NSLI-Y Is Back to Shanghai

It was the last day in Beijing for the NSLI-Y group on July 30. Although it was a little bit tired but everyone felt they had learned a lot in the short five-day trip. The experience in Beijing have broadened their knowledge and understanding of China and its history, culture and current situation.

Three students caught cold and had fever during the trip. Dr. Chen was very concerned about them. He asked Ms. Wang and Miss Fu to take care of the sick students in the hotel, and to keep in touch with their parents. Fortunately their illness was not serious; now they are all recovered after the rest.

The high speed train back to Shanghai wouldn’t depart until 4:00pm. So in the morning all students slept late to catch up some much needed rest. From 9:30 to 12:30 the group went shopping at Silk Street Market again. Students not only bought something they liked, they also practiced what they had learned in the class. It just felt satisfying to bargain in Chinese!

At 2:30pm, the group arrived at the train station one and half hour earlier. The train set off on time. This returning train only stopped three times, so the whole trip only took 4 hours and 45 minutes to arrive at Shanghai. We had dinner on the train. Ms. Zhang, Miss Wang and Miss Bao from East China Normal University picked up the group at Shanghai Hongqiao Train Station. By 10:00 PM, the group has arrived at the dorms on ECNU campus, where they are going to spend the last two weeks continuing learning Chinese.

This is the head of the high speed train that the group was taking for the Shanghai-Beijing trip.

Students carried bags of souvenirs they bought in Beijing, waiting to be cleared at the train station.

Students arrived at Shanghai safe and sound.


NSLI-Y Group Visited the National Museum, the Bird’s Nest and the Summer Palace

July 29th. It’s a sunny day after a few days of rain and it made the NSLI-Y group all feel good. At 9:00 am, the group headed out to the National Museum of China on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square. The museum was established in 2003 after the merge of the Museum of the Chinese Revolution in the northern wing and the National Museum of Chinese History in the southern wing. The museum underwent renovation from March 2007 to the end of 2010 and reopened in March 2011. It now has a total floor space of nearly 200,000 square meters for exhibitions and displays and is the home of more than one million artifacts and antiques in forty-eight galleries, of which the the bronzes, porcelains, paintings and calligraphy, and sculptures are the most magnificent. The interior of the museum is spacious and modern. After two hours, students were still having fun.

In front of the National Museum of China

After lunch, the group visited Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed as the Bird’s Nest, the stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Students have seen the Bird’s Nest on Television for many times. Now they stood in front of the stadium and could still feel the atmosphere of the games four years ago.

Students visited Beijing National Stadium, the Bird’s Nest.

On the Bird’s Nest campus

At 4:00 pm in the afternoon, the group arrived at the Summer Palace for the last stop of the day. The Summer Palace is the largest and most well-reserved royal gardens in China. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water. It is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List for its master Chinese landscape garden design. The Summer Palace was first built in 1750 and was demolished and rebuilt several times in the past. The most beautiful scene in the garden is Kunming Lake and the long corridors surrounding the lake. It just felt relaxing sitting on the benches of the corridors and watching people boating in the lake.

Summer time at the Summer Palace

Lotus blossom in Kunming Lake

NSLI-Y Group Visited the Temple of Heaven and Beijing Hutongs

In the morning of July 28th, weather forecast said heavy rain was coming. So the NSLIY group cancelled the morning trips. It was the day of the London Olympics’ opening ceremony. Some students got up in early morning to watch the live broadcast of the ceremony. Students were all thrilled to know that they could continue watching the show and games all morning in hotel rooms.

It was until 11:00 am that no rain was observed. They decided to go out and have more fun. The first stop was the Panjiayuan Flea Market. It is the largest flea market in China with more than three thousand shops and slots selling antiques, artifacts, furnitures, fine chinas, painting and drawings from hundreds of years ago. In Panjiayuan, usually no price tag was provided but customers can feel free to negotiate price with the sellers. It requires a keen eye to recognize good stuff from fakes and good bargaining techniques as well. Sometimes one can find the best stuff with the lowest price. Therefore Panjiayuan has always been a “must-visit” spot for local people and visitors. Students had fun wandering in the market looking for their favorites.

Students visit Panjiayuan Flea Market

After lunch, the group visited the Temple of Heaven. It is a complex visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The Temple grounds cover 2.73 km² (3,265 sq yd) of parkland. The Temple has more than 600 years of history. Let alone pines and cypresses, there are more than 2,500 of them aged 200 years and older. Architectures in the Temple are remarkable as they were all built according to strict philosophical requirements, including the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The Imperial Vault of Heaven is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. Another remarkable structure is the Circular Mound Altar, an empty circular platform. The center of the altar is a round slate called the Heart of Heaven. Standing on top of the slate, the sound of the prayer will be reflected by the guardrail, creating significant resonance, which was supposed to help the prayer communicate with the Heaven. It is amazing to find that 600 years ago Chinese people had been able to use knowledge of mechanics, acoustics and geometry principle in architectural design and structure.

The Temple of Heaven

The group headed up to Hutongs in Houhai areas later afternoon. It is one of a few places in Beijing where traditional Beijing style residential buildings “Sihe Yuan” and alleyways “Hutong” are concentrated and still kept well in the middle the modern Beijing cityscape. The tour guide led the group into a “Sihe Yuan”. It is a small residence. In the center patio grapes are grown. Students listened to the hostess, an old Beijinger telling stories of her life in old and new Beijing. It just felt like an incredible culture journey to the past.

Students listened to the tour guide introduce Beijing Hutongs to them.

Students have fun riding the traditional Chinese rickshaws in Houhai.

Visit to Sihe Yuan, a traditional Beijing residence.

In the evening the group met with internationally renowned Chinese writer Bin Wang, the screenwriter of Chinese movies “Hero”, Fearless, Shanghai Triad, To Live, Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lanterns and etc. The students asked him questions in both Chinese and English in screenplay writing, discussed the differences between Chinese and American movies. The meeting lasted for about two hours and was very productive as students all felt that they learned more about Chinese culture.

Dr. Chen introduced Ms. Bin Wang (in green shirt to his right) to the students.

Picture with Mr. Bin Wang