Ni Hao from China: a Summer learning trip

Over the Summer holidays, Strathcona’s sister school in China, Wuxi No. 1 Girls High School, hosted four eager Strathcona students. The girls immersed themselves in the language, culture and alternative schooling methods of China, and returned excited about the next stage of studying Chinese at Strathcona. Here, the girls share their highlights of the experience.

In November 2016, I, along with three of my classmates, embarked on a language and cultural learning experience to China. The 10-and-a-half-hour flight took us to Shanghai, plus another two hours driving time, to reach our destination of Wuxi No. 1 Girls High School. We stayed in the boarding house at this school Monday to Friday for three weeks, with classes during the day from 7:30am until 5pm. We thoroughly enjoyed obtaining further knowledge of the Chinese language, as well as meeting people who will remain lifetime friends of ours.

Wuxi is a smaller sized city located one hour either side of Shanghai and Nanjing. On the middle weekend of our trip we caught the bullet train to visit the city of Nanjing, where we stayed at our Strathcona classmate, Christie’s house. In Nanjing, we discovered a lot about the history and culture, whilst shopping in the old town, visiting Sun Zhong Shan’s tomb eating Nanjing specialty fried dumplings, guo tie. Nanjing held the youth Olympics in 2014, we had an opportunity to visit the Olympic town, and cross over the Olympic walking bridge at night. We witnessed a spectacular view of Nanjing and all the bright lights of the city. We thank Christie and her family for their hospitality.

School life in China was a huge contrast for us compared to our Australian school life. On Monday to Friday, we woke up very early and headed to breakfast at 7am, which was served in the cafeteria. This generally consisted of rice congee and a boiled egg. Classes began at 7:30, during which we would learn new vocabulary and absorb the atmosphere of being in a Chinese classroom. During the 10-minute breaks between each class, we would usually chat to our new friends or ask them to help us with our Chinese homework. Twice a day, the whole school would go out onto the oval and do some running. We lined up into our classes and ran up and down the oval for 800m, whilst marching music played on the loud speaker, to get us in the spirit. As another break from doing schoolwork, we did eye exercises twice a day. Lunch was then served, which we ate in the classroom. As the school day was so long, we had a half an hour nap time after lunch, to rejuvenate ourselves for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, we would have dinner in the cafeteria and then either do homework or rest and go to bed early, to prepare ourselves for the next day.

On the weekends, we had the opportunity to stay with Chinese families who had daughters at Wuxi No. 1 Girls High School. From Fridays to Sundays we would stay with these families, who would take us out to the movies, take us to restaurants, and show us around the beautiful city of Wuxi. They would also take us visit old temples, which had a variety of places to shop, such as Nanchan temple and Huishan guzhen. On the last weekend of our stay we went and saw their school performance, which was quite impressive because all the items had fancy, matching costumes to complement their performances which, as we had seen throughout the week, were meticulously rehearsed. We were excited to hear them mention us in the introduction.

We had a wonderful stay in China, and we hope to visit again soon!

By Annabel Pittendrigh, Nicola Toomey, Rebecca Phillips and Tayla Snowball, Year 12.