Six intrepid students have just returned from an exchange trip to China. They were accompanied by teachers Paula Tippett and Jessica Richards. Here the students, Summer Barnes, Jodie Richards, Nessa Cawte, Taylor Treloar, Scott Willis, and Jordan Parker-Price, tell the story of their trip to Beijing
BACK in May this year we hosted six Chinese students and their teacher here at CSIA, and after a wonderful visit we were really excited that we all had the opportunity to go to China and see our new friends again.
We enjoyed taking part in many new experiences, such as their very different homes, school life, traditions, as well as the varied foods of their culture, and of course visiting famous landmarks in and around Beijing, their capital city.
We all felt very welcomed into the school, huge university campus and the country itself.
Even though our Chinese was limited, we found everyone very approachable, helpful and keen to meet us.
Throughout our stay, we were lucky enough to enjoy a week of Chinese school life in the University of Beihang, which our host students attended, even if it did mean getting up at 6am every morning and finishing at 5.30pm.
Through this experience, although the school itself was a good place for education and the pupils seemed to enjoy lessons, it was an eye-opening experience compared to the very high standard of school life which we are lucky enough to have in Camborne.
The school made us feel very welcome into their everyday life, involving us in their lessons to the point where we were given their school uniform, making us feel part of their school. We all enjoyed the school life of Beihang University very much.
During our trip we got the chance to visit many awe-inspiring attractions including one of the wonders of the world.
Climbing to the top of the Great Wall of China was an experience that will stay with us throughout our lives.
The challenge of not taking the cable car, but instead walking up the mountain steps, gave us a great sense of accomplishment, although we suffered from sore legs for the next few days.
We also visited the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, which was packed with people due to its popularity in its own country. The experience was very enriching and interesting because we were able to learn more about their culture and heritage.
The next destination on our journey was the Summer Palace which was very beautiful and mesmerising due to its incredible architecture.
The food in China was very different to the Chinese food we have come to expect in the UK.
The range of meals they provided gave us a wider insight into the Chinese culture. The most famous dish was Beijing duck, which was commonly prepared and cooked in front of you.
Another thing which was very different was that desserts were eaten with the main meals and any water served at restaurants was hot and not cold.
Although we were worried about the food, and tried many strange dishes, we were always extremely full as everyone kept offering us new and interesting freshly prepared snacks between meals. Most of the food we had was very healthy, even if we didn't know its name.
During our stay, we took part in a Wushu class taught by one of their PE staff who showed us fighting patterns and the art of Wushu –traditional kung-fu.
Some students took part in a Chinese character writing class in which they used traditional ink and brushes to write their names and different words and others made traditional Beijing Opera masks.
We were lucky enough to have the chance to be welcomed into the homes of Chinese families for nine days where we could fully embrace ourselves in the way that they live their lives.
We were able to experience the life of a Chinese citizen.
The families really welcomed us and made us feel as comfortable as they possibly could and many of the families did without things for themselves so that we could stay with them.
We met their extended families, ate the food that they enjoy, becoming fairly good at using chopsticks all the time and learned how to use the public transport and taxis, everyday occurrences for them but a whole new world for us.
The home stay was the best part or our trip, because the families could take us to many local places which tourists would not get the chance to see, and we always had someone with us to explain what we were seeing.
We felt privileged to be able to home stay because it allowed us and their students to become closer and build a better relationship with the students. This makes great opportunities for visits and links back to China in later life.
Every one of us feels extremely privileged to have been invited to visit the University of Beihang and have the opportunity to experience Beijing culture, food and heritage.
We are eternally grateful and cannot thank them enough.