praised in China and we are taught that a lot of these people, one being Joseph Stalin, caused lots of violence and death. This really shows a huge difference between our countries. After this we went back to Tiananmen Square to take pictures and walk around. We then went to the University of Mining and Technology and met some of the students. The students were very nice and we talked about life on campus. The next day we went to the Summer Palace. There were many interesting structures here such as the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, the Great Opera Hall, and the Tower of Buddhist Incense. We then road a marble boat across the lake after some of the students got their arms tattooed funny quotations. One student’s quotations, JP Pluck’s, said, “My wife beats me.” We then went to the Temple of Heaven Park, which was reserved for the emperor. He would always go there once a year to pray for a good year of good harvest. I even got to step on the marble for good luck!




Our first morning we arrived in Dalian and immediately went to the hotel after arriving to the train station. We visited the Rockwell Automation Facility where we looked at some of the major and minor cultural differences that we have noticed in China so far. Some of these differences are the squatting toilets, the lack of personal space in public, and warm beverages. We presented out findings to our peers and to the staff at Rockwell to show them our thoughts at this point. After the presentation we got a tour of the office where we got to see the various types of automation hardware that they make for manufacturing/assembly lines. It was pretty cool that they could monitor each assembly line to high detail so they can see how efficient the machines are producing the good. After lunch, we went to Xinghai Square where we looked at the beautiful views around the many amusement rides. At this location we had a great view of the city, a view that I would consider one of my favorites so far. In the evening, we had the best dinner at Xinli’s friend’s hotel where we were treated some very special food, including a high valued sea cucumber. I had a great time at the dinner and then also after the dinner when I had the opportunity to meet and talk to some of Xinli’s friends. The next morning we visited Number 7 middle school where some of the students performed some music from the play, The Sound of Music. We then toured their school and learned about the history of Mother’s Day in one of the classrooms. We learned how to say “I love you” in Chinese and I also learned how to write my name using Chinese characters. We then went to lunch where we ate some of the best foods I have had in China so far, including sticky rice wrapped up in seaweed. This has been one of the coolest experiences because we could really compare our cultures and learn how education works in China. It was amazing getting to meet the kids and talk to them about school and life. We flew to Xian in the afternoon and at night we saw a water show in the fountain. Xian is one of my favorite cities so far because of how lit up it is at night. I have never seen a city this bright and I wish the United States had cities like Xian.





Our first day in Xian was really cool because we took a bus tour to Lintong and saw the Terracotta Warriors Museum. We only visited 3 of 36 discovered pits; I had no idea how many are still being discovered today. Even when we visited them there were workers still carefully excavating the warriors from the ground. These warriors are so special because of how unique each one is. They were modeled from the real warriors so they have their facial features and are also 1.5 times larger than the warriors’ actual sizes. Another interesting thing I learned is that their hairstyles tell you the rank of the soldiers. After this we visited the Ming City Wall where we biked around the outskirts of the city. This wall is the world’s best-preserved fortress wall. At night we got to visit the Muslim Snack Street where we saw and tried some really exotic foods, definitely one of the most memorable streets I have seen so far. We boarded a hard-sleeper train where we went to Yichang to board the Century Legend along the Yangtze River. We embarked on our cruise ship the next day and visited the Three Gorges Dam project, where we got to see the massive structure in all of its glory. It was truly amazing to see such a structure keep all of the water from bursting through. This is definitely one of the most incredible engineering feats I have seen with my own eyes. The next day we got off the cruise ship and boarded smaller boats for the Shenlong Stream excursion. This became one of my new favorite views of the program so far just because of how beautiful the cliffs and mountains are on both sides of the river. I was surprised that the river was 30 meters deep for how narrow it was. We learned the culture of the indigenous people and gestures such as stepping on a woman’s foot to indicate that you are interested in marrying her. We also joined in some dancing with the locals and learned the subtle changes in tone can change the meaning of a word entirely. Today we visited the Shibaozhai Pagoda, which also means, “Precious Stone Fortress,” and the Fengdu Ghost City. This was a really interesting stop because of the various images we saw on the walls of the structures that signify hell and the underworld. I learned that according to Chinese beliefs, the dead have to pass three tests before passing to the next life. We got to see the three stone bridges where people today cross the middle one with their loved ones for good fortune.





