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June 18, 2008

Home Again

For me, being away from home for any amount of time makes me realize how much I miss it and more so the people in my home. After my Dad picked me up from the airport I just looked out the window at the blue clear sky for quite a while. I didn't realize how much I missed seeing and smelling the clean air. It always seemed strange to me how you can be half way across the world in the morning and later that day be back home. I arrived home to a house full of relatives and friends. I pulled out all the things I bought for everyone and starting telling all my stories. I had a lot of good experiences to to talk about, but to be honest the people were not one of the positives. Don't get me wrong every Chinese student I met was amazing and I loved them all and I'm thankful I had an opportunity to meet them to change my perspective a bit. Honestly, I felt like the only time a stranger was nice to me was when they wanted to take a picture with me or I was buying something from them. It really upset me that we got stared at so much and people pointed and took our pictures without us looking. I thought I would get over that, but it bothered me right to the end of the trip. It is just so unacceptable in America to point and stare at someone who is a little different. Maybe it was just the language barrier, but I didn't like being bumped into by so many people all the time and no one ever saying sorry or excuse me. I was also frustrated with all the people I saw litter while we were there. It is not that hard to find a garbage can, but I would see grown men take a wrapper off a food and throw it right on the ground...it's no wonder the streets are so dirty. Not to mention the peeing everywhere and people spitting. I don't mean to vent, but these are habits that are unacceptable in America and it was hard to get used to them while in China. The experience was amazing and I wouldn't change it for the world. Seeing and learning about other cultures is always a great opportunity and it makes me appreciate what I have at home so much more.

June 17, 2008

home sweet home

We are finally home from the trip of a lifetime. I have to admit that it is nice to be back and the simple things in life are a sweet relief. It was strange today when a lady on the street said hi to me, I forget about the concept of "Minnesota nice," and I almost forgot to say hello back. It is nice being able to order my own food without a translator and I have found myself pointing at the menu anyways. I also am still surprised to hear others say thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me or sorry. I love the clean air, and I have been getting my fill of it since we have been back. I also am thankful for washing machines and dryers (my pants fit again!), refrigerators, ice and clean (not to mention cold) drinking water. This trip has definitely taught me to appreciate the things we take for granted here in the United States.

Would I go back to China? If the trip was for pleasure, I think I would wait another 15 years until China is more developed, and I would want to have a stronger grasp on the language because it is painful not to be able to communicate in a foreign country. I would love to travel back to China for business purposes and hope that I can be a part of international business in the future. I think that studying Chinese business principles will help me in the future to be a better manager because I have a better understanding of at least one other culture.
I think one of the most valuable pieces of insight I gathered on the trip was gunaxi, the unspoken physiological, emotional and material reciprocity of others. I think that spending time with Leon and his family was the most culturally enlightening, truthful look at China. His family was very kind to us even though we were able to fully communicate with each other. His family paid for all our meals and took us to beautiful places in southern China.

I am happy to be home, the melting pot called the United States is definitely the home of the free and the home of the brave. I love being able to eat American, Mexican, Italian and any type of food I want. Tonight we are having shish kabobs and I could not be happier about it.

Souvenirs

I think my family was pleasantly surprised at the amount of stuff I brought them. I carried home relatively few nick-knacks and almost all of them have found their respective homes already. The one everyone likes the most is the mask that we all got from Nankai. I am letting my parents keep it at their house.

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June 15, 2008

Shopping with Rena

After searching for a scarf for my grandma, Rena was very kind offering to take me shopping on Golden Street to find one. We met in the hotel lobby and set off on our adventure. Traffic was extra busy due to a car accident that stalled traffic. Once there, we looked around for a little bit, I bought a bracelet for my mom’s birthday, and we went upstairs. After looking around I found what I was looking for and helped her pick out a scarf for her mom. Turns out her mom and I have the same favorite color, blue. She wanted to delevier the present to her where she works, which was just a short walk from the mall. We stopped to get some juice, and went to the school where her mom is a gym teacher. She teaches at a senior middle school, ages 15-18. After introducing myself, she asked to take a picture with me and some of the (50 or so) boys starring at me. They were adorable, getting close and then running away, saying things to her that I obviously did not understand. After a couple pictures, and her mom (very sweet) hugging me a few times, we said goodbye and headed for the hotel. I asked Rena what they were saying and she told me that Chinese boys are very shy and were nervous about taking pictures with a pretty foreign girl, we laughed and continued our journey home.
Shannon

Out on the Town

Last night Stacy, Meghan, Courtney, Krissy, Jen and I went down to the Pu River in the evening to explore. We started out by taking the subway to the pearl tower which is absolutely gorgeous at night. We then ventured down to the river and found a little restaurant with seating outside along the river. Us girls ordered cocktails and really enjoyed the scenery. Every boat that went by had lights on it except for the garbage barges. My favorite boat was the media boat. It had a huge screen on the side of the boat the size of a movie theater screen that flashed advertisements every few seconds. All of us girls really took in all the beauty that Shanghai had to offer. At ten o'clock sharp the lights turned off. This was a little surprising to me because in Minneapolis lights would stay on all night. Ten seemed early to turn them off, but anyways we had a wonderful evening enjoying the Shanghai skyline at night.

June 14, 2008

Burger King in China

Dahui has a bleak outlook for Burger King in China. Their market penetration lacks some of the things we have considered a highlight of other fast food franchises in China. Their entry in to the competitive landscape is late, prices are nearly double, and their product (in my esteemed fast food judging opinion) is inferior. --Although Bryn truly enjoyed her big sloppy Whopper.

