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University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation

Volleyball: China 2007 blog

Sunday, Aug. 26

Today we traveled to Shanghai Normal University for our third match of the trip and won in three! The skill level of the team that we played today was not near the level that we have played here so far.

We used the game as a learning opportunity. We focused on footwork, passing technique, and blocking patterns to help prepare for opening weekend at St. Norbert.

After the match we went back to the hotel to freshen up and head out into the city. We had lunch at an "American" pizza buffet named Sunshine Pizza. This pizza buffet was nothing like I have ever experienced! Let's just say that corn was a reoccurring topping on their pizza.

Next we traveled to the Shanghai Museum where we were able to see artifacts from Ancient Chinese history. We explored four floors of Bronze, Sculptures, Ceramics, Paintings, Calligraphy, Chinese Seals (stamps), Minority Nationalities Art, Jade, Coins, and Ming & Qing furniture.

With a little bit of extra time, a few of us went out into the People's Garden to explore. Kerry and I chatted with a few locals and they were thrilled to meet Americans! We even heard a "Chicago rocks!" By that then it was time for dinner.

After lunch we were happy to switch back to Chinese food served family style on the lazy susan! I will miss sampling everything at meals when we return to the states. I will not miss only being allowed one glass of water at each meal.

Tomorrow we look forward to a free day of exploring parts of the city that we have not yet seen. We leave the hotel Wednesday morning at 6:30 am China time to head back to the states!

- Katie Volzer

Saturday, Aug. 25

We started off our first full day in Shanghai by visiting the third-tallest tower in the world, the TV Tower. The first observation deck that was halfway up the tower was 269 meters in the air and provided us with a 360 degree view of the whole city. We were able to see the architecture in Shanghai and it is unlike any other!

The skyscrapers are all very modern and uniquely shaped. We were able to get a peek at the future tallest building in the world that is currently being built. It will be 108 floors! They are going to leave the top of the building in a way so that they can always continue to build in case another country tries to build something taller!

We then went to the Old City and the Yuyuan Gardens. The Yuyuan Gardens were created by a young man who wanted to impress his parents. It ended up being a place filled with beautiful plants, waterfalls, and detailed structures that thousands of people visit daily.

We later were able to do lots of shopping in the Old City surrounding the garden. After lunch we were able to see one of the most treasured Buddha statues at the Jade Buddha Temple.

Many people were there worshipping using incense and bringing offerings to the different altars. We look forward to tomorrow with a match in the morning and more time to explore Shanghai!

- Kerry Dornfeld

Friday, Aug. 24

While we haven't toured much in the past two days, life here in China has yet to slow down.

Friday we started off the day with a very hard practice, proving to all that China is not all fun and games. After spending most of the morning sprinting and doing drills, we were given the afternoon to again explore the immense city of Beijing. Many of us went back to the Silk Street Market for shopping while others went back to tour the city. Either way, there has yet to be a part of Beijing that ceases to amaze me.

Since the afternoon was given to us to explore the city we were responsible for dinner and lunch on our own. While many wanted to venture out and find more of the exquisite food we have found here, most ended up eating nearby mostly out of pure exhaustion.

Koryn and I decided that we would walk just down the street just to the Pizza Hut, loathing ourselves for being unadventurous and instead found ourselves in awe of how different it actually was. The Pizza Hut here, as are many American chains apparently, are sit down restaurants with full appetizers including shrimp tempura and calamari. While we didn't venture as far as to eat the Tuna Pizza we were tempted. We were all so exhausted after, that most of us were asleep by nine thirty.

We started the day off with another good practice. Most of us by this point are extremely sore and stumbling every step we take -- a pretty comical sight I must say.

After practice we were taken by our lovely tour guide to what has been in my experience so far the best restaurant we have visited. We ate an incredible meal of fresh fish and stuffed eggplant as well as many other things. Then we left for the airport and spent the rest of the afternoon on our flight to Shanghai.

Once in Shanghai we met our tour guide Tony, who explained to us the 55 different nationalities of China and took us to eat at a minority restaurant. At the restaurant we ate a huge meal while being entertained by dancers and singers. It was quite beautiful and very interesting.

The city itself is absolutely beautiful. Buildings are everywhere, touching as high as the sky and lighting up the night. It's an absolutely beautiful place. After driving through the city on the way to our hotel, it's easy to recognize that Shanghai truly does warrant its reputation as the Eastern Paris.

- Nikki Boddicker

Thursday, Aug. 23

Today we started out the morning with a late breakfast. Then we loaded up on our tour bus and enjoyed a ride out to the Summer Palace. This palace was once used by the Emporer and his entourage as a summer home. It was a really beautiful place up in the hills. It is situated on a lake which gives it a perfect view.

