I officially do not count sightseeing as experiencing the culture anymore. Why? Because you will probably forget everything that you have learned unless you write about it in a paper/essay, in a diary, or if you already learned about it before. I will admit, I used to say I learned about the culture of the different countries I have been to, but if you asked me today what I learned, I will probably have to bring out my journal, then read it to you.
Experiencing culture is more about doing, rather than seeing reading. And, of course, you have to really plan on staying there for awhile. Now, you are probably thinking that I am going to tell you the real deal about experiencing culture, and you are absolutely right- well sort of but more like experiencing it in China. I have tried so many things while being here, and I am pretty sure you can picture my reaction to most things.
Before coming to China, I said I wanted to learn some Kung Fu (功夫) and calligraphy (书法). They are both hard, but I enjoy learning and doing them. 1) They are new skills and 2) it is sort of helping with Chinese (oh yea, I am taking classes in Chinese as well). Our school posts pictures on their WeChat (an awesome app) about the cool things that we do, plus they had set up these classes for me and roommate. I think they really like us!
We performed in two New Year’s festivals/ galas, so we had the chance to see traditional dancing, instruments, dresses, and more. I did a poem… in English… no Chinese whatsoever, and they were okay with it (but did not really have a choice, my Chinese is horrible).
Now, the most important part- food! We have really good food where we live. Some things I like… others not so much. I mainly eat at the school because I enjoy eating there for lunch and dinner (now, how many teachers have you ever heard say that??). Being here, I have tried: a chicken’s foot, duck feet (unwebbed), almost tried cow stomach (but I couldn’t do it), field fish and other types of fish (I don’t even like fish, but I can tolerate it in China), snails, Baijiu (like 50% alcohol), and more! My favorite food you ask? Dumplings! I really, REALLY like dumplings here– in America, not so much! I even made dumplings here with some new friends. Moral of the story: dumplings are awesome!