While there were some tears and anxiety as we set off from Mater Christi at the beginning of our trip, we were ready to take on the adventure ahead of us. The atmosphere on the bus, on the way to the airport, was reflective of how we were all feeling - scared, tired, anxious, but mostly excited!
As we waited to depart from Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport, we were joined by students from the other schools involved: Auburn, Phoenix and Traralgon College.
After a stop off in Bangkok, we arrived in Beijing and were greeted by Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) volunteers, who accompanied us on our journey to the University.
Each day so far has been filled with exciting programmes, excursions and lots of learning activities! We completed a HSK 2 oral exam on Monday, and were then divided into our classes to begin intense study.
We have been studying a new topic every day, including weather, countries and languages, time, money, food and more. We have also been doing sports and attending lectures on ancient China and Chinese thought and philosophy. This has provided a strong foundation for our many excursions, to bring more value to the sights we see.
We have toured Beijing and its many cultural sites; including the Great Wall, The Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, National Museum of China, Beijing Olympic Park and Hou Hai. These experiences have helped to grow our independence and language proficiency as we continue to interact with locals and experience a new country in small groups.
We have also had the opportunity to enhance our leadership skills through speaking at the opening ceremony, ordering food in Chinese for the group, leading small games, helping peers, staff and locals, and taking care of one another. We are very excited for the weeks to come as we continue this opportunity of a lifetime.
Madison Zapanta, Year 9