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June 13, 2008

Monday-Tuesday June 9-10

Today we had the day off from class due to a Chinese national holiday. We decided to take the free time to attempt to see another part of the great wall, with about 8 of us in the group. With Rina as our guide we went back to the train station in Tianjin again, and set out on what we thought was about a 2 hour train ride. We already had undergone the 30-45 minute taxi ride, and were well on our way to the wall when we ran into a snag. We found out that the last train heading back from the wall was to set off at 4, leaving us with only a few hours maximum at the wall between travel time to and from. So as a group we decided to turn back not willing to spend about 8 hours travel time and a good amount of money to see the wall for only an hour or two.

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Hustle and Bustle, Goodbyes

Last night was the most busy night of my life. All of the Chinese students came to see us one last time at the hotel before we rushed onto the bus. We all got to give them quick hugs and then piled onto the bus. We were running late, so when we got to the train station we had to basically run. The "parking lot" area of the train station, though was filled with cement railroad ties, so wheeling our suitcases was impossible. My suitcase weighs approximately 60 pounds, and along with my smaller suitcase, backpack, and purse, I was struggling as much as anyone else. We got into the station and had to put all of our bags through a security check conveyor belt. So, we were all frantically throwing, literally, our stuff onto this conveyor belt and running to the other side to grab our stuff, reload up, and run some more. We had to scale about 3 flights of stairs (with a small ramp on the side that was about a 45 degree grade) with ALL of our luggage. At this point, Laura started up the ramp with her suitcases, and proceeded to fall straight over backwards when she realized how steep the grade was. Also, at the same spot, Stacey's handle broke off of her rolling suitcase. John came to her rescue and became a human packhorse. Without him, we probably would have missed our train. Once we got up the stairs, we had to go down another set of stairs to get to our train (why we had to go up and then down again, don't ask me). Everyone was frantic going down the stairs, but we didn't have any casualties this time. When we got to the platform for our train, we had to bustle into the car, with no time to say goodbye to Rena. She came all the way to the train station with us, and we were all too hurried to say goodbye to her. It made me sad. We made it, and got our room assignments. After our luggage was stored and ready to go, we got to relax on the sleeper train. 10 hours later, Shanghai.

June 12, 2008

changes

We are counting down the last couple of hours of our time in Tianjin, a place we have called "home" for the past three weeks. Tianjin is full of over 11 million people where many have never seen an American. It was great getting to know the Chinese students, they were our guides, translators and most of all, our friends.

I can't help but try to absorb every last detail of Tianjin, the honking of the horns, the masses of people riding bikes, the market outside our hotel and the pace of life here. I was sitting here reflecting about the various cities that I have seen on this trip and they are all very unique and different. The main cities were Tianjin, Beijing in northern China and Guangzhou, and Kaiping in southern China.

Northern China reminds me of a warm New York day, where it is very hot and there are people everywhere you look. Southern China is very hot, humid and sticky, when walking outside it feels like you are in Mexico. It was raining a great deal when we were in Guangzhou (mainly the day we arrived and the day we departed). We were able to witness a great deal of flooding in the villages of Kaiping, people were walking through more than a foot of water running down the streets. People were riding bicycles and motorcycles with ponchos on and carrying umbrellas to keep themselves and their belongings dry.
Tianjin was our first stop and our home away from home. The first thing you notice is the intense smog, out of all the cities that

In Guangzhou Laura and I were discussing the differences in the life of children in China versus the USA. We did not see a single stroller or baby carrier while in Kaiping, they carry their children in cloth carriers so they can keep the children close to them at all times. Children in China do not wear diapers, but instead have large cracks down their bottoms so they can do their business hassle free. There were even very young children riding on motorcycles with their families that were not wearing any type of safety device. There were no seat belts, helmets or any safeguard other than the protection of the parent's arms.

It is easy to see why families are so close in China, we were able to visit the home of Leon's uncle and aunt. In one flat lived his uncle and aunt, their three children, and grandma. We learned that his youngest cousin either slept with grandma or mom and dad. We talked about how this leads to a greater respect for hierarchy and age. It was interesting because grandma did not want to come to dinner with the group because she was embarassed that she could not eat with chopsticks. But Leon pleaded with her to go and the whole family helped her put food on her plate so that she felt comfortable. It is amazing how far the family will go to protect the harmony within the group.

Our trip to the south was amazing, his family was very warm and welcoming to us. Even with the huge language barrier, it was very comfortable to be in their presence. At one meal there were 3 people that only spoke Chinese, 2 that spoke english and chinese and 2 that only spoke english. I felt bad that Leon and his friend Yen had to translate so much, but it was interesting. They were making fun of my lack of chopstick skills, but didn't criticize.

I am looking forward to our trip to Shanghai, I think it will be great to be able to see yet another part of the country. I am sad to leave Tianjin, but I am also looking forward to a new adventure. The Chinese students were awesome, they were really helpful and fun to be with. I would definitely like to thank Jason for orchestrating everything and to everyone who made this part of the trip possible. Goodbye Tianjin...


Bitter Sweet

Today was our official last day in Tianjin! As excited as I am to go home and smell the sweet air of home I am going to miss many aspects of China. Its amazing how adapted I have become in the last 4 weeks, I almost wish this was the way it was when I first got here; but its all about the experience. Today I was lucky enough to try a traditional Southern Chinese breakfast that Leon treated me to. Laura, Leon and I, met Eric and John at this restaurant not far from our hotel. It was neat to experience the food that Leon became accustomed to while living in China. Both Laura and Leon were telling me stories about their trip to the south and how a restaurant like this would be absolutely packed. The meal started out with a chicken rice soup, that tasted very similar to chicken noodle soup, then some other things came ( I can't remember the name). These sweet rolls came and they were SO GOOD! We finished them up and then ordered another batch they were so good!

After we got done eating we headed to Ancient Culture street for one last hoorah! I went back to the place where I bought all my scrolls and bought one more! They recognized me right away and the older man told me he loved me! He asked me where I was from. Even though neither could speak English and I couldn't speak Chinese we found a way to communicate and thank one another for the business. It was truly a neat experience.

