Written by Karoline Johnson
It’s been a great week here in China. I think we are really starting to understand the dynamics of the group and to work more effectively with each other especially between the Chinese and American teams.
We had a chance to go to the Great Wall on Saturday which was great! My group walked about an hour up the wall. We climbed many stairs, unfortunately I can’t count that high in Chinese, so I can’t tell you how many. It was well worth it though for the beautiful views. The mountains here look much different than the Appalachians I’m used to.
I’ve wrapped up collecting data for my personal research, testing my low cost air monitors. As with all research nothing went as planned but we got some promising looking results. I ran my sensors on the roof at Peking University it was a great view of the city and a great place to gauge the air quality every day based on whether we could see the mountains in the distance or not.
One of the most interesting things to me is how interested people are in the air quality. Everyone seems to have a phone app and they check the air quality like many Americans check the weather. I was a little concerned the first day we got to Beijing and the pollution was so bad my eyes burned but luckily it has been much better until yesterday when we left Beijing for Qinhuangdao. The air is bad here in Qinhuangdao and was even worse in one of the factories we visited this afternoon.
We haven’t even been here 2 weeks yet but we’ve already learned so much. I personally am very proud of myself for traveling around the city alone and not getting lost (is it cheating if the Chinese students give me notes to hand to the taxi drivers and campus guards?). A lot of us non-Chinese speakers have picked up some Chinese phrases and we are all also getting very good at charades! Also did you know how much hand eye coordination it takes to eat a Chinese meal? All the dishes are served family style on a big lazy Susan in the middle of the table then you grab your food with your chopsticks as it spins by. It’s great fun but can be quite challenging if you don’t have a lot of experience with chopsticks. Luckily the Chinese students are very helpful so I do not go hungry and I am quickly improving.
Qinhuangdao is a smaller city but if someone had taken me here and told me it was Beijing before going to Beijing I would have believed them. There are skyscrapers everywhere. Today we saw a group of condos going up. There were about 15 of them 35 stories a piece. I’ve never seen cookie cutter skyscrapers like this in the US. We’ve explored the city a little and found hundreds of people dancing in the park this evening.
After visiting China I don’t think I think I have very few valid complaints left about Atlanta. I hate driving in Atlanta but I could never drive here because there are so many vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians and it is crazy. I feel so insignificant everywhere in these huge crowds. It’s been a great trip so far and I hope it will only get better!