Travel Journal #15 – Weekend Excursion

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Xi’an, one of the oldest and most historic cities in China. It’s the location of the magnificent City Wall, Bell Tower (photo below), and Giant Wild Goose Pagoda; and I almost didn’t go. Why? Because I had five papers due in four days this week and only one was completely finished. It would have been practical to stay back on campus, finish my schoolwork, and go to sleep at a regular time; it’s probably what I should have done.
Xi'an bell tower
Instead I skipped my last class on Friday and hopped a plane with some friends to Xi’an. It’s been at least two months since I’ve truly been out of Shanghai, and it felt good to finally escape. I slept on the way there, so when we finally arrived in Xi’an I was a little groggy but definitely ready to explore. That night we went to the Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter, where the local night market snaked through every nook and cranny available. It was your typical tourist trap, but it had freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and shadow puppets and didn’t smell like smog. I didn’t want to leave.
The next day we joined a tour to see the Terracotta Warriors (photo top of page). Even after a thousand years they were still lined up in their ranks, awaiting orders. The tour guide told us that scholars think that there are even more. Archaeologists are still searching for more caverns of soldiers, but it would probably take another 60 years to finish preserving what they have already found.
On our final day, I biked all 13 kilometers of the City Wall. And even though smog pressed heavily on the city that day, I could see how much the city had evolved since its construction. When it was built during the Ming Dynasty, an entire world lived behind the walls. Today, the City Wall is nothing more than a reminder of how ineffective walls can really be.
For all of the people out there who are worried that I didn’t finish my schoolwork, I did. I may be a bit sleep-deprived and a little on edge, but it’s all done. Sometimes I think it’s okay to just say “screw the consequences,” take a risk, and see what happens. I wouldn’t try this with meth, but with a chance to experience a new city? Absolutely. My work is never going to run away from me; there’s always something that I should be doing. But even so, every once in a while I say “screw it” anyway. And sometimes things work out all right.
by Morgan Whitehead ’15, currently participating in the Centre-in-China study abroad program. Learn more about study abroad in China.

By |2013-12-20T09:29:20-05:00December 20th, 2013|News, Study Abroad, Travel Journals - China|