Beijing vs. Shanghai - By Alexa Boyce
While Beijing and Shanghai have roughly the same population, the cities vary widely in nearly every other way. Beijing is the commercial and technological center of China, Shanghai is the cultural and historical center. The government filters quite a bit of funds into Beijing for the sole purpose of development, and the city is currently working overtime in preparation to host the 2008 Olympics.
If a foreign visitor sees only that which is located within the city limits of Beijing, they will come away with an impression of the country that is, quite frankly, completely inaccurate. Shanghai also is in a period of rapid development, but it is more a city of extremes. Next to the gleaming skyscrapers and elaborate department stores, you will see homeless children and prostitutes.
Beijingers are stereotypically held to be open, confident, humorous, majestic in manner, enthusiastic about politics, art, culture, or other "grand" matters, unconcerned with thrift or careful calculation, and happy to take center stage. People from Shanghai have long been categorized by other Chinese as materialistic, pretentious and disdainful of provincials.
Beijing, meaning "northern capital" is located at the northern tip of the North China Plain. It is also the name of the Municipality, or province, in which the city is located. Shanghai's name means literally on (shang) sea (hai). It is located on the East China Sea, which is part of the Pacific Ocean. In Beijing, most of the widely-recommended tourist spots are related to historical events, such as the Forbidden City and Tiannamen Square.
In Shanghai, the tourist spots are mainly art galleries and theaters. Shanghai was the birthplace of Chinese cinema and theater, though Beijing is the home of the Beijing Opera. This is widely considered to be one of the greatest accomplishments of Chinese Culture. It is performed through song, dialogue, acrobatics, fighting and gestures. It is often performed in an archaic "stage dialect" that is very different from modern Mandarin. It can be hard to understand even if one is familiar with Chinese, so many modern theaters utilize electronic subtitles.
Lonely Planet Travel Guide- China
We've all seen it. You go to a wedding or the like, an event with a live band and far too much available alcohol and one of the guests whose possibly had too much to drink or is just the type who likes to act silly in public is, before you know it, out on the dance floor doing it, "the Russian dance." Arms folded, knees bent, trying and most likely failing to look strong and capable while getting their body down to the ground and then up again while kicking. Add vodka and it immediately improves its authenticity but sadly, not its execution.
Unlike the poor renditions seen at American weddings, Russian folk dances come from long tradition and show off the physical prowess of the participants as well as tell their origin folk stories.
The dance described earlier could be Drobushki, Peresek, Chechetka or Barynya, a favorite Russian step dance. Heel work is usually paired with khlapuski (slapping) and also prisyatki (squat work). Difficult moves used by dancers can express flirtation, challenge and competition. Drobushki is usually accompanied with acapella singing or with traditional Russian instruments including garmoshka, treshotki, lozhki (spoons) or the balalaika, a three-stringed instrument.
Barynya represents original Russian wild dancing with foot stomping and knee bending jumps. The dancers get so wound up they often break the heels from their boots.
Another dance with its history in Russia, awe inspiring and still flocked to today is, ballet (a lot less fun to imitate at weddings). Even though its origins are rooted in Italy and its beginnings in France the Russians took the form and both brought it to a wider audience as well as popularized it; they created stars like Pavlova and Nijinsky.
Dance is an integral part of Russian history, tradition, social costume and it's people.
I think the moral of the story is, you'd dance too if it were 14 degrees below zero.
ER in Quito - By Robin Fillner - SALUD Program Guest blogger traveling in Quito.
...Please be aware that the following blog contains graphic descriptions of scenes witnessed in an operating room. Reader discretion is advices.
Yesterday was pretty interesting. First, I attended rounds with the students. The patients we studied were in an observation room adjacent to the ER. The patients go there for a couple of days before actually being admitted, if necessary. We talked about different clotting times when taking warfarin, a blood thinner and different medication interaction when taking warfarin. The students participated in writing orders... and me too; I added cardiac diets to the cardiac patients. Most of the patients had pyelonephritis, a kidney infection.
Today, I hung out in the ortho room. We examined about 100 x-rays and discussed fractures and dislocations, etc., in between patients with broken bones. The students are so quick; it was hard to find the fractures before them.