Laura and I then came home to pack! I very big task in itself! Ironically my big bag feels lighter than when I left the states! Don't ask me how I accomplished that! But I swear I have never packed so strategically in my life! In about 2 hours we will be heading out of Tianjin for the last time! Like I said I'm excited to go home but I will miss everything I have done here! The people I have met, the hotel, the little shops around our hotel, and all the things I have learned! Everything will always have a place in my heart!

Goodbye Tianjin!

Its hard to believe that our trip is slowly nearing the end. When I first arrived in China I thought the trip would drag by... I was concerned that I knew NONE of the language and that I was being submerged into a completely new culture. However, the trip flew by. There have been so many amazing individuals throughout our trip who have helped us tremendously. I don't know where our group would be without Rena, Jason or the Chinese students!

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Culture Exchange...

While I was excited to come to China and experience a new culture, I never thought that I'd be sad to leave...

Last night at our "Farewell Party" I really realized how many new friends our group has made and that even though there are many differences between the American college student and the Chinese college student, we have all really grown to understand those differences as well as learn from them. It's amazing to me that we all came on this trip hoping to learn about the Chinese culture and business practices and I think in addition to these things, we are also walking away with new friendships that will hopefully last beyond the last four weeks - and even extend to the Chinese students visiting us in the states someday.

As was noted in some of the presentations yesterday, I hope that an exchange has happened. I know that I am walking away with a whole new understanding of this part of the world, but I also hope that I have been able to teach the Chinese students about the lifestyle of a typical American college student as well - and with that said, I hope that what we leave behind with this group of students sheds a positive light on the citizens of the United States.

June 11, 2008

Last Night and Finally got to ride on a bike!!

Back home I spend my summers riding on a bike (a motorcycle), so I really wanted to get the chance to ride on a bike here in China. Riding bikes is one of the most common ways to get to another place in Tianjin. As we all were leaving for our nightly festivities Leon and I hitched a ride with the Chinese students! Pass gave Leon his own bike to ride while Pass gave Eric a ride! I was lucky enough to get a padded seat on the back of John's bike! It was so fun, but I felt bad that John had to drag my butt around!! We left on the bikes to go to Ali Baba's. Lets just say it was a ride of a lifetime! Leon was funny enough when he was trying to ride Pass' bike and riding with all the Chinese students was definitely a way to experience something they do daily. As we were riding through the campus we were able to see where the real night life was. At 10pm there were students everywhere: buying snacks, riding bikes, playing hacky sack, sitting by the lack in cirlces of friends. It was wonderful to see! It is sad that last night was our last night, but having the presentations, farewell supper with the Chinese students, and going on with most of them was the best way to end our stay in Tianjin!

Tattoos

There has been a lot of people getting tattoos lately and I never thought I would be one of them. I first went with Jen to when she got hers done and thought that would never be me, but after meeting the three people who worked at this tattoo parlor I decided if I were to get one this would be the place. It was wierd how comfortable I was with these people when two of them spoke no English and one of them spoke very little. They were so kind and I could tell they really cared about their customers. I have visited many tattoo parlors in the US where they speak my language and I have never felt this welcomed. Maybe it is because in China it is not such a big fad to get tattoos like it is in America, so any customer they get, they really appreciate. So to make a long story short Courtney and I ended up getting tattoos, just little ones. I got a little green shamrock. When I woke up the next morning I thought...what had I done, I don't even like it! It looks bad and why would I get a tattoo. The next day I went back to the tattoo parlor and the guy who did mine was there and was determined to make me happy when I left his shop. He added to my tattoo free of charge and made sure I liked what I had just permenantly added to my body. Once again I am just amazed how comfortable I felt with these people even though they don't speak the same language as me, granted Rena is always a big help when it comes to translating. The gap is truly starting to shrink regarding differences between China and America and I continue to see that the longer I stay here.

Nixon's favorite restaurant

Tian took us to Bei Hai park when we went to visit him in Beijing last weekend. The park was big, and has a large lake in the center. It was a beautiful park, and we were there just before dusk.

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Last day

Today is our last day in Tianjin and I am sad to see this trip go by so fast. We had our final class his afternoon and everyone got to share some stories and experiences. A lot of us talked about shared memories and how much fun this trip has been. I have enjoyed meeting everyone so much and making new friends with both Chinese students and US students. Jason made us t-shirts with all of our signatures on them that almost made me cry. I will hold it very near and dear. We also got some pictures with the dean and got Jason to “pop his collar? for a picture. Very not like Jason.

We are having a farewell party and then going out for our last night. We most likely will be making an appearance at Ali Baba’s and hopefully got to Bar Street. Although I am skeptical of getting a drink now. Last night a group of us went to Harry’s and I ordered Absolut peach vodka with Sprite. I received a shot glass with the vodka in it, a warm can of sprite, and a bucket of ice. No glass. The Chinese people do not drink, but it was funny how something so small as a drink can be so different in each culture. Next time I will make sure to order it mixed and with a straw.

Beijing Recap

After going to Beijing twice I needed a couple of days to let it all settle in. Beijing is by far one of my favorite cities. There is so much to do that 2 weekends didn’t feel like enough. The first weekend was fun, but the second was an entirely new view at this amazing city. Getting lost is easy to do and happened a few times. Until you get down into the subway you don’t know which part of the city you are in. The subway is quick efficient and was extremely easy to use. I really enjoyed getting the chance to be in a different transportation other than a plane or taxi (it was my first subway experience). We met up with Tian and some of his friends for a night out on the town. I loved the meal we had which included camel hump and geoduck clam. It was very fancy and everything was covered in gold.

