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Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14


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    [post_content] => Today is our last day in Kunming - we are leaving on a 22 hour long train for Chengdu tomorrow! Here is our itinerary for the end of program travel.

April 26 Leave Kunming
April 27 – May 1 Chengdu
May 2 – May 6 Xi’an
May 7 Train Journey
May 8-9 Dunhuang
May 10 – 11 Camel/Horse Trek in Dunhuang
May 12 Travel from Dunhuang to Xining
May 13 – 22 Service in Qinghai Lake Area + Rural Homestay (tree planting)
May 23 Free Day / Travel Day
May 24 – 29 Transference
May 29 Back in Kunming

Also, because I like to organize things and I needed a reason to procrastinate last night, I made a document compiling our detailed itinerary and information on the different cities. Complete with a hyperlinked table of contents. I'm actually pretty proud of it so I'm attaching a picture of the table of contents.

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Last Month

Youri Lee,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

Today is our last day in Kunming – we are leaving on a 22 hour long train for Chengdu tomorrow! Here is our itinerary for the end of program travel. April 26 Leave Kunming April 27 – May 1 Chengdu May 2 – May 6 Xi’an May 7 Train Journey May 8-9 Dunhuang May 10 […]

Posted On

04/29/14

Author

Youri Lee

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    [post_content] => We have just over two weeks left in Kunming as we will depart on our Spring Excursion at the end of this month. To build group cohesion and unity, as well as to get out of the city to enjoy Yunnan's incredible landscapes and cultures, we will be away from Kunming (and our computers!) for the weekend. Instructors will still have their phones and will be in communication with the Boulder office.

As our plans this last fall to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge were canceled due to poor weather, we have planned a mini- excursion to complete the trek this weekend. We will be leaving tonight by sleeper train, and will arrive in Lijiang tomorrow morning. Tomorrow we will begin our hike, which we are budgeting three days to complete in the magnificent gorge. On Sunday night we will spent the night with our old friend Erge who we met in the beginning of the program and we will return to Kunming on Monday night or Tuesday morning.
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Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

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Tiger Leaping Gorge Excursion

Jesse Millett,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

We have just over two weeks left in Kunming as we will depart on our Spring Excursion at the end of this month. To build group cohesion and unity, as well as to get out of the city to enjoy Yunnan’s incredible landscapes and cultures, we will be away from Kunming (and our computers!) for […]

Posted On

04/15/14

Author

Jesse Millett

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    [post_content] => We are back in Kunming after visiting Xishuangbanna. For our midyear trip, we spent a week in a (somewhat) tropical climate. So we left our cold city with gloves and winter coats, and arrived in a place where we could wear sandals, and some even dared to wear t-shirts. It was miraculous to say the least. We didn’t see any elephants, but sang to and caressed some tropical plants. We biked through rubber trees. We ate baozis, pad thai, and tang yuan until we all but exploded. The whole experience was lovely, but most of all because we were able to spend so much time together as a group. We are half way through the program, and have come a long way from the beginning. But we still have yet to experience a lot in China, so now we, “lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
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Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

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Xishuangbanna

Karen Gallagher-Teske,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

We are back in Kunming after visiting Xishuangbanna. For our midyear trip, we spent a week in a (somewhat) tropical climate. So we left our cold city with gloves and winter coats, and arrived in a place where we could wear sandals, and some even dared to wear t-shirts. It was miraculous to say the […]

Posted On

01/31/14

Author

Karen Gallagher-Teske

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    [post_content] => Yes. That happened yesterday.

15 minutes before the incident, a security guard had come knocking at the apartment door of my NGO's office because it smelled of smoke in the hallway. He asked if there was anything that could be the source of the smell (we said no). So he moved on to the next apartment and we went back to work.

The incident happened when the phone rang. The office manager wasn't there so I picked up; even though my Chinese isn't great, I figured somebody should. The man said: "Xia lou, kuai dian!" (which means "Come downstairs, quickly!") and then hung up.

I think it's quite reasonable that my mind went to: 'THERE'S A FIRE?!' So I proceeded to tell everyone in the office that the security man downstairs told us to come down because there was a fire. We all grabbed our things and took the elevator down (which note to self, you apparently are not supposed to do when there's a fire). As the elevator doors opened to the first floor, we saw a large number of people waiting to get on. I suddenly began to doubt if I had understood the man on the phone correctly as I awkwardly gave a shrug to my confused co-workers.

One of them went to ask the security man what he had said in his call, and it turned out he said "Xia lou, kuai di!" which means, "Come downstairs, there's a package [for you]." Oops. 

(Kuai dian and kuai di really are similar, in my defense.)

The most ridiculous part of the entire situation was that the guy hadn't called the right apartment so we didn't even have a package. I should also add that the entire way back up, every time I made eye contact with any of my co-workers they burst out laughing.

