By Candace, Age 15, 9th Grade in Boston. Born in the U.S. to parents from America.
Q: Something amazing happened to you in China because of your blond hair. What was it?
A: In America I’m just a regular girl, but traveling in China with blond hair, it was like being a celebrity! I guess celebrities have that feeling every day of fans being so excited to see them, so maybe they get used it, but I thought it was so awesome to feel famous!
In China, random strangers would come up to me and ask me for a picture just because I have a different skin and hair color! It happened on the Great Wall of China, on the airplane, and once at the Temple of Heaven.
I liked the Great Wall “celebrity moment” the most because that’s where I got the most pictures taken with me. It was just a wonderful thing. I can’t explain it. It made me all happy inside!
Q: In China, you developed a passion for a unique recreational sport. Tell us more!
A: I loved learning “Chinese Hacky Sack”! You stand in a circle and kick and thing with feathers around to each other, and it makes a little “clink!” sound. We picked up the sport on the day that we toured Tiantan Park, because lots of local people of all ages were playing. It’s really fun! I wouldn’t be surprised if 100 years from now they make it an Olympic sport, because some of those people are really good at it. I bet it’s really healthy for them because they’re stretching their limbs… like doing yoga! Some of the local experts hit the “hacky sack” off their heads and from behind. Our tour guide, John, was really good; he did all these flip kick jumps!
In the days after we learned to play (we bought our own hackey sack for really cheap), we started playing every time we had a free moment on the tour. One day we started playing at the open square in the Artist Zone of Beijing, and we attracted this huge crowd. It was so much fun! There was a whole group from Korea that joined us! We got better as we practiced, especially Ying and me. We played for days and days in a row.
Q: What do you appreciate about the U.S. now that you’ve traveled to China?
A: I appreciate America so much more now, especially since China is overpopulated and the air is all smoggy and thick with pollution. I’m really happy we don’t have to wear those masks over our faces like so many people do in Beijing because of the dirty air.
I’m also happy that in America we don’t have rules about how many kids we can have. I was very surprised to learn about the One Child Policy in China, but I understand why they need to have it.
In America, we take it all for granted. People don’t realize there are places like China in the world. It’s really sad.
Me, I think I could live in China for one or two years at a time, but the U.S. will always be my home. I’d also like to experience other countries of the world, especially ones with large shorelines like Japan, since I want to be a Marine Biologist.
Q: What food surprises did you experience in Beijing?
A: They eat everything there! In the U.S. we just eat the meat of animals, but in China they eat hooves, stomach, tentacles… parts we wouldn’t dream about eating. They don’t waste food like we do.
And I did something crazy: at the Beijing Night Market, I ate a baby scorpion!!! I really liked eating the scorpion because it was unexpected. I thought it would taste disgusting and meaty, but it actually tasted like a French fry.
During our regular meals in China, we ate a lot of veggies (stir-fried veggies, dumplings with veggies, etc.) so it felt like we were eating healthy.
Q: What was a difficult part of the trip for you?
A: Adjusting to the food. We got a lot to eat on the tour, and the change from American food kind of upset my stomach. I also started getting sick in the middle of week from touring every day, because it’s hard on your body, but I pushed through, and the strain was totally worth it!
Q: What were your favorite parts of our China trip?
A: My favorite site was the Great Wall of China! It was breathtaking! Just thinking about it, it must have taken such a long time and effort to build, and it was amazing to think how many years and workers it must have cost. From the top part of the Wall, you could see it stretch on and on! It was amazing. I’m never going to forget that, ever.
I also liked the Lama Temple. I understand that the Buddhist religion is different from mine. I worship a Christian God instead of Buddha. It was interesting to see people in the temple bowing and praying. I felt kind disrespectful being a tourist and walking in when they had incense and were so focused, but I was also happy that I could see it because that last GIANT Buddha statue in the temple, that was just… WOW. I have never seen anything like that in our churches!
Q: What was it like to travel with a diverse group of Boston students?
A: It was fun to bond with them! I didn’t realize I had so much in common with students beyond my grade.
In a few years we will still be able to look back at this China journey fondly and laugh about it.
It was definitely a time we will never forget, ever.
Thanks, Candace, and thanks EF Tours! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!