The next day was shopping heaven and now I’m an old pro at bargaining the price down to what I think is acceptable. One woman said to Shannon and I “you are so pretty, why so mean,? we laughed and she followed up with “so pretty and so clever.?

Shannon and I had also decided to leave our bags at the hostel so we split off from Meghan and Stacy to make the trip across town to the hostel and then find our way back to the train station on time. We managed to take the subway all the way there and only for 2 Yuan (less than $.50) where our cab to the hostel was 50 Yuan.

June 10, 2008

Traditional Chinese Documentary

Soon after we settled in to our hotel, we met a guy named Doug. Doug is over here in China doing a documentary on traditional Chinese Medicine. Doug's brother had a stroke that affected his brain stem. After a lot of treatment in the states with no success, Doug looked into different practices and had heard from another stroke survivor that traditional Chinese Medicine really works. Before bringing his brother such a long way for treatment, Doug looked into the traditional medicine. About two months ago the family decided that trying Chinese Medicine would be the next best alternative. Doug's brother has only been here for about two months and he has progressed more in that time than he did in the states. Doug is doing a documentary on traditional Chinese Medicine and the prognosis his brother is undergoing. While being here, I have met Doug, his mom, his nephew and his father. The nephew just graduated from high school and is still planning to attend college. His mom, dad, and nephew only plan to stay for another month and then head home. It would have been neat to learn more about traditional Chinese medicine but I was fortunate to get to meet Doug and his family and learn about their amazing story!

Lost in Translation

The most difficult aspect here to get used to is not just the differences in language, but that it sometimes seem near impossible to communicate with people here on any level. Even the very basics are worlds apart, such as how to show numbers on your hands (in the States we hold up 10 fingers for the number 10, in China they use just two). Apparently China is starting programs in elementary schools to teach English. It seems to be working, because in most of the families we have bumped into, it's almost always the little kids that do all the talking to us and then translate to their parents. In a decade or two it will probably be much easier for tourists to survive in China.

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An Authentic Restaurant Meal

I know, it's a little late to be adding this entry, but I'm going to post it anyway. I wrote it in the middle of last week, but the internet was down in mine and John's room, so I was unable to add it then. It took us about two days and several trips to the front desk for them to finally repair our connection, and it was just our room that had the problem. I don't know the reason, but here is my now slightly out of date entry.

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June 9, 2008

Weekend adventure to southern China

This weekend Leon was kind enough to invite Laura and I on a weekend adventure to southern China to visit his relatives. It was quite the unforgetable adventure and I felt like we really experienced the Chinese culture first hand. Our travels began on Friday with a nice taxi ride and then continued via airplane to Guangzhou.

The airline experience by itself was interesting. To fly domestically is very much like the US, it was interesting when they were looking through our liquids because the girl was definitely looking very hard at the contents of my bag which contained saline solution, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion and eye makeup. They were confused with Laura's liquids too, especially with the hand sanatizer, they actually took it out and set it on fire! Obviously they would not allow her to take it on the plane. The plane was very hot, the smell of BO was incredible, and I would like to learn where the pilot learned to land a plane because we came in for a landing at a very fast speed. We made one stop and were able to leave the airplane. When we were waiting towards the end of the line a security guard or airline worker motioned for us to come with him and we were able to go to the front of the line and reboard the plane without waiting in line; we definitely felt like VIPs. I couldn't help but wonder how profitable the airlines are here because we were fed on both lags of the trip which totaled about 3 hours. In the US, you are lucky if they serve you a snack and beverage.

Guangzhou was a beautiful city bustling with people and city life. Two of Leon's friends met up with us at the hotel and became our tour guides (or doyo??) and friends. The girls were extremely helpful and they said we were their first foreign friends. The took us around the city, we were able to see what the streets were like throughout the various dynasties through a glass sidewalks in a pedistrian only shopping market zone. They payed our way through the subway system and then utilized guanxi to travel on a bus to Kaiping which is a 2 hour bus ride away. The view from the bus was exciting, we left a huge city and drove along the roads to see villages, banana trees, rice patties, different terrain, flooding and much more. We saw the damage of a bridge that collapsed within the last year due to a barge ramming into a pillar.

We stayed the night in Kaiping and had the opportunity to meet Leon's relatives. There was a definite language barrier but Laura and I did not feel out of place in the least. It was fun to see how they communicate with eachother, examine behaviors and see their way of life. I felt like we were really able to experience guanxi and immerse ourselves into the culture. The southerners really enjoy cuisine and we ate many new foods. They eat chicken feet (not my favorite) for breakfast and gather as large families around a table. When we met with his family for breakfast, the culture was very different. There were only large families, there were not even tables for just two people, and one of his cousins told us that it is typical to enjoy breakfast for two hours.

This was just part of our adventue, we have to work on our presentation for tomorrow so I will write more about our experiences at a later time.

Rena's Grandma's Apartment

A group of us went over to Rena's Grandma's apartment for some traditional homemade Chinese food. It was very interesting to see what a typical apartment looks like. It is definitly smaller than apartments in the US, but not by much. It had a kitchen, small dining room and three bedrooms. When we arrived they fed us cherries, cookies, and candies, it felt a little strange to be eating dessert first...but I wasn't going to complain. We then watched Rena's father make noodles by shaving off little pieces with a clever from a large ball of dough. The shavings would fall directly into a pot of boiling water and begin to cook. Rena said this was a very special occasion because her father hadn't made these noodles in over a year, so I felt pretty honored to try them. We then watched Rena's aunts make dumplings. They were stuffed with beef and vegetables I believe. It was all very delicious! Even though Rena's family didn't speak a word of English, they knew how grateful we were to have gotten the invite to their home.

