MAY WE MEET AGAIN

 

I am writing this blog in the same airport where Sara picked us up the first time. It feels like a dream, like China never happened… back then, these young students came with their suitcases full of fears, promises, anxiety, and excitement. It is amazing to see how we have grown not only personally but culturally along this journey. Certainly, we are not the same ones who came that September 1st. Today, those same young students leave with their suitcase full of dreams, lessons, knowledge, experiences, laughs, tears, and let’s not forget also full of alibaba stuff haha. I have tried to write this blog without crying but I think it is impossible at this time. We all feel we are leaving a part of our life in China, we all feel it is our home now, too. However, we all knew this moment was going to come, and nobody prepares you for goodbyes. If you told me a year ago I was going to have one of the best experiences of my life and it was going to happen in China, I would not believe it at all. On my last walk through Chengdu, I stopped for a moment to see everything around me and I remember saying “I never thought I was going to be able to say this, but I’m going to miss China” and I guess that’s how life works, when you do not expect something, it just arrives and changes your life. For me, this experience was life-changing. Living three months in a new culture, submerging yourself in new customs, style of living and learning their language makes you open your eyes to a more real world that you are not taught in a classroom. I am proud of everything I have learned throughout this trip, and I think my classmates and friends feel the same. We have achieved a lot in this time, from the smallest such as do laundry without dryer, to the more complicated like make a bank account, use the high speed train, buy with Alipay, going to dinner with friends and even with all of that, having time for homework. Many of us practiced time management without even realizing it. Now, we have knowledge of a new culture that although different is beautiful and when you start learning about it, you love it.

Nevertheless, this trip would not be a true experience without the people we met. I want to thank everyone, from our teachers to the G-MEO team for changing our lives, for always being there for us and making us feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Also, I want to give special mention to the buddies, our Chinese friends. That group of young people who welcomed us, taught us, fed us and gave us so much love that I will always be grateful for. This experience would not be the same without you guys, a fundamental part of everything we learned from China came from you and that is valuable.

Without a doubt, life will not be the same without having each of you around us, but we leave with the hope that one day we will meet again and that fills my soul. Crystal once told me that you will never forget someone, because they always stay in your mind and in your heart. And that’s exactly where I’ll always have each one of you… I love you and I am going to miss you a lot.

May we meet again!!

PDTA: For the new students who will come after us, I promise you there will be no regrets for coming to China. You will learn and enjoy a place that although different from ours is full of history and beautiful people. I already congratulate you for having the courage to travel and choose China. I hope you have the experience of your lives and love these people as much as I love them. Take care of each other as family and take care of the G-MEO team because without them nothing could be possible. Also, careful with alibaba haha it ​​is an addiction!! Good luck guys!!

 

Atte: Arianna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018 | Comments Off

THANKSGIVING IN CHINA??

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FAM!!

Last Thursday, we celebrated the day that many of our students were waiting for, Thanksgiving! This celebration is one of the most important holidays in the United States. For those who do not know about this celebration, I am going to tell you about it. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the third Thursday of each November. It was originally a day when people celebrated the end of the harvest and were grateful for it. Today, this celebration is a family day, where everyone gathers to give thanks for the good things they have had throughout the year and the bad things as well. The best of thanksgiving is THE TURKEY! Oh yeah, baby… Also, being able to be reunited with your family and share together, watch movies or just chatting is something to be grateful for. So, of course, the Chengdu American Center prepared a special celebration together with the Amazing IELTS. Many children and their parents attended, and the only requirement was to bring a plate of food to share with everyone. We had more than 100 dishes! Among salads, pizzas, noodles, dumplings, chicken, pork, rice and many sweets. Everything you could imagine was on that table, and yes, turkey!! It could not be missed. I did give thanks that day for the amount of food haha.

