June 22, 2011
A blog from China by sophomore middle blocker Mary Kurisch.
Hi again everyone!
Well, after four flights, three layovers and over a day of traveling, I am home. I am feeling a little jet lagged but I am sure some sleep will cure me of it. My days seem flipped. I am so tired during the day and then at night I want to be awake. It is going to take me some time to adjust back to the time change. That said, this will be my last blog and I need to fill you in on my last day in China.
On Sunday we woke up and went to see the Temple of Heaven. The Temple’s grounds covered quite a distance and people were using it as a sort of park. There was dancing to music, games and people exercising. We walked through the different places where the emperor would pray. We learned that 15 days before the new year the emperor would come and pray alone at the Temple of Heaven. The first night they would have a ceremony in the Temple and the emperor would be the only one who stayed. There were three main buildings to the Temple. The first was where they would hold the ceremony. The second was the emperor’s sleeping and dining quarters. The last was where the emperor would pray. These buildings where as extravagant as those in the Forbidden City and they used the same colors: blue, red, green and yellow.
After the Temple of Heaven, we had the opportunity to go shopping one last time, visit the "birds nest" or go to the Olympic Center. I chose to go to the “birds nest.” Unfortunately, when we got there it was a little foggy so we had a difficult time seeing it because we were not allowed to get too close.
When we were done we bused back to the hotel. We had a little free time before we had to eat lunch and leave for our last match. In that free time some of the girls and I walked to a market by our hotel. This market was smaller than the others we had been to but it had similar items. We shopped around there for a little while, bargaining the whole time, until we had to go back for lunch.
During lunch, we met up with some of the girls who had gone to the silk market we had been too. After lunch we loaded the bus for our last ride to the gym. The USA team I was on played before the second USA team. We were all excited to play again and wanted to play well in our last games. We started out strong against a Beijing team and won the first two games. But then we lost the next one in a tight fight at the end. When it came time for our last game, we knew we wanted to win. We all fought aggressively and won the match in four games. All of us girls played well in our last game, which made it all the more fun. After our game the other team played. Unfortunately, they lost their last match in three but they put up a good fight.
After our match we all boarded the buses, including the Chinese teams, and headed back to our hotel. We had our final banquet at our hotel and we were excited to find out the results. With a 2-1 record we knew we were tied for first and that it came down to games won and lost in the matches. At the beginning of the banquet one of our USA coaches spoke and thanked everyone for all their hard work to make this tournament happen. Then the Chinese coach spoke and thanked us also. After that they announced the places. There were six teams in the tournament and in the end we won! We got first! They had our captain come up on stage and gave us a trophy.
The next morning was a tired one. I had spent a lot of the night trying to fit all of my stuff into my suit case, and finally got it all to fit. After eating breakfast we headed to the Beijing airport. There, we checked in and waited for our first flight to Korea to take off. After landing in Korea we had a two hour layover, but none of us were mad because this was the first time we were able to get on Facebook in two weeks (Facebook was blocked in China).
Later, after boarding in Korea, we were on our way back to the USA. This time, the overnight flight was a little shorter because of the way the earth rotates. Also, when we crossed the International Dateline, it became Monday again. It was confusing to look at our flights and see that we left at 2 PM on Monday from China and arrived in the USA at 3 PM on Monday. After we landed in Los Angeles we went through customs and said our goodbyes as we headed in different directions. For me, I still had two more red-eye flights. I arrived at O'Hare on Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM. Two of my NIU teammates picked me up. It was nice to see them again, and I am beginning to adjust back to life in DeKalb.
I learned so much from my trip to China. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. I got to see a whole different culture and country, which most do not get the opportunity to see. In Shandong, I got to see an area that does not get many outside visitors. In Beijing, I got to be among the 20 million people who live there.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading my blogs and viewing some of my pictures. I have enjoyed telling my stories and it will help me to remember the awesome experience I had. I am glad to be home and to live in the United States, but if you ever get a chance to see China I would take it!
Well, I hope to see all of you NIU fans at our games in the fall. I believe that we are going to have a great season!
Xie xie and zai jian! (Thank you and good bye!)
If you have any questions, comments or concerns for Mary, please e-mail Volleyball SID Zach Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org).