We made it to Chongqing and headed straight for the zoo where we saw lots of animals, but especially pandas. I noticed that the security at the zoos are not like in the United States, where there is a larger divide between walking area and the animal’s enclosure. The exhibits were also very small and not realistic to their real living environment in nature. After the zoo we visited the Three Gorges Dam Museum where we saw tools and other influences from ancient Chinese civilizations. I really liked the exterior structure of the museum, it is definitely one of Chongqing’s finest architectural projects. We had a free today so we used this time to explore the city. After eating Chinese food all the time, the first time that we experienced American food was when we went to Pizza Hut. We actually ordered a Peking Duck pizza so there was still a little bit of local culture in our meal. It was really interesting because in China Pizza Hut is a nicer sit-down restaurant while it is known for being cheaper and less of a sit-down restaurant in the USA. In the evening we walked along the amazing skyline of Chongqing, by far the best skyline I have seen in my entire life. We visited the Ford-Changan factory today where we saw manufacturing efficiency at its finest. The Ford-Changan factory completes a car every 45 seconds. When putting that into perspective of how many cars can be completed in a 7-hour work day, it is almost one thousand cars per day! My favorite part of the factory was seeing the robots work so precisely when placing the windshield and rear window into the exterior of the car moving down the line. This made me think of how much coding and exact measurements had to be made to make these robots work so well. It was also cool learning that some Chinese car models are slightly different than in the United States. For example, some Chinese models are bigger and have more seating to accommodate for people transporting their elders.




In our first full day in Shanghai we were supposed to visit the Dongtan Eco-city Project, however, it was closed so we went and walked around some cool streets in Shanghai. There were a lot of interesting shops, similar to old street, and I purchased a really nice silk shirt for only 30 yuan. After we walked around for a little and ate a good lunch, we went to the Shanghai tower. It was amazing to go all the way to the top in just 69 seconds. My ears popped on the way up and I thought I would be pretty scared of how high up we were. Once we got to the top and I saw the amazing view of the city I felt at ease. All of the skyscrapers seem so tiny compared to the Shanghai tower, even the financial building with its blue lights at the top. We went to Disney the following day, a place where I initially did not know how it would compare to the Disneyworld in Florida. It was really interesting to see them sings the songs in costume in Chinese rather than English. This made me realize how similar this component of our culture is. I think Disney movies and characters bring our nations together because of a common interest and that is really awesome. We spent a lot of time exploring and eating various foods. By the afternoon we found a nice American restaurant where we drank drinks during happy hour and had great burgers. In the morning we took a bullet train in the morning to Suzhou. It was really cool to experience because of how smooth the ride was. It did not feel like we were going over 100mph because of how smooth it was and I did not realize that the train actually leans when it banks around curves. I took some pretty good pictures of the gardens and plants in Suzhou. I also successfully asked a lady where the bathroom was in Chinese so that was really awesome for me to show off what I have learned. The farewell dinner was very tasty and I got to tell Xinli and his family that I enjoyed learning the language very much and hope to continue to learn it in the future for when I return to China. We finished our last night off by going out to the club and having a great time! It then came for our time to leave China. I know I will return again though! It has been an unforgettable experience!


