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Student shares experience in China

February 19, 2014

Junior International Studies student and Gilman Scholar, Stefani Gleave, shares part of her experiences traveling in China before starting her studies at Yunnan Normal University in Yunnan, China during the spring 2014 semester.

After five days in Xi’an, we decided to head west to the Gansu province. It was close to impossible to find train tickets because of the Chinese New Year. This is the most traveled time of year in China; it is like our Christmas, only it lasts for 2 weeks!

For me half of the experience was the train rides. You share a small space with a lot of people and being foreigners, we got a lot of attention! There are generally 3 different options when taking the train: soft sleeper (ultimate luxury), hard sleeper (cars full of bunks, 3 high and 6 to each berth), and hard seat (the most entertainment, but can be miserable if longer than 6 hours). We took a 9-hour hard sleeper from Xi’an to Lanzhou (the capital of Gansu) and stayed just one night there. The next day we took a 6 ½ hour hard seat NW to Zhangye where we wanted to see the famous “Rainbow Rocks” and the sleeping Buddha. So far this was my favorite train ride. There aren’t many foreigners in the Gansu province, especially this time of year and people are REALLY curious about us.

When we got on the train people just stared, and as we got closer to our seat a young man sitting across from us squealed with excitement, and then hurried and grabbed his mouth. We were also sitting close to some fine art students and spent some time chatting with them through their translators on their phones. They then asked us if they could sketch our faces, and spent the next couple of hours drawing us. A little boy caked with dirt saw us playing cards and curiously watched us. He brought over his own deck of cards and wanted to play with us too. We tried a few different games, but the language barrier made teaching quite difficult, so we just played war. The game of war went longer than expected and when Noah finally emptied his hand, the little boy started dealing the cards again. That is when I pulled out the Ipad. He spent the next few hours sitting with us while I showed him games on my Ipad and we filled his belly with snacks and fruit. Just when we thought we were going to get some rest a 14-year-old boy came and sat with us to practice his English.

Stefani Gleave

About the Gilman International Scholarship

The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards for undergraduate study abroad and was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000. This scholarship provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. The program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go by supporting undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints.

Contact: Aimee Jones
Phone: 491-5917