I went to Xi’an (西安), China for four and a half weeks. I taught in the English program for Xi’an Jiaotong University, one of the top ten universities in China. They specialize in science programs. I taught first year students (between 18-20 years old). There were two sessions, each 2 weeks long. Classes were from 9-11:30 a.m., and from 1-3:30 p.m. Each class had about 35-39 students, so in total I taught about 155 Chinese students.
Xi’an is located in the middle of China, and was the capital for over 3,100 years. Xi’an is one of the great capital cities of the world, like Athens, Cairo, and Rome. Xi’an was the capital for over 13 Chinese dynasties, and is a great place to learn about the history of China. There are beautiful museums, temples, shrines, mosques, and parks. Xi’an was also the starting point of the Silk Road, and there are still people selling and buying silk, spices, and other fun things. There is lots of modern shopping too; it is a very multi-cultural and bustling city of over 8 million people!
The most famous thing there is the Terracotta Warriors. A group of farmers who were digging a well found them in 1973. I met one of the farmers at the museum, and shook his hand! That is a definite must-see if you go there. I also saw the Wild Goose Pagoda, Imperial Park, History Museum, Huaqing Hot Springs, went hiking at Huashan mountain, and more. It was a great trip, and I learned so much.
Linguistically, I thought the differences between simplified and traditional characters were interesting. For example, yán 言 means speech. But, it was reduced to two strokes. So, now huà (language) changed from 語 to 语, dìng (to agree, order) changed from訂 to 订, and so on. Some characters were completely changed, like dōng (east) changed from 東 to 东, mén (gate) changed from 門 to 门, and so on. It was sometimes hard to read a menu or a map!
Besides the history and language, the food was very good and cheap. I ate lots of tropical fruit, like mango, papaya, dragonfruit, and many more. The streets and air were clean, and I often used public transportation safely. I hope you have an opportunity to visit Xi’an in the future; it was an exciting, interesting, and fun trip that I will never forget.