"Make Big, Then Make Strong" -The Chinese Mindset
Since I haven't mentioned it yet, I feel a need to bring up the environment as it is here in Tianjin. Gazing around at our surroundings help to give you a brief glimpse into the mind of the people here. The first thing we noticed upon entering Tianjin, even though it was 2AM here when we did, was the smog. The viewing distance is greatly reduced compared to what it would be elsewhere, even from the Tianjin TV Tower we could only see about a tenth as far as we should have been able to. After the smog, the next aspect that snags your attention is the sheer amount of construction going on. It seems that almost every other building is hidden by scaffolding, which in a city of 10 million people, is quite an undertaking. Are the Chinese eager to impress the world as the spotlight shines on them for the Olympics? Is this just the beginning of things to come? Will the development of environmental policies catch up with the physical expansion, or is he need for industrial growth too ingrained into the Chinese psyche?
It's been a few days since I've written an entry and we have a breather for the evening, I'll include a brief rundown of what's happened. A large group of us went to a restaurant called Golden Hans (where I ate chicken heart for the first time and tried quite a few other things) on Saturday night, before which a few of us had a basketball game with some of the Chinese students. Due to the Golden Hans having such a good deal for beverages during noon to 3PM, a handful of us decided to head back for lunch the day after. Then we proceeded to meet up with some of our classmates for bowling (the bowling alley is located on the same floor of the building that the Golden Hans is in). Dinner that night was quite eventful because we set off in search of a restaurant in five different taxis, only later finding out that the place we were searching for no longer exists. After a lot of calling around between the Chinese students we've met, we joined a small group of Chinese students and one German student. Since the place we had originally head to was not in business, and everyone was fairly indecisive on what else to do, Mario (the German student) brought us to an international bar and restaurant known as Alibaba's. That was last night and many of us were out late. So much could be written about that location, but I leave the floor open to some of my classmates who requested the privilege of sharing that experience.
Besides having our first technical lecture today on basic Chinese economics, today was also the first day that we were able to take a tour of some businesses located in China. We visited two separate companies, both leaning heavily toward the manufacturing end of things. The first company was a factory that built the interior parts for Toyota cars, such as the seats and lining. The second we visited was a steel processing company that dealt with just the hair thin sheets used in finished products such as elevators. The working environments in both companies was extremely different. In the first factory, things were very mechanistic and very uniform, even down to everyone wearing the same outfits in the factory. The thing that really struck me as interesting about this company is that they only had a production forecast of 30 minutes. Compared to this, the second company was much more casual and open. There were a lot fewer workers than the first and there wasn't the constant, busy energy as had been evident in the parts factory.
Compared to some of the other days we've had here, the rest of today was relatively uneventful. We broke up into smaller groups as dinner time approached, each of us setting off in hunt of different substances. I ended up attached to the group that settled on just getting a variety of sushi and heading back to our hotel so we could begin work on the papers we have a week to write. The next couple days should prove fairly eventful with a trip to an economic development area tomorrow and a soccer game with some of the Chinese students on Wednesday. I'm definitely looking forward to the remainder of our time here.