After rounds yesterday, (don't read this if you have a queasy stomach but definitely read the end!) I hung out in the trauma room and there was a patient that was driven from La Costa, the coast, about 5 or 6 or maybe more hours away... that had been in a fight with another man regarding a land dispute. The angry man attempted to cut his head off with a machete or a hatchet; I couldn't understand which. But the patient had two cuts from the middle right ear all the way around to below his left ear. By the time I got there the patient already had a central line ( a main IV,) and was bandaged up. He had an ET tube and was being ventialated and had a midazolam drip running for sedation.
There was no cardiac monitor in sight and I really don't think anyone had taken his vital signs. He was moving all his extremities which was impressive and we had to hold him down because there were no restraints, or side rails. I got to go up to surgery with him. When they removed the bandages, arteries instantaneously started pulsing with blood. I was so impressed that the patient was so stable! The doctors immediately clamped off maybe 10 or so sites to decrease the bleeding. Inside the wound, you could see that his cranium had been severed, and so you could see his brain. I had never ever seen anything like this before. Also, part of his cervical vertebrates were cut as well. My Spanish teacher said it is common for injuries like this (although more likely on extremities) to happen in the coast because machetes are the only source of weapons there. There was an anesthesiologist, a plastic surgeon, a vascular surgeon, neurosurgeon, and about 5 other people there to watch. I was so impressed with the nurses and the sterility of the room. However, I had to hold the patient for a while because he was on his side and the only method they had to keep his legs on the table was with tape. A little precarious, the doctors in the room took pictures of the wounds with their cell phones, which I thought was a little weird.
Sorry if I ruined any appetites. The whole experience is really eye opening. There are a lot of differences in medicine here vs. the US. I will discuss some of them in the next blog.
By Kayla Allen
The Amalfi Coast is known worldwide for it beauty. Famous for its views, its food, its walking tours and the diversity of its towns, it's got a little something for everyone.
Amalfi's oceanic views will turned even the most stalwart city dwellers into nature lovers with its bright blue water and villas built into the hillside, you simply can't help falling in love.
For the already seasoned nature lovers there is Ferriere Nature Reserve which hosts a variety of plants and wildlife including salamander, badger, fox and many birds like the kestrel and the red woodpecker. Due to the reserve's position in a valley it is protected by the cold winter wind and has a pretty consistent temperature of about 59F degrees with high humidity. These characteristics help the reserve to act as a nursery keeping plants that would find it very difficult or impossible to grow anywhere else on the coast.
Italian food with some of the freshest fruits and vegetables, seafood, cheeses, and sumptuous pasta dishes how could you go wrong. Not to mention the wonderful world of Campania wines.
Lemons are always used in the local cuisine in the preparation of main courses, sweets, ice cream and simple refreshing drinks, such as lemonade. Lemon liqueur is one of the most famous foodstuffs on the coast, offered after meals and always served cold.
A mainstay of every lunch on the Amalfi coast and in Neapolotan cuisine in general is strong black coffee.
Amalfi has no shortage of museums owing to its long and interesting history.
Il Museo della Ceramica
A Museum dedicated to local ceramics with pieces dating back to XV century and votive ceramic of the XVII century.
Il Museo della Collegiata Chiesa di S.Maria a Mare
This church was built during the XII century and was turned into a museum a few years ago. It contains many objects thought to be holy, Spanish sculpture from the XVI century and its most treasured piece from that period, an ivory casket.
Vaqueria and the Pyramid Across the Street - By Jeremy Carter - Guest blogger traveling in Merida, Mexico.
Last night, I headed down to Merida's main square for the weekly performance of the vaqueria, a dance native to Yucatan. In this dance, couples dressed in traditional attire (white suits and white dresses, all with intricate embroidery) do a spirited dance where their torsos remain nearly motionless and their legs and feet move. (Think a Mexican version of Riverdance, only a lot more graceful.) To further demonstrate their skill, the performers dance with a glass of water balanced on their head…then they up the ante and dance while balancing a platter of five or more glasses of water. As if that weren't enough, they next dance with the platter on their heads while standing on a small box that's no more than a square foot in size.
Today, Armando – the archaeologist who doubles as our Mayan culture instructor – took our class to Izamal, a town about 45 minutes east of Merida. We were expecting an archaeological site with perhaps a few homes and small tiendas, so we were shocked to find a rather large and very beautiful colonial town where all of the buildings are painted yellow with white accents, and the streets are paved with cobblestone. The town square is lined with shops and vendors, and today was quite a busy day…although compared to the hustle and bustle of Mérida, Izamal seemed to be a sleepy town.
