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China Travel With 42 Boston Students Was Wonderful!

We had such a wonderful time in China, teachers and students alike!
We loved our China Trip! This photo is at Tiananmen Square.

HOORAY! We are all safely back from a phenomenal student tour in China!

I burst into tears of emotion when my fiance picked me up at the airport last night, so happy was I about what we accomplished over the past 8 days.

Here are the facts:

On the morning of Thursday 2/16/12, after a YEAR of planning, fundraising, and meetings, 42 Boston Students and 6 Boston teachers boarded a plane from Boston to Beijing, China.

Day 1: 30 hours after we left Boston (including all plane changes and layover time), we arrived in Beijing late on Friday night, 2/17/12. Because we’d gone “forward in time” due to the flight direction, we essentially skipped Friday! Our wonderful guide, John, picked us up and took us to a luxurious hotel in Beijing where we would stay for the next 6 nights. We really got our money’s worth on this trip!

We climbed the great, great Great Wall of China!
We climbed the great, great Great Wall of China!

Day 2: After a giant buffet breakfast at the hotel (which we had every morning, bless China and EF Tours), we toured: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace. Stunning. We then scarfed down a delicious Peking Duck dinner.

Day 3: We hopped on the bus to the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China! (This was different than the section of the Great Wall I hiked this past summer, and it was neat to compare.) We spent the next two hours climbing its steep stairs and curves and gleefully snapping photos. Students made friends with hikers from other countries, and one student even discovered that it’s possible to slide down the hand railings of the Great Wall! We then headed to a tea ceremony, a traditional family style shared dinner, and a Kung Fu show. What a day!

The Temple of Heaven: LOVE this architecture!!!
The Temple of Heaven: LOVE this architecture!!!

Day 4: It was a beautiful morning, warm for winter, and we walked to the Temple of Heaven: one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my whole life. Then we played sports (Chinese hackey sack!) and did outdoor aerobics/disco with the local people in the park!

You should have seen our students dancing with elderly Beijing women to Britney Spears. We then did Taichi with a Taichi master (with a highly cool white silk outfit). Next, we toured the Beijing Zoo and saw pandas, llamas, tigers, and more! Finally, we took a rickshaw tour of a Hutong (a very traditional, old-fashioned type of neighborhood in Beijing) and had dinner with a local family. This was the highlight of the week for most students, who were moved and charmed by the hospitality of the Hutong family.

Day 5: We toured incense-filled, brightly-colored Lama Temple, watching the local people and monks pray, and gaping at the GIANT Buddha statue. We then frolicked through the 798 Arts Zone, which is a massive former factory area that has been converted into a warren of artist studios, sculpture parks, and art galleries. It was such a different side of Beijing, and so fun! Then we bargained at the hectic and exhilarating 6-floor Silk Market, and enjoyed a Cantonese dinner. Yum!

One small part of Lama Temple. It has a remarkable Buddha statue!
One small part of Lama Temple. It has a remarkable Buddha statue!

Day 6: On a misty, mysteriously gray day, we spent several hours in the Olympic Center, including the Bird’s Nest Stadium and the Water Cube. Then we went to the Cotton Market for 6 stories of more hilarious bargaining. I may or may not have bought some knock-off Nike Frees. I bargained hard, but our students were better at bargaining by that point, and I should have gotten their help! We then hit the crazy Night Market which sold (to EAT) scorpions, spiders, starfish, and more. Our final dinner was dumplings.

Day 7: We arose at 4am, and our fantastic guide had packed us each a breakfast to take with us on the plane! We flew from Beijing to Tokyo, Japan, ran to our second plane, flew to Detroit for 12 hours, had a 3 hour layover (as our plane was delayed), then flew home to Boston. Since we flew “backwards in time,” it was still Thursday, 2/23/12 when we arrived, though we’d been traveling for 30 hours!

The Bird's Nest Stadium in the Beijing Olympic Village. Wow!
The Bird’s Nest Stadium in the Beijing Olympic Village. Wow!

So those are the facts of the stunning things we did, but what of the rich, fascinating, and often hilarious stories behind each of these places?

For those, I shall let the students tell you in their own words. The next several articles of this Student Travel Stories series from Beijing, China travel will be in the words of students from interviews I conducted during our 30-hour travels home. Read them, comment, and enjoy!

And now, HUGE thanks to the students, teachers, parents, donors, and the EF Tours company for making our China travel adventure such a success! Stay tuned, all, for awesome upcoming articles and photos in the students’ words!


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How to Use Study Abroad and Student Programs to Travel When Money is Tight - Teaching Traveling!

Wednesday 9th of August 2017

[…] Love it! (For readers, I was on that trip to China mentioned above, and it was formative for all of us.) Now, Steph, tell us more about your favorite […]

Emily Lam

Wednesday 7th of January 2015

All of the buildings looked amazing! I remember going to some of these places when I went to China. I hope that I can go again so I see more places and eat more food.

Megan A

Wednesday 11th of September 2013

I will be traveling to China in 192 days :) with my school district also through EF tours. I have been looking for helpful tips for traveling to China and your articles are the best! My main questions are: are the squat toilets really that bad and what to do on the LONG flight?


Wednesday 11th of September 2013

So glad to help!!! Easy answers: Squat toilets are different but fine, BUT on these tours you basically never need to use them if you don't want to. (Most places we went had sit toilets.) For the plane flight, here's my article on that: . Best of luck and do be in touch! It was such a great trip for us.


Tuesday 28th of August 2012

I cannot believe that I did not read this article already. The trip was super fun! We ate tons of great cuisine, and for the next week or so I slept in the daytime and stayed up at night until my body realized that I had crossed back over the Atlantic. I would recommend visiting Beijing to anyone and everyone.


Tuesday 28th of August 2012

Oh my gosh-- A comment from celebrity student traveler and article-writer, Stephane! Readers, check out her article here:

10 Things Children Learn Through Travel

Monday 13th of August 2012

[...] or ration their spending over a period of time. Your family might be in a location where bargaining is the norm, where you can encourage children to participate. Comparing costs from home to your vacation [...]

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