Throughout the night, we had many performances. We opened with the “little turkeys” (cute children) dancing. Also, some of our students sang, among those students were me and Onyx, we sang in Spanish and of course broke few windows with our voices (just kidding!). Additionally, Jordan sang a very engaged rap song. He is another student of the center, who, apart from his career, also dedicates to make music. At the end of the celebration, our friend Maggie, a dance teacher, delighted us dancing a few songs. We had a lot of fun trying to follow her dance moves. Unquestionably, it was a different Thanksgiving where we enjoyed with the people of the community, ate, sang and even danced! We had a great time. In addition, shout-out to the photographer!! Way to go my friend! Such great pictures. I am going to share them so you can envy our party ha-ha!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018 | Comments Off

FREE TRIP: meeting the Gēlǎozú in Nuo City

Last week, some of the students visited the city of Chongqing, Nuo City and the Balahu Valley. Chongqing is a big and rising city in China. In its effort to promote tourism in this city, the municipality sponsors many trips to see the beautiful city, as well as its surrounding mountains and valleys.

At night, the lights of the skyline that are reflected in the river will leave you breathless. G-MEO students had the opportunity to go to one of these trips with students of different nationalities who are studying Chinese in Chongqing. There were students from Russia, Vietnam, Thailand, Germany and many more. The two days included a great hotel, food and entrance to the sights almost for free (~ $10).

The first destination was Nuo City, a beautiful place surrounded by mountains. Entering this city is only possible, when drinking a local beverage! Within this small city, the government provides the villagers with spaces for the sale of their merchandise and food.

Also, there is an attraction park (“Magic Island”). There is no doubt the students enjoyed it and felt like children again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the dinner, they had the opportunity to witness an opera starring by Gēlǎozú group, one of the 56 ethnic groups recognized by the Chinese government. In this show, opera and meal are mixed together. First, the appetizers are served to you. Second, you get their special drink with some bread and third the main dish. While this is happening, the opera continues: acting, singing and dancing.
Very entertaining!

The opera ended with a dance around the fire, in which all the foreigners and the inhabitants of the village gathered and danced together around it. This was one of our best experiences!

The next day, the group visited the Puhua River and Balahu Valley, where we had the opportunity to take the boat and meet several caves and very peculiar rock formations. The valley has a waterfall and green water that matches the color of the mountains around it. Also, they found the famous glass bridge, which you can cross to see the Abysmal Valley. Unfortunately, they did not have the opportunity to cross it since it was raining, and it would be too dangerous. However, Puhua River offered us this hanging bridge instead:

Without hesitation, I can say China is one of the best countries I’ve ever met. The beauties, the culture and the exquisite food that you can find throughout your stay are amazing! Also, knowing and learning about the minorities and sharing a special moment with them was one of the best highlights of this trip.

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018 | Comments Off

ONYX’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION (Outsider’s Perspective)

Last week was the birthday of one of our quirky students, Onyx! She turned 22 and wanted a big celebration. When I say big I mean that she celebrated her birthday for 4 days straight… It is true, 22 years are only fulfilled once in life and more so in China!

In this blog, I am going to share our adventure of four days of celebration with Onyx. Ready?

So, the official birthday of Onyx was last November 10th. But we started to celebrate from Thursday 8th. After receiving classes and doing our homework, at 9 o’clock at night we went to a bar known by the American community near the CDTV tower. We invited our Chinese friends because we wanted them to enjoy with us and we also wanted to teach them how to dance like Hispanics. Let me tell you, Chinese people got moves! For some reason, there is nothing our Chinese friends did wrong. At 12, Christina a local friend brought a very nice cake, and we sang happy birthday to Onyx for the first time. We had a great time: we danced, we jumped, we ate and we danced again.

