As the semester is coming to an end, study abroad students are trying to finish shopping and sightseeing. When I arrived in Beijing, I wanted to find time to visit places that appear similar to what we may have in America. For example, I ate dinner at McDonald’s, ordered pizza, visited an art museum, and went on a nature hike. I feel that the best way to learn about a country’s differences is to visit as many places as possible and make comparisons. It is safe to say that my favorite place to visit in America is the zoo. I find animals to be beautiful and intriguing. Last week, my roommate and I took the subway to the zoo. Inside of the zoo is also a large aquarium that you can purchase a separate ticket for. We purchased an inclusive ticket that provided entrance into the zoo, the aquarium, and the panda house ($20 usd). When deciding to go to a widely popular place in Beijing, you need to plan ahead of time and take into account holidays and events. For example, it would be wise not to visit any place, especially in Beijing, during the fall festival. All places in Beijing during this time will be very crowded. My roommate and I waited until the weather was not too hot but not too cold and went to the zoo on a weekday while children were still in school. We could have not chosen a more perfect day to go to the zoo. We did not constantly have to push our ways to the animals to get a decent picture. Instead, we were taking videos of some of them.
One of my favorite things about going to zoos in different areas are the different animals. As most zoos have similar animals, they have some animals unique to their country and/or climate. The animal that I was most excited to see was the pandas! They are so cute. I also find pandas to be very intelligent. I found myself taking many pictures of pandas and of them playing with one another. I saw many different animals at the zoo but one of the most significant highlights of the day was petting a zebra. The enclosures in the Beijing zoo are quite different from what you would see at the Oregon zoo. The zebras have a huge outdoor living space but the zebras could approach the sidewalk. Granted, there is a gate, but the gate is low enough for you to pet the zebras. They are very friendly animals and have very soft fur. I never thought I would pet a zebra, but I have to say, it was exciting.
The aquarium was the most expensive attraction of the day, about $15 us dollars, but it was worth every penny. The aquarium was huge and had hundreds of different species. I have only been to one other aquarium before and that was on the coast in Oregon, but this aquarium is much better. I saw huge sea turtles and there was not glass separating the turtle and me. We were not allowed to touch the turtles but the fact that there was nothing separating us made me feel even closer to this beautiful creature.
You can do so many things here in Beijing, a lot of places being traditional Chinese locations that you will not find in any other country. While studying abroad, it is a good idea to budget for sightseeing because you may never get the opportunity to visit one of these places again. Along with these unique places, I feel that it is important to visit places that you may find in other countries as they may be different. By visiting places all around China, I grew a much better understanding of the Chinese culture and the difference between China and the U.S.