To the city center

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Today we went on an excursion to many places all around the city of Beijing. In the morning, we explored the Lama and Confucius Temples located in the inner ring of Beijing. There, we had the chance to learn about the history of Buddhism and Daoism, two of the religions that are most commonly practiced in China. Learning about their importance really changed our perspectives of how religion shapes the atmosphere of different countries. We got to view and take part in the traditional practice of burning incense. Buddhism and Daoism are based around the idea of giving and receiving, and also the idea of eternal life and the eventual achieving of nirvana. After visiting temples in the morning, we headed to lunch where we ate shared plated with the traditional lazy susan-style table. Our group then had the opportunity to tour a popular Hutong, also located in the inner most ring of Beijing. There, we learned about the style of living that everyday people carry out and what the ideal household looks like.

After many tours and temples, it came time for everyone’s favorite part… shopping! We visited Qianmen Street and Liulichang Culture Street, where we were given free time to explore and learn about the atmosphere and the old gates of Beijing. At Qianmen Street, we witnessed both the old and the new come together and divide the street in two. Modern shops were often selling the same goods and foods, while old shops were more traditional and often had more unique handmade objects available for purchase. The culture street was by far the most immersive part of the day. We traveled along the street that sold all handmade paintings and jewelry, where we had our first opportunity to bargain. This was our group’s favorite part of the day because we felt so engaged with the local people of Beijing.

Afterward, we ate dinner at a restaurant that specializes in dumplings. It was delicious! We got a special surprise after dinner, where we got the chance to explore another Hutong with many shops and foods. My favorite part, along with many others in my group, was eating churros with ice cream and Nutella that my host student had showed me previously. After being stuffed full with food, we all rode the subway home and called it a night. It was a super fun day touring around Beijing.

-Melina B

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