Chinese study trip to Beijing and Shanghai

This July, a group of 12 of us had a rich cultural experience. We started our journey in Beijing, where we were lucky enough to have some beautiful weather, visiting landmarks such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and numerous temples. At these sites we were able to learn about Chinese history, which few of us had prior knowledge about.

Along the way we had Mandarin lessons and learnt how to haggle in traditional markets (the boys tried some interesting snacks...) We learnt about the significance of Chinese tea ceremonies and sampled many different types of tea over the course of the trip.

We also spent a day at a school in Beijing, participating in their classes and trying to play ping pong! It was interesting to say the least to see how different school life is like in China. We all met lots of students and continue to stay in touch.

After our stay in Beijing we hiked the vast Great wall and were extremely lucky to go on a cool and quiet day, soaking up the mesmerising views. The next day we woke up extremely early to watch the sunrise from a high part of the wall. The astonishingly beautiful view made the morning hike worthwhile, making it one of the highlights of the trip for me.

We continued our journey to Shanghai, a city of much contrast to Beijing. Shanghai boasts famous Chinese gardens, a modern city centre, tea houses and China Town; here we learnt the art of calligraphy and Chinese painting as well as continuing our Mandarin lessons. The city worked as an excellent base from which we could venture out into the countryside.

We visited the picturesque water town of TongLi, otherwise known as China's Venice, taking a ride on the canal and wandering the dainty streets and shops...and attempting to talk to locals! We also spent 2 days in the region of MoGanShan. We hiked to the top of a mountain in the bamboo forest and to a turquoise lagoon, experiencing some beautiful scenery (even if we did get eaten by mosquitoes!) In the evening we made dumplings and ate our creations.

Back to Shanghai and the city was expecting to be hit by a typhoon, so we stayed indoors, visiting museums and The Mandarin Garden school where we had classes, a tea ceremony and made Peking opera masks. We ended the trip with an acrobatic show which proved to be absolutely incredible! We were all sad to go home but left Shanghai with precious memories, new friendships and a great cultural experience!

Laurel Stewart

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