China Trip 2018 (ENGR 118)


Ryan Gist (

Beijing (May 7th-11th)

We arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) after a long 14 hour flight; the first stop on our four week trip. Stepping off the airplane into the third largest terminal in the world was amazing. The first thing I saw getting off the airplane was a vending machine; I took a picture of this vending machine because it was already so different than anything I had ever seen before. This vending machine serves as an excellent metaphor for the rest of my trip; different, exciting, and intriguing. (1)

We boarded the bus and headed to Tiananmen Square. We first walked around the National Centre for Performing Arts, the architecture of the Opera house was amazing. It was circular and made almost entirely of glass panels, and it was surrounded by a square pool of water fountains (unfortunately closed for maintenance). All the entrances to the Opera House were underground, and the building was right next to Congressional Building (once the highest building in Beijing because the government is the highest power). (2)

        After touring the Opera House, we headed across Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden City. I was taken aback at the sheer size of the palace. From the street, I had no inclination as to how big it was, and walking through the Forbidden City it seemed to stretch on forever. The Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms (9 is the most powerful and lucky number in Chinese culture), and the 10,000 room is considered to be Heaven. Moreover, I learned that the emperor living in the Forbidden City would sleep in a different room every night so that he could not be assassinated while he slept.

           Today was absolutely incredible. We started the day by taking an hour bus ride outside of Beijing to the Great Wall of China (Badaling section). The hike to the top of the wall was difficult but the view was breathtaking and one of the greatest experiences of my entire life. The wall in its entirety is 13,170 miles long. (3)

        After spending 3 hours at the Great Wall, we headed to Olympic Park and explored the famous Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium. Much like the Opera House, the architecture of the Bird’s Nest is awe-inspiring. We learned there were 13 final designs being considered for the stadium, but a panel of professionals selected the “nest scheme” for its unique and natural style. Walking inside and around the Bird’s Nest was very special to me because it was the first Olympic games that I truly remember growing up since it happened in 2008 and I was 9 years old at the time.

        Leaving the Bird’s Nest, we walked past the Water Cube where Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals. We headed to dinner then walked to Silk Street. Exploring the Silk Market was an experience like nothing I’ve ever done. Bartering with the merchants was new for me because in America prices are typically set and no negotiation is allowed. At the Silk Market, I bought a designer wallet, Nike shoes, and two shirts for 40 US dollars.

        We also visited the National Museum of China right next to Tiananmen Square. My favorite exhibit was titled “The Power of Truth”. This exhibit was all about the influence communism has had on China. In the U.S we’re taught capitalism is the best and only solution to freedom, however this exhibit idolizes Karl Marx and other communist thinkers/leaders. It was crazy to see communism shown in this light since we’re so used to being taught it is ineffective and chaotic way of leading.

After this museum, we visited CUMTB. This was an amazing experience that was incredibly eye-opening. At the school, I met a nice graduate student named Claire who gave me a tour of the campus. She told me that at least 6 people live in a single dorm, and dormitories are separated by gender. Also, the bathrooms are in a completely different building across campus that students have to walk to in order to shower or relieve themselves. After this experience, I certainly won’t take my amenities at PSU for granted.

Dalian (May 12th-13th)

        Arriving in Dalian at 8 am was rough, I didn’t sleep well on the train. But we checked into the hotel and headed to Rockwell Automation Facility. It was once again eye-opening visiting Rockwell and seeing first-hand how an international company operates. Seeing the company dynamic and how it operates in the Chinese cultures is slightly different than in the U.S but for the most part office etiquette seems to be the same. Leaving Rockwell, we drove around Dalian and went to an amusement park in the city right on the water. This area was full of young people skateboarding, flying kites, and enjoying the rides. (4)

        Visiting the Number 7 Middle School is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. We were taught a lesson about Mother’s Day since we visited on Mother’s Day. The middle school students also performed for us; they reenacted scenes from the Sound of Music and also danced a ceremonial dance. The middle school students spoke excellent English and were very interested in my duties as a college student in the U.S. We had an amazing lunch with the students at the school; my table talked about American sports the entire time. It was hard saying goodbye to the kind students we had met, nevertheless we headed to the airport to fly to Xian. (5)

Yangtze Cruise (May 15th-18th)

        We caught an early morning train to Yichang (hard sleeper) this morning. Almost the whole day was spent on this train, we got to the cruise ship at night after driving through the countryside. The sky was beautiful and the stars were easily seen since we were away from the light pollution and smog of the cities. We boarded the cruise and spent the night, ready for the days on the river ahead of us.

