This past week has been a wonderful experience for me. I thought there was going to be a lot of culture shock due to the way that Chinese life is portrayed in American media sources, but I was surprised to find a high-functioning society filled with vibrancy and excitement upon my arrival in Beijing. Despite the language barrier, there were a lot of cases where I felt like I was standing in New York City, watching the world in full speed around me. I was expecting a whole different world in China, but I really saw so many parallels between Beijing and other large American cities. I am very excited about further exploring the city, and learning about the different kinds of culture that can occur between the 26 million people of Beijing. I was expecting to have to adjust in a lot more ways than I have had to, because of the very modern vibes of Beijing. I feel like I fit into the city very well already!
I have loved a lot of our first week, minus the continuously developing exhaustion of touring non-stop. I would not do it any other way than I have, though, because it has been not only extremely informative, but also fun! I hypothesize that most people will say their favorite part was the Great Wall trip, where we camped physically on the wall and hiked for hours; however, I have many favorites in almost every regard, which is very childlike but very fun for me. One of my favorites was obviously the Great Wall, because it was just so unreal to interact with such a large piece of history. My other favorite was the Lama Temple, which was simply wonderful. This is the largest Zen temple in all of China, and it felt like the place itself was living and breathing. It reminds me of the differing perspectives of the world: like my experience with the city of Beijing, a religious temple may seem cliché and not unique from an outside bias, but when you get to try it yourself, you realize just how wrong that is! And that is completely embraced by a person like me, who loves to experience the unexpected.
A few questions I have for natives would go as follows: what holidays are most important and how are they celebrated? How do you differentiate between politeness and genuine interest? What is the strongest way to develop face?