Our last activity of orientation week was “drop-off”. This is a project that all SIT programs throughout the world do. The 14 of us in SIT China are split into groups of three or four and given a piece of paper with the name of a place on it. We were also given 100kuai for each person, about 15 USD, which goes a looong way in this part of the world. Using map skills, language, common sense and patience each group must find out what the place is, where it is, get there and enjoy it. Not only was this task a good team-bonding activity, this task also serves as practice for when we do our month long ISPs.
I was put in a group with my friend Henry, and my friend Mel. Our group’s paper read:
We recognized gu (the third character) as ancient. It is the same character in Guge, Summer Palace. We also recognized the pronunciation of the first character: guan, because it looks similar other guans we have learned. At a park near the school, we asked some vendors for help in the pronunciation and directions to this place. The first lady we approached was extremely helpful. She kept saying “ah hen yuan“, very far. She got her other vendor friends to write down the buses we would need to take.
We waited for the bus, but alas none came. Plus we had 300 kuai to spend on the place, so we decided to take a taxi. The taxi ended up being 70 kuai, expensive for what we have been used to, but still only 12 dollars for the 3 of us.
We stepped out of the cab and immediately found ourselves at the wonderful Guandu Ancient Village. There were shops, restaurants and temples. The architecture has influences from Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. We managed to find a 咖啡馆 kafeiguan (notice how the guan looks similar to Guandu Ancient Village’s) to have some coffee, which none of us had found since arriving in Kunming. This village is huge. Each door you pass through opens up to a new street of even more shops, restaurants and temples. I am glad we had five hours to explore because we needed every second of it.
Not only do I value exploring a new place I may not have discovered without those four characters written down, but being able to find our way in a completely foreign town where no one speaks english assuages some of my anxiety for the ISP.
Orientation is now over, and classes have begun. Although I had a fantastic time during orientation week, I am glad to now have a daily schedule which allows me to get more into the rhythm of every day life here.