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Arrival and Silk Road Path Excursion

I arrived to Beijing, China just one week ago. My first flight was 13 hours. I had a five hour layover in Seoul, Korea and then an hour and a half flight to Beijing. I was greeted at the Beijing International Airport (PEK) by my Chinese roommate, Sue Yang. We had been talking for about two weeks before I departed for China. Outside of the airport was the typical hustle and bustle of city goers moving about their day. Cigarette smoke strangled my nostrils, the honking of horns and the obnoxious sigh of a stopping bus pounded against my eardrums. Even though I looked around and had no idea where I was, who any of these people were, or what they were saying, I couldn’t help but think, “I’m home!” The only other place that I’ve gotten that “homey” feeling is whenever I head back home to NYC. I guess I’m just a true city girl at heart.

My Roommate Sue and I

Orientation was long and tiring, as all orientations are. It was my first time meeting the 34 other people in my program. Being the only Fairfield Stag, I felt especially excited to finally have the chance to make some friends. Post orientation, we traveled on a “fundatory” excursion for two weeks in North Western China. After what seemed like three months of traveling, we have finally returned home to Beijing. A group of about 41 TBC (The Beijing Center) members (30 students, 6 staff, 2 doctors and 3 guests) explored six cities along the infamous Silk Road Path; these included Xi’an, Lanzhou, Xia’he, Dunhuang, Turpan, and Kashgar. It was amazing to see how the cultures and even the people changed from city to city.

Chinese Muslim Market in Xi’an

In China there are 56 different groups. It was interesting to witness the change in features such as skin tone, eye color, height and of course the changes in culture such as dress, hairstyles, food, music and dance. On the excursion we visited many religious temples like the Labrang Monastery in Xia’he, one of the largest Buddhist Temples in China. Monks and nuns occupied the streets with their shaved heads and sacred robes. We also visited three different Mosques and Muslim communities along the way. There are over 25 million Muslims in China. In Kashgar, the furthest western city in China, there is also a large Muslim population. Just two hours away from Pakistan, many of the Chinese people in Kashgar have darker skin because of their Turkish and Arab heritages. Most Chinese Muslims speak two or more languages due to the influence of their ancestors from other countries who settled in China. The men in Kashgar all had such beautiful eyes. Shades of green, hazel, blue, and chestnut browns which are not typical traits of the majority Han Chinese people.

 

Dec 12th 2016

Also published on Fairfield Study Abroad’s blog: https://fairfieldustudyabroad.tumblr.com/post/154379696326/arrival-and-silk-road-path-excursion