Immediately upon arriving at Hangzhou, I felt at home. Nancy and the Chinese student ambassadors were warm and welcoming. They prepared a fun and exciting opening ceremony for us, including touching introductions from the ambassadors. Several introductory seminars were prepared for us to provide information on China’s history, so we could have a bit of cultural context to help us understand this country and its people better. These included famous Chinese thinkers such as Confucius, Laozi, and Sunzi. Our Chinese teacher told us that because China is a very old and culturally rich country, the philosophies of these thinkers who lived so long ago still runs through the blood of the Chinese people.
Language seminars are my personal favorite, since they are both fun and immediately useful. I must say though, that Chinese is by far the hardest foreign language I have ever tried to learn! Between 4 different tones to distinguish and the lack of cognates, it is very difficult to find my footing in this language. For excursions, the ones that stick out the most are the Xixi Wetlands museum and West Lake. Both are signature attractions of Hangzhou, and West Lake in particular was a must-see for its lovely landscape that could have come straight out of a painting. I am excited for upcoming lectures on the environmental plans and developments of China, and expect to learn a lot from them. I am loving my stay in Hangzhou, and only expect to have more glowing praise for this program as it continues!