The summer break is in full swing, and that means, our campus is deserted yet again! But take heart, it’s never as empty in the summer break than it is in the winter. The reason: There’s summer camps all over the place. Some for orphans, some for athletes, some for kids who want to learn English, and some for students who just get bored staying at home over the summer. That, by the way, is another reason why the campus doesn’t get as deserted in the summer as it does in the winter: Because quite a number of students stay around for the summer, renting apartments in the vicinity and use the quietude to study (at home, they’d be spending most of their days watching TV, which can get quite boring if you do that for a whole month). Anyways, for me the summer is usually a good time to brush up on my tennis skills, as every late afternoon by 5 pm the tennis court gets frequented by more or less capable players … …
Great myths surround the death and burial of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China. Legend has it that the emperor -afraid of death, and wanting to preserve is life forever – went through great measures to ensure his afterlife was well established and protected. The famed Terracotta Army – next to the Great Wall, maybe the most remarkable historical attraction in China – is also credited to Qin Shi Huang, as is his legendary tomb. Tales of palaces and scenic towers, of rivers made with mercury, jewels and immeasurable riches being buried together with the emperor have circulated for centuries. Due to the lack of appropriate technology which can preserve the hidden treasures, the tomb has yet to be opened. But there is a replica of the tomb in close proximity to the actual site, and visitors can get an impression of what is awaiting future archeologists and historians in the real tombs of Qin Shi Huang.
I’m no Chinese expert by any means. But what I love about the Chinese language is its simplicity – in some ways. There are many words in the Chinese language that you can already guess, simply because they just put two descriptive words together to form this new word. So, today, I’m introducing a new corner of my website: the Chinese Corner. Every week (I hope), I’ll post one new word for you to learn about, and who knows – you might end up a Chinese expert after all! Since I’m a foreign teacher here in China, how about I start with a very simple word that lends itself to be the first ever word in my Chinese Corner: Lesson 1: Foreign Teacher 外教 – wài jiào wai = outside; in addition; foreign; external jiao = to teach waijiao = outside teach = foreign teacher (If you can’t see the Chinese characters, because you don’t have any Asian languages installed on your computer, don’t worry about it.)
Located in the heart of Beijing, the zoo has two attractions worth visiting: the giant panda exhibit, and the aquarium, which is the largest in China. Both zoo and aquarium combined provide room for more than 900 species of land and marine animals, several of which are counted among endangered species of animals. Besides its display of animals, the Beijing Zoo also presents itself in the typical way of Chinese classical gardens. You will find small rivers and pools, wooded areas, flower beds, natural sceneries, and historical buildings.
The Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival, which can be traced as far back as more than 2,500 years. On this day, people visit the graves of their ancestors to honor and worship them, to pray before them, to sweep their tombs, and to offer them food, drinks, and other gifts that could be useful in their afterlife. Some people even draw pictures of TVs, cars, houses, in hopes that the deceased would have a more comfortable “life” wherever they are. Money, real or paper, also often is burned at the tomb, as a sacrifice in honor of the ancestors. It is believed that worshiping their ancestors on Tomb Sweeping Day will ensure good luck throughout the year, while not honoring those who have already passed away, can have very unfortunate results. After its re-institution in 2008, the Qingming Festival has become a widespread custom again, and many people of the older generations expect the younger people to follow their example in observing this holiday. Other names for Tomb Sweeping Day are: – …
The Chinese pride themselves in the fact that it once was considered the greatest gardens in the world: Yuanming Yuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness), the Old Summer Palace. Far more extensive than the Summer Palace, it held large garden and building architectures and first rate works of art. Due to all its splendor and vastness, Yuanming Yuan also was called the “Garden of Gardens.” In 1860, however, the majority of buildings and gardens were destroyed by British and French troops, and the Old Summer Palace was robbed of all its treasures, never to be rebuilt again. Today, the area basically is a vast natural reserve right in the vicinity of some of China’s most famous universities, Qinghua and Beijing University. Only few sites have been reconstructed, but an exhibit shows the garden in its former glory, and ruins still bear witness of its once impressive grandeur. For those, tired of all the sightseeing and shopping in Beijing, Yuanming Yuan could be a welcome change of scene.
They call it the bird’s nest. Constructed to host the main events of the Summer 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Beijing National Stadium officially opened at a ceremony on June 28, 2008. Numerous steel beams, characterizing its outward appearance, quickly won this building its famous nick name: “Bird’s Nest.” In the summer of 2008 the main events of the Summer Olympic Games were held in this stadium: Opening and Closing Ceremony, athletic events and the soccer final. Today, the Beijing National Stadium occasionally hosts smaller events. It is, however, open to the public, and draws up to 30.000 visitors on an average day.
Located in the far south of Beijing you can find the World Park (Shijie Gongyuan). It exhibits a fun collection of famous buildings and sights from all around the world – in miniature that is. When you go there you can visit Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, enjoy the (outdated) skyline of New York, take a closer look at the Capitol and the White House than ever before, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, follow the ancient trails of Incan culture, stop by the famed Opera House in Sydney, and enjoy Japanese architecture. You are invited to see the Great Wall, explore the royal palace in Thailand, marvel at the wonders of the Taj Mahal, and even Russia and the Kreml will be included in the trip around the world. You can visit the Holy City of Jerusalem, dive into ancient Egyptian culture, stop by the Acropolis in Greece as well as the Colosseum and the Vatican in Rome, and have you ever wanted to see the tower of Pisa with …
Probably the most famous tourist destination of Shanghai is The Bund. The term refers to the stretch of embanked riverfront in the center of the city. When you see pictures of Shanghai, they’ll most likely show The Bund, or at least parts of it. The Bund typically refers to a section of buildings and quays along the western bank of the Huangpu River. Here you can find many historical buildings which date back to the time period when the British Empire was at the height of its expansion. Later, the area became the “International Settlement”, after the British and American settlements were joined. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the Bund became a major financial center in East Asia. Today, major international financial institutions can be found in the area, along with exclusive hotels, modern shopping malls, and other establishments. Tourists can stroll along the embankment to enjoy the sights, or even cross the river on one of the ferries, for an even better view of the Bund.
Situated in the northwestern outskirts of Beijing, the Beijing Botanical Garden covers an area of 564,000 square meters. While the garden is counted among the major tourist attractions of the city, it also is an important base for science education and research. The Botanical Garden features many different areas, including a lake, the Perennial Garden, Peony Garden, Ornamental Peach Garden, and various other gardens featuring camellias, bamboo, tree peonies, ornamental cherries and many others. The most important attraction within the Garden probably is the Conservatory, a greenhouse, about 10.000 square meters in size. It holds the Rain Forest House, the Orchid House, Desert Garden House, and other various exhibitions. Several thousand differing plant species can be found throughout the gardens, some of them famous or very rare specimen. The metasequoia, for example, is one of these rare species. Discovered in the 1940s, these fast-growing, large trees that belong to the same family as the famous Californian Giant Sequoia, have been cultivated in one area of the Botanical Garden.