        Today we finally slept in, then bussed to the Three Gorges Dam. Driving up on the Dam we were able to see the three different parts of the project; the lock system, the turbine housing, and the underground section also used for power production. The dam itself is 607 feet at its peak, and around 2.3 kilometers long (1.4 miles). Moreover, the hydroelectric energy produced supplies about 1/9 of all of China’s energy needs. (6)

        Today we explored the Xiling Gorge on smaller boats. The excursion took us along the Shenlong Stream and we got to observe the gorges/mountains up close. I was amazed to learn that people still live in the hills of the gorges; I figured it was uninhabitable after the gorges flooded from construction of the Three Gorges Dam. After returning to the boat a couple of us watched the cruise ship navigate through the Wu Gorge, and later the Qutang Gorge, from the sundeck. (7)

The Fengdu Ghost City was different than anything else we had seen thus far. Climbing to the top of the mountain we saw dozens of scary looking statues that represented hell and the tortures that accompany it. Additionally, there was a bridge that was meant to be walked over with your significant other to promote happiness and longevity in the relationship. Our tour guide told us to not walk through the middle entrance to any of the building because that is reserved for practicing monks. Also we learned there are three tests that need to be passed before moving onto the next life. After the Ghost City we all headed back to the boat for a farewell dinner with the captain of the boat. (8)

Chongqing (May 19th-23rd)

        We arrived in Chongqing this morning and carried out luggage from the boat into the city. Our bus picked us up and we went straight to the Three Gorges Dam Museum. Having seen the Three Gorges Dam in person it was cool to learn more about the project than what was explained to us by our tour guide on site. The 360 movie we watched was also cool because all the views looked so familiar to the views I experienced on the boat. We then walked through the City Hall Plaza and could see the government building. As I walked through the plaza I saw large groups of people singing and sharing food together while playing board games. The culture in China is much different than in the U.S when it comes to public gatherings. In the U.S typically people do not convene in parks of plazas that often, they are more reclusive than people in China. (9)

        The next day (May 20th) was a free day for everyone. We slept in a little then headed out to get lunch. A group of us got pizza hut and ate two large peking duck pizzas (very good). We then tried to find a market place similar to Silk Market in Beijing. We got very lost since none of us had cellular data but it worked out well because we got to explore the city of Chongqing. We saw a fashion show, got a pedicure from little fish in a tank, and fished the Yangtze river with a stranger. All in all, the day was beneficial in just experiencing the city and absorbing the culture around us. (10) (11)

        Visiting the Ford factory is on the same level of amazing things on this trip like visiting Number 7 Middle School and CUMTB. Although we couldn’t take pictures I will never forget walking around this facility. At the factory, we witnessed the assembly line and saw first-hand how Ford vehicles are put together. The most interesting part of this process to me was the robots installing the windshields. The robots used lasers to precisely locate where the windshield needed to be installed, then set them into place. This process moved very rapidly and was amazing to watch for a few minutes. Additionally, I really understood how the culture of China impacts engineering when our guide told us about how most Ford SUV’s come with optional third row seating, however in China the third row is always installed because the population is so large the vehicle needs to be able to seat as many people as possible. Wrapping up the tour we asked the Plant Manager some questions and one that remains prevalent in my mind is that only machines run maintenance on the robots creating the product, meaning that no humans are involved in assurance testing the robotics. This surprised me very much since technology is not always reliable and stigmatized in American culture for putting people out of work; however, it seems in China they have greater trust in the technology being used.

Shanghai (May 28th-June 2nd)

        Today we got on a bus headed to Shanghai. On the way, we visited the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the second longest bay bridge in the world (roughly 22 miles long). The bridge is built in a unique S-shape to reduce tension from the currents in the bay. After stopping on the observation deck to take some pictures we continued riding to Shanghai.  

