The Great Wall of China

Without an ounce of exaggeration, perhaps the single most surreal moment of my life up to this point was when I first laid my eyes on The Great Wall of China. It was early on a Sunday morning, the day before we would be leaving China for the United States. Despite it being somewhat of a struggle to roll out of bed, having been out late the night prior seeing what the city of Beijing had to offer, we all managed to find ourselves on the bus as rain fell in a downpour overhead. The rainfall was just beginning to end when our two-hour bus ride came to an end, and the sky was shrouded in a thick fog.

The Great Wall

            There is no other way to describe how I felt when our group first stepped onto the wall and gazed out at our surroundings other than completely awestruck. Beyond us this incredible feat of manual labor snaked and stood proudly across miles and miles of mountain and forest. Although the fog and mist left over from the rainstorm certainly did make it difficult to see too far ahead, it also created a sense of mysticism that added to the wonder of the sight. Much like the experience of standing at that intersection in Nanjing, it was all we could do but stand in silence and take it all in. After the initial shock of the beauty we were beholding began to slightly pass, we began hustling across the wall to cover as much ground possible in the limited time we had to do so.

The leg workout of a lifetime
Cats we found high in the mountains on the wall

            After several miles of sweat and the leg workout of a lifetime, we once again stopped to marvel at where we were standing. We had climbed what seemed like thousands of stairs and were at a high point on a mountain where we were able to see the wall stretching across the land. In many ways, this moment was the culmination of the whole journey we had embarked on and allowed us to fully reflect on the experience. What mankind had achieved in building this wall was unfathomable. Although a simple study abroad to China may seem like nothing in comparison, this adventure has opened my eyes to how big this world is and how much it has to offer if you are willing to give it a chance.

Group photo

My Second Week in Nanjing

China Unicom

            During the beginning of our second week in Nanjing, we all took a trip to visit the company China Unicom. China Unicom is an innovative state-owned telecommunications operator which serves both Mainland China and Hong Kong. Not only is the company innovative, but it is the fourth largest mobile server provider in the world. After arriving at the company, we were treated to a presentation on the company’s developments regarding 5G technology as well as a ride in one of their impressive 5G buses. Quite frankly, the whole presentation was somewhat stunning and felt as if we had stepped into a science fiction movie set in the future. The contrast between the more traditional areas of China and what I was seeing in this company was jarring, and I truthfully had no idea anyone was this close to achieving the technological advances that were seemingly being made here.

Presentation at China Unicom

            Beyond what we learned in the presentations that China Unicom provided, one of the more fascinating parts of the experience was a conversation we had with one of the company’s employees. As a few other American students and I stood in the lobby waiting to be brought back to the hotel, this employee approached us and opened an interesting conversation. He mentioned that he had spent some time studying in the US and discussed topics such as the differences between the two countries, his thoughts on key technologies to look out for in the near future, and starting a business while working for another company. Without going into too much detail on what he said, he mentioned the fact that he spent his days working at China Unicom and his nights hustling on his own medical technology company he had recently started. Talking with this young and enthusiastic employee was an incredibly eye opening and inspiring experience which allowed me to see many things from a new perspective. I believe that it is moments like these, a human to human conversation with someone from a different culture who brings a new perspective to the table, that make visits to other countries such valuable experiences.

Group photo at China Unicom

Leaving Nanjing

          The night before our final presentation was a late one in which almost all teams found ourselves scrambling to put our finishing touches on the projects and be well prepared for the morning to come. We had all come so far in the past two weeks that proceeded us, and my group had certainly developed a strong bond through the work we had accomplished in the classroom as well as the unforgettable memories created together in our free time. When the morning to present finally came, we all arrived in the classroom in a state of exhaustion, nervous anticipation, and satisfaction. Several of my group members expressed their fear in delivering the presentation- and I didn’t blame them. I couldn’t imagine how difficult presenting a business model to a classroom full of people and in a language I hadn’t grown up speaking would be. Nevertheless, when we had finally finished speaking, I found myself extremely proud of how my group performed and feeling bittersweet that the experience had concluded.            

