Today was a very interesting day. We’ve all had those days where you spent hours planning, but the weather didn’t exactly permit you to follow through with those plans. Well, today was one of those days.
When I woke up at 6 a.m., I had no idea what the weather entailed, but I knew for sure that this was going to be a memorable day. Having packed for somewhat warm weather, I wasn’t exactly the most prepared for a cold and wet day. Although the high of the day was 63 degrees, all that my packing skills allotted were a pair of shorts, Chacos sandals and my “Nicholls Means Business” T-shirt.
The trip to the Great Wall is iconic because it is one of the seven wonders, but it is also where the traditional Nicholls Study Abroad group picture is taken. Due to the rain, the picture was taken very quickly with Dr. En Mao’s camera, so hopefully I will have that picture by the next entry. Walking up to the shuttle car was definitely a strenuous feat. The walkway is at a steep incline so I could certainly feel the burning sensation in my calves. The weather was looking somewhat ominous, especially with the fog surrounding the wall, yet I didn’t give into purchasing gear. I would go on to regret that. As soon as we made it to the wall, rain began to pour. Luckily, Alaina, another student on the trip, allowed for me to use her spare jacket. Alaina, if you are reading this, once again thank you so very much. Although I was freezing and soaking wet throughout the entire experience, nothing could ruin its beauty. There is just something so magical about the Wall. Whether it’s the rich history, or the childhood flashbacks to watching Disney’s Mulan, there’s something for everyone to connect with.
One interesting cultural aspect about China is the way people shop. Shopping in the U.S. can be very relaxed, and somewhat robotic. Whenever we go shopping, we just walk into the store, maybe receive a greeting from the clearly bored and uninterested sales associate, buy our goods and then leave. In China, the experience is nothing like that.
The Chinese love a negotiation, alongside confrontation. I, myself, am a very shy shopper. I personally love going into a store unnoticed and being able to just look around as I please. So you can only imagine the sheer horror on my face when I realized that it wasn’t possible to do so. Walking through the shops is really intense as the shopkeepers come rushing toward you to sell their goods. After finding what you want comes the real challenge – deciding on the price. The shopkeeper will often throw out a price, which is typically outrageously overpriced, and you are then prompted to come up with a counter argument. I will not lie, the first go round I didn’t do my best and more than likely I paid too much, but there’s definitely a rush that comes from scoring the deal. By working for the price and negotiating with the seller, I feel as though I can’t help but feel more pride and have a greater value for my souvenirs.
For any shopaholic, China is the place for you! I already can’t wait for the next shopping trip. Until next time, zijian!