July 18, 2012

Chinese Cultural Immersion

After three wonderful weeks in Colorado, Helen and I are continuing our BOMA project. We came to my home, Dalian, China!


That moment I knew I am in China

We took an airplane from Denver to Los Angeles then to Seoul and then finally to Dalian. The airplane from Denver to Los Angeles was three hours late. We were running late for the next flight, but fortunately we survived the messy traffic of Los Angeles Airport and got on board. However, our bags were not as quick as we were; they did not show up at baggage claim at Dalian Airport. Luckily we got our bags back the next day in Dalian. It reminded me of my flight to Lafayette College when my three bags did not arrive with me, and I spent my first three days at Lafayette without my baggage. I really hope it is not going to happen again.


As soon as I got out of the airport, I had a chance to have a look at the city I hadn’t visited for a year. I was very excited to come home at first but the view of the city disappointed me a little. There was so much more construction going on. Dalian is growing very fast. However, I found that the sky is kind of grey and not as beautiful as it was in my memory. Maybe Dalian did not change at all; I might have higher standards now since I have visited Colorado. Walking on the street, I feel that the cars will hit me at any moment. Bad traffic. It’s gotten worse since I left.


Helen Hutchens sings Karoke in Dalian, China


In three weeks, I have taken Helen to all kinds of places in Dalian: huge supermarkets, messy little shops, an amusement park, beaches, the forest in the suburbs, and many restaurants. I also had Helen take all kinds of transportation. We drove through the crazy traffic, took the taxi, and took the buses.

Jason Sheng and Helen Hutchens sit on a ride at an amusement park in Dalian, China

Amusement park




And I could tell that she was kind of frightened when she crossed the street and cars drove crazily past her. I believe after these three weeks, Helen knows a lot more about my life in China. You can read her recent blogs if you want more of her insights.



Helen Hutchens sits at a table filled with plates of food in Dalian, China

Helen and Chinese food

And also I think Helen had a food-culture shock when she was here. When we went to the vegetable section of Wal-Mart, she was surprised to see so many kinds of vegetables. She couldn’t recognize or hadn’t tasted half of the vegetables.

My Grandma teaching Helen how to make a "包子" (steaming bun)

My Grandma teaching Helen how to make a "包子" (steaming bun)




But now she has tried most of them, and fortunately she enjoys most of them. I have also taken her to various styles of restaurants. She will write one blog just about the food she had here, so I won’t spoil the details now. Yum!


Helen studied Chinese for one semester at her high school, and she learned some more Chinese by using Rosetta Stone, language learning software, in Colorado. In China, she could speak basic Chinese, such as “hello”, “goodbye”, “I am not hungry”, “好吃(yummy)” and “I can speak a little Chinese”. She has been trying hard to learn Chinese and has made a lot of progress. I believe her Chinese will be great after several Chinese courses.


Helen Hutchens walking on a traditional Xi'an street in China

Helen walking on a traditional Xi'an street

Helen Hutchens stands with a Terracota Soldier

In addition to staying at my home in Dalian, we visited Xi’an with my family. We saw the Terracotta Soldiers, one of the must-sees of China. It was my first time to Xi’an, and the trip totally fascinated me. As an ancient Chinese capital, Xi’an has so many stories to tell. To me it was like stepping into the past and looking back at the spectacular things ancient Chinese people have done.


Helen Hutchen stands before water with a traditional building in the background in Xi'an, China

A visit to an ancient garden in Xi'an


When I walked with Helen on the streets, I could feel many people were staring at us. The reason was simple: almost all the people living in my city (or China) are Asians. Very few of other races live here. If we see white people, we call them foreigners (“外国人” in Chinese). I guess Helen is getting used to being looked at more than one second by another person.


Helen did a great job adapting to a different culture and interacting with my friends and family. They all love Helen. I could tell Helen was excited about things she saw here, and I was excited for her, too.


Jason Sheng stands before the Terracota Army in China

Me and Terracotta Army

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