Tyler’s Yak post
Hello, I am Tyler, one of the participants of the 4-week Mandarin language intensive. I am currently writing this Yak in the beautiful village known as Bangdong and I would like to share some of my experiences during the trip so far. This trip began when I flew to L.A., where my parents and I spent the entire day at Universal Studios, which was a great last day to spend with my parents before saying goodbye for a month. That evening, we had some minor trouble finding the correct hotel to meet up with the other group members, but we finally made it. We said our last goodbyes and parted ways, and I thought, “Oh my God, my parents are leaving me to fend for myself in another country.” At least that’s what I thought until I met the instructors and some of the other group members. Then, I was able to calm down and see that there are others in the same situation as me and that the instructors are there to help us. After the hotel we went to the airport and met up with the majority of the group. Then came the 13 hour flight to Shanghai which feels even longer when you’re in the middle of the last row of the plane. All in all, the flight had to happen, but we finally arrived in Shanghai, where some unexpected weather interrupted our plans and we had to wait in the airport for 14 hours before we finally were headed to Beijing. In the Beijing airport, we met up with the last of our group and we headed to a guest house to sleep. The only weird thing about the guest house was that there were two rooms—one for boys and one for girls—but there was only one bed in each room. For me personally,sharing the bed was not the easiest thing when your group consists of 3 girls and 7 boys. What I was most excited for in Beijing was visiting the Great Wall, but I did not anticipate the long hike and that we would be there in the dark. So the only logical solution was to get up at 4:30am the next morning and go back to the Wall, which is what I did of course. That morning I hiked back up to the Great Wall with our instructor Long Yun while everybody else was sleeping. I thought that this was cool because it was only myself that wanted to go back to the Great Wall so I could see things and take pictures that nobody else would have. While the real reason for leaving so early was to catch the sunrise, that was made impossible by the fog that surrounded the area. But that did not stop me from getting some good pictures. After the Great Wall we spent the next couple of days traveling. On one of the travel days, we had to fly from Beijing to Kunming, and on that flight I sat next to the kindest lady and I got to show off some of my Mandarin skills. We ended up talking for quite some time, and she not only helped me write down some notes, but she gave me the courage to speak more in Chinese. Another interesting thing we did on one of our travel days was riding on an overnight bus. I thought this was cool because it was basically a bus with beds and I slept surprisingly well. After all of the traveling, we finally arrived in Bangdong. Bangdong is where we are having the first of our homestays, and I was very nervous to start mine. When I met my family, I was very nervous, but it was all made better when my homestay mother started to use a translator app on her phone, but we still talk to each other in Chinese. There are some aspects of the village that are unusual to me, such as the large bugs, the toilets being just holes in the ground, and the new food. Since being in Bangdong, I have eaten a fish eye and a 1000-year-old egg, and we have only been here 4 days. Thank you for reading my Yak, and to end with good news, everybody is doing ok and I’m excited for the rest of the program.
P.S. Don’t forget to bring a towel!!!!!