Oh, the perils of language learning.

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Best Notes From The Field, Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

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That Time I Thought There Was a Fire and Accidentally Evacuated My Entire Office

Youri Lee,Best Notes From The Field, Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

Yes. That happened yesterday. 15 minutes before the incident, a security guard had come knocking at the apartment door of my NGO’s office because it smelled of smoke in the hallway. He asked if there was anything that could be the source of the smell (we said no). So he moved on to the next […]

Posted On

01/3/14

Author

Youri Lee

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    [post_content] => Through a series of unfortunate events of which I will spare you the excruciating details, I find myself qualified to provide some impressions of the Chinese medical system. My journey through Yunnan’s hospitals began with a strange feeling in my chest while sitting on the porch of my homestay in Bangdong Village, hardly more than one month ago. From my first whiff of moxa as I first crossed the threshold of Lincang People’s Hospital later that day, to the crowded and chaotic halls of Kunming’s Yunda Yiyuan, and finally to the familiarly-western Union Hospital in Hong Kong, here are some of the notes I gathered along the way.
One’s first impression is that of sheer efficiency. From the moment I set foot in Lincang People’s Hospital, I can recall hardly a second spent waiting. After paying a small visitation fee and having my heart listened to by a general doctor, it was concluded that I needed an ECG. In the US, the next step, of course, would have been to schedule an appointment for the test. Such silliness, though, is not tolerated in Chinese hospitals. Instead, my instructors and I simply walked right into the proper office. The nurse ran the test, handed us the results, and we returned to the first doctor not ten minutes later. The doctor decided we needed to see a certain cardiologist, so we walked to the adjacent building, found the specified cardiologist at his desk, and handed him the ECG.
Unfortunately, the efficiency of the system doesn’t scale particularly well with an increase in patients. At Kunming’s Yunda Yiyuan, speed gave way to chaos, sluggishness, and a multitude of lines. A line to pre-pay for services. A line to receive a blood test. A line to receive your test results. A line to consult the cardiologist. “Lines” in China, I might add, aren’t always actually lines, either. Though the concept is definitely obeyed more in hospitals than, say, boarding a bus, there were still people cutting in to snatch their blood work or thrusting their procedure bill to the cashier as he or she tried to process mine.
Speaking of cashiers, there is the price of services. My insurance regrettably was unable to make direct billing arrangements with the hospitals I visited on the mainland, meaning I had to pay for services up front and seek reimbursement later. However, I would be unsurprised if the cost of the numerous tests and services I received was, in total, less than a single blood test or ECG in the United States. For instance, the ECG I received the first day in Lincang cost a whopping twenty Yuan. Less than three dollars. Blood work – around 180 Yuan, or thirty USD. Of course, this is probably more a reflection of the insane price of healthcare in America, but is no doubt notable.
As a foreigner, one is definitely afforded a degree of preferential treatment. My instructor, Jesse, and I managed to secure a private room for our overnight stay in Lincang Hospital rather than in the public dormitory, somehow completely cut past the horde of patients waiting for a twenty-four hour monitoring device, and were personally brought to the best cardiologist in Kunming’s Yunda Yiyuan. That’s not to say that being a foreigner is always an advantage – it also turns your tests and consultations into minor public spectacles.
This bring me to my final point – privacy. Or, should I say, the lack thereof. Since there are no appointments and one simply walks into a doctor’s office and presents one’s case, you might have nearly a dozen onlookers watching as you consult the cardiologist about your most recent test results. The blood drawing station is a long counter where you sit down alongside everyone else, extend your arm, and deliver the crimson goods. Getting electrodes placed on your chest? Don’t mind the previous patient sticking around for the show. What is HIPAA*, anyways?
In Hong Kong, I returned to the calm, scheduled, private, and pricey world of western-style hospitals. Both systems have their benefits and drawbacks – there is no absolute winner. At this point, I am just hoping I won’t have to experience the scent of moxa ever again.

*A U.S. act protecting individuals’ medical record and payment history

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Double-Edged Sword

Henry Stolz,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

Through a series of unfortunate events of which I will spare you the excruciating details, I find myself qualified to provide some impressions of the Chinese medical system. My journey through Yunnan’s hospitals began with a strange feeling in my chest while sitting on the porch of my homestay in Bangdong Village, hardly more than […]

