Going to China was the most amazing thing I’ve done in my entire life. It exceeded my expectations of how truly beautiful both the country and the people could be. I had so much fun, and I learned even more. We toured textile and apparel factories, precious stone refineries, and visited several markets. We also had the amazing opportunity to see many cultural and historical sites including the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta warriors of Xi'an, and Tiananmen Square. I got to wander the rapidly modernizing streets of Beijing and see how people actually live which was one of the things I really wanted to see.
The Terra Cotta Warrior exhibit was one big open excavation site that had been roofed. Inside the building that enclosed the site was a railing that went along the site's perimeter. People were packed along nearly every free available spot along the railing. You could hear so many different tongues being spoken: German, English, Mandarin, Japanese, French, Italian—the list goes on. People literally come from all over the world to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.
Climbing the Great Wall of China is probably one of best experiences of my life so far. The climb itself is intense because the wall is so steep. The steps are irregular with
one sometimes being more than a foot high, and the following step only being a few inches. It took a couple of hours but I reached the top. I took lots of amazing photos and was completely taken aback by the view of the Chinese landscape. The climb down was harder than the climb up because of the decline!
The cultural monuments and social immersion was great. Aside from that, it was also an incredible learning experience. I have a real concept of just how many of the goods we enjoy in America originate from there. I postulate now that the concept of the “American Dream” is manufactured, packaged, and shipped out of China. I believe that we have systematically outsourced a good deal of pollution and the brunt of the burden of living in a highly consumerist society. The trip has changed my concept of wants versus needs, and challenged my notions of arbitrary versus necessary. Furthermore, it has asserted my belief that we all should strive to be more socially responsible and aware of the exploitation that lesser-developed nations sustain for our consumption’s sake. The experience is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and certainly implement into my educational aspirations and professional endeavors.