Select Page

Experiencing China 2019 | How was it?

On July 10, 2019, it was finally time, I would go to Beijing, China for three weeks to study at Tsinghua University. A few months earlier I had done everything to go to a summer school at this university and in April I was finally told that I could do the Experiencing China program at Tsinghua University.

Early in the morning, I was at Schiphol Airport to fly to Beijing. I first had a transfer to Helsinki and then I flew to Beijing. I was nervous, but of course, I was really looking forward to it. When I was on the plane to Helsinki, I finally realized: I am going to China for three weeks, a country with a completely different culture and language.

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

After a short transfer in Helsinki, I already had my last flight and this time the flight to Beijing. After we took off, I soon found out that I was sitting next to two girls who were also going to Tsinghua University. It was, of course, great to immediately have met two girls who were going to the same university and the same program.

After a total flight of 12 hours, I finally arrived in China. I was actually quite relieved that I met two people on the plane with whom I could find the meeting place since it was a long search. Everything is of course in Chinese and none of us could speak Chinese.

Tsinghua University

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

After we found our suitcases, we went to the meeting place, where we were soon picked up by one of the ambassadors. We were taken to the Starbucks, where there was a large group of international students. After a proposal round and some other questions, I quickly felt at ease.

After waiting a while at Starbucks, it was time to take the bus to Tsinghua University. When I arrived there it was immediately clear that this is a completely different university than the VU. Tsinghua University is really huge, has several sports fields, beautiful nature and cool buildings.

Fortunately, we were able to get the key to our rooms straight away. This took a while, but around 2 o’clock we could finally take our things to our rooms. After arrival, I immediately took a shower and then, of course, discovered the campus with a group of super sweet people.

Day 2: Around the campus + Museum

Today we stayed on campus all day. In the morning we had the opening ceremony, which consisted of a welcome chat from the dean and a number of other teachers. It really felt like an official moment and then you really realize that you are going to study at a Chinese university for two weeks.

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

Tsinghua

After the opening ceremony, we went to a museum near Tsinghua University. This was a museum of various Chinese arts. The funny thing about this museum was that there were also a lot of Chinese people and of course they all wanted to be photographed with us. Especially me and Tijn were asked to take a picture because of our Dutch appearance. It was a successful outing and I took many different photos with different people.

After we had been to the museum, we were given a tour around the campus. The campus is really huge and there are so many different things to see. I really liked the gardens that were there and all the nature that was on campus. That is really a difference with the VU campus.

Day 3: Hutong + Wangfujing Street

In the morning we had our first lessons, which were very interesting. I immediately noticed that the level here is very different than in the Netherlands. I found the lessons very easy. Only fine of course, because that way I had a lot of time in the afternoon and evening to do other fun things.

Hutongs

Hutongs

Hutongs

This evening we went to the city of Beijing for the first time. It was of course immediately a culture shock and I particularly liked the language. For the first time by the metro in Beijing is of course also an adventure. Fortunately, there were signs with the English language, but you will be completely stared at by everyone as soon as you enter the metro.

This evening we first went to a number of hutongs. These are different old Chinese streets, where you can see the Chinese culture. I found it particularly special to see how people live here. It really looked like you went back in time.

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing Street

Wangfuijing

After we had been to the hutongs, we walked on to Wangfujing Street. This is a completely different street than the hutongs we had been to before. This is, in fact, a very modern street with all kinds of different shops and therefore not that old appearance that we encountered a lot in the hutongs. In a few hours, we discovered Wangfujing Street and of course, I tried to find something to eat as a vegetarian. I have to say, that was not too easy.

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

After Wangfujing Street, we decided to visit another place, Tiananmen Square. This is a huge square with the entrance to the Forbidden City as the highlight. This building looked really beautiful and the different lights made sure that my attention was immediately drawn to this beautiful building. This was also one of my first acquaintances with Chinese buildings and this was certainly a successful evening.

 

Day 4: Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Today it was time for a new field trip, a visit to the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is an altar with different buildings, and here the Ming Dynasty emperors conducted a ritual ceremony during which they, as a mediator between heaven and earth, made sacrifices to implore the favor of the gods for the next harvest. There is a huge history behind this temple and it was a great experience. We had about two hours to discover the Temple of Heaven and this beautiful heritage was certainly worth a visit.

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

Laoshe Teahouse

After the Temple of Heaven, we went to the Laoshe Tea House. I had not looked up what exactly this teahouse meant (except of course drinking tea). It turned out that different performances were given here that mainly showed Chinese art. From throwing pots to Chinese martial arts, it was all there!

Day 6: Dashilar Hutong + Hutong Museum

The previous day we only had lessons and spent the rest of the evening on campus. The campus was, of course, huge and there is a lot to see.

Today we went to Dashilar and the Hutong museum. The special thing about this program is that you go on many field trips throughout Beijing. Our first stop was Dashilar, a street with special art. We visited many different buildings and companies here to see how they are trying to make more of their company in a creative way. We first visited a museum with different art, we also visited a giant bookstore and a restaurant, which all looked very special.

