Week 1, a week of experiencing environments, people and whipping my mandarin in shape. Since we have did not have the full ALP team here within the first set, we were generally more free to explore the wonders of Hangzhou by ourselves.
With different groups of people, I made multiple trips towards 西湖 to admire the beauty of it’s surroundings, take a hike up 北高峰, and wonder the streets of 河坊街. Basically, I walked a lot. Some people say to stop and smell the roses, and in some way, I find i have. I have really come to appreciate the beauty of using my two feet to get around, for I find, I do miss a lot less than when I sit in a vehicle and just watch the world pass by.
View from 北高峰 Man reels up a massive fish from 西湖
This was also the week also marked a soft start to ALP for me, since my team had our first meeting with Professor Zhang and one of our teaching assistants, Yin Ping, for our Music Emotion theme. We then proceeded to make our introductions, and since the professor was heading for a meeting, requested for Yin Ping to bring us to tour the school and for dinner as well.
Theme 3 with our TA
With the weekend approaching, it also marked the approaching Buddy Day, and me being a slowpoke, I ended up being one of the last few to sign up. As a result, the only available groups that were left, were for activities that I already had done. This gave me little to no choice, and I told myself to choose something that maybe can make me feel more comfortable while on this journey. So I went with “Plan H”. A 20 people expedition that turned out to be one of my best decisions of this journey thus far. With 7 groups heading on the same trip meant 7 ZJU accompanying students, and the day before, I set myself a challenge, to speak with them with as much Mandarin as possible and to translate for my fellow SUTD peers.
With this spirit, I set out on Buddy Day to just soak in what I was shown and the conversations I had. I must say that both sides were amazingly curious about each other’s cultures and everyday things, and the beauty of it is that we aren’t all that different. One that we all could relate to as uni students, and one etched very deep into my mind, was that of the crazy workload, constantly burning midnight oil to meet deadlines, which in turn causes our classrooms to look like the aftermath of a tornado. It was a real joy to just hear their amazing stories and share mine as we exchanged laughter. I also found out that they are the very people coming to SUTD to experience life on our side and I guess the tables will be turned on us to bring them on a similar buddy day, and I personally am looking forward to that when I am back at SUTD.
With the end of the weekend, all of our SUTD students have arrived, and the 14th marked the official start of ALP, and with the opening ceremony out of the way, it is now time to soak in the experiences to thrive and grow from here!