By Cody Ng, Foster Undergraduate who participated in an exchange with Peking University in Beijing, China
In early October, I traveled with other exchange students to Inner Mongolia, a northern region of China. At first, I was quite wary when planning this trip because I did not know that Inner Mongolia was a popular travel destination and had not heard much about what to do or see there. In the end, though, this was definitely a worthwhile and memorable trip.
Some of the highlights of this trip included riding horses and camels, exploring the dessert, living in yurts (in freezing temperatures!), and singing karaoke. Through this trip, I really began seeing what study abroad was all about and came to understand how important making friends is while on exchange. Before expanding upon this, however, it is important to mention that when studying abroad, it can be valuable to consider the different holidays/breaks that the exchange university/country has. For example, in China, “National Week” is an entire week off of school during the second week of October, which enabled me to travel to Inner Mongolia in the first place!
While all the places I visited in Inner Mongolia were fun and worthwhile, the people I went with to visit these places amplified the experience. Something I learned early on while studying abroad is that the people you meet and hangout with while on exchange will define your experience during the four months or so that you are studying abroad. This was especially true for me on my trip to Inner Mongolia, where I shared many laughs, jokes, experiences, and food with the people whom I met at Peking University who traveled with me. Without them, I can say with certainty that my experience would not have been what it was.
To end this post, I’ll write a bit more on Inner Mongolia itself. Travelling to Hohhot (Inner Mongolia) by high-speed train, this was the first time I had traveled anywhere by train, and it was a cool experience to sight-see while abroad. Inner Mongolia is a region typically visited for its terrain and grasslands, which provide amazing backdrops for photos and sightseeing; however, it may not provide as much in regards to urban/metropolitan activities. To anyone studying abroad in China, I would definitely recommend visiting the region as its food, geography, people, and culture are vastly different from Seattle’s (and even Beijing’s).