Jeffrey Bilik, NU in China, Summer 2014
Over the one week break between the two class sessions in our class, a few of us decided to visit Nanjing, Suzhou, and Qingdao. We stayed at hostels – from a 1930’s Republican style building in Nanjing with a roaming puppy and rabbit, to one built out old German church in Qingdao. We climbed the Purple Mountain, I swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life, saw culture from the silk and gardens of Suzhou to the (sad, but informative and well formatted) Nanjing Massacre Museum, to the colonial neighborhoods of Qingdao.
One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned, however, was in Qingdao. While walking through one of the old town’s sprawling outdoor restaurants and seafood markets, we found something good to eat for dinner. A lobster – and they said it only cost 160 kuai (split among the four of us, sounded like a great deal)! A great and messy meal later (try eating lobster with chopsticks), we find out its 160 PER POUND, and the bill turns out to be astronomically higher! Luckily, we were able to pay, but it definitely taught us a lesson to always stay aware and cautious even while enjoying China to the utmost.
Another Qingdao hostel is built out of an observatory on a hill overlooking the shiny-new skyscraper filled coast. We met a local who had backpacked through Tibet and Guangxi and who told us about his past and personal philosophy. Though my Chinese is still very limited (getting better every day now!), and we could only hold a conversation because of his excellent English skills, one of the best parts of being in this country is the opportunity to meet and speak to people here.