Exploring the European city

Exploring the European city

A feeling of serenity surrounded me when we left the van (June 16) to explore Qingdao. The entire atmosphere reminded me of a European country, not China.

In town, the streets were narrow and full of shade from towering trees. The coast was windy, and the air was purer in Qingdao than on the streets inland China. I still only saw a few foreigners throughout the two-day trip. I don’t mind being one of the people that stands out in a crowd.

The Chinese often stare at my group members and me due to our differing appearances. They are never rude or boisterous about it, and they just glance and walk on.

In Qingdao, small waves knocked on rocks as a vast blue sky surrounded the city coast. It was quite a relief being on the coast where it felt like about seventy degrees compared to the blazing-hot weather in Zibo during the past two weeks.

When we explored another pier, I took a walk in solitude to reach the pagoda at the end of the long series of wooden planks. One of my favorite writers, Henry David Thoreau (a name in which I think I have mentioned twice thus far), stated that when one is in the presence of others, it is possible feel alone ... but one is never truly alone in the company of nature.

On my solitary walk amidst many whom I did not know, I did not feel alone due to Nature’s presence enveloping me. The ocean, the sun, the sky, and the wind all contented me.

The pagoda at the pier’s end consisted of gift shops and snack stands, but the walk was worth it after a long day. I purchased a bottle of Coca-Cola and thought to myself while passing by the fellow tourists, “I wonder if they can see through me based on my personal appearance, or if I knew one of them intimately, could I see their heart as equivalent to mine, or as one capable of knowing me wholly?”

I think this because the people I know in China so far often speak to me as if I’ve known them my entire life.

It may be strange or even absurd that I ponder ideas such of these while walking through an immense crowd of people in a foreign country. But I find them to be more entertaining than, “Why is it so crowded?” or “There are too many people in the world!”

As I’ve grown up, I’ve become unfathomably patient. It takes much more than crowded streets to aggravate me. Even when I’m around others, whether friends or strangers, I am often not always “there;” but rather, thinking about anything from my own surroundings to things I wish would happen in the confines of my own mind.

Qingdao seemed to be especially a convenient location to think. I thought about a lot during this trip, including how my experience in China has changed me, my future, what I want to do when I get home, and about the ones I love. I hope to return to Qingdao someday to experience more of its people, culture, and coastal aesthetics.

    — Sarah Halter, a senior English major