Friends in China

As my study abroad comes to an end, I look back at all the fun I’ve had and all the new things I’ve been able to experience. However, the part that makes this trip even better is all of the friends I’ve made. I’ve made friends with other international students living in Tonghe, international students living on the main campus, and some Chinese students. I truly appreciate being able to have the opportunity to meet these new friends and get to know them better.

The first friend I made here is a girl named Julia. She a graduate student from Russia working on her masters in Chinese. I met her at a dance showcase, and since then we have become good friends. We dance and do martial arts together and she is always inviting me to hang out with her and her friends. She was also so helpful during my first month in Shanghai. She kept me informed about Fudan International student events, and also helped translate for me while we are in dance and martial arts classes. I can also practice speaking Chinese with her and in exchange I help her with her english. In addition, through Julia I’ve met even more friends, each of whom have been warm and welcoming.

Another girl who I’ve become really close to is Chantel. She is also an international graduate student from California here at Fudan for medical school. Coincidently, she is also friends with Julia. While we are not in any clubs together we often get lunch or dinner and go out together on the weekends.

In addition to other international students, I have become friends with some Chinese students. I met all of my Chinese friends through dance and my Friday psychology class. One thing that really left an impression on me was, my friend Jane from my Chinese dance class, gave me a going away present. She said that she was glad we could be friends and wanted to give me a little something before I left. I thought this was so extremely nice of her, especially since we really just started talking about a month ago. I also feel that my Chinese typing and reading has improved from talking to her and my other Chinese friends on Wechat.

I love all of the new friends I’ve made, but this is going to make leaving China even harder. While it is extremely easy to keep in contact with people though Wechat, I still worry that we will grow farther and farther apart due to busy schedules and different time zones. However, even though leaving will be hard, I am still very grateful for the opportunity to meet so many new and wonderful people.

 

 

Chongqing to Yichang

For our last Davidson trip, we went on a river boat cruise down the Yangtze River. This was especially exciting because I had been on this exact cruise in 2010. I loved being on the cruise in 2010 and I was extremely excited to be back. However, this time we were on a different fancier boat and I was also able to take additional excursions that I hadn’t been able to take in 2010. In addition, the weather was a lot colder because in 2010 I went in July.

It was hard to contain my excitement when I first stepped on the boat. The first night was spent exploring the ship and preparing for an early morning the next day. The first day we went to Fengdu the ghost city. I had been here in 2010 and I had never imagined that I would be back. The city was the same but off in the distance a huge gold head of the Buddha had been constructed.

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The city itself was the same. The same temple for heaven and the same temple for the king of the underworld Yama. In addition there were also small statues depicting the different tortures of hell, similar to Dante’s Inferno. I really enjoyed being back at Fengdu, and this time we walked up to the city, which is on a mountain, instead of taking a ski lift.

 

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That afternoon we also made an excursion to Shibaozai, which was beautiful.

 

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That night there was the captain’s welcome where the captain introduced himself and we had drinks and appetisers before dinner. After dinner the crew put on a show which included modelling different dynasties’ clothing and some traditional Chinese dance performances.

The next day we went to the White Emperor City and the Goddess Stream, both were beautiful. The White Emperor City gave us a great view of the first gorge, and the Goddess Stream was so peaceful. The Goddess Stream was definitely my favourite. In addition to taking a small boat down the stream we were able to get off and see some of the local people perform traditional dances and play traditional musical instruments. During the day we also passed through the three gorges.

 

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That night the crew put on another performance and we had our last night on the boat. We also had a special goodbye dinner. After which we waited around to go through the ship lock. We ended up sitting outside the ship lock for an hour before we started to go through it. I didn’t stay up to see the entire process but a couple of other students did.

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The next day we went on a tour of the ship locks and the dam. The weather was cold and rainy, but overall I had a good time. I also was here in 2010, so nothing much had changed. However, leaving the boat that afternoon was sad because I had so much fun. Even though leaving was sad, I was still happy I got to go on this cruise a second time.

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Fake Jade

Yesterday in class we learned about how people go about making fake jade. In my pervious blog post about jade I was curious about how fake jade was made. Through class I’ve learned that fake jade can be made with glass or marble that has undergone extensive chemical processing to make it look like authentic jade.