Posted On

01/3/14

Author

Henry Stolz

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Coming to China fairly inept at cooking (of any sort), one of my goals for this year has been to learn a bit of Chinese cooking that I can take back with me to the States. Luckily, my homestay mother has been more than happy to take me into her kitchen, and has been patient even with my incredibly slow chopping skills. Our most recent cooking escapades have consisted of making three types of wrapped foods: baozi (steamed buns), jiaozi (dumplings), and hundun (wontons). The outsides of all three are made from a flour based dough, and the fillings are usually mixtures of ground meat and chopped up leafy green vegetables (though baozi also come in sweet and vegetarian varieties, which we sometimes buy for breakfast on the roadside while traveling). While baozi are steamed, jiaozi and hundun are usually boiled in a wok. The most obvious difference between the three is the way in which the wrappings are folded, resulting in different shapes: jiaozi supposedly look like gold ingots, while hundun are thought to resemble butterflies. As my host mother explained to me, jiaozi are more commonly eaten in northern China, whereas hundun are more commonly eaten in the south—while she prefers hundun, my host sister prefers jiaozi. My personal favorite also remains jiaozi. However, I think all three quite delicious! [post_title] => Baozi, Jiaozi, and Hundun [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => baozi-jiaozi-hundun [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-12-30 09:16:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-12-30 16:16:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=96110 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 193 [name] => Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14 [slug] => princeton-bridge-year-china-2013-14 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 193 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 39 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10008 [cat_ID] => 193 [category_count] => 39 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14 [category_nicename] => princeton-bridge-year-china-2013-14 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/princeton-bridge-year-china-2013-14/ ) ) [category_links] => Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14 )
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Baozi, Jiaozi, and Hundun

Anna Kolstad,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

Coming to China fairly inept at cooking (of any sort), one of my goals for this year has been to learn a bit of Chinese cooking that I can take back with me to the States. Luckily, my homestay mother has been more than happy to take me into her kitchen, and has been patient […]

Posted On

12/30/13

Author

Anna Kolstad

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    [post_content] => Anna and I were asked three weeks ago if we wouldn’t mind assisting the School of International Education staff in their upcoming performance. The teachers were going to sing “Women Huanying Ni” (“We Welcome You”) in a concert and wanted two foreign students to help them. Anna was calmly fearless as always, and quickly nodded affirmatively. All I could think of was the last time I had sung on stage. Memories of feeling lost in elementary school with only a fake Styrofoam beak to hide behind rushed into my head. Despite initial hesitations, I decided to try it out.
Because of our busy schedules, we weren’t able to attend many rehearsals, but we quickly memorized our line (yes, only one line!). Last Wednesday, we took the bus to Chenggong and ran through the performance. The hardest part of the process was the makeup. After a bit of poking and prodding, we finally looked the part; Anna and I looked like foreigners.
The auditorium could have seated more than 1100 people, and its size induced a bit of apprehension. But while we waited in the curtains, people were taking pictures, playing guitar, and having a good time, all while the show was going on. This relaxed atmosphere completely surprised me, and before I knew it, it was time to go on stage. We sang our line, and after our two minutes in the spotlight were over, Anna and I returned to our seats to watch the rest of the show.
Students from Laos, Thailand, Korea, and Mali performed some traditional and some not so traditional songs and dances. People were able to celebrate their cultures and showcase the international character of the university. And instead of feeling nervous, I was able to remember and enjoy the resounding “Welcome” to Kunming, with a little help from my friends.
    [post_title] => A Concert
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Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

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A Concert

Karen Gallagher-Teske,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

Anna and I were asked three weeks ago if we wouldn’t mind assisting the School of International Education staff in their upcoming performance. The teachers were going to sing “Women Huanying Ni” (“We Welcome You”) in a concert and wanted two foreign students to help them. Anna was calmly fearless as always, and quickly nodded […]

Posted On

12/23/13

Author

Karen Gallagher-Teske

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[post_title] => Thanksgiving and 3D Painting exhibition [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => thanksgiving-and-3d-painting-exhibition [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-03 14:11:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-03 21:11:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=95009 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 193 [name] => Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14 [slug] => princeton-bridge-year-china-2013-14 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 193 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 39 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.10008 [cat_ID] => 193 [category_count] => 39 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14 [category_nicename] => princeton-bridge-year-china-2013-14 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/princeton-bridge-year-china-2013-14/ ) ) [category_links] => Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14 )
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Thanksgiving and 3D Painting exhibition