After the closing ceremony had concluded and it was near time to depart for Nanjing, it was time to say goodbye to everyone in the program we had become so close to. Never in my life has an experience allowed me to form such meaningful friendships in such a short amount of time.  As cliché as it sounds, it truly felt as if we had all become family. Everyone exchanged their gratitude toward one another and made promises of staying in touch over WeChat. Finally, our group of American students boarded the bus and watched as our new friends waved goodbye from the sidewalk. It wasn’t until that bus ride to the speed train that I was really able to stop and digest the unforgettable journey I had just experienced.

Receiving my certificate
My group presentation

My First Week in Nanjing, China

Arriving in Nanjing

I will never forget the moment I stepped out of the hotel and for the first time I ventured onto the streets of Nanjing. It was midafternoon on a Friday, and we had just arrived in China a few hours prior. With the goal of finding a bank to exchange our currency in mind, myself and three other recently formed traveling companions met up in the hotel lobby and set out on our mission having no idea where we were going besides some vague instructions from the front desk worker in broken English. We walked down the sidewalk for some time, making the occasional joke or observation about street vendors selling squid on sticks or goldfish from a pool, before finally arriving at a large intersection. There, the four of us stood in awe and silence for what seemed like several minutes as we took in the sights and sounds of a culture that seemed completely alien to us. Fortunately, I do not need to regret the fact that I didn’t take a picture, for this image will forever remain engrained in my memory.

            The roads were congested with an array of cars and buses busily making their way to wherever it was they were heading. However, the overly crowded streets did not stop the vehicles from getting on with their day, but instead seemed to spark a sense of creativity in their path finding abilities. We watched as cars dodged and dashed around one another in a show of controlled chaos, with vehicles seeming to narrowly avoid collision every couple of seconds. Adding to the chaos was the never-ending troupe of citizens buzzing down the sides of roads on electric scooters, making the crossing of this intersection all the more of an impossible task. Factor in an environment of street signs and buildings completely foreign to us and you can probably understand our hesitation as we stood at that intersection. In that moment it was difficult to predict that we would so quickly find ourselves at home in this city and after leaving hold it with such fond memories.

Meeting My Group

          In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about how the makeup of our groups for the project was going to be. It was the morning before these groups were formed that that I found out each group would contain about three Chinese students, one Indian student, and one American student. As someone who ignorantly entered China with no knowledge of how to speak Mandarin beyond the word hello and some butchered form of the word thank you, I wasn’t sure how effectively I would be able to communicate and create a startup business plan with these students. It was early on a Sunday when we all got together in the Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications and I was introduced to my group of Chinese students. With the plan of being introduced to our Indian groupmates the following day, my current group consisted of myself and three girls, the somewhat quiet yet intelligently humorous Chris, the happy and determined Pan Lan, and the spunky and incredibly friendly Yao Yao.

            I was relieved to discover that overall my group spoke decent English, but more importantly they were extremely kind and eager to make me feel at home. We didn’t have much time to talk amongst ourselves before we were thrust into our first group activity of making a short film to present to the class in just under one hour. My group, in what many professors may call the “forming stage” of our development, quickly and clunkily put together a somewhat embarrassment of a film which simply showcased an unedited video of us playing ping pong. Despite creating this uninspiring video and receiving almost no votes for “best video,” it was certainly an experience which allowed us to begin to understand how one another tick, and we began to build the rapport which would contribute to making the overall experience so enriching. While success and victory can certainly bond a group of people, it is of my belief that failure sometimes does that even more so, and we allowed ourselves to laugh at and poke fun at the silliness of our first attempt of a project. Of course, while I was indeed happy with my group on a personal level, the day did still leave me with some reservations regarding the difficulty of creating this final project. I had never before done something like this, and the task certainly seemed to be a daunting one.

First day of class

The Confucius Temple

            It was now Thursday, almost one week into our study abroad program. In the past week we had attended several lectures on entrepreneurship, completed more group projects, begun to work on our final project, and been introduced to our Indian group member Sujay. Sujay is a bright and strong-willed robotics engineering student who speaks near perfect English and quickly became a valuable member of our group. The tasks over the past week had evoked a wide range of emotions out of us including but not limited to joy, amusement, realization, frustration, and panic. It seemed that almost every day we were introduced to a new project on top of our final one, which proved to be a real challenge. Nevertheless, it did allow us to learn how we all fit into the team and operate in a more efficient manner.

