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2015 EXCHANGE GROUP UPDATE » This year's group left Boston on Tuesday, February 17. Check back here daily during their 8-week travels and studies for their latest blog posts!
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Sunday, March 1, 2015



Today started with a wake up call at 5:30 am and an excursion at 6 am to see the sunrise. Jackie, our youthful tour guide, took us all up to a local mountain to a viewing platform overlooking hundreds of clear rice terraces. The rice growing season has yet to start, so it is an optimal time to view these spectacular creations. While walking through the entrance, we as a group were surprised to see that this viewing of a natural phenomenon cost money whereas that wouldn’t necessarily happen in the States. I must say, however, the view from this platform was rather spectacular in my opinion. This platform zigzagged down the side of the mountain and was packed with people, many who arrived well before our later arrival of 6:30 for a 7:30 sunrise. The beauty of the sun peaking over the misty mountains did not disappoint and after we all took many Instagram-worthy pictures of this lovely sight, we returned to the hotel to freshen up, aka nap until lunch.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Yangshuo Market Carnival

(Lindsay Li)

West Street in Yangshuo is a cross between a carnival and a market. Most likely it is a market on days other than the New Year celebration, but we were there during the festivities, and we were swept into the undertow of pedestrian traffic as soon as we entered from the main drag. The only way to visit a shop was to plan well in advance and begin to edge through the constant current of humans towards the bank, hoping for an eddy right in front of the target boutique or cart. Thousands of pen and ink prints, silk scarves, toys, fried tofu, steamed cakes, carved knickknacks, tea, candy, knockoffs galore, ocarinas, minority handicrafts, sandalwood combs, combs made of horn, combs made of bone and more toys. Noises from all directions: people singing along with boomboxes, toy jets with blinking LED lights screaming high into the air overhead and swooping back to almost slam into second-story windows only to shoot straight up into the air once again and soar away, the pounding of men with large wooden mallets making something like peanut butter, children laughing and squealing and the people in the shops calling out after us lower and lower prices trying to hit on the one that would bring us back to buy. Arlen and I did buy every now and then, but Abby, Ola and Nick? They single-handedly balanced the Chinese budget.

Last Day in Yangshuo


On our last day in Yangshuo, we woke up early and went to go see the Reed Flute Cave. The enormous cave is spectacularly lit up to showcase different formations. Our tour guide, Summer, explained what the different stalagmites and stalactites represented. For example, one part of the cave looked like a sun rising up over a lion. We were all in awe of the caves vastness and natural beauty. After visiting the cave, we went to Fubo Hill, named for General Fubo. As we walked through, we saw hundreds of Buddhas engraved in the side of the hill. There were many different renditions which depicted how the image of the Buddha changed over time. Then, we climbed up to the top of the hill to get a nice view of the whole city.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Star Ferry and Hong Kong Island

(Nik Dombrowski)

After a restless night (I awoke twice, the first time due to an unknown Jamaican number calling my cell phone) and with breakfast shoveled down, Ola, Abby, and I walked down from the hotel to the Star Ferry pier, which is the most famous and convenient method of transportation from Kowloon, where we are staying, to the actual island of Hong Kong and our destination that morning, Man Mo Temple. Despite Mrs. Viz’s reports of how romantic the ferry is supposed to be, the many couples on board seemed unaffected. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Guilin and Yangshuo (or ... Risk of Death by Moped!)

(Abby O'Reilly)

Ola, Nik, Mr. and Mrs. Li and I arrived to Mainland China in the rural city of Guilin. Getting off the plane, I noticed all the beautiful mountains China’s landscape is typically associated with. We learned later from our tour guide, Summer, that these mountains are made of limestone, which thousands of years of rain have melted away, giving them their characteristically steep and rounded shape. The city also didn’t have any very tall buildings and was very dark at night.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ni Hao from Hong Kong!

(Ola Szymanska)

Ni hao from Hong Kong! Our China adventure started with a 6:00 AM flight to San Francisco, where we had a three hour layover before a 14 hour flight, during which I developed a cold. When we finally arrived, we were astonished by the majestical HK skyline. Needless to say, we’ve been quite tired and jet-lagged yet have been trying to make the most of our few days here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

[FIRST POST of 2015 Exchange] Logan Airport Sendoff!

Narrowly avoiding flight cancellation due to Boston's seemingly never-ending snow, the 2015 China Exchange Group departed Logan Airport on time, very early on February 17.  This year's group (pictured below, L to R) consists of D-S High School teacher Lindsay Li and seniors Nik Dombrowski, Ola Szymanska and Abby O'Reilly.  Ms. Li's husband Arlen will accompany the group until it arrives at Hangzhou High School.

Friday, March 28, 2014

[FINAL POST of 2014 Exchange] So Long, Farewell…


Wow, time has flown by. At the risk of sounding repetitive (per the other blog posts, and the final blog posts of previous groups), I can’t believe we leave for home today…where did the last two months go? While I am of course thrilled to see my family, friends, and loved ones, I am also going to deeply miss some of the people I’ve met here, and miss seeing such amazing things each and every day, whether in Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Huangshan, Xi’an, Lijiang, Dali, Shaxi, Kunming, Guilin, Yangshuo, or Hong Kong. I think that’s a complete list, yes? Wait! I forgot the side trips! Wuzhen, Xiaoxing…



I’m going to start off with how absolutely bizarre it is that this is my very last blog post in China. Two months is a long time, and it’s been fantastic. All right, on to Beijing.

We arrived on our train at around seven-thirty AM, where our new tour guide, Hans, met us. He told us that he got his English name directly from his family name, Han, so his business card actually reads “Hans Han”. We went straight to our hotel for check-in, and a quick shower and change of clothes. I’m beyond glad we stopped first, because after that we hit the ground running.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Shaoxing and More


Well, we just enjoyed our last week at Hangzhou High School. Our last weekend was a fun one; it was spent going to Shaoxing on Saturday and biking on Sunday. We were lucky enough to have an entire weekend of sunny 75 degree weather.

Our Last Weekend in Hangzhou and Our Last Day at Hangzhou High School


As our last weekend in Hangzhou set in on Friday night, we sat down at a cafĂ© with DiDi, Kay, and Cindy for a few drinks and some war stories. It almost felt like nothing was wrong and it was just another weekend on the streets of Hangzhou. Only now do I realize that this was the last gathering that the eight of us would have. DiDi, Kay, and Cindy were the students who came to our school last year and they have been immensely helpful in translating and planning our day to day activities and visits. A big thank you to them. 

Lazy Sunday


Finally, a break to all the traveling and the routine of school! Today, Sunday, was one of the most relaxing days of the trip. I actually got to sleep in for once, which was nice. (In China, my usual wake up time of noon has changed to about nine o’clock on weekends). After waking up, my host dad, David, and I went to Zhejiang University to walk around. Zhejiang has multiple campuses just like some colleges in America; the difference between this location and the campus my previous host family took me to was drastic.