I also learned that some people in rural parts of China would sew pieces of jade into a sheep’s leg so the sheep’s blood would seep into the jade and make it look like it was from ancient China. In addition, people didn’t just use sheep, some people would kill a dog and then put jade into it’s stomach. Once the jade was in the  dog’s stomach the dog was buried under a busy road. The pressure from the cars driving on the busy road would help to push the dog’s blood into the jade, again giving it the appearance of ancient jade. To be honest talking about this made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t like thinking about a live sheep who has his leg cut open and then had to live for a period of time with a piece of jade sewn into it’s leg. I also wondered about the medical complications that can occur due to this procedure.

However, this practice is not the only way to make fake jade and is less common in urban environments because people in cities can afford to have fake jade or lesser quality jade processed with chemicals. In addition to making jade look ancient, people would take one jade object and turn it into another jade object. For example, if a jade bi had some imperfections, like a crack, a person would just cut the jade bi in half to make two huangs. Using this method the imperfect jade bi has been made into two huangs that hide the imperfections of the bi. Since the imperfections are gone, the value of the jade will increase.

Overall this ties into my last post about how there is so much fake jade in China it’s hard to distinguish the real from the fake. However, like I started before, I personally don’t care if the jade is authentic or not as long as it is aesthetically pleasing.

 

 

Chengdu

This past week I went to Chengdu with all but one of the Davidson students. While there we got to see pandas, which was the main reason for going to Chengdu in the first place! However, on our way to the panda reserve we ran into heavy traffic. The traffic was caused by a car crash. This crash was not on a busy road, it was actually on a long rural road running up a mountain not too far from the panda reserve. We thought that the walk wouldn’t be too long so we got off the bus and walked to the panda reserve. However the walk was a lot longer than we thought so we ended up paying a local guy to drive us in his mini-bus to the top. While the rest of the distance wasn’t too long, the road twisted and turned up a steep hill. When we got to the top we all stopped for lunch before heading to the reserve. All of the pandas were very cute. We saw adult pandas and baby pandas. The baby pandas were sleeping and the one year old pandas were either sleeping or lying on their backs eating bamboo. Some of the adult pandas were also sleeping, and some were just walking around, not doing too much. One thing I thought was amazing was how the pandas were able to climb up a tree and rest on its branches. Pandas are so big it amazes me that the small branches of the trees could hold an adult panda. I was also amazed by how they were able to balance on the branches. As much as I love going to zoos and seeing animals it always makes me sad seeing animals in captivity. Although there are good reasons for keeping pandas in captivity, it still makes me sad to see them in an enclosed space. While there I really wanted to be able to hold one, but then our tour guide told us it was 3,000 yuan a minute. As much as I wanted to hold a panda, it wasn’t worth 3,000 yuan a minute.

 

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While in Chengdu we also went to the Jinsha museum. The museum had on display various artifacts from the ancient Shu state in the Sichuan area. One part of the museum which really caught my attention was the section displaying all of the ancient jade bis. A bi is a jade disk with a hole in the middle, similar in shape to a lifesaver candy, that represents heaven. Bis were also used in rituals to worship heaven and ancient Chinese people believed that heaven was round and earth was square. It was interesting to see these jade bis especially since we learned about them in class. In addition, the museum had various clay pots, small figurines, jade relics, masks, and gold artifacts, including the Gold Foil of the Sun and Immortal bird.

 

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I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chengdu and I wish we had time to stay their longer.

 

Antiques in China, is anything real?

Walking around the many street of China, it’s impossible not to notice all the vendors and stores selling antiques., antique furniture, antique paintings, antique sculptures, etc. Everyone claims their antiques are authentic, but after doing some research, it turns out that China also produces a lot of fake antiques. There are even people who specialize in creating fakes. I’ve realized that the only place one will definitely find real antiques are history museums. Personally, I believe that authentic antiques from China’s past are better left in museums where everyone has an opportunity to view them. If the antiques were privately owned it would be much harder for the general public to have access to them. When it comes to buying antiques I feel the same way about them as I feel about jade, as long as it is aesthetically pleasing I don’t necessarily care if it is authentic or not. However, for someone who’s hobby or life’s work is collecting authentic antiques the amount of fakes in China can be very frustrating. This being said, it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate and enjoy all of the many authentic antiques China has to offer.

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