Beijing: Mao, MiniCoopers and Ebay

The trains were packed. The cars were offering a seat to Beijing for around 80 Yuan per seat. An unofficial bus sold fares for 30 Yuan, it departed about 20 minutes after promised (after its last seat was sold). While waiting, I mentioned that I had to visit the bathroom. The guy (coordinator or owner perhaps, motioned to do it on the side of road in the bushes. He walked me over and..."when in Rome..." I read about China and Beijing on the way up. The lady sitting across the aisle allowed her toddler to pee on the floor of the buss--my Chinese friends later told me that that was normal (hmmm). The bus dropped people off about a block away from the main Beijing train station. Then I grabbed a cab to Tien An Men Square to see Chairman Mao's corpse.
By the time I had finally gotten to Beijing, Mao was not accepting visitors. Tuesday through Sunday, mornings only. So if I am going to see Mao, I will have to return; I had seen Lenin in Red Square prior to his burial. If I can see Mao, I can say that I've seen two of the most communist leaders of the 20th Century, perhaps.
The hostel to the west of the Forbidden City has some clean rooms with private bath and atmosphere for around $35/night. The shops in the alleys behind there were fun. Nice luggage, unlocked I-phone look a likes for around $200, boiled dumplings and beer at a small restaurant that had a banner on the wall that looked like it was written in Tibetian (close--slightly to the northeast of there said the owner (I think) as he pointed to my map).
Hopped on the subway. Had some microbrewed beer at a Shopping Center near the middle of the 3rd ring road on the west side after looking at BMW MiniCoopers, priced at around 345,000 Yuan ($50K+). MiniCoopers are incredibly popular among the up and coming young Chinese. A Chinese friend sells clothes on Tao Bao--an internet market place that beat Ebay at their own game when they came to China--its fun to observe some reality that ties into a previous business lecture.
The last train to Tianjin was pretty empty--getting a seat was no problem. I fell asleep on the way back.

Sashimi, Pharmacy, Intellectual Property Rights and a Movie

I slept in today until about noon. Had an early dinner of Sashimi and tempura with a friend in the Hexi district across town at one of the many authentic Japanese restaurants there. The Japanese reportedly stay in hotels there for business. One hotel is so old an famous that the streets around it incorporate its name along with a compass direction.
Visited a pharmacy in the neighborhood where I asked for an antibiotic to attack my sinus infection that might be moving into my chest. He gave me some Amoxicillin capsules 0.25g, 2 capsules, 3 times daily for no more than 1 week. I mentioned that I would prefer the Azithromycin, given the utilitiy of Zpacks and Zmax at home, but he suggested, several times, that the quality of this manufacturer was better than that of my preference. So I took his advice and moved on.
Watched a DVD that I had purchased previously for about $1.50 of a recently released movie. As I loaded it into the computer, my Chinese friend said, " You know that this is an illegal copy--they all are. We can get the latest released movies on Baidu.com" (though the software required was incompatible with my MacBook and Safari). Then I recalled the public service announcement that I had read in Beijing subway the day prior: "Protecting Intellectual Property, Regulating Market Environment, and Building a Harmonious Society" (I guess that two of three aren't bad).
The hot shower ran a lot that night in an effort to breath better as I questioned my choice of antibiotic.

Pharmacy, Pizza Hut, Wuda Roads: Monday 09 June 2008

Dragon Boat Day. As we walked around the "Wuda Roads European Style Esthetic Area" (as the map says), some residents and workers could be found laying on the sidewalk near this area taking naps (as it was cooler for them there in the shade than in their apartments). The apartments in this area are expensive, so many of the ground flats have windows that open up to some kind of commercial enterprise--like food or drinks. We went to a tea house where the men were playing cards in one room, with plenty of money on the table. The private tea room could be used for 40 Yuan (less than $6) and the tea itself could be had for 140 Yuan (around $20), which seemed to me a bit pricey after lunch at Pizza Hut for around 200 Yuan. Tea is said to be quite an experience here, perhaps another time, however... Many of the historic buildings are now hotels. One hotel was priced at between $80-$300 per night and seemed to be frequented by Japanese businessmen.
The Super Supreme pizza there was alright, though I would have preferred a bit more sauce. Their Veggie included corn, as well. Their smoothies were nice: Green Tea seemed to be the favorite coming out of the kitchen. We observed a bit of Chinese culture there: On at least 3 occasions, people piled their one-visit plate to the salad bar higher than a foot, carefully packing as many things onto said plate as possible. They would then bring it to their table as 3-4 people would pick food from the same plate. This just adds to the "China Price" concept mentioned in some of the prior readings. I suspect that they just wanted to get their money's worth; I also suspect that there is more of a price-elasticity of demand for most products in China than back home.
The train station was packed as everyone was going back to Beijing for work the next day, perhaps. Tickets, though the same price, were for standing room only. The unofficial bus had raised its price from the previous day to 40 Yuan per passenger. While the train is the state-run company. The taxis and the bus are entrepreneurs' solutions to the needs of the customer: that's what makes an economy.
I picked up some herbal medicine from a Chinese pharmacy. It is in Chinese and English: Nin Jiom Pei P Koa Traditional Chinese Herbal Cough Syrup that is to be taken three times per day (but won't hurt you if you take it when you're not sick, so I'm told). It tastes a bit like Robitussin with lots of honey--it's not bad, actually. This pharmacy would not sell me antibiotics without a doctor's prescription (then why was I able to buy some the previous day at a different pharmacy across town--that guy didn't strike me as being a doctor). China: some follow the rules perfectly, some less so...
The Duluth-like frigid temperature of my hotel room was a nice intermittent respite throughout the hot day.

can you move a little faster?