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

China

China

China

China

In addition to the various buildings, we also visited a number of hutongs. These hutongs show the ancient Chinese culture and the way some people still live. It is very nice to see how they can be so happy, with really few things.

After our visit to the hutongs, we had a typical Chinese lunch. As a vegetarian, I had very little to eat, but what I had to eat was very tasty!

China

China

China

China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

After lunch, we had one more stop, the hutong museum. In this museum, we were told the history of the hutongs. Very interesting!

In the evening we went to Sanlitun, a giant shopping mall with a lot of different stores. There was also beautiful lighting, of which photos had to be taken of course. We also visited a gigantic bookstore, where I obviously had to buy something.

China

China

China

China

Day 8: 798 Fine Art District

The seventh day we only had a few lessons and in the evening we listened to music on campus, but the eighth day was again time for a field trip. This day we went to the 798 Fine Art District. This is a great place with lots of graffiti and other cool art. First, we went to the Picasso museum, where the history and various paintings of Picasso were shown. After this museum, we had the time to see the Art District. In this district, there were a lot of different stores with beautiful art.

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Experiencing China

We also had to conduct a number of interviews in this art district. That is, of course, difficult if nobody speaks English. With some hand gestures and some poor English, we managed to conduct this interview, so that we could include it later in our project about vegetarian food in Beijing.

After the art district, we went to Blackbow, a company that organizes many creative projects. The office of this company also looked very creative, for example, there was a giant dinosaur in an empty room.

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Creative City

Day 9: Wukesong Arena

Today it was time for the Wukesong Arena. We did not know in advance that we were going here and Luisina and I had gone here the day before. We wanted to visit a camera store there to look at a number of lenses and cameras. We had gone a long way for this and then discovered that this camera store was closed. So we went back without seeing anything.

Fortunately today we went to another side of the Wukesong Arena. We went to a place where various digital art was shown. This museum was great because you could move the art with computers. There were different animals that you could move with different computers, so that was awesome!

After this museum, we went to look around the Wukesong Arena. There were many different buildings that exhibited art, and of course, there were other works of art to admire.

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Experiencing China 2019

Xiaomi headquarters

After the Wukesong Arena, we went to the Xiaomi headquarters, a brand that I was familiar with. I had previously bought a smartwatch from this brand and, in addition, I had also bought a power bank later. An employee of Xiaomi had given us a tour around the head office and showed us the different products of the household brand.

Day 10: Forbidden City

Today we had a day off to visit the Forbidden City. This is one of the most popular sights in Beijing and I really wanted to go here. The Forbidden City is the place from which the Chinese emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasty ruled their empire. This palace was built in 1422 and therefore has a gigantic history.

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

Forbidden city

When we stood in line to enter the Forbidden City, we immediately noticed that there were a lot of Chinese tourists. As soon as we were in the Forbidden City, we were asked for a number of photos, because a Western appearance is of course very special in China. At one point Marta, Tijn and I were asked by a teacher to take a picture with a lot of Chinese children. The children were very excited to see us and we made a lot of selfies and photos.

The Forbidden City is really a beautiful complex with a lot of different Chinese architecture. Very cool to see!

After the Forbidden City, we went to Jinshan Park. This is a park with a hill with a Chinese temple on it. When you are on this hill, you have a beautiful view of the Forbidden City and the rest of Beijing.

Jinshan Park

Jinshan Park

Jinshan Park

Jinshan Park

Jinshan Park

Jinshan Park

Jinshan Park

Day 11: The Great Wall

Climbing the Great Wall at forty degrees is no easy task. The Great Wall of China is a 6,000-long defensive wall and one of the seven wonders of the world. Of course, I knew in advance that it would be a fair number of steps, but I had completely underestimated that. We started walking at about forty degrees at noon and my legs were tired after a few hundred steps.

 

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Great wall

Once on top of the Great Wall, it was definitely worth it: what a view! It was of course a beautiful day and I could look out over a very large nature reserve. After catching our breath, we decided to climb the Great Wall even further, to one of the highest points! Well, I have to say that this was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had and it was well worth it.

China

China

China

Day 12: Weird food in Wangfujing Street

One of the last days is of course coming and that is why we had to work to finish this summer school properly. In the morning and afternoon, we worked on various presentations all day, but in the evening we had some free time. We decided to go to Wangfujing Street again, but this time for one purpose: eating crazy Chinese food. I skipped this delicious food (cough!), But Tiago and Tijn dared to eat scorpions. Yummy…

China

China

China

China

China

When we wanted to go back to Tsinghua University, it rained terribly. As a result, we got ponchos for free and looked like gnomes, cute! In the evening we had a nice chat and played games and then I really realized that I had made friends for life.

Amazing friends

I have had the time of my life and I have met great people who I definitely want to meet again. I want to thank my university in Amsterdam and Tsinghua University for this great opportunity. It really was the experience of a lifetime. Last but definitely not least I want to thank everyone I have met on this trip, who have made this trip legendary. Special thanks to Tiago, Tijn, Klaudia, Luisina, Marta & Victor. Without you, it would have never been this awesome!

China

China

China

China

China

China