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Elaina: What I Appreciate in Boston after Travel to Beijing

Article #5 in the Student Travel Stories Series from our tour of Beijing, China.
By Elaina, Age 14, 9th Grade in Boston. Born in the U.S. to parents from America.

Elaina at the stunning Summer Palace in Beijing.

Elaina at the stunning Summer Palace in Beijing.

Q: How have you changed since you traveled to China?

A: In China, all the websites I use like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Docs, and more are blocked by the government, and you can’t use them.

While I was on the trip, I was always complaining and saying I couldn’t wait to go home and get on my phone to go on FaceBook and Twitter, but I finally realized that life isn’t all about that.

Now that I’ve been to China, it’s kind of made me realize all of the stuff I have that I take for granted. So many people we saw in Beijing (such as the vendors) have to work super hard just to make a few dollars to get something to eat, while I’m just handed whatever I want.

Elaina and Julio at the gigantic Forbidden City.

Elaina and Julio at the gigantic Forbidden City.

Q: What’s a funny story from the trip?

A: The vendors wanted us to buy their wares so much, they did really drastic things. My favorite was the day when we were walking around and bargaining with vendors, and one of them tickled a student’s chin!

It’s funny, but they are very persistent and really want you to buy their stuff, even if you don’t need it. They have to make a living, though, and this is their job!

Q: What was something that surprised you about China?

A: One of the things that shocked me was when we learned that if your license plate ends in a certain number, you can’t drive on specific days of the week in Beijing. This is how the government tries to control how many cars are on the road, because there are so many people in the city (over 14 million!) and so much pollution. We learned that this policy is necessary because there are 1,000 NEW cars that hit the street EACH DAY in Beijing, piling onto the road. Without that system there would be traffic for days! Despite the policy, we still saw a whole lot of traffic.

Elaina at the futuristic "Water Cube" 2008 Olympics pool.

Elaina at the “Water Cube” Olympic pool.

It was also shocking to see how many people in Beijing wear face masks. They do that because the air is so dirty and polluted. I really appreciate the Boston air now!

Q: What were your favorite parts of the trip, and why?

A: Although it was hard to climb at some points and got tiring after a while, I really liked climbing the Great Wall. It’s a wonder of the world, and not many people get an opportunity like that in their lifetime to hike it, so it was very interesting. Everybody has heard about the Great Wall, but can you actually say you’ve been on it? I’m proud to say that I have! It was a great experience, and the view is so beautiful.

I can’t believe that the Great Wall is over 3,000 miles long. That is CRAZY!

I also liked the Hutong place (very old neighborhoods of Beijing). All the people were so happy, generous, and giving, even though they don’t have much. We learned that they can leave their doors open and unlocked because they know and trust all their neighbors, but in the city, it’s the opposite, and we don’t even really know our own neighbors.

Q: How was it traveling with a group of BPS students, some of whom you’d never met?

Elaina and friends at the Birds Nest Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.

Elaina and friends at the Birds Nest Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.

A: I loved traveling with all the BPS kids because they’re so friendly and funny! Even though I’d never met a lot of them, over the week in China, we became friends, and it was just amazing to travel with all of them. They’re so outgoing and awesome!

In the future, I hope to travel to more places and see their cultures, and explore the similarities and differences. It’s really cool to travel and see all the sites and the beautiful scenery!

Thanks, Elaina, and thanks, EF Tours! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?

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