Yao Yao, Pan Lan, Chris, Sujay, Myself

            For today’s task, my group had decided to head to the second largest Confucius temple in China with the goal of selling a popular Chinese food (the name escapes me) to visitors outside the attraction. Each team had been given 100 yuan by a professor with the goal of generating more by essentially any legal means necessary and returning what we made to be given to the volunteers of the study abroad program as a gift. With the yuan we were loaned, my team managed to negotiate a discount for our product through a local shop and then sell it at a higher price to customers outside the temple. Our product sold out faster than we could have anticipated, and we managed to end up with over triple the amount of yuan we were given. Though the way I described it may seem simple, we had undergone a fair amount of trial and error with other ideas throughout the week, and this success was very pleasing for our team. We had finally started functioning in an effective way where we were both having a great time and being productive.

Where we sold our product
River by the Confucius Temple

Same Home but a Changed Me

After a little over a day of travel from China back to the United States and the struggle of trying to switch my sleep schedule by 12 hours I finally had some time to sit down and put my thoughts down on paper. After 17 fantastic days in China still, I was excited to come home and see my Fiancé and my dogs and cats. Though I knew that since I had left home to go to China that I was coming back a changed person. When I say changed, I don’t mean a completely different person but rather a changed perspective on life. I am someone who has never been away from home for longer than 2 weeks before this trip, and when away, I typically stay within 3 hours drive of where I live. So, my world perspective had been somewhat limited until I went to China.

As I mentioned, China was an eye-opening experience for me. The culture shock was something that I wasn’t fully ready for, despite me trying to be as mentally prepared as possible. As far as the typical “American girl” is I am on the end of the extroversion scale! Like so much so I would rank past Jennifer Lawrence. So, when I first met the Chinese and Indian students, they were all more kind, soft-spoken and sweet which was a big difference from my friends back home who I would describe as very loud, extremely outgoing and not afraid to tell you exactly what they are thinking. I knew that 100% Kyla might be a bit much to take at first (especially because even back home 100% Kyla can be way too much) and that it was best to be a bit more relaxed. The Chinese students were incredible and welcomed us with open arms! They were amazing and helped us out with anything that we needed. Sometimes I felt guilty because I couldn’t repay all their amazing kindness back. Back in America, I’ve never felt such hospitality, and it taught me a lot about how the Chinese culture treats their guests and its truly inspiring and it’s something that I hope I can bring back to the states with me.

Another thing that was so incredible was the passion the people have for their history. It is so different from back home, which we have a very limited history compared to them. When we got taken to the Great Wall of China and the Summer Palace our guide was terrific in detailing the history of those breathtaking places, and you could see the Chinese people paying their respects to these amazing pieces of history. It’s hard to express just how majestic it was to be there seeing with my very own eyes these structures that were over 2000 years old. The effort and the detail that went into their creation was inspiring. It shows the true power of the human specials, and how incredibly innovative and resourceful we can be. For instance, the Great Wall was created without any heavy machinery, something that is almost unfathomable, but yet it was done. It does remind you how humankind can honestly do anything that we put our minds to and to never limit your imagination because it can become a reality.

Blog Post 3

Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

            As we first approached Tiananmen Square in Beijing, I was taken back by the size of it. It seemed to stretch for nearly half a mile. In the center was a large pillar and there were many significant buildings lining the square. For example, chairman Mao’s gravesite was a huge building dedicated solely to him. He was the founder of the people’s republic of China and many people came to pay their respects to him. There was a line that stretched around the building of people who wanted to come and honor the founder of their country. There was a large building near the center of the square that is used for political legislature events. This building is featured on the 100 Yuan bill because of its significance.            

The square was crowded with thousands of people, yet there was still room to move because of how massive it is. At the entrance to the Forbidden City, there is a large gate tower. Chairman Mao’s picture is hung in the center for everyone to see. You must cross a small bridge to reach the gate and from this point you can see how large the gate is. Once inside there is a courtyard and a path lined with trees that leads you to the next gate to enter the Forbidden City. After you buy your tickets you can cross under the gate and into the palace. Inside there is a gigantic open space which is only the front entrance into the city. You then pass through multiple building, all of which have their own specific purpose and are massive in size. The palace seemed to be never ended as you crossed into multiple courtyards and climbed stairs that led to various buildings. You could truly spend an entire day within the city and still not see all of it. I now know why it is called the Forbidden City!