Ok, so I tend to get motion sickness easily, and last weekend was a perfect example. The lunch and the bus ride were not a good combination, and I had to go. I asked Bryn to find out how much time we had left before a stop. When she told Dauhi this he gave her a bag for me to throw up in and she replied “no, the other way.? Alarmed, he arranged for us to stop at the next exit, 10 minutes away. After what felt like forever, we get to the tollbooth and pull over to the side of the road. The tour guide told me to follow him off the bus and he did not understand my situation so I said, “could you move a little faster!? We ran across the street through traffic and into some random place with a bathroom. I had never been to happy to see a squatter. Needless to say, I will always be known as the girl who made the bus pull over to go to the bathroom.
Shannon

Picture at the Technology Incubation Park

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Friday-Sunday June6-8

Friday we did not have class, and began the day with a trip to the Dynasty wine company. I think that although everyone was a little sleepy from the hotpot (fondue) party the night before, we all really enjoyed the factory. It was amazing to see the differentiation in their products, ranging from only about a hundred yuan a bottle to over 10,000! This was all dependent on many factors and most critically how long the wine was aged and what ingredients it contained. After this I went back to the hotel and rested, focusing on keeping up in all my travel journaling, and spent several hours talking with loved ones back home. We had another trip to a museum planned for later in the day, but had to cancel leaving the whole afternoon open. I did not leave the hotel, or even my room for that matter being held back by sickness and email/journaling. I have been feeling less than 100% this entire trip, which has been hard for trying to get out and travel, but I have just been telling myself that I have to see it all while I am still here, because of how rare a trip like this is.
So after a hard day of doing nothing, I packed my bag for Beijing and got all my travel tickets/passport in order and fell asleep to Mission Impossible 3.

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A day in the life....

So today proved to be yet another amazing experience. We woke up bright and early with hopes of being able to see the Great Wall one last time before we left China. We left the hotel around 7am and headed for the train station. As we approached the train I realized this train was far less advanced as the train we took to Beijing. After we found seats the conductor allowed us to move to another car so we could sit near each other.

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Pets in China

So, according to the Top 10 Beijing book, pets were outlawed by Chairman Mao when the Communist Party came to power. He said pets were a sign of the bourgeoisie, so no one could have anything besides a pet songbird. This was interesting to read because we have all seen at least a few little dachshunds and pomeranians running around. Modern China is accepting dogs, and according to what Adam was saying on the van ride back from the northern farm we visited, the larger your dog the more wealthy you appear. The dogs also are very well trained here, most walk around without leashes, yet I haven't seen one get hit by a car. Stacy lunged at a

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June 8, 2008

Tian'anmen Square

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Small World

Going on our own to Beijing this weekend was a wonderful experience. We had to rely on each other and kind people who spoke very broken English, guess if we were going in the right direction from a map, and navigate the subways on our own. After an interesting rickshaw ride, missing Chairman Mao’s body, a subway ride, the zoo, and shopping we decided it was time to head back to the train station to get back to Tianjin. While on our second subway ride we met an extremely nice German man.

He was here by himself for a dentist convention and hadn’t been able to keep a conversation with anyone since everyone around only spoke Chinese. We told him about the best tourist spots and where he should good for some good non-Chinese food. We talked about his profession, life in Germany, being students in China, and the differences we saw. He eventually asked us where we were from and as soon as ‘Minneso’ came out he got really excited. He said that he had been there many times, he loves Duluth, his sister lives there. Wow, how weird was that? We told him that’s where we are from and then the conversation just kept rolling.

I had once heard that within five people you will know everyone in the world. We went half way around the globe to meet someone who been to UMD. If you haven’t been able to make the connection of what a small world it is before, here’s an example; strangers on a crowded subway in China, one from Germany, three from the US, all having times to Duluth, Minnesota!

Let's try this ourselves...

This weekend can only be described as amazing mixed in with a little bit of exhaustion. Seven of us (Meghan, Morgan, John, Bryn, Wes, Shannon and Me) all ventured back to Beijing. We had spent the last week planning where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go and what we wanted to see when we got there. Shannon and Bryn went to buy the train tickets for us and I asked Tian to help us with booking the hostel. A couple others (Cass, Court and Jen) also came along with us to Beijing for Saturday.

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House Church

I was unaware that house churches still existed in China after they ceased to be persecuted, but I suppose it only makes sense to keep doing what works for that amount of people. We went to a small house church that Dahui knew about this morning, and were welcomed with open arms. The church consisted of a small apartment with stools set up for everyone to sit on. There were a total of 14 girls (women and college aged), and 9 boys (Dahui and college aged). The pastor or leader of the church was a doctoral student at Nankai University, and Dahui informed me that she became a Christian about 5 years ago, and "can really talk." The service included a lot of scripture reading outloud in unison, but that was not the part that struck me. I have heard in my many years working at camp that there are different ways of praying, but the way they did it in this house church was to pray outloud. Everyone prays outloud, their own prayers, and somehow magically end together. They sung many songs that I did not know, but one that I did. So I sang along in English.

The most striking part of the whole experience was how much more passionate the Chinese students were about expressing their prayers/faith openly and excitedly than most average American churches. Granted there are passionate Christians all over the United States, but that's not what I'm saying. It almost difficult to put into words, but there is a definite difference in the way a persecuted religion operates as opposed to a free religion. There is so much more I could talk about this issue, but a lot of it gets personal.

June 7, 2008

A day in Beijing

Courtney, Jen, and I decided to go to Beijing for a day trip. We were all very excited to explore on our own for the day. There were a total of 10 of us headed to Beijing Saturday morning and it is quite the process. All of us took taxis to the train station to meet Rena. We then got on a train in first class seats for an hour train ride. After we all got to Beijing safely and got some McDonalds in our stomach we all hopped on the taxi carts where you get bikes around town. We had thought they wanted 3 yuan for the ride, after riding for about 5 minutes we were at our destination. The men then demanded we give them 300 yuan for each person!! I'm assuming there will be others blogging about this same experience. Courtney and I gave them 300 yuan for both of us and they still were not happy so we just walked away at that point. We next hopped on the subway which was a great idea because it was fast and cheap. We eventually made it to the Beijing zoo where we saw some sweet panda bears. At that point we broke off from the rest of the group that was staying the night in Beijing and we headed to the shopping mall, it seems to be the one place we are always drawn to. After shopping we made the long trek back to Tianjin. First a subway, then a train, then a taxi, but we made it all in one piece and it was a great day! It was kind of an adventure doing it all on our own!

