Posts Tagged ‘study abroad china’

Video: A Palace with 9,999 Rooms

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Most of us are lucky to have a home that might have three bedrooms and one bathroom. But imagine living in a place that has 9,999 rooms! There is such a home which boasts the name “The Forbidden City,” and it can found in the middle of  Beijing, China.

But why 9,999? Why not 10,000?

There’s a perfectly good reason, but you’ll have to watch this video to find out. If you want to learn more, China’s Forbidden City can be seen on the Smithsonian Channel. This summer, students who travel on our new Smithsonian Studies Abroad program in Beijing will have the opportunity to see the Forbidden City and explore some of these rooms. They may come back wanting to redecorate their own bedroom, or possibly the entire house.

Would you want to live in a home with 9,999 rooms?

Smithsonian Studies Abroad is filling up fast for this summer! Will you go to China, Italy or Spain?

Video: Terra-Cotta Warriors

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Part of a monumental necropolis dedicated to China’s first emporer, the Terra-Cotta Warriors were rediscovered in 1974 by Chinese farmers digging a well. Since 1974, more than 600 pits have been unearthed over a 22-mile area; in addition to the clay soldiers, Qin Shi Huangdi’s underground royal court included bronze waterfowl, terra-cotta musicians and acrobats for entertainment, as well as clay officials to keep everyone on track.

Today’s video comes straight from China, thanks to YouTube user MartialArtsCinema.


What would you take with you to the afterlife, whatever form it may take? Share below.

Read more about the Terra-Cotta warriors in Smithsonian magazine.

Click for our tours to China. We also have Study Abroad opportunities in China for High School Students.

Travel Hit List: China

Friday, September 18th, 2009

China is one of the world’s most talked-about destinations. Full of wonder, history, and culture, we can’t wait to go back soon. For the first-time travelers (and die-hard fans), here’s a taste of fascinating China:

Cyclist in Lijiang, China. Photo: Fredrik Stai, Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

Read: How some of Xi’an’s famous Terra-Cotta Warriors are leaving China for a while, and discover more about Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s lasting legacy.

Listen: Chinese Classical instrumental music.

Watch: Learn about the secrets to the design of China’s Forbidden City (courtesy of Smithsonian Channel).

Eat and Drink: Bird’s nest soup, anyone? Learn more about this highly prized Chinese delicacy.

Check out: A fascinating timeline of Chinese history, courtesy of the Institution’s Freer and Sackler galleries.

Travel: Now is a great time to book a journey to China.

Next Summer: Looking for a great Study Abroad oppportunity? Smithsonian now offers Study Abroad programs for high schoolers in China. Click to check it out.

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Where in China would you most like to visit or revisit?

Faux Pas in China

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Kate Simpson is President of Academic Travel Abroad, where she began her career as a China Program Manager in 1998 after completing a degree in East Asian Studies from Yale and a post-graduate fellowship in Chinese literature. Kate loves to travel to hidden corners of the countries she loves most, like Haute Savoie in alpine France or the Ming villages near Huangshan in China. Click for more on Kate.

The Forbidden City, Beijing. Photo: Jamie Dickinson, Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

The Forbidden City, Beijing. Photo: Jamie Dickinson, Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

I always chuckle when I visit the Hall of Clocks and Watches in Beijing’s Forbidden City, which features gifts to Chinese emperors presented by foreign envoys. In Mandarin Chinese, the words “give a clock” (song zhong) can also mean “sending one to one’s end.” For this reason, traditionally, clocks and time pieces are not considered the best choices as gifts for Chinese friends. Diplomacy without language comprehension or an understanding of proper etiquette can pose challenges!

As a student of China, I loved using the Mandarin skills I had to navigate cultural differences with Chinese counterparts. However, language alone doesn’t always help. As with all cultures, body language, actions, and rituals convey more information than words alone. And when it comes to eating and drinking, the Chinese are emperors of protocol! Certainly, formal banquets are different from a casual meal with friends, but generally, here are some tips that help me keep my relations with the Chinese untainted by faux pas:

• At a banquet, hosts and guests have very clearly defined places at the (usually) round table. The host always sits in the seat facing the door. His or her guest of honor sits to his or her left. To the host’s right, the next important guest is seated (or the interpreter if there is a need).

• If toasts begin, make sure to lift your glass so that it touches below the rim of the person’s with whom you are toasting. This is a sign of respect.

• If you have had enough to drink and your hosts are insisting on another “gan bei” (dry your glass: a shot), say the two words “sui yi” (as you wish) and take a modest sip. This is usually something women can get away with more easily than men and it indicates that they respectfully decline to down their glass.

• Always leave something on your plate to indicate you have plenty to eat. Make it clear that you consider the meal very ample. This gives your host “face.”

• If the dinner is not a banquet, when the bill comes, it is customary to fight noisily over it with the other party, and let the party who did not pay for your last meal together pick up the tab eventually. But you need to put on a good show of it! This play-acting takes place regularly in Chinese restaurants across the world. You’ll know it’s your turn after the next mealand fight.

• When your guest leaves the banquet hall or restaurant, the host should walk them out to the door, often repeating “man zou, man zou” (go slowly).

Many of the more traditional protocols are fading with China’s more relaxed approach to relations with foreigners. However, erring on the side of formality is never a problem in a country whose pride in its heritage and traditions runs deep.

Now that you know, try these tips for yourself. Click here for travel to China.

We now offer Study Abroad programs in China for High School Students. Click here for details.

Have you ever made an etiquette blunder in a foreign country? Share below!