As the first city that I visited on the China study abroad trip, I wasn't sure of what to expect from Beijing. But it exceeded any expectation that I may have had in the back of my head and left me wanting more and more after I left. It was full of culture and liveliness that I've yet to see matched at home.
The people were incredibly friendly, and although it was a bit difficult to catch a cab, once you got in, the drivers loved to talk (even though it took a bit of an effort to understand the majority of what they said). However, what made it easier was the fact that I took the Chinese course last year and was able to use a good amount of the language that I learned. The Chinese seemed impressed by my and others' attempts to overcome the language barrier and it made me feel like even though we were worlds apart, we could start off a conversation with something in common. However, secretly I marveled at the way that we communicated just by using basic human movements and shared sign language when we couldn't speak on the same terms verbally.
As the capital of China, Beijing obviously offers many historically important areas to tourists. We enjoyed a tea-ceremony where we could also purchase favorite teas, and saw The Forbidden City, the Olympic City, and the Great Wall. As each place I was amazed by the unique and fun fashions I saw, such as many women walking along the Great Wall in high heels and dresses, funky designs on umbrellas that people held open as parasols, and the high-fashion tee shirts that many men sported. Beijing was the best place to visit first in China as it threw us straight into an exciting culture shock that made me appreciate its individuality and character and all the more amped to visit the next two cities.