        We tried visiting Chongming Island this morning but unfortunately it was closed for construction. We then drove around the Dongtan Eco-City Project and learned that the area will be completely green in the near future with solar panels and electric vehicles. After this bus tour, we went to a market in the city and I got lunch and some souvenirs for my family. After spending time at the market we went to the Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world. The tower over looked the entire city and we were many floors above the business building which was previously the tallest building in the area. (12)

        Today we visited Shanghai Disney. We spent nearly 12 hours at the amusement park and got to experience the culture impact on the common Disney characters we see in the U.S. It was very odd to see the Disney characters I grew up watching, speaking Mandarin. Moreover, it was surprising and very cool to see the montage of characters at the end of the night in the light show; they sung primarily in Mandarin to the same tune they do in the English version of the movies. (13)

        The following game we went to the Ambassador’s Gardens, which was once a private garden until the Chinese government took control of it to allow tourists to visit. We got to see bonsai trees and enjoy the relaxing feng shui. Additionally, I learned about how frequently and differently bamboo is used in China. We sat in bamboo chairs in a bamboo gazebo eating boiled bamboo shoots. We left the bamboo park to ride a boat along a man made canal, shaped over 2000 years ago. Along the canal were man made bridges crafted 1300 years ago. After the boat ride, we sat in traffic coming back into Shanghai for a while, but when we returned a group of us walked down to the Bund to see the skyline at night. The view was breathtaking and trumps any other skyline I’ve ever seen in my life. (14)

        Today class concluded. It was really hard to say goodbye to all the lifelong friends I had made on the trip, and leave the country that I had come to love so much. Our flight departed around 3:30 local time and we left China.


China Study Abroad 2018

Beijing May 8-9th

The Forbidden City was very interesting and a lot larger than I thought. It was very cool to think that an emperor lived where I was standing. It was also very interesting to me that the entire city was built without a nail. The history of the Forbidden Kingdom was astounding. Just to think that only a little over 100 years ago I would have been killed for being there and now we could walk freely through is amazing. The next day we visited the Great Wall. The section of the Great Wall we climbed was very steep and over 94 floors according to my iPhone Health App. Mao Zedong said that whoever climbed the wall is considered a hero, so I am very proud I completed the climb. After the Great Wall, we went to the Olympic Park. At the Olympic Park we went inside the Bird’s Nest or the National Stadium which fits 80,000-90,000. This stadium is very large and has an interesting design on the outside that I appreciated. After the National Stadium we saw the Water Cube and other structures in the Park.


Dalian May 12-13th

In Dalian, we visited the Rockwell Automation Office. There, we learned what Rockwell provides and how they work. We also presented a speech on cultural differences between the United States and China. After Rockwell we took a tour of Dalian. Dalian is a beautiful kind of beach area. The park we stopped at had an amusement park and a nice view of the Bay. There were many young people there hanging out and skateboarding. This place seemed to be the equivalent of the New Jersey Boardwalks. The next day we visited No. 7 Middle School in Dalian. When we arrived, the students were waiting for us outside with flags and flowers. We all matched up with one or two Chinese Students. The student who I got paired with was about 6’8” and his name was Bruce. The Chinese students [reformed a couple acts for us and we got a lesson in Chinese from the teacher. After we left the Middle School we took a flight from Dalian to Xian.


Yangtze River Cruise May 15-19th

We boarded a hard-sleeper train from Xian to Yichang. This train ride took about thirteen hours. Once we got to Yichang we boarded our cruise ship, the Century Legend late at night. We disembarked from the ship early in the morning to go see the Three Gorges Dam project. The Dam is the largest hydroelectric project in the world and that was not even its main purpose. The thousands of kilograms of concrete’s main purpose is to prevent flooding. The Dam is one of my favorite engineering wonders we saw. The next morning we left the cruise ship and boarded smaller boats to sail through the Shenlong Stream. The views were breathtakingly beautiful. Every picture I took there I wanted to frame. Once we got back on the cruise ship we sailed through the remaining two gorges. The whole region was breathtaking. In the morning we were supposed to visit the Shibaozhai Pagoda but unfortunately due to heavy rains it was cancelled. Instead, in the afternoon we visited the Fengdu Ghost Town which was a bit of a hike up but well worth the view.




