City Discovery: Ancient Cultures and Giant Pandas of Chengdu, China

As part of the 2015 City Discovery Series, each week ISA will showcase a different location in which we have study abroad programs by highlighting the five parts of the Discovery Compass: Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.

Discover Chengdu!

Chengdu is the capitol of the Sichuan province which is often called the “Heavenly State” due to its abundance of natural mineral resources.

From February 16 – 22, all throughout China, including the city of Chengdu, people will be celebrating the Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival. It is the biggest and most important festival of the year.

Here are some Discovery Compass activities in Chengdu that you won’t want to miss:

DiscoveryCompass-ChengduIntercultural Discovery
Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Participate in “English Corners,” which are held regularly on-campus at Sichuan University. This is where local students go to practice English amongst themselves, or with international students. It’s a great way to make friends, exchange ideas and find language partners.

Discover Tea Culture in Chengdu. Tea is an essential part of Chinese culture, especially in the Sichuan area. Teahouses are where many Chengdu people congregate each day to relax, chat, read books and play cards or Majiang, the national board game in China. Sometimes the teahouse is also an important location for business discussion, negotiation or trading.

Historical Discovery
ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Explore western Sichuan, famous for its Tibetan culture. There are several towns and villages scattered on the border between Sichuan and Tibet, where students can visit and observe local living situations, worship sessions, unique architecture design and customs, many of which have remained true to their historical roots and styles.

Visit Jinsha Site Museum, which features various tools, art pieces and artifacts in gold, ivory and bronze from about 1200 – 500 BC, when Jinsha was still a flourished town. The discovery of Jinsha Site in 2001 is of great significance for the study of Shu (Sichuan) Culture, from its origin, development, to decline.

Sociopolitical Discovery
Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Take an excursion to Xi’an, the ancient political center of China, with a history that stretches back more than 3,000 years. Xi’an is home to the famous Terracotta army of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, who used the army to establish the Qin dynasty from 220 to 210 BC.

Professional Discovery
Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

The Bookworm Chengdu is a perfect place for students to interact and socialize with international expatriates. The Bookworm hosts various events and activities that will help students to grow their international network.

Volunteering with local NGOs can be a great way to build and learn professional skills. ISA students can work with ISA on-site staff to identify volunteer organizations and opportunities.

Environmental Discovery
Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base to learn about the giant panda, their habitat, history and conservation efforts in Sichuan region. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding was built in 1987 and has grown from having only 6 rescued giant pandas to having more than one hundred pandas by 2013.

Explore the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. Built in 256 B.C., it is the oldest existing, fully-functioning irrigation project in the world. It is a great example of how a man-made structure successfully utilized natural resources to turn Sichuan into the most productive agricultural area in China. In 2000, it was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To learn more about what makes Chengdu great, visit ISA’s Chengdu Culture Corner!