Monday was the start of a new week and it was officially the start of the ALP program and we opened with an opening ceremony where we were introduced to how to thrive in ALP one of the important things was to immerse in the culture of China. It was important for us as we would be in China for the next 3 months and in order to learn as much as we can in this time, learning about the culture would be essential.
On Tuesday, we decided to have a more relaxing day and learn more about the history of the humble umbrella and scissors. It was quite interesting to learn about how umbrella was made in the past and the different materials and mechanisms involved as the umbrella slowly evolved into what it is today. It also brought new perspectives on how the umbrella is integral to so many people in so many different aspects. It has great significance not only in the religious aspect of certain religions but also great social significance in the past where it represented people with high social status. It really was eye-opening to me as before going to the museum I thought of the umbrella as an item to protect people from the rain. After going through the museum, I realized the narrowness of my mindset and aimed to pay more attention to even the simple things around me.
After the museum trip, we had our first dinner session with our professors and teaching assistants where we bonded over a scrumptious meal and learned more about each other through the meal.
On Wednesday, my theme project team decided to go out for a session of team bonding before we embarked on our project together and what better way to bond than a climb up a mountain. The entire journey took almost the entire day where we covered over 12km and did a steep 600m climb to the summit which was really exhausting but the view was well worth the climb.
On Thursday, we finally had our first lesson in Zhejiang University. For our first course in Zhejiang University, we were introduced to Design fiction which was a very unique course which was less about creating physical prototypes and more about creating new ideas for the future. We were introduced to a very interesting in-class activity which was “How to make toast” and create a story from the ideas that we generated. It was really interesting and amusing to watch each team present their extremely interesting and novel ideas.
As we had a long weekend, my friends and I decided to venture out of Hangzhou and go out to Suzhou. The day started out bright and early in the morning where we left our hostel at 6.30am in order to catch our train to Suzhou. The Train station in Hangzhou was enormous and I was in awe at the size of the station, never in my life have I seen such a grand train station and the number of people in the station was nearly unaccountable. It really boggles my mind to the number of people, resources, and planning needed to keep everything on track. Singapore’s transport system complexity really pales in comparison to the system in China and makes me wonder how we could change our own transport system in order to keep up with the growing demands of the country as the population continues to grow.
As we finally reached Suzhou, we were greeted rainy weather as we made our way to our Airbnb. We decided to try to wait out the rain by grabbing lunch first and our first meal in Suzhou did not disappoint.
Due to the wet weather, our initial plans of cycling around 金鸡湖 was scrapped and we decided to visit one of the biggest bookstore/ malls in the area. Luckily the weather cleared up a little, so we spent the rest of the time walking and enjoying the scenery around the lake before going out for dinner.
The dinner place was nestled in a water canal-like area where it was surrounded by various Chinese architectural styled buildings and waterways. Dinner was excellent as usual and following that we decided to do some exploring and enjoy the beautiful waterways at night. After our casual walk, we headed back to our Airbnb for a well-deserved rest.
On Sunday, we decided to famous one of Su Zhou most famous attraction, Tiger hill. At tiger hill,the main attraction was the pagoda located in the park but there were many other attraction in the park such as the and the many pavilions and gardens The various gardens were well taken care of and simply beautiful and exuded tranquility as they completed the entire ancient atmosphere of the park. I really felt like I was transported into another world. The walk toward tiger hill and the entrance fee we paid was well worth it.