Huangshan May23-26th

We had a bus tour to Huangshan and checked into our hotel. A small group of us explored the city after we checked in. It amazed me that I did not see a traffic light anywhere in the city and there were no traffic accidents.The next day we woke up early to visit the Huashan Mystery Cave outside the city. When we arrived we had to walk across a long suspension bridge. The cave itself was large and winding. When we left we enjoyed various carnival style games and rides. After the cave we visited Old Street and did some light shopping. The next day we visited Xinli’s hometown. This was one of my favorite days because we got to see the rural lifestyle. Xinli’s uncle gave us a demonstration of calligraphy. We had a great meal and met Xinli’s family. Xinli gave us a tour of his childhood home. After dinner we set off fireworks on the bridge then went back to the hotel. Following the lightshow.



one of Xinli’s relatives’ house to see how renewable resources are used in middle class society in China. It is amazing how they use different forms of renewable energy. After that we watched a video on the Hangzhou Bay Bridge.


Shaghai May 28-30th

Today we took a long bus tour to Shanghai. On the way there we went over the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which was even more incredible in person. After driving all day, we finally arrived in Shanghai. I was so excited because Shanghai is the biggest city in the world and I have always wanted to visit. The Next day we woke up early to go visit the Dongtan Eco-City Project but it was under construction. So instead we got lunch and went to a bargain market all afternoon. After that we visited the Shanghai Tower which is the highest observation deck in the world and rode the fast elevator in the world to get there. The following day, Today we visited Disneyland Shanghai. It is the newest Disneyland and has many cool attractions and rides. My favorite ride by far was Pirates of the Caribbean. We spent all day there and stayed for the lightshow at the end




Study abroad China 2018







This picture was taken in Qongching which was an incredible city. One of my favorite cities by far. We were able to have a free day where we got to explore this city. Our hotel was on a cliff of some sorts that overlooked the city. When you would go down the cliff, there were many different restaurants including a Mexican, Irish, and Japanese restaurant. We ate at the Mexican Restaurant and we were able to try our first Mexican food in China and it was pretty good. When we further adventured down the cliff we found that if you kept going right there were many different abandoned cruise ships. We also found an overlook going out over the water which gave you a view of the city that few get to experience. We got to eat the hot pot which is the famous Qongching meal which consists of eating very spicy good, but it was spectacular.

Another part of the trip to Qongching was crossing off a part of my bucket list. I got to see a panda for the first time. These furry creatures were a lot bigger than I expected, and they eat so much bamboo. I thought they were cuddly creatures, but I learned that they can be quite vicious. The zoo was one of my favorite parts of the trip because we got to see animals that I have not been able to see in my lifetime like the pandas. There were numerous cats like the very rare white tiger. The white tiger they had was one of ninety still left in the world, and you could see this animal watching you the whole time. After the zoo, we went to the Three Gorges Dam museum where we got a IMAX like view of the yangtze river and a virtual tour. We then learned about the different wildlife located in the river including some weird looking fish. We finally learned how big each gorge was and the route that we took to get there.

We then took a hard sleeping car through the day to Xinli’s hometown of Huangshan. This train was an interesting experience to say the least with 6 people to a room and 2 triple bunk beds in each room. There was many random people in our car which made it more interesting. When we visited Huangshan we first went to the man made caves made by the government to attract tourists. The water was so clear there and the bottom made it seem a lot shallower than it actually was. We had to cross a very shady suspension bridge to get there which made it that much more interesting. On the way back we got to experience multiple interesting excursions. One involved riding a horse around a track. I saw a horse poop for the first time and I really hope that it is the last time. We also got to ride ATV’s where the people running it were not to pleased with the speed we were going and how we were driving. All of this costed no more than ten yuan which is a great deal in my opinion.