Forbidden City Entrance in Tiananmen Square
Inside the Forbidden City

Overall Thoughts

            This trip has taught me many things about myself and other people. I was able to leave in a country that felt like a completely different world for nearly three weeks and learned to adapt in it. Along the way I created many friendships with people that were on the other side of the globe. We exchanged ideas and our cultural differences which make each of us unique. Working together we created a business plan for a new product that we had developed. Everyone was able to share their input and we created something that we all were proud of. I got to see many historical and significant sights across China that not many people in the world get to see. Going to the Great Wall was on of the best events of the entire trip. The scale and size of the wall is nearly unexplainable. You always see pictures in books or movies, but once you are standing on top of the wall you don’t really know how insane it is. People built a giant wall that stretches for thousands of miles on top of a mountain without any modern technology. This puts into perspective how great human beings can be when they work together on one common goal. During our trip we visited some great technology companies and was able to see 5G technology. Many people do not even know what this is and how it will change our future. This was a great opportunity to get an inside look on the significance of 5G in the coming years. China and the United States will be in a close race to see who can create and launch the technology first.

            To anyone who is considering going on this trip, or any study abroad, I would highly recommend it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet so many great people and learn about different cultures in the process. You will create many memories and experience so much in just a short amount of time. Any doubts you have about traveling abroad should be put aside and you should experience the world for what it truly has to offer.

Plane Ride Back to Boston


After saying our goodbyes to the students in Nanjing it was time for us to head to Beijing for the final leg of our journey. We took the bullet train from Nanjing and let me just say it was probably on one of the most impressive modes of transportation I have ever taken. The distance from Nanjing to Beijing is 630 miles and a normal train would take 9 hours to get there. The bullet train got us there in three hours almost a third of the time it would take for a regular train to get there, which was absolutely incredible.

Waking up on the first morning, the weather was sunny and ninety five degrees. The itinerary included a trip to Tiananmen Square and the forbidden city. When we first arrived at Tiananmen Square I was in awe at the sheer size of it and its location within the city of Beijing. There are currently six rings that encompass the city and each ring connects all of the different parts of Beijing. Tiananmen Square is locate exactly in the center of these six rings, which puts it at the heart of the city. While walking through the square you see Chairman Maos Mausoleum and the lines of people that are about to go in to pay their respects to the man that changed the country of China. There is also a pillar in front of the Mausoleum, and the Great Hall of the People where legislation occurs. All political members across the country meet in that building. Across from Tiananmen Square is the entrance to the Forbidden City, which also plays an important role in the country’s history.

Great Hall of the People

The forbidden City was the living place for the countries emperors, and it is called the forbidden city because common people were not allowed to enter. If they did enter they were immediately killed. Walking around and seeing all the architecture, the colors, and the size of the city just goes to show you the history and the architecture the Chinese have. There are different sections of the palace, which include rooms where the emperor met with officials, rooms where parties and gatherings occurred, and the living quarters, and the garden which was located at the very end of the city. Looking back at it if I was the emperor I would be so sick of walking, because it’s so big.

Panorama Of the Forbidden City

After the Forbidden City we got lunch and headed to a counterfeit market. In China there are many of these places that sell counterfeit goods. Many of the products look identical to the real thing, however they are not. The whole point is to negotiate prices with them, for example a shirt that I bought had a starting price of 800 Yuan, roughly 114 dollars. The final price we agreed on was 200 Yuan, which is about 28 dollars. I purchased all of my gifts from this market and ended up paying a lot less than going to a souvenir store. This was a good experience because I like to negotiate and I had a lot of fun doing it. At night six of us decided to get lost in Beijing, so we took the subway to a street with a lot of shops and found a restaurant that had superb food.

