Alas, we have arrived in safe and sound in Beijing. Some unfortunate flight delays stalled our excursion, however the extra time allowed the group to get properly acquainted. Apart from talking, most of us spent our time finishing the book "River Town" by Peter Hessler. You could say we had a miniature book club going on, which I'd go into detail about, but I'd hate to give away any spoilers.
At 2AM (China Time) we finally arrived at the Beijing Capital International Airport, BCIA, which was built right before the 2008 Olympic Games. The shear size of the airport was breathtaking:
The next day we visited the IEEE Conference where graduate students and professors presented different topics in Electrical Engineering. Topics ranged from embedded systems to computer vision to engineering education; everyone was kind and knowledgeable. We chatted with people from Poland, Holland, Japan, India, Germany, China and many more I'm forgetting. It is important to note they all spoke English, which was the main language of the conference; it'd have been pretty hard to communicate otherwise.
Later in the day, we all gathered together for a dinner at a local restaurant across from the hotel. We had pig's stomach, zesty noodles, fried shrimp, and chicken. Professor Sobelman and Adam Pagel entertained us with their humorous stories of China of years past, giving us tips of what to avoid and suggestions of places to visit.
The night was ended with a walk through a nearby park, where we watched older Chinese couples dance and sway in the moonlight. In the background one could hear multiple chinese songs blending together, no one would have guessed we were in the middle of the biggest city in China.