Another aspect of the trip which was a once in a lifetime experience was visiting Xinli’s home village, and seeing what true rural life in China really is like. We got to go into Xinli’s childhood home and meet his mother. The house was very interesting and tight. There was a hole in the ceiling so that rain can get into the house and go down the drain into the well. I have never seen something like this before so it was very cool to see. We then got a tour of his hometown, and saw the monuments in his town like the fine woodwork on each of the houses. We also got to see the elementary school in his town which made me feel very lucky about the school I went to, but at least they are getting an education. After, we were served an incredible dinner that included this very good ham and some other classic chinese meals. To conclude the night, we set off fireworks and watched them light up the town. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

On one of our final days in China we Visited Shanghai Disney. There is one park similar to that of magic Kingdom in Orlando. The park is very new and was only built two years ago. Overall, the park was a lot more westernized than I thought it would be. Most of the food in the park is american food like hamburgers, pizza, and popcorn. Also, all of the names to the individual parks have big letters in english with small chinese characters underneath. In the picture is the Disney Castle similar to that of the one in Orlando, but smaller. At the end of the night we were supposed to watch a firework show, but because of the bad pollution around Shanghai the fireworks were not allowed. Disney in Shanghai was one of my favorite days on the trip and a great way to end our unforgettable study abroad experience.


By: Daniel Flynn



When we sat down for our first meal after we arrived in Beijing, all I can say is that I completely forgot that we were going to have to use only chopsticks for a month. I am not saying that as a bad thing, rather I prefer using them now. This was only one of the differences that set our food culture apart from the Chinese. Even though it is completely different, it is absolutely amazing in its own ways. meals are much more family oriented, usually with seating at round tables so that interaction is easier. I even saw lockers for cell phones at one restaurant so people could lock their phones away while they eat.

Now the food itself, tasted incredible. It was difficult to eat sometimes because we were not used to using chopsticks and some of the meat had a lot of bones, but the flavor was unmatched. It was quite interesting, you could look at a dish on the table and maybe guess what it would taste like, and then when you actually eat it, it tastes completely different. I am a pretty adventurous eater and I was very open to all these new flavors and foods that I had never had before. I would try everything because I would never know what to expect.




During my time in China, we spent a lot of time traveling, whether it be on a bus, train, boat, or plane. Each of their forms of travel seemed to be different that in the United States. The best way I can think of to describe the driving traffic in China is “organized chaos”. In the bigger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, it was almost hard to tell if you were coming or going with the amount of moving cars around you. Their traffic laws seemed quite a bit more loose and citizens rely on their horns to tell where they are going more than their turning blinkers.

When it came to traveling on trains or boarding at bus stations, it seemed as if you were in an airport. What I mean by this is the mass amount of people in the country leads to a mass amount of public transportation, so every bus station and train station we walked into were so big that it felt like we were in an airport terminal.

Another cool thing that we experienced were sleeper cell trains. These trains pack as many beds in the train cars as they can. We took one that lasted all night and another train that lasted all day. It was quite interesting because I had never seen people travel like this before

Going with the topic of trains, we were able to ride the high speed trains and reached an incredible 187 mph! China also utilizes magnetic levitation trains, which can reach speeds of almost 300 mph.


Number 7 Middle School


While in the northern city of Dalian, we were given the opportunity to visit a local middle school and learn with them. This was one of the best experiences of the trip, as each of us were paired with a child from the middle school for the day to learn together. It was quite impressive as almost all of them could speak perfect English. We visited on a Sunday, which happened to be Mother’s Day. We had a lesson on the history of Mother’s Day so we learned some of their Chinese traditions for the special day and we taught them some of ours. Some of the students also put on an incredible dancing and singing act for us. After all the lessons and festivities, we had lunch with the students in the cafeteria and then headed home.


The Yangtze River Cruise


While on this cruise, I saw some of the most naturally beautiful things in my life. The river in itself was breathtaking. Traveling around windy river bends with mountains on bothsides, it could not have been more amazing. On each side of the river was a natural line where the trees and grass stopped growing, and this line is where the water reaches during the flood season. While on the cruise, we made different stops everyday, first with the Three Gorges Dam, the biggest dam in the world. The next day, we boarded smaller boats to voyage up the Shenlong stream, giving incredible views of the mountains. On the last day, we visited a breathtaking Buddhist temple up on the side of the mountain. The cruise was exceptional.

