During the second week of my stay in Beijing, I had a chance to discover a part of the Chinese culture not available to every study-abroad student. Apart from my efforts to learn Mandarin and get to know the city, I did something very unique: I had the pleasure of participating in a traditional Chinese wedding celebration.
This event took place in Zhuozhou City (涿州市) just outside of Beijing. In the company of my Beijing friends, I arrived in Zhuozhou on Saturday afternoon. We had a fantastic dinner with many Beijing dishes and I got to know the wedding couple as well as some of the guests. The actual celebration took place on Sunday morning. I was fascinated by all the different customs I was observing, but also a little bit nervous: my role at the ceremony was to read the official Chinese marriage certificate in front more than 200 wedding guests. Considering I’ve been learning Mandarin for just two weeks, this was a very interesting task. My friend Li Xin (李欣) wrote the text in pinyin (a Romanized system for Mandarin pronunciation) the evening before the wedding. I practiced doing the best I could to get all the tones right (Mandarin is a tonal language.) The result can be seen in the video below. The wedding guests said that they were able to understand me, which I consider a huge success 🙂
Overall, the wedding celebration was very different from the western weddings I attended, but it was very interesting and everybody was extremely friendly and hospitable. So far my time away from the Wabash campus has been eye-opening and truly unpredictable. Beijing as the capital of China is a great environment to learn the language. I am very thankful to Wabash for this opportunity and am also looking forward to all the things I will experience in the months to come, especially as my semester at Fudan University and my BD Medical internship start in March.