Photo Essay: CET Harbin

Photos by Rebekah Vecchiarelli (University of Rhode Island), Student Correspondent CET Harbin Summer 2019

 

Right outside our dorm is the HIT basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts. All hours of the day the courts are filled with students practicing different sports and playing games together. Sometimes there are also official games and other student events out on the courts at night. Having the courts right outside creates a lively atmosphere and also gives students to go out and put their own games

 

This semester, two different classes were offered to students so that they could practice something new while also getting more familiar with Chinese culture. While I unfortunately was not able to participate in a class, my classmates who signed up have been having a great time practicing Taiji and Chinese calligraphy. This picture is an example from the first week of class by CET student Sarah Pudlo.

 

HIT has many different cafeterias, so if you want it is possible to try something new every day. One of my favorite things so far has been the personal hot pot bar! You order your soup from the counter and then find an open stove along the bar. Options of different foods then come by on a conveyor belt so you can get as many different things as you want!

 

Almost every weekend during the summer, CET has an outing planned for us somewhere in the city. Last weekend, we went to Sun Island, a large island in Songhua river. This is one of the major scenic spots of Harbin, you can visit sites along the river, explore flower gardens, and many more things. Overall the whole island is beautiful and it can be a nice break from the hecticness of the city.

 

One bit of advice about studying abroad again and again is find a way to do the things you love doing at home in China. Doing this can help you to adjust to life abroad. It is a way to help get rid of homesickness, make sure you are going out and finding time to enjoy yourself, and meet new people. For me getting to ride the rollercoaster in the small amusement park on Sun Island was a way to do that and it is advice that I recommend anyone studying abroad should follow!

 

This year, the 18th annual Harbin International Beer Festival was hosted on Sun Island. The festival includes many different performances and of course many different beers from all over the world. It is one of Harbin’s biggest summer tourism attractions.

 

Nowadays, the internet is a big part of most people’s lives. While in china, I have been introduced to a lot of new websites and apps by my roommate and other friends. Getting familiar with these websites is another good way to practice Chinese, especially informal language and getting more familiar with Chinese culture.

 

To take a break from studying, usually a few nights per week someone will host a game night in the common room. Game nights are a great because it is a chance for CET students and the Chinese roommates to all get together and have fun. We get together to play board games, Chinese games, card games, and my personal favorite, werewolf!

 

This week, the weekend activity was visiting the 731 Museum. This trip was much heavier than other activities. The 731 Museum is at the former location of the Japanese Unit 731 which was the main headquarters for Japanese biological warfare and experimentation in China in the 1930s and 40s. This is an important part of China’s, and especially Harbin’s history, and while overall it is a heartbreaking place to visit, I think acknowledging terrible events of the past is extremely important so we can try to be better.

 

Since we all did come to this program to improve our Chinese, a lot of our time is spent doing homework and studying. Even though often I would rather be out exploring the city, I know the work I am doing is important for me to someday reach my goal of fluency in Chinese. Even after just 3 weeks, I already can tell my Chinese is improving, and anytime someone compliments your speaking it feels like a little victory. When I started taking Chinese in my first semester of college, I never thought that just two years later I would be able to give presentations on renewable energy, debate economics with my classmates, or discuss philosophy with my roommate, all in Chinese!