Our day actually started the night before, as several of us were kept awake by a spectacular thunder storm. I however was so relaxed after our extreme foot massage, that I had the best night’s sleep so far!
After our regular toast for breakfast, we assembled in the foyer to wait for our transport to the Northeast Petroleum University. For once, we were all on time, and set off on the short journey to the university. We were met with another lovely Chinese welcome, which included a photo session. We are all very used to smiling for group photos, and are now able to arrange ourselves fairly quickly whenever we’re asked to pose.
A walk around their exhibition centre allowed us to see some of the art students’ work and we admired their painting, craft and architectural design. Little did we know that we were about to be challenged by the traditional art of paper cutting (and five flights of stairs!). The history of paper cutting was explained and we were shown some beautiful pieces of extremely intricate work. Armed with a special pair of very sharp scissors and a knife we attempted to produce two pieces of art; a Chinese symbol for happiness and a pig (as 2019 is the Year of the Pig). Most of us needed help from the Chinese students, and some pigs needed to be “rescued” (we won’t mention names), but we all eventually managed to produce works of art that a reception class child would have been proud of!
Lunch involved a trip to the uni canteen and to the delight of the English students, chips were on offer. With our bellies full, we headed off to the Mammoth Museum to encounter life sized mammoths. Excavation in the Daqing area has resulted in an abundance of fossilised mammoth skeletons being discovered and the exhibition gave us a fascinating and realistic glimpse into the past.
Ice lollies in hand, kindly bought by our leaders, we walked back to the uni, dodging muddy puddles from the rain of the previous night, apart from Emily who ended up with rather muddy sliders. After a quick loo stop (us girls are gettingreally good at using Chines toilets!) and only two flights of stairs we entered the music department. We were divided into two groups and given a practical lesson on the Gu Zheng – a traditional stringed instrument. After a bit of practice, we were able to play two pieces of music (ok, so one was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) but new talents were discovered and we were really proud of ourselves.
Our first non-accompanied visit to the Harbin Uni canteen for dinner, required loads of hand gesturing and the use of our Google Translate app but the term “vegetarian” didn’t seem to be understood. Our trusty Chinese students were phoned andthey rushed to our aid. Our new Chinese friends are so kind and nothing is ever too much trouble.
After our meal, we met with the Chinese exchange students who will be coming to the Edge Hill University in July. We were able to chat to them about the U.K. and what to expect. Their biggest concern is speaking English, but they all have such a good grasp of the language, putting our Mandarin ability (which probably only consists of a handful of words) to shame. An impromptu visit to Zoo Coffee, a local coffee shop, further cemented friendships, and ten very tired but happy Edge Hill students headed off to bed.
Blog post by Allyson Blundell on Thursday 13th June