It’s 11:11 right now and I’m making a wish that this semester can last just a little longer. I’m making a wish for the semester program to turn into a full year, and maybe then I will feel that I have been able to enjoy enough of China to go home satisfied. But I know that even then, towards the end I will feel the same sort of panic that I do now: the need to hurry and take in all of Beijing and all of China. It’s the middle of the semester, and I have taken trips to The Great Wall, Chengde, Inner Mongolia (Hohhot, the grasslands and the desert), Yunmeng Mountain, The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace (and got lost on the longest hallway in the world), Tiananmen Square, the Bird’s Nest and Watercube, and explored the shopping and nightlife of this amazing city. That is nowhere near enough. The more of Beijing and China that I see, the more of it I want to know. I suppose this is the essence of the travel bug; it grows as you feed it, and there will never be an end to things to discover. Beijing is a city of discoveries waiting to happen, from the back-alley hutongs selling scorpion and other unnamed foods, to the shopping malls with so many levels there are escalators that skip floors. And oh, the markets. I will never get enough of the markets. I can promise you now that if I was the richest person in the world, China’s economy would be doing incredibly well.
In the precious few weeks left, Amber (my roommate) and I have to go see Nanjing, where the famous Nanjing massacre happened (which we are learning about in class). Ashley (a friend in the same program) and I also want to see Xi’an, where the terracotta warriors are. There are too many things to do and too little time to do it. To anyone who is planning on coming to Beijing, I advise you to start strong and do as much as you can. As Regina Brett said, no matter how you feel, always get up, dress up and show up. If you’re sick, tired, or hung over, go get a traditional Chinese massage (if it’s your first time getting a cupping massage, called “ba gua,” be very prepared—it’s more for function than comfort). There is no excuse not to do something new every single day you are in China, whether it is trying a new food or a new cafeteria, buying fruits from a new place, seeing a movie in Chinese or even seeing an English move in China, going to the Beijing Zoo, or simply asking a question in Chinese. Beijing provides numerous opportunities to just live.