The City of Shanghai


Shanghai was nothing short of immaculate. the city itself has 24 million people in it. The city seemed to go on forever when looking out at the horizon, which hopefully was not smoggy. During our time in this city, we saw amazing works of engineering such as the Shanghai tower, which is the second tallest building in the world. If only I was not so afraid of heights, I would have went to the top for myself, but i had to hear about the view from my friends. Even standing at the bottom of the tower, it was possible to tell how complex and tall the building was. It makes up part of the Shanghai city skyline, which is visible from a certain part of the city titled, “The Bund”. That skyline view is like no other. Every single building is lit up with different color lights, truly a sight that is worth seeing in person.

We ventured out from the city a little ways to visit the Shanghai Disney Resort which was absolutely amazing. I cannot say enough good things about this city. Disney was so incredibly well done and detailed, it felt like we were in Disney World back in Orlando, Florida. My favorite attraction at the park was the Tron roller coaster. I have never been on anything like it.

If I could return to china one day, and I really hope I do, I would like to go back to Shanghai.


China Summer 2018

On the second day of our trip we were able to go see one of the most spectacular structures made by man. The great wall was approximately an hour away from the center of the city, but man was it worth the drive. We were at the part of the wall where it was mostly stairs so we had an intense climb before getting to the top of the wall. The climb was so worth it though because when we reached the top, the view looking out over the wall and the mountains was spectacular. We stayed there for awhile and then had to come back down, and decided to run down the stairs which probably was not a great idea. This day will be ingrained in my mind for the rest of my life.

In, Beijing I completed a bucket list item and something that I have wanted to do since I was ten years old. We visited the 2008 olympic park in Beijing which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. When we got there, and I saw the pure size and beauty of the Birds Nest I was in just pure awe. From the outside it looked like a specifically entricated chaos of metal and steel that just engulfed the stadium. The Chinese National stadium has the nickname the birds nest because the steel beams wrap around the stadium making it seem like a nest. Once inside, I got to be part of sports history and take in where Usain Bolt won Olympic gold in two events and became the fastest man of all time. Across from the birds nest was the water cube which looked like a bubble of some sort and this hosted the aquatic events from that olympics. It was another time to witness history by being in the presence of where Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals and went 8 for 8 in his events. This was all after seeing the Great Wall. What an incredible day.

After we traveled to beijing, we took a soft sleeper train overnight to Dalian where we arrived the next morning. In Dalian, one of the coolest experiences of the trip had to be when we visited number 7 Dalian Middle School. I was paired up with a boy named Toby and we toured their school while often trying to help students with their english. They presented a play of The Three little Fish which was a spectacular dance performed by 8th graders. It was very beautiful. They also performed songs from the classic movie The Sound of Music, and this was a spectacular play. Their school is one of the nicest schools I have ever seen. We got to make our mothers, Mothers Day gifts and wrote them a nice letter. Lastly, they provided us a spectacular lunch which they kept saying was incredible and it was. It was awesome making friends for life.


From Dalian, we flew to Xi’an which was about a two hour flight. When we got to Xi’an we were able to see the infamous Terracotta Warriors. This is one of the wonders of the world and to be able to see it in person was incredible. The detail on each of the warriors from the specificity in their faces all the way down to their feel was incredible. It is incredible how all of these soldiers in the 36 pits were made by hand. We saw more being excavated while we were there, and how careful they had to be because one wrong move and they could break ancient artifacts. We then tried native Xi’an food which tasted spectacular.

Pictured above is the Three Gorges Dam. The biggest dam in the world which was initially created to prevent flooding because the gorges would be in danger. It also accounts for 1/9 of the Chinese populations electricity. We were also able to see the lock system which is the method the chinese use to help boats get through the dam. It is a 4 hour process which is very quick compared to other systems. The boat goes into a lock and then the lock is flooded which the boat is carried up to the next lock and the next lock etc. Seeing this as an engineer really blew my mind with the thought and importance of the design that goes into this.


JACK KAIRYS – jlk6134