The last few days of Beijing have been beyond amazing. These few days have also been very fast; I can’t believe we are leaving tonight!
One of my favorite memories which I did not write about in my last blog was our subway experience. A few days ago, our group decided to take the subway to Silk Street, which is the street with hundreds of tiny stores/booths that sell anything one can think of (where people can negotiate prices). To start with, the process of buying subway tickets for about forty people was an adventure. There were tickets that required paying with coins, others that accepted paper money, etc. People were scattered throughout the area, each person trying to figure out how to get a ticket and panicking.
Then, our group came downstairs. We were shocked as we saw the subway pull up, full to the absolute maximum with people. We looked at each other, not having any idea of how we were going to enter or fit. As we rushed toward the door, the woman who worked for the station pushed us in. I probably would have been left outside if she had not squished me inside. Throughout the ride, we were basically on top of each other and the task of getting out became harder as more and more people entered with every stop. I still don’t understand exactly how we were able to get out. The experience was extremely funny and interesting, presenting many differences from US transportation.
Another memorable experience, perhaps the most memorable, was meeting students from Tsinghua University, which is the Chinese equivalent of Harvard University. Together, we played a game in groups, analyzed and offered solutions for a business case, and then had a chance to bond with students as they took us on a tour of their beautiful campus. I talked to several inspiring students who told me their stories about getting accepted into the school and experiences at school. One girl, who I talked with the most, was named Megan. As we were walking to the restaraunt where we would have dinner together, she picked up a guitar-looking instrument from one of the buildings. As a response to my questioning looks, she told me that she plays a little as a hobby. In a few hours, at the talent show between USC students and Tsinghua University, she was one of the performers. The way she played the traditional Chinese instrument did not exemplify a hobby, but rather the performance of a professional musician. The music was as beautiful as it gets and at times, her fingers moved faster than I thought possible for human fingers. Her performance left the entire audience in awe and amazement.
Yesterday, I went to Silk Street again with a few people to finish up some souvenir shopping and then went to get a massage around the corner from our hotel. It was a good bit of relaxation for the last night of this trip.
Tonight I will be on the plane, heading back home. I will miss this place and the experiences we had here very much but I intend to return as soon as I can.