On Friday, it was a little quieter. The staff of G-MEO prepared a lunch for Onyx in which we all attended. We went to a hot-pot, in which we shared time eating and talking. The center also bought a cake for Onyx, and after having eaten, we sang happy birthday for the second time.
It is worth mentioning that the hotpot was delicious, but I think I ate too much because I was feeling super full. Same day, at night, we went to dinner with our Chinese friends to a Mexican place, since they have never tasted Mexican food. We introduced them to the world of burritos (heaven for me), tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas… VIVA MEXICO! None of us are Mexicans, all of us love their food. Additionally, we bought a small cake for Onyx and we sang happy birthday for the third time…

Saturday, current birthday of Onyx. We had a trip to Qingcheng mountain. What a nice way to spend your birthday in the nature, right? Breathing fresh air… sharing time with friends… climbing 300 steps… oh wait! Mistake! It was not 300, it was 3000! Or more, who knows at this point. Someone messed up when putting that announce at the entrance of the climbing route. I do not lie to you if I tell you I still feel pain in my legs. If we would not have got the cable car, we would have probably still been on the mountain… no kidding! But the trip was worth it, we really enjoyed and appreciated the beautiful things that China and Chengdu offer us.

Oh! I am forgetting. Upon returning, a friend of ours had bought another cake for Onyx.

Yeah, A-N-O-T-H-E-R cake… We sang for the FOURTH TIME!!  At that moment, all of us had already increased more than 2 pounds because the cakes.

Finally, on Sunday we devoted ourselves to rest and we just went out for a moment to relax and stroll along Chunxi Road! It should be noted that 11.11., a great event in China for singles, was being celebrated. For this reason, Chunxi Road was flooded with people. It reminded me of Black Friday in America.

That was basically our adventure for Onyx’s birthday. Thank God on Sunday there was no more cake,

 

I do not know if I had a voice to sing for the fifth time

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018, g-MEO Student Blogs | Comments Off

Birthday (4x)

When I first thought about studying abroad in the fall, I immediately thought about my birthday (Nov10). I thought about how I wasn’t gonna be with my friends and family so it was going to be boring and suck. I really did think I was going to have the worst birthday.

 

 

For my surprise, it was the very opposite. I not only celebrated my birthday on my birthday but I celebrated it 4 days in a row! I got 4 different cakes! Chinese people do know how to make someone feel special on their birthday. I was so fortunate to have GMEO staff and classmates take me out to eat hot pot which was delicious in addition to having a chocolate cake with fruits! It was an amazing time.

Not for one second I felt alone or sad, I was more than happy my whole birthday weekend. We got to celebrate at local places with local friends (buddies) as well as my classmates which all got me more cake!

On my actual birthday we went on a hike to a mountain and at night had another cake. It was an ongoing weekend of celebration and I could have not been more thankful being surrounded by amazing staff and friends.

Written by: Onyx Flores, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Posted in Students: Fall 2018 | Comments Off

COLLEGE KIDS AND BEIJING

After Xi’an, some of the students decided to travel to the capital of China, Beijing. Traveling to Beijing was a whole experience. Our way began on the slow train. For many of us, it was the first time traveling in a slow train at night. Nevertheless, we were not expecting a fancy train or being comfortable because we bought the “hard sleeper seat” tickets… Pretty explicit right?

We really went with low expectations, but we just wanted to go to Beijing no matter what. Turned out that we did not have seats, we had small beds!! Yeah! B-E-D-S! It was a kind of bunks like military style with other six people. At first, we were really surprised and shocked. I mean, yeah cool bunks, but we were going to sleep with people we did not know. It took us a few minutes to get over of that fact and realize the people on the train were nice. It was mostly old people traveling. Apparently, we were the only foreigners. We adjusted our luggage and lied down on the beds. We really liked it and after a while, we were laughing, eating and trying to speak Chinese with the old ladies by our sides. Really a nice experience to repeat.

Arriving at the hotel was another adventure. The train stop was a little far from our hostel, so we had to walk for a while. We went into these alleyways that reminded Kat and me of the streets of Ecuador and Peru. Narrow streets with a curved path. We were really scared for a while because, you know, we were 6 college students with their bags walking in a city they do not know in a very lonely area… we were just praying to arrive at our hostel ha-ha.