The focal point of the town square is the Franciscan convent, an enormous structure built in the 16 century on the site of a Mayan pyramid which the Spanish conquistadors dismantled. The convent still contains many of the original murals showing the Spanish settlers, while the cathedral contains elegantly dressed statues of various saints and the Virgin Mary.
Then of course there are the ruins of Izamal. What makes these ruins so different from the others we've visited is the fact that they're scattered throughout the town. So from a back staircase at the convent you have a view of a pyramid being restored, and a nearby residential street divides a row of houses from another pyramid. I can't imagine what it must be like to look out your front door and see a pyramid that's more than 1,400 years old, but the people living in Izamal likely don't think anything of it. We climbed one of the pyramids, which has been restored about halfway up, but the second half of the stairs leading up to the top were extremely rocky and even. However, the view from the top -- with the convent and matching yellow stores and homes in the foreground and a 360-degree view of the flat, green Mexican countryside -- made the climb up (and the even more harrowing descent) well worth it.
Service Learning Visit at Hospital of Quito - By Robin Fillner - SALUD Program Guest blogger traveling in Quito.
Buenes Dias! Como estan? Well, this week we started volunteering in the hospital. So, now our days are pretty full with volunteering in the morning around 8 until 12. At 1:00pm we have lunch at school and then study Spanish from 2:00 until 6:30pm. and we always have homework... The hospital is a teaching hospital and since 8 in our group are med students, the doctors that they follow give them homework such as presentations about certain diseases (yes, in Spanish!). And 2 people in our group have to be there at 7:00. The others in the group are in the areas of OB-GYN, surgery, oncology, infectious diseases, and pediatrics.
I went into Urgencia, or Emergency. I was assigned to a nurse but she has me doing things like taking 1000 blood pressures, so I have been just observing the trauma cases that come in or attending the rounds or the med students. I haven't practiced too many skills as of yet just because of the language barrier. But, I am pretty satisfied with learning the Spanish medical lingo and observing the way things are done in Ecuador.
There are so many med students in the hospital that there really isn't that much to do for me. Which I was a little disappointed with in the beginning but with the language barrier, it's really ok. The first day I was there, I met 2 med students from Colombia that showed me around the ER and talked with me for about 2 hours! Isabel, my house mom, is convinced they are into drugs somehow, but I keep telling her that no, they're really med students. How they had time to talk with me, I have no idea. They talked really fast but I was able to keep up. There are also a lot of residents there that are also extremely friendly and eager to show me equipment and introduce me to their instructors and other doctors. I am so amazed at how incredibly friendly all the staff is: nurses, doctors, and students.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Glenn Rigby
After traveling Europe extensively as a boy, and then as a young adult, Mozart began making his return to his native land of Austria. On the way he stopped in Munich, where his opera Idomeneo premiered. The next year he returned to Vienna with his employer, Prince-Archbishop Colloredo. Mozart grew more and more rebellious towards Collerdo, and admitted he was released from employment "with a kick in the seat of the pants." He then settled in Vienna to pursue an independent music career.
In 1782 Mozart married a woman named Constanze Weber. This was also the year that he created the opera Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail ("The Abduction from the Seraglio"). This piece was widely successful. Not long after he performed piano concertos as director and soloist.
The next year, Amadeus and Constanze visited his father in Salzburg with a cold reception. Leopold Mozart did not take to his son's wife. Though the visit was not a particularly pleasant one, it did inspire Mozart to write one of his best known works, the Mass in C Minor. This piece premiered in Salzburg with Constanze as lead female soloist.
In 1782 Mozart became acquainted with the composer Joseph Haydn. The two quickly became friends. During Haydn's visits to Vienna, the two would play in quartets together. During the years of 1782-1785, Mozart dedicated six quartets to Haydn, and it is thought that these were in response to Haydn's Opus 33 from 1871.
Between 1782 and 1785, Mozart also performed a series of solo concerts. These are considered to be his best pieces, and were financially rewarding.
During the years 1784-1787 he lived in a lavish, seven-room apartment behind St Stephen's Cathedral; it was here, in 1786, that Mozart composed the opera Le nozze di Figaro. This apartment may be visited today at Domgasse 5.
By Kayla Allen
Milan is synonymous with fashion and thought by many to be the fashion capital of the world. Just name all the famous designers you know off the top of your head and you might as well be speaking Italian; Dolce & Gabanna, Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani, Missoni, Franco Moschino, Prada, Fendi, Gucci and the list goes on.