Long Yun,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

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Posted On

12/2/13

Author

Long Yun

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I woke up today a bit before 8am, the sun’s early morning rays just streaming across the tops of the apartment buildings to reach directly through my window, where they nudged me out of bed. I dressed, ate breakfast—pastries from a bakery down the street—and headed off for work at Lianxin, my NGO, just as I do every Thursday morning (and every Tuesday and Wednesday as well, for that matter).
However, last Thursday morning was different. Instead of allowing the gentle sunlight to wake me, I woke myself up in the dark of 6am and, shortly after, made my way across the quiet campus of Kunming Institute of Science and Technology (KUST) to meet everyone else at the main gate just before 7am, where we boarded a bus headed to the University’s main campus outside the city. Last Thursday was the University’s Sports Day, and we were to be a part of it.
After arriving at the main campus an hour later, we were led off the bus and across the main sports field, which was bustling with students in matching tracksuits, soldiers, small tents, and many other onlookers milling about. Our destination was the rear of the grandstand, where many groups were assembling for the opening ceremony parade. We joined the group of other foreign students—the largest group of foreigners I have seen all in one place since arriving to China—and soon giant flags were distributed among all us “wai guo ren,” each of us claiming the flag of our respective nationality. It was exciting to see so many different flags represented, many of which I didn’t even recognize. As for our group of seven, we proudly carried the flags of seven different nations (as everyone except for me has at least one parent who is not originally from the U.S.): France, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, Colombia, the United States, and Russia.
Eventually, the opening ceremony began, and we walked with our flags in a short parade around the track on the main field—an experience which was reminiscent (though certainly in a less impressive form) of the Olympic opening ceremony. Mini-rockets with parachutes were fired (one, whose parachute got tangled, nearly hit someone in the head), and balloons were released into the air. After the conclusion of the ceremony, while still standing on the field, taking the opportunity to talk with some of the other foreign students, three Chinese soldiers came up to me and asked if I was an exchange student. A bit warily, I responded, “Yes,” worried that there might be some sort of problem…. Their response: “Can we take a picture with you?” “Sure!” I replied, relieved—and as a result, now possess a photo of me, an American flag, and three Chinese soldiers!
At around 10:30am, we headed over to the volleyball courts to warm up (aka have Youri teach us volleyball basics, since none of the rest of us have much volleyball experience) before the volleyball game we’d signed up for began. Our game was against Chinese students. Though the banner behind the court described the game as a “Native and International Students Friendly Match,” we had no idea what to expect regarding the other team’s ability. Luckily, once we started playing, we discovered that our opponents seemed to not be especially practiced volleyball players either—so though our team still lost both matches, we at least managed to avoid crushing defeats, and had a fun time while doing so.
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon hanging out in the sun, playing some more casual volleyball, checking out the other sporting events going on, and chatting with students. It was awesome getting to talk to people from so many different places: I met students from places as widespread as Egypt, Thailand, Grenada, France, Korea, the Czech Republic, and Yemen. We finally re-boarded the bus mid-afternoon to head back to the city. Though rather exhausted and sunburned, we were nonetheless happy from our day out in the sun.

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Sports Day at KUST

Anna Kolstad,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

I woke up today a bit before 8am, the sun’s early morning rays just streaming across the tops of the apartment buildings to reach directly through my window, where they nudged me out of bed. I dressed, ate breakfast—pastries from a bakery down the street—and headed off for work at Lianxin, my NGO, just as […]

Posted On

11/22/13

Author

Anna Kolstad

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    [post_content] => On our first day in Kunming, we each wrote down what surprised us the most. We had walked around Green Lake, did tai chi, and visited a temple that day. Among all of the new sights, smells, and tastes that we encountered, I knew immediately what stood out to me the most. I found the activity on the streets, bustling with cars, buses, motorcycles, and scooters completely overwhelming. At first I hoped that there might be unspoken rules that I couldn’t understand to explain the complete lack of control. But after a month and a half of living in Kunming, I still can’t discern any sense of order, and have reached a final conclusion. There is nothing but you and the road. Everything else is uncertain; nothing can be prepared for. There are incredibly wet streets on rainy days, motorcycles to pass, scooters that pass you, people that stop to chat on their cell phones, and construction sites to maneuver around. There are also common annoyances, like the pedestrians that don’t walk on the sidewalk, buses that block your way while emitting their dirty streams of air into your mouth, and motorcycles that ride on the wrong side of the street. Not only that, but sometimes, your own bike will conspire against you. A few of us have had some difficulties involving stolen bikes, missing spokes, flat tires, missing fenders, and just not having gears, which can be a pain on the hillier streets. 
Despite some difficulties, I have become a part of the masses of never-ending chaos. Somehow, I have grown accustomed to the erratic flow of traffic. For my daily commutes to work, school, and back home again, I bike, but in these days filled with routine, I can’t imagine biking ever becoming tedious, because every trip is so different. Biking is also the perfect way to get to know the city more intimately. Above all, I can choose my own adventures, and love getting voluntarily lost and found again on small back roads. What originally bewildered me has become one of my favorite things about living in Kunming. Biking is freeing, and I am happiest when I am riding down the streets in the early mornings, making my way through the city that I am starting to know my way around.

    [post_title] => An Ode to Joy
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Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

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An Ode to Joy

Karen Gallagher-Teske,Princeton Bridge Year China 2013-14

Description

On our first day in Kunming, we each wrote down what surprised us the most. We had walked around Green Lake, did tai chi, and visited a temple that day. Among all of the new sights, smells, and tastes that we encountered, I knew immediately what stood out to me the most. I found the […]

Posted On

11/16/13

Author

Karen Gallagher-Teske

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