After 15 minutes, we arrived at this really nice hostel with a European style, where we booked a room for six people (the cheaper one). We weren’t looking for an extravagant room or something like that, but we got a really comfy room and private bunks to sleep. The room did not even use a key, but a passcode to open it. HOWWW COOL!! (Fun fact: we asked for the code several times because we kept losing the little paper with the instructions. Never trust young people with codes!)

Sunday, we visited Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, Tian’anmen Square, and Summer Palace. The day was really cold and windy. It was difficult to take good pictures, but we enjoyed it a lot. We walked for almost 10 hours and were exhausted at the end of the tour. Anyway, we rested couple hours and went out to eat this famous roast duck of Beijing. It was delicious!

Next day, we traveled to the Great Wall, our highlight for that day. Being a child in Ecuador, I have never imagined that I would have had the opportunity to visit such a cultural and historical patrimony. It was really a dream come true and a thing to cross out from the “things to do before I die” list. We took tons of pictures and walked from the bottom to the top of the wall. We were just so glad to have the opportunity to be there and enjoyed until the last minute.

Even though, we really enjoyed our stay in Beijing and Xi’an, we missed home so much. By home, I mean Chengdu. We were missing our kind neighborhood, our beds, the people from the center and our second mother Michelle! Definitely, it is good to be back in Chengdu, our new home!

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018 | Comments Off

Bargaining and discovering 3000-years of history in Xi’an

Discovering the ancient Xi’an

Last week, we did the midterm exams. After that, we had a week to relax. The G-MEO Chengdu American Center prepared a cultural excursion for us. We visited the city of Xi’an, which is known for being one of the ancient capitals of the Chinese empire and in which the terracotta warriors were found in 1974. The terracotta warriors are one of the most important cultural and archaeological discoveries in the world. They were even cataloged as cultural heritage of humanity since 1987.

The trip to this city was pleasant. For some of us, we traveled for the first time in speed train and it was very comfortable and fast. Arriving in Xi’an, we met the one who was going to be our guide, Steve. He showed us many historical places and took us to the museum where we learned a lot about the history of the emperors and how the dynasties worked. The creations of each dynasty and how the culture evolved over time. In the Terracotta Warriors Museum, the guide explained the history of this army. Emperor Qin Shi Huang made this powerful army of terracotta soldiers to protect him in the afterlife. At that time, there was a lot of belief in life after death. Something interesting about warriors is that they are all made differently, the features of the faces and small details distinguish them from each other. They also measure 1.80 meters, which is a bit surprising since they are made in a stature of a real person, they are even bigger than me.

 

Something I loved about Xi’an was the Muslim street, where you can find everything from food, clothes, and souvenirs. This place was full of lights, noise and very colorful. It was full of life! It reminded me a lot of street markets in Ecuador. Definitely, Xi’an was a splendid trip full of teachings and fun. Thanks, G-MEO for creating new memories for us.

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018 | Comments Off

FUN in KTV

China never ceases to amaze me, and this time it was with karaoke, here also known as KTV. The karaoke in China is a very peculiar method of entertainment. The first time you visit one you will be stunned as they are in huge buildings with many rooms of all sizes.

 

 

Upon entering, you will find long hallways filled with neon lights and many colors. It is very elegant and striking. Many people even use it as a method of closing their business contracts. It is the most used alternative for the nights of parties or social events and to which many people of all ages go.

We, thanks to our Chinese friends, had the opportunity to know the famous KTV. At first, we were very surprised, it looked so elegant and professional. We could not believe we had a private room to sing, shout, jump and have fun while we sang.

 

In America, karaoke is usually in the bar and you are surrounded by friends and strangers waiting for their turn to sing. In contrast, for China you have your own room, with the songs you choose and the hours you want to sing. In our KTV night with our friends we sang about 3 hours of Chinese, English and Spanish songs. It was really fun and we enjoyed it so much. We definitely are coming back more often to KTV.

 

 

 

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018 | Comments Off

“I never thought I would ever come to China”

The reasons for studying abroad can be many. Some people want to know more about a culture, learn a new language or simply want to become independent and learn how to live alone. Whatever is your motive, the reality is that traveling far from your country and your family brings many teachings, but at the same time fears. At the beginning of an adventure, we all have fears and those questions like, what will it be like? Will I be fine? Is it worth it? At the end of our travel, all these questions are answered with a “It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life” because that’s what traveling is all about. To learn, to enjoy, to have fears, to believe that everything is possible and more than anything to make everything possible if you believe in yourself and your abilities. Today, I want to introduce you to Onyx! She is another of our students at G-MEO. The major of Onyx is Criminal Justice and she is currently a Junior in Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. As I have been telling you guys, this semester we have a mix of multicultural students. The parents of Onyx are from San Salvador, Central America. Therefore, like many of our students, she can also speak two languages, Spanish and English. Onyx will share with us some of her fears, thoughts and first impressions of China and its culture.

Onyx Flores

“I have to say that I never thought I would ever come to China, and even less to study here. When I first started the process of applying to study in China, I thought it was a crazy idea, that I was going to back out or once I got here I was going to hate it and be depressed. However, it has been a great experience so far and very rewarding. Adapting to the culture, lifestyle, food and time in China has obviously been a bit of a struggle. I am not used to air drying my clothes, or eating spicy food, but living and learning is something that we all have to go through at some point in our lives.

Meeting Chinese students, “buddies” and people has been very interesting, they are very welcoming to foreign people and are eager to know about you and show you around. On our first day we met them, they wanted to have lunch with us, make plans with us and even help us get around the city. In addition, the idea of obtaining an internship in China scared me a little for the simple fact that I do not know the language. During the interview, the interviewer was really welcoming, he was very interactive and was glad that Gabby and I are going to be interning with him this fall semester.

Although the interview did not go as I expected, I am glad to be able to have this opportunity. I know that my main goal is not to become a lawyer, but interning at a law firm will give me an insight on what type of cases lawyers here deal with and what type of crimes are committed here to have a better idea. China has definitely turned out to be the opposite of what I thought, I actually love it here and cannot wait what else it has to show me for the rest of the semester.”

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018 | Comments Off

National Holiday trip with local friends!

Last week we were able to have a rest thanks to the national holiday. Chinese National Day is celebrated on October 1st every year to commemorate the founding of People’s Republic of China. On that day, lots of large-scale activities are held nationwide. Obviously, we were not going to miss the opportunity to travel, so we visited two well-known places in Sichuan. Bipenggou Mountain and Leshan, Giant Budda.

I’m going to tell you a little about our trip to the mountains. We got up super early, 4:30 in the morning (I had never got up so early in my life). We had the company of three Chinese friends so they helped us throughout the trip. Bipenggou is beautiful and giant. It has a waterfall with very clear water at the first stop and you can find a small restaurant where you can buy coffee. Let me tell you, it was really cold. At the top of the mountain where we arrived almost frozen but happy, it was even snowing. Yes, you read me well SNOWING!! Am I in New Jersey again? The funniest thing is that none of us wore warm clothes so we were more freezed than a snowman. Despite the cold, we had a lot of fun. We ran through the mountains, we played the snowball war, Max my friend made a mini snowman.

Our second trip was on the weekend. We headed towards Leshan, another city in Sichuan which is very famous because many tourists go to visit the Giant Buddha. In December, 1996, the location of the Buddha was included by Unesco on the list of the World Heritage sites. Begun in the year 713 in the Tang dynasty, and finished in the year 803, the statue took people more than 90 years to carve. Pretty impressive if you think about it! Upon arrival, we met our friend Cindy who lives in Leshan and guided us on our trip. We went to visit the park where the giant Buddha is located. In the place you can not only have the opportunity to see the Buddha, but many other attractions such as monasteries, small parks and caves. Additionally, you have to be prepared to make a line for about two hours to go down to see the whole Buddha, but sincerely, it is worth it because it is a piece of art and the mere fact of appreciating something built by hand many years ago is a great privilege.

Here are more photos that we took on our trips.

Posted in Arianna Lara Rivera: Fall 2018 | Comments Off