You also might as well be walking the Via Montenapoleone in Milan. The Via Montenapoleone is the most important street of Milan's fashion district, Quadrilatero Della Moda and home to some of the world's top designers. One visit to Milan and it lives up to its reputation. Everywhere you turn there is yet another opportunity to purchase something gorgeous and to pay a pretty penny for it, or...euros.
There is another side to shopping in Italy however. With all those designers there's bound to be some surplus; enter, designer outlets. First developed so design house and store employees could actually afford to wear their designers' labels and later opened up to the masses, designer outlets are a fashionista on a budgets's dream come true.
The best of the outlets tend to be centralized around, Milan, Florence and Rome allowing shoppers to pick-up last season's goods at more affordable prices. Though most who come to Italy specifically for the fashion would not be caught dead in last seasons garb, for those of us who still live in the real world the outlet stores provide a peak into a more glamorous lifestyle.
And if Italy is too far away to indulge your dream of being absolutely fashion fabulous Italy also turns out some of the most stylish and eye pleasing magazines and photos around. So you can lose yourself in those luscious images while sitting on your couch painting your toenails.
Something that I'm totally addicted to that has nothing to do with Italy but maybe something to do with Italian fashion and a lot to do with hilarious and entertaining is Project Runway. This is my entry point to the fashion world. I watch every week as fewer and fewer designers try to impress model Heidi Klum and her designer judges. At this point I'm as opinionated and critical of the designer's work as judge and designer Michael Kors or guest judge Diane Von Furstenberg. I even bought a sewing machine. Lookout!
By Glenn Rigby
Asia is the largest continent on earth and contains an abundance of mountains and mountain ranges, in all shapes and sizes. Well, the mountain shape is pretty set in stone (haha) I suppose, but the sizes certainly do vary.
Everyone knows about Mount Everest, and its claim to fame of being the highest mountain in the world. But what about the often overlooked K2? This guy may not achieve the 29,000 plus feet that Everest does, but its 28,251 elevation is still impressive enough to put it in the number two spot.
K2 is in the Karakorum range, one of Asia's Greater Ranges. The Karakorum is popularly identified with the Himalaya, though it is a separate range in itself. It is home to many of the world's highest mountains including Gasherbrum; Broad Peek; Gasherbrum II; Gasherbrum IV; Distaghil Sar; Masherbrum; and many, many others. There is even one called "The Ogre," known to be one of the hardest peaks in the world to climb. (The Ogre was first sucesfully climbed in 1977 by Doug Scott and Chris Bonington. They were involved in one of mountain-climbing's most notorious descents, which lasted a week. Early on Scott broke both ankles, and later Bonington broke two ribs and came down with pneumonia. It was 10 failed attempts and 23 years before the next succesful climb!)
Also called Godwin-Austin, K2 is located on the border of China and Pakistan. Though its elevation is about 800 feet less than Mount Everest's, it is considered to be a more difficult climb, partly because of its greater height above the surrounding terrain.
You might find yourself asking in wild disbelief, "More difficult to climb than the mighty Mount Everest?" Well, I am no mountain-climbing expert, so let us take a look at the statistics, shall we?
If these two were boxing, I'm not sure who would win. You be the judge!
SOURCE:Statistics from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
By Jeremy Carter - Guest blogger traveling in Merida, Mexico.
Skulls, Monkeys and Flamingoes (oh my!)
The school hosting the Yucatan Spanish Institute, the program I'm participating in, has done a phenomenal job of planning excursions for those of us studying there. On Wednesday, we went to the Museo de Antropologia e Historia, which is operated by the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia that I blogged about earlier. The museum, which is housed in a restored mansion on Merida's historic Paseo de Montejo, is filled with artifacts about the people who have occupied the Yucatan peninsula for the past 4,000 years or more. The first floor of the museum is devoted to the history of the Mayan people, in particular from the Pre-Classic (2,000 BC-250 AD), Classic (250-900 AD) and Post-Classic (900-1500AD) periods. (I hope I got those dates right.)
One of the most fascinating exhibits was the one showing skulls of ancient Mayan people. Mayan people used to believe that a sloped forehead leading to a nose of about the same angle was the ultimate in beauty and a sign of nobility. As a result, they would often force this slope by tying boards and other objects to the foreheads of babies. At the museum, we saw skulls of adults and children who had this slope, either naturally or by force, and the shape was indeed striking.
