This Chinese Life

Wondering what we’re up to when we’re not in school?  Follow our day-to-day activity here and keep up with how we’re spending our free time in Xi’an.
Take a Hike
I love hiking.  So naturally, when my host family asked if I’d like to go climb a mountain I happily agreed.  Two weeks ago, during the May Day holiday we packed our bags with water bottles and vacuum packaged tofu (which tastes no better than it sounds) and headed for the mountains.  After a one and a half hour drive, during which my host father honked whenever we saw another car, we arrived at 九龙潭, nine dragon waterfall mountain.  The path up followed a river which did indeed have nine waterfalls.  The sights, sounds, and smells were all lovely.  It made for a wonderful little outing!
Written by:  Abigail

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 Golfing in China? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. As I sat down to breakfast still weary from being woken up early in the morning, my host mom explained our itinerary for the day. A 50-minute car ride to a different province didn’t sound like the day I had planned out in my head the night before.  As I slurped down the remains of my porridge, my host-dad walked in the door, dressed in a black tracksuit with red racing stripes going down the sides. To finish off the sporty outfit, pair of new Nike golfing sneakers were on his feet. This assured me that I did in fact hear my host mom correctly. We were going on a family road trip to go golfing.

The car ride consisted of my host mom singing acapella to various operatic songs, and my host sister unconsciously singing her heart out to the music playing from her cellphone. Just as I began to doze off, my host mother grabbed my arm and told me to look in front of us. All I could see was what looked like a underground tunnel. It was more than that. It was the longest two lane underground tunnel in the world. As we approached the mouth of the tunnel my host mom told me to get out my phone and time our journey through the dimly lighted tunnel. Our whole family counted down the seconds before entering. I started the timer and waited. After sixteen minutes of driving in the seemingly never-ending tunnel, daylight became visible. We exited the tunnel and clocked in at just about seventeen minutes. It was the longest two lane underground tunnel I ever had the honor to travel through.

After the long car ride, we reached the golf course. We were escorted up a hill in golf carts. I had the fortunate luck to squeeze into a golf cart that was meant to sit two; with two strange men I didn’t know. As we ascended the large hill they were creating a conversation in Chinese. We reached the driving range after a short drive. It looked like an oasis in a desert. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a club and start hitting the fresh golf balls waiting at one of the stations. As soon as I hit the first ball, I knew the day was going to beat any day of homework. I felt such a strong sense of relief and relaxation from hitting the golf balls. My host family watched in amazement as I went through barrels of golf balls. The day flew by. I looked over two stations to see my host dad trying to hit a golf ball with the biggest club in his bag. After a few attempts he offered me to swing a few shots. I lined myself up and concentrated on the ball. I swung the club and the ball went souring though the air. My host parents were clapping and jumping up and down. I couldn’t believe I hit the ball so far. Driving back to Xi’an late at night I thought about the marvelous day I had the fortunate opportunity to partake in my family outing.

Written by: Christina

Hot Springs

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It all started with the signs- ‘hot springs that way’. Then the running between hotel rooms- “Did you bring a bathing suit?” “No” “Me Neither” Then suddenly at nine o’clock at night, we found ourselves swimming in a very warm very large pool. We’d been in Chengdu for a few nights, and our new hotel had indoor and outdoor hot springs a few minutes walk from our rooms. We all scrounged up various bits of clothing that could be considered swimwear, I wore my running leggings and a top, and headed down the hill towards the pool. I’m sure our group, in assorted athletic wear, and jumping up and down, looked ridiculous; but the hot springs were empty, and regardless we were having so much fun I don’t think we would’ve cared. I’ve found that in China, the greatest moments are the ones least expected. And the Chengdu hot springs certainly fit the bill.

Written by: Celia

Making up for the Misses

The obvious downside to being a participant in the China Exchange program is that it requires the 9 of us to miss some big home-based events. For me, it was the process of apartment shopping and two weddings.  For the students, it was the giant snowstorms, a Vampire Weekend concert, and the Junior Semi.

Formal high school dances are a pretty big deal.  When I explained to my  family here that the students were missing theirs, they were kind enough to offer to host one of our own.  We got dressed up and did what every CHEX group has to do at one point:  made the most of things.    The fact that I could film a video in formal wear to send to my marrying friends was just an added bonus.


Written by: Ms. Stevens

La-Jiao La-Hee-Haw

IMG_0890IMG_0996Yesterday, my host family took me to Yuan Village. We ate lunch, then they shuffled me from shop to shop, tasting a nibble of homemade food at each stop.To get a “taste” for how home made this food was, we passed a donkey grinding up pepper to make “la jiao”. So tasty! As we were walking back from the shops, I noticed a man poking about ten different skewers into someone’s ear. Upon inquisition, I learned that he was a professional earwax-getter-outer. What a job!I thought I had gotten the gist of China, but I keep getting surprised!

Written by:  Lynn

From Squish to Squash
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After a squishy bus ride, we got yummy juices at a nearby smoothie shop. Then, we
took a stroll around a nearby neighborhood filled with thousands of outdoor shops.
We saw a ginormous squash,  a chubby Chinese baby driving a mini red car, and a
truck back peculiarly filled with only toilet paper. To finish off our day, we headed to
Mattie’s home for dinner. There, we tried frog (it tastes like fish!) and cuddled with
two adorable puppies: Gou-tui and Coffee.
Written by:  Lynn

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