Day 4: Touring Beijing

     I am very sad to say that today was the last day in Beijing, but I am happy that we were able to spend the day visiting such historic parts of China that I have never been able to see before. Throughout the day, we visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Hutong, and the Temple of Heaven, all in that specified order. Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City were very cool to be able to finally see in person after years of exposure to them in history class in high school. The Forbidden City was very beautiful and significantly bigger than I had imagined it to be. It seemed as if the city kept going endlessly. At first, I thought that the size of the city was much bigger than it needed to be, but Dr. Li and Joe explained that the size was not only a symbol of power for the emperor, but also necessary to house the large family and servants of the emperor. I had previously not been aware that often times the emperor had more than one wife, so it was possible that even these nuclear families were very large in size. Next, the Hutong tour was something that I had never heard about before this trip, and I was fascinated to learn about the rich culture associated with people living in this kind of manner. The man we visited had lived in his home his entire life with no plans of leaving, and I thought that this was actually a part of China that is similar to some people in the United States. For example, my grandmother and grandfather have been living in the same home for 50 years with no plans to move in the future. Personally, I don’t want to live in this manner, but I have immense respect for people who do. Lastly, the visit to the Temple of Heaven was probably my favorite part of the day. The scenery was incredibly beautiful, and the purpose of the temple’s existence reminded me of that of other cultures. Specifically, I thought about the ancient Aztec’s sacrifice at the top of the pyramid. I find these small similarities between cultures of extreme differences to be some of the more interesting focal points of study, and I plan on making more of these connections as we tour Xi’an and Shanghai.

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