Also interesting was an exhibiting showing the various materials Mayans used as "canvases" for their artwork. Jade, pottery and stone were the most common mediums, but they were even known to carve intricate carvings in bones from deceased people and animals. (As a side note, we learned from Armando, our Mayan culture instructor, that no ovens for firing pottery have been found at ancient Mayan sites, so anthropologists aren't sure if ancient Mayans fired their own pottery or imported it from nearby cultures/countries.)
On Thursday, we took a trip to the city zoo, which is located just outside downtown and, due to the fact that it's government-funded, admission is free. Since there's no direct public funding for the zoo, it's not as expansive as many zoos in the states, but we got to see many animals native the Yucatan peninsula that you wouldn't otherwise get to see.
Today, however, was a definite highlight of my two weeks here. This morning we boarded a bus and went to Celestun, a town and neighboring nature preserve that serve as home to North America's only mainland population of pink flamingoes. Here we took motorboats out into the water to see these beautiful birds, which number in the tens of thousands during the winter months, but there are still a few thousand of them this time of year. We also stopped at an "ojo de agua," or freshwater spring, for a quick swim. After that, it was off to the town – a quaint, sleepy pueblo fronting the gulf – for dinner. This evening I'm so tired I can barely stand up, but with only two weeks left, there's much more to see, so tomorrow I'm planning a trip to the nearby beach at Progresso.
By Robin Fillner - SALUD Program Guest blogger traveling in Quito.
Some people in my family were wondering about where I live and the food we eat in Ecuador so I thought I'd write a blog about it. I live in a really neat little apartment in kind of the older part of town. There is just me and the mother of four older children who all live and work around Quito. She has family dinners with them on random nights and every weekend.
One of the sons, Jose Luis, works out of the bottom floor of the apartment. He deals in exports/imports. Another son, Freddie is a lawyer; her daughter Tanya is a social worker, and the other daughter, Christina, is studying to work with computers. Isabel, the mother, has three grandchildren who are all extremely cute and a lot of fun. Nickolas is the son of Tanya; he is 11 and swims most nights of the week. He is very serious about his swimming and eats a special diet. He speaks a little "Ingles". Sometimes Isabel has him interpret. He loves to play video games and watch TV, but works very hard on his studies and sports. I am usually gone on the weekends. While I am gone, Isabel usually has the whole family over for dinners and while Ecuador was in the World Cup, the family came over to watch the games.
Isabel makes breakfast and dinner for me every day. I try extremely hard to help her but she always says "manana, manana," you can help me tomorrow. I try to sneak in washing or drying some dishes, but she tells me to sit down. She puts out butter, jam, cream cheese, coffee, hot chocolate, and so many other little jars on the table every morning - so I sneak those back in the cabinets to help her clear the table. Every morning she makes fresh juice of some sort.
There are so many delicious fruits, they are so different than in the US. There is one called a narajanita - a tomato looking like thingo that grows on trees like an orange. It tastes like sunny delight but is completely natural. She makes these little empanadas - fried tortillas with cheese and usually meat inside. I am bypassing the whole vegetarian deal right now b/c it's just to hard to explain and a big deal to make a special meal just for me. But I think she knows now and she is cutting down on the meat.
We had scrambled eggs this morning, but also breads, fruit salad... pretty much the same as in the US. For dinner, we've had rice, empanadas, beef, pork chops, always a bowl of soup with potatoes, or cream of mushroom. She makes veggie salads with cucumbers and tomatoes. We had some little yucca balls that were white and floury with cheese in the middle, extremely delicious. Sometimes she cuts of pieces of corn but not just the kernels but the whole cob part as well and throws it in the soup. It's really good. We had some little fried broccoli with cheese thingos that were really tasty.
On the street I had some fried plantains with cheese in the middle that was incredible. My friend calls the street vendors 'diarrhea markets'... but I haven't had any problem with that in the least. There are also a lot of restaurants - mexican, chinese, tex mex, ice cream (mmm....)... and a lot of specialty shops. I went to a cafe called 'xocoa' and there was the most impressive selection of delicious chocolate. I had an Irish chocolate with a little bit of liquor and super thick chocolate; so thick I had to almost chew it with a deliciously thick blob of whip cream.
Overall, I think they eat a lot of potatoes, yucca, beans (lentils, garbanzos), and meat with most meals. But everywhere there is fresh fruit juice to be had... it's really inexpensive as well. You can also buy a dozen roses for a dollar! We always have fresh roses in the house. A lot of businesses have fresh roses as well.
Well, time to get with the group!