After lunch, we had the afternoon off to go explore as we saw fit. Some of us went to the spa and got massages. Others of us went out and did a little shopping on our own. Knowing how to bargain is key while shopping with the street vendors. They give you a number and you usually can cut it into half, maybe even thirds before you settle on a price. But you get cool gifts for a pretty cheap price in the end.

Tonight we saw a kungfu show. According to our resident expert, it is actually pronounced "gong-fu". It was the story of a young boy who becomes and enlightened monk and eventually an abbot. It was so fun watching little boys do back flips from their heads, and watching young men break metal sticks with their bodies.

Tomorrow we will have practice in the morning and then another afternoon to explore Beijing before we get on a flight to Shanghai on Saturday.

- Koryn Kendall

Wednesday, Aug. 22

To begin our third day in China we had an early breakfast and departed for our second match of the trip!

We played a skilled Chinese club team and fought hard, but ended up dropping the match in three. This is our second time playing together with our new freshmen/transfers, and I am very impressed with their level of play as they have been thrown into game situation!

Friday we will have our first real team practice where we will be able to go over defense and other strategies. Post match we headed back to our hotel and had a very "American" lunch of Subway.

We rested up and then headed out to the Temple of Heaven. The temple was constructed in the year 1420 by the Ming Dynasty. In China, the number 9 is a very lucky number representing "longevity." In the construction of these temples, the Chinese added 9s into their plans. Flights of steps consisted of 9 to reach the next level of the temple as well as measurements of the diameters of the platforms. The Chinese leaders came to the temples twice a year during the solstices to pray the God of Heaven and for good harvests during the year. If the nation was in a drought occasionally the Emperor would come to the temple to pray for rain to help crops grow.

We left the temple and traveled to the silk factory where we learned how silk strands are made. We even got to help make a silk blanket! After the tour we had a chance to explore the factory and shop (which we do so well)!!!

Next we paired up and hopped onto covered bicycles for a tour where we learned more about family life in China. We were taught room placement in a traditional Chinese household while being served tea. We viewed the home which was complete with gold fish and a lucky cricket!

To end another day of touring we dined on traditional Peking Duck. Many of us had never had duck before so this was quite the adventure! According to the adults, the duck was fabulous. I, on the other hand neither liked, nor disliked the duck. Oh well! As they say..."when in Rome"... or at least China in our case!

- Katie Volzer

Tuesday, Aug. 21

We started off day two by heading to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City!

The inner part of the Forbidden City was where the Emperor and his family lived to ensure their safety. It was unbelievable! We learned that there are enough rooms inside to stay in a different room every night for 27 years! The detail put into these buildings was unlike anything I have seen before.

We also got a chance to try out our bargaining skills as we were approached by many street vendors. We later stopped to take a team picture in Tiananmen Square and at least 10 people stopped and took pictures of us as well.Apparently we stand out!

We had our first "practice" which was a game against retired professional volleyball players. They mostly seemed to be in their mid to late twenties. We ended up losing in four games but we started to get our rhythm back! We know that we will only improve tomorrow for our next match!

What was really special was that we were able to play in the gym that the Chinese National Team practices in which is closed off the public normally! We even were able to watch the Men's National Team practice, which was absolutely amazing!

The alumni made the night really special in that they were the ones to arrange for us to play in the facility and they then took us out to a great dinner afterwards. The beginning of this trip has been really great, and I am so excited to learn more about the Chinese culture and history as the trip continues on!

- Kerry Dornfeld

Monday, Aug. 20

Well we have safely arrived in Beijing. This is the first of our two stops we will make during out 10-day tour of China.

After catching up on some sleep, we drove about an hour outside the city to the Great Wall of China. It was amazing how steep the stairs were and how many people there were. After climbing about 850 steps and turning around and coming back, I think everyone's legs were jello. But it was worth it just to see the view and get to say you walked on one on of the Seven Wonders.

After lunch at a local restaurant and a little shopping where some of us practiced our bargaining skills, we visited the Ming Tombs. While we didn't get to see any actual burial chambers, we did get to see some very intricate building designs and some beautiful artifacts such as jade belts and embroidered robes. We even got asked to take a picture with a little girl and her mother who weren't used to seeing such tall American women.

Our trip is not just about sightseeing, though. Today we will have our first match against a Chinese team that consists mostly of retired professional players. The best part is some generous U. of C. alums in Beijing have given us the chance to compete in the Chinese National team training facility.

This is a huge opportunity because the Chinese public is not even allowed to set foot in this building, and we get to play there. So wish us luck and stay tuned for more China stories from the volleyball team.

- Koryn Kendall