August 29, 2007 Edition

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China, part II

James Girolamo
Guest Writer

(Editor's note: James P. Girolamo, age 15, spent part of June and most of July on an educational trip to China. He will be a junior this fall at St. Ann's School in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is the son of Paul and Beth Girolamo of Brooklyn and the grandson of Virginia Bland of Walnut Ridge and the late Jim Bland Jr. and Paul and Cris Girolamo of Wyomissing, Pa. He previously wrote a column for The TD while on his trip, and the following is part two.)

This summer I stayed in China for five weeks with a group of kids from my high school. The first half of my trip was spent sight-seeing across the country and learning about Chinese culture.

After two plane rides totaling 15 hours, we arrived in Shanghai. After a few days there, we flew to the city of Kunming, where I stayed at the home of a Chinese family for two nights. We then visited Da Li and Li Jiang in the countryside, finally stopping in China's former capital, Xi'an, for three nights.

We spent the second half of our trip staying in dorms at Capital Normal University in Beijing. We took classes in the morning and explored the city in the afternoon.

The dorms were relatively comfortable our rooms had computers and mini-fridges. The campus was also very nice besides the dorms and the classrooms , which were connected by a walking path, there was a library, a laboratory, a soccer field and two basketball courts.

At 8 every morning we would wake up and go to class. Each class period lasted for one hour, and classes were over by noon. Because I was only a first-year Chinese student, I was put in a class with Korean students.

After class was lunchtime. Our teacher supplied us with money, but otherwise, we were on our own. Luckily there was a street nearby the college where we could get very good, very inexpensive food. I ended up eating lunch there almost every day.

After lunch, my friends and I spent the afternoon exploring Beijing. We would find a tourist destination that we wanted to visit and figure out how to get there. The public transportation was very extensive yet relatively simple, and the bus and train routes were integrated extremely well. We ended up visiting a military museum, the Underground City, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, among others. We also visited the Great Wall with our teacher.

When we returned from our daily trips, it was usually dinnertime. When we didn't have dinner with our teacher, my friends and I usually ate at the Japanese restaurant in the college lobby (at this point we were tired of Chinese food), or the Pizza Hut down the street.

Overall, I think the time I spent staying at the college really gave me a better idea of what it's like to live in China.

If you have any specific questions about my trip or you would like to learn more about something I mentioned, send your questions to: The TD, P.O. Box 389, Walnut Ridge, AR 72476 or, and I will be happy to answer them in a later edition of The TD.

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