The next day was a day that I had been waiting for since the trip started, going to the Great Wall of China. At first glance you don’t really see much, however once you start climbing it and getting higher up in the mountains you really get to see how immaculate and amazing the Great Wall really is. You see it in pictures and movies, but you never get to really appreciate the construction, beauty, and the mystery the Great Wall possesses. We only had two hours to get as far as we could, so Evan Danny, Mike, Liam, and I just booked it. The climb consisted of steep drops, steep inclines, and a lot of steps. We ended up going three miles and when we finally sat down to rest it finally hit us that we were on The Great Wall of China, one of the wonders of the world. The trek back however was not as easy. Since we went downhill for about a mile we had to go back uphill, which was probably one of the most grueling things I have ever done. The climb was almost vertical, and after we got off the wall my legs were shaking due to the intensity of the trek, but it was all worth.

Steps on The Great Wall
Danny, Me, Liam, Mike, Evan on The Great Wall

After looking back at this whole trip and realizing the situation that I put myself in, traveling to a new country, surrounding myself with people who I was unfamiliar with  I can honestly say it was all worth it. This trip was probably one of the best experiences of my life and I am forever grateful that I took this opportunity to study abroad in China.

Beijing, China(北京, 中国)

Leaving Nanjing for Beijing:

Two weeks and an unforgettable experience, the day had arrived to leave Nanjing. After final presentations and cake, it was time to leave the place and the friends I have grown attached to.  Out of all of the places I had traveled to, Nanjing was the most difficult to say goodbye to given all of the really close friends I had made during my short stay. Around 4 PM, we were taken to Nanjing South Rail Station where we boarded a high-speed train bound for Beijing South Rail Station.

The high-speed rail from Nanjing to Beijing far exceeded my expectations. Called 高铁 (gao tie) locally, the speed of the train traveled at a sustained speed of  350 kilometers an hour. Despite such speed at which we were moving at, the train ride was quite comfortable. It was surprisingly quiet inside of the cabin and interior was modern, clean, and spacious. After three and a half hours, we arrived at Beijing South Train Station just after 10:30 PM where we were greeted by our tour guide for the next few days.


We had a very early start to our first full day in Beijing as we met our tour guide at 8 AM headed for the famous Tiananmen Square. Once inside, we walked through its entire length, passing by The National Museum of China (the largest museum in China), The Great Hall of the People (building where the government convenes), The Monument to the People’s heroes, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (building which holds the body of the former chairman Mao).

Adjacent to Tiananmen Square was the main entrance to the world-famous Forbidden City. The Forbidden city had seven different sections each with their own gate signifying their entrance. As we walked through each section, I was amazed at how similar each section looked to one another. By the time we reached the middle of the city, it was impossible to tell if the next gate was the end of the city or if it just marked the beginning of a new section.

The next morning, Sunday, we headed off to The Great Wall of China. The section of the wall visited was the 八达岭 (Ba Da Ling) section of the wall located about an hour and a half away from Beijing city. It was super foggy when we arrived, and it never cleared completely. Everything was damp, making the walk up and down the very steep inclines and staircases difficult. Despite all of this, I still had a fantastic time walking one of the Great Wonders of the World. The fog kept the air temperatures down around 20 degrees C, allowing me to explore more of the wall than if it were 40 degrees C and sunny. It was astonishing to personally experience how people, 600 years ago, during the Ming Dynasty were defending China against their invaders.

In the afternoon after a lunch break, we visited Summer Palace where the Emperors of China used to spend their time during the summer months. The palace was immense – around 4 times larger than the Forbidden City and very beautiful with 昆明湖 (Kun Ming Lake) located directly in the center of the area. We were only able to see a small fraction of the palace before it closed for the evening and we headed for dinner.

Of course, our Beijing experience would not be complete without trying the local food so we were brought to QJD (全聚德) restaurant where we had Peking Duck. Having eaten Peking duck elsewhere in the world, it was a special experience having it in the city the food was named after.  This was a great to end an unforgettable trip to China!

Entrance to the Forbidden City from the Direction of Tiananmen Square
The Ba Da Ling Section of the Great Wall

Part of the Summer Palace with Kunming Lake in Front

Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China (南京, 江苏省, 中国) Part 2

Mausoleum and Museum

The packed schedule continued on Sunday when we met early in the morning for a bus trip to the mausoleum of Sun Yat Sen, the first leader of the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist party). Once there, our tour guide led us to the bottom of a very long staircase at the base of a hill that contained the actual mausoleum.  We climbed all 392 steps of the staircase to the top where there was a fantastic view. On the way down after visiting the mausoleum, we stopped by some damaged metal cauldrons by the side of the walkway. The tour guide explained that the cauldrons were damaged by bombs dropped by the Japanese during World War II. The cauldrons were kept unrepaired as symbol of remembrance for all of the lives lost during the Japanese attack and subsequent massacre in Nanjing.

After lunch, we gathered again, this time headed for the Nanjing Museum. Once we got inside of the main exhibit hall, it became very apparent that the museum was very large with many different exhibits. I personally explored a few exhibits about ancient Chinese pottery and metallurgy, seeing many ancient artifacts along the way. There was also a section of the museum that was set up to replicate the streets of Shanghai during the early 1900’s. I did not have a chance to see all of the museum since it closes at 5pm.

China Unicom and Suning

Early Monday morning, everyone got together to visit the headquarters of China Unicom located in a newer district of Nanjing.  After being greeted by a company representative, we were all given a guided tour of a section of their building, learning about the company and the extent of their technological capabilities. After the tour, we were given an opportunity to board a special bus to experience the next generation of technology in the world. We were driven around the local area to experience the 5G (fifth generation) technology in action, on the bus, with unbelievable internet speeds and download speeds of around 2 GB per second.

In the afternoon, we split up into two separate groups that visited two companies located in the city.  I was part of a group of 17 students that visited the headquarters of Suning (苏宁), an enormous fortune 500 company with assets in many different markets. While there, we were able to interact with some of the company’s latest and greatest technological inventions including a smart mirror and automated vending machine that utilized WeChat to both unlock and automatically charge the customer based on what they bought. We also were able to walk through one of their company owned shopping centers. Inside, we found many different shops including a supermarket where we bought some snacks and drinks.

That night, three of the Chinese students took all of the US students to a fancy shopping mall where there was a restaurant that specialized in 杭州 (Hangzhou) regional cuisine.

We had the most famous dish in 杭州 cuisine 东坡肉 (dong po rou) – a type of slow braised pork belly that was literally melt in your mouth tender. We also ordered duck sushi, local green tea, and a bunch of other fantastic tasting dishes. The best part of it all was that the entire meal was only 65 RMB (~ 9.40 USD) per person. So little for such a memorable meal!

Steps Leading up to the Mausoleum of San Yet Sen

The Main Entrance to Nanjing Museum
The 5G Bus

A welcome to Suning

The super delicious 东坡肉 (dong po rou)

Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China (南京, 江苏省, 中国) Part 1


We landed early in the afternoon on a Friday after a two-hour flight from Hong Kong.

After passing through immigration and picking up our luggage, we were greeted by the head Chinese volunteer of the program.  She guided us to the small bus that would take us to our hotel close to campus. An hour or so later we arrived at the hotel, got checked in, and were able to rest for a while. Dinner that night was at the restaurant located on the second floor of the hotel. Our first proper sit-down meal in China included bamboo shoots and wood ear fungus along with some pork belly and a type of Tibetan cabbage. After dinner, we all went to bed early as we had a long day ahead of us.

Salt Lake City

On the first full day in Nanjing, we met up with three Chinese students and a tour guide who were all nice enough to dedicate a day of their weekend to accompany us on our first adventure in China. We all boarded a small bus and an hour and half later, we arrived at a location named Salt Lake City. The name of the place confused me as when we arrived I saw no evidence of a salt lake or a city.  As the tour guide later explained, the location was not actually a true “Salt Lake” but rather just a lake with a replica ancient Chinese settlement build around it.

The area which this lake was located just happened to also contain many salt reserves underground. Thus, the name Salt Lake City was given to the place. While there, we got a first-hand experience of what life was like in China during ancient times. We were also able to buy souvenirs from the shops located in the ”city”.

Xuan Wu Lake (玄武湖)

On Sunday, we met the other Chinese students who we would be working with for the next two weeks. After morning icebreaker activities, we all walked to one of the most famous lakes in Nanjing, Xuan Wu Lake. The views as we walked along the lakeshore were spectacular. I was able to get some very beautiful pictures of the Nanjing skyline and enjoy the sunset before we headed off for dinner.

Gujiming (古鸡鸣) Temple

After our first week of classes, we gathered on Saturday morning to explore more of Nanjing. At 8:30, we headed out towards Gujiming Temple. We took the local public bus most of the way to the temple and walked the rest of the distance. During the walk our group met a man from Ohio walking on the street. After talking with him for a few minutes, I discovered he was a fellow Plastics Engineer in Nanjing for business. Meeting him was the last thing I expected.

When we arrived at the temple complex, we all received 3 complimentary incense sticks and told to keep them with us until we reached the top of the hill where the temple was.

After climbing many stairs, we reached the top where there was a room for everyone to light their incense. The room was extremely hot and crowded with all of the fire and number of people inside. After lighting my incense, I made my way with everyone else to the front of the temple where I made 3 wishes before placing the incense sticks in a cauldron.  The rest of the time at the temple complex was spent observing the beautifully crafted architecture of the place.

The Lake at Salt Lake City
View of Nanjing Skyline from Xuan Wu Lake
The Main Building at Gujiming Temple

Nanjing Week 2

Buddhist Temple

            The day came when we were scheduled to go to one of the Buddhist temples in Nanjing. This temple was around 1,000 years old, and was the most famous one in the city. Out of all the sights we were going to see, this is one that I was most looking forward to. The best way to get there was by bus, so we all boarded the bus and headed to the temple. The bus dropped us off after about a twenty minute drive, and we walked the rest of the way. The walk was nice, even in the 95 degree heat, because it allowed you to see the downtown city area. We ran into a man from Chicago who was in Nanjing for business. He told us he was alone and just planned on wondering the city, so we invited him to come with us to the temple. There were hundreds of people there when we got there, but we managed to climb our way up the stairs and to the main courtyard of the temple. You are given incense and you light them in a room full of candles, after that you walk them across the courtyard to a large fire pit. Here, people gather around and pray, then stick their incense into the fire pit. It was a very interesting ritual that I enjoyed taking a part in. I could imagine the millions of people who have visited this temple over the past 1,000 years and preformed this very exact ritual in the same spot. There was a large structure that towered over the temple. It has lasted hundreds of years and the fact that people were able to build it with such basic tools was impressive. The best view took a little exploring to find. After seeing some people standing on the outer wall of the temple, I knew I had to find a way to get up there. I went down some side stairs and around one of the buildings and found a staircase that led up to the top of the wall. The view from this location was breathtaking. You could see the entire city and the large skyscrapers in the distance, a bridge that crossed a lake, and behind you the temple. The tower stood over the temple and it could be seen from outside of the walls. At one point, this was the largest structure and was the center of an ancient city for hundreds of years. The huge skyscrapers now towered over the temple, and it looked like a child’s toy in comparison.

Tea House

            During the second week of the trip, we visited some companies in China. China Unicom was the first company we visited. This company was the leading developer of 5G technology. This theology is able to download data 10x faster than 4G. This company had many great ideas for the future of 5G and they were planning on implementing it the city within the next couple years. China Unicom was interesting, but I was more excited to go to the incubators in the afternoon. These incubators were small startup companies that all shared a common building. Some of these companies were funded by Amazon and were working on many various products to help improve daily life. We took a tour of one of the offices where everyone was busy working in a company that focuses on shipping packages much like UPS. The man leading us through the tour was wearing traditional Chinese dress, a shaved head, and looked similar to a monk. He lead us out of the building and to his tea house that he was an investor in. There was just on single long table in the shop that we all gathered around. He sat in the center of the table and invited us all to join him. Behind him was a wall full of tea pots that extended all the way to the ceiling. He began to brew tea the traditional Chinese way and taught us along the way. Through a translator, he explained each precise movement and why it should be done this way. He was very calm and I could tell that he had a true passion for tea. He explained that he had spent a lot of time in the mountains visiting temples and learning the correct way to brew tea. I was sitting across from him and he asked me to brew a second pot of tea. I had just watched him do it, so I tried to mimic his actions. The process was to be done in a very reserved and delicate manner. We then discussed different business ideas and the future expansions of his tea house company. I could tell he was a very wise and knowledgeable man by the way he talked and carried himself. The experience was one of my favorite so far on the trip.