The golden roofs of the Forbidden City on the smoggy backdrop of Beijing

The golden roofs of the Forbidden City on the smoggy backdrop of Beijing

During my third weekend at NYU Shanghai, my peers and I traveled to Beijing to learn more about China’s political center: Beijing. The city was hot and humid: a strange combination in Beijing’s near-desert climate. My classmates and I were quick to take water breaks and duck into the shade during our busy touring schedule.

I’d been to Beijing once before the Beijing Culture Trip, so most of the tourist sites weren’t anything new to me. I actually found myself summarizing the tour guide’s speeches to any friends who were interested in the city’s history, but to impatient to listen to anything less than an abridged version. But even though I’d seen Beijing;s tourist attractions before, I couldn’t escape the charms of the Forbidden City. Walking beside the marble dragon, it’s not difficult to imagine a young emperor and his entourage passing deliberately through each gate, adhering to each tradition. And due to restorations being funded by the Chinese Government, many parts of the palace were like new. I can’t fully describe the power of the Forbidden City, but in spite its sweltering summer heat and enormous crowds, the old palace fills me with joy and wonder.

The area between two of the palace’s many heavenly gates

The area between two of the palace’s many heavenly gates

Beijing and all its history is wonderful, but my favorite thing about traveling to China’s capital stands far outside the city: The Great Wall of China. In my opinion, no visit to Beijing is complete without a trip up the Great Wall. The Wall is ancient and even dangerous in some part, but seeing its brilliantly engineered walkways, gutters, and watchtowers is quite humbling. During my visit with NYU Shanghai, my friends and I challenged ourselves to traverse the Wall as quickly as we possibly could. We managed to climb up 14 towers and return in an hour and a half. Our legs were shaking by the end of tbe sprint, but the spent energy had left us with great pictures, and even greater memories. I’ll always remember my time with my classmates on the Great Wall of China with smile.

The Great Wall of China stretching up and over a mountain

The Great Wall of China stretching up and over a mountain