Charlen McNeil: Xi’an Cultural Excursion

No amount of preparation could ever prepare me for the train ride to Xi’an. Normally when I think of a sleeper train, I refer back to the Amtrak sleeper cars my family used to take to Florida. However, this train ride was extremely different. There were small spaces with six beds per space, three bunk beds on each side of the wall. If you are still having a hard time picturing this train ride, please think of a prison sell; three bunk beds on each side of the wall, then close that space by two feet. In other words it was small! Although the living conditions were not what I was used to, I did enjoy parts of the trip. My classmates and I passed the sixteen hours by playing games, watching movies, having “deep” conversations, and of course sleeping.  I live my life with the thought: in order for me to be successful in life, I need to find my comfort zone and then destroy it. The trip to Xi’an totally destroyed my comfort zone.

In high school I got the opportunity to go to Italy and Greece for two weeks. Right after we got off the train in Xi’an, we went straight to see the Terracotta Army and where they are made today. There we learned about the oldest civilization known to man. Among these were Rome, Greece, and Xi’an. Our guides told us about the Xi’an wall (the oldest city wall still standing, and the Terracotta Army). The Terracotta Army is a life size army of at least 8,000 soldiers. They were made to protect the emperor in death. Once I learned about the 8th wonder of the world, I had my heart set on seeing it. However, being that we went to go see the army as soon as we got off the train, I found it very hard to enjoy what I was seeing. It wasn’t until my mom and I were speaking about all of the pictures I had sent her that it hit what had happen earlier that day: I had seen the Terracotta Army and completed a goal I had set for myself six years ago. It was very humbling experience even if I didn’t feel it until after the fact.

While in Xi’an we got to see many famous sites such as the city Bell Tower, the Xi’an wall and lastly the Pagoda. While at the Pagoda, we watched a water show that was out of this world!! I recognized some of the songs that were used from movies I have seen. My favorite part was standing in the middle of the show with the classmates and watching the water shoot up from the ground creating rainbows above our heads. Even though we were standing in the middle on the steps we did not get wet, thankfully. As we stood there in awe, trying to take in what was happening around us, I couldn’t help but think how blessed I was to be here with such awesome people!

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