Medicine

I have had a couple of experiences thus far over here that have required me to visit a pharmacy. We have visited a traditional Chinese medicine factory/storage facility as one of our business visits, but I never would have guessed that traditional Chinese medicine was all they had to offer at any given pharmacy. There was no hydracortisone for my heat rash on my foot, and there was no sore throat spray. I got some herbal cough drops, but that's all they had to offer.

It surprised me the most that the pharmacies did not offer any western medicine. With the world ever-expanding, I figured they would offer half and half, or at least some choices in western medicine. This experience was not negative, it was just eye opening that the Chinese people do not necessarily have access to the same over-the-counter medicines that we do.

June 6, 2008

Similiarities in a Country of Differences

By Stacy Jorgenson

It is amazing at how fast these days are flying by. At first, and okay maybe still a little now, I felt soo homesick. I wondered if the time would move any faster. But now I look back and I realize we have done so much in such a short period of time. I can witness myself going through the culture shock stages. Due to my classes and past experiences I am aware at where I am with my experience.

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Monday-Tuesday Week 3

Monday we got up and went to lecture at Nankai as usual, and followed it up with some lunch as we always do. Class was pretty interesting, teaching a lot on the economy of China, which gave out some pretty interesting facts/figures. The class focus however was on HRM policy/practices in China, which was cool to compare to our own. Our business visit in the afternoon was to Xin Mao Technical Park, which was an investment organization. The company was really interesting, learning about how they make money from assisting in the initial investments in new technologies and or manufacturing facilities. Basically they help companies start up financially and assist in the development of their organizational structure.

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June 5, 2008

beverages

It was interesting the other morning when I went to get real coffee at McDonalds because the gal at the counter recognized me and knew that I wanted coffee. It was nice knowing that she was accomodating and I felt comfortable ordering from the menu without being afraid that I was going to get the wrong item. Another instance at McDonalds when I was ordering coffee, I also tried to order a coke and the worker gave me a hot cocoa instead.

The other day a group of us were eating at Mr. Lee's and Jen tried to order an apple flavored soda, even after pointing out which one she wanted (and other group members were also attempting to tell the waitress what she wanted) she got the wrong drink. They actually brought her out this jello drink that was in a cup with a big straw. I am not quite sure how green soda and yellow jello could get mixed up, but that was a real suprise. I find that I am much more comfortable eating at restaurants that have a menu with a picture that I can point to.

I am excited to go home and drink a tall glass of cold milk and drink cold water from the tap! This weekend a few of us are going to southern China. I am very excited to see the way the southerners live (we will visit Leon's family members) and to see another part of the country. I think that Laura and I will be stared at a lot and that the language barrier will be bigger than ever, but that is definitely part of the experience.

Tea (not Coffee) in China

There are a lot of things that I miss from home, but the one thing that I miss more than anything every morning in my cup of coffee. In China, people are very concerned about their health and well being so many (most) of them choose to drink tea. All kinds of fresh teas. As you walk into the cafeteria or dining area, almost everyone has a clear container filled with hot tea (even when it's 100 degrees out). At home, however, coffee is the drink of choose (for many) in the morning. For many it helps to get the day started - including me.

Every morning at home I have at least one cup of coffee. It just seems to get my day off to a good start. I will even get up 15-20 minutes early to be able to drink my cup of coffee out on my porch. One of the first things I notices when arriving in China is that it's really hard to get a coffee that tastes good. We have free coffee (all day long) in the lobby of our hotel, but for those of you that have tried it, it's REALLY hard to choke down - at times chunky, cold, and bitter. For this reason, I went on a hunt for coffee and just recently found it at the grocery store across from the business school. Now while I am not an instant coffee drinker at home, it tastes better than great here!

I even found a brand that I recognize (Nescafe) and that comes with just a hint of cream and sugar already added. It's perfect for a trip like this. The first couple days without coffee in the morning was ruff, but now I am eagar to get up and enjoy my cup in the morning.

Sun Life

We visited a business called Sun Life Everbright today. It is an insurance company based out of Canada that has a joint venture in China, and one of the higher-ups is a long-time friend of Dahui. I really like learning about the insurance industry, and I liked even more learning about the differences between insurance here and in the US. We felt very priveledged because the CEO of the company actually came and talked to us, which was a positive difference compared to the other companies we have visited. The other companies usually provide some kind of manager or team leader to talk to us, but this is the first CEO that we have met. He also spoke fluent English, so it was very easy to talk to him and ask him questions, and also to understand his responses.

We learned that their company is expanding to a few different countries, and uses various methods of distribution for their sales in China. Americans are most used to companies being able to give quotes on the internet (progressive). The Chinese don't quite have enough internet access for that to be their main channel of distribution, but I think in the near future it will be.

June 4, 2008

Getting used to the food

After the first week in Tianjin I had decided that I was going to lose a bit of weight on this trip because I didn't like hardly any of the food I tried. At home I only at chinese food once a month at most and that isn't real chinese food we eat in the states either. I was really convinced I would be on a diet after our first meal out to dinner with Jason. I don't know if it was the duck tongue that turned me off or what, but I did not like the food. Two weeks later...I find myself craving the food here. I get excited to eat white rice. At home I never ate white rice, but I imagine when I go home I will continue to eat it. I'm really surprised how the human body can get accusomed so quickly to changes in diet and environment. Like my Grandma Rose says "Bloom where you are planted." I think that is so true. China seemed like such a stretch for me to feel comfortable and to really enjoy myself. In the last week I have gone down to campus for a jog on my own and met two very nice chinese students, one who invited me to play some ping pong. Last night I took a cab to TGI Fridays by myself and thought nothing of it. I think it is great how comfortable I feel so quickly. It makes me wonder if I could ever live in another country for a few years. Once you get that idea in your head, the job opportunities increase greatly.

Fujitsu

We visited an electronics sweatshop yesterday called Fugitsu. First of all we all had to wear company issued lab coats, hats and shoes. What really interested me is that when we split our group into 2 smaller groups, the alarming part was the difference in information and statistics given by the two different guides. They told our group that the workers made between 1100-1200 whereas the other group was told 1300-1500. They told our group that the average age of the workers was 20 and told the other group 26. It was definitely a sweatshop, there was a 8:1 (according to our guide) ratio of women to men. Most of the girls probably came from rural areas and will not have many job opportunities in the future. It makes me wonder how much of what they are telling us is facts, it seems as though the one of the group leaders was trying to save face by trying to provide accurate answers without knowing what the true answer was.

When wer are on these various business visits, it is at times difficult to get our questions answered when there is such a massive a language barrier. I believe that our questions and answers for that matter then to get lost in translation. It is also difficult in the aspect that Westerners will give direct answers whereas the Chinese will answer a question in a more indirect fashion. I am enjoying our visits to the businesses and my favorites have been the technological village that incubates companies and ACS which outsourses various services globally. Next we are headed to a pharmaceutical company, it is a business sector that has always been interesting to me in many ways because of its lucrative but powerful capabilities.

June 2, 2008

Bartering

I went shopping yesterday with a couple girls from UMD, and I don't think everyone understands the power of bargaining for the things they want to buy. It is the culture over here to barter for everything in the small markets, and some of the girls just take the price that the shops propose. I was horrified that they didn't even barter at all. I'm a penny pincher I guess, but that was just nuts to me. We were buying ipod chargers yesterday, and we were going to buy 2 total, and a cord, and she wanted us to pay 200 Yuan total. I turned to the girl, as she was digging out her money to pay the 200, and said, "I bet I get get them for 150." She was surprised, but agreed to let me barter to save us both money. I did get them for 150, and everyone went home happy! The same goes for Ancient Culture Street, and another "market" we went to in Beijing that was more like the Mall of America packed with vendors. The moral of the story is "when in China, save yourself some money and barter."

The Great Wall of "big steps" (Picture)

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The Great Wall of "big steps"

If you ever have the opportunity to ever travel to Great Wall I would recommend that you accept the adventure! I guess never realized that the Great Wall was a massive climb. The place where we stopped to see the great wall was a straight hike up stairs......up the mountain (try and imagine). Some of the stairs were the height of half my leg. The tour guide only gave us two hours so we all hurried up the mountain too! The stairs were huge and we were all dying like halfway up. My butt and calves were killing me. It was such an accomplishment though to turn around and see where we have came from. The main thing I took away from the Great Wall was the appreciation for the beauty of this great world around us. Also an appreciation for the people have preceded us and have worked so hard for everything we have today. The Chinese guards who worked on the Great Wall considered climbing this wall as an everyday event because it was there job. I could never imagine having a job like this. As we climbed the great wall there were tower points that we considered levels. At those points there were shops that sold gifts and bottled drinks and food. These poeple also climbed the Great Wall. I saw an old man climbing (I am guessing was about seventy) and he climbed the with a huge jug of water and food dangling around his neck for the workers. I was impressed!

Beijing, there and back

Well, we are finally back from Beijing and it feels good to be home. We say so much in so little time. We saw the great wall, the summer palace, the temple of heaven, the Ming tombs and so much more. I would have to say that my favorite place was the summer palace. It was a beautiful day and the lake was just gorgeous. It made me want to through on my suit, grab a floatie, and hop in the water. I also loved the great wall. I wish we would have had more time, 2 hours was just not enough. I definitely should have hit the stair master like 3 weeks before I left to get ready for it because it was a workout. We also went to a few shops, like a silk and a jade factory and we even went to a mall. Lots of bargaining going on there, and everyone got some great stuff at a good price. We also went to a night club on sat. and that was a blast. Just like being back in the states! But that’s all for now!

Market Shopping in Beijing

This past weekend in Beijing was so eventful that it's hard to decided what to write about...but I think one of the most interesting cultural experiences was shopping at the market because there is such a HUGE difference from home. Not only did we get a chance to learn about how important is is for Chinese to talk "person to person" about cost, quality, what the product is made of, etc. before buying anything in our lecture last week, but we also got to see this type of "relationship" while shopping in Beijing...

As we walked down the rows of enless knock-off handbags, shoes, shirts, luggage, wallets, sunglasses and then on to the pearls, jade, chopsticks (I could go on forever but I won't), employees yelled "lady, lady...you need handbag (or whatever product they thought we wanted/needed)" encouraging to come to their booth. At first I though it was kind of an interesting way to shop, but once I stopped simply to look, they latched on like a leech and wouldn't let me leave. At one point, Stacy and I had to literally push a lady out of the way as she tried to corner us inside her shop. As we continued to look, I also say some lady pulling (no joke, two handed pull down the row) Cassie. Even as Cassie attempted to remove the lady's grip, she pulled even harder.

After see this, I was annoyed beyond belief and glad that we were going to be leaving soon...I guess it is just another way of shopping, but definetly not something I would want to participate in on a regular basis. Nevertheless, the market had some really good deals (as we are able to bargain things way down) and I want to go back this weekend. At least this time I'll have a better idea of what to expect so that I can mentally (and perhaps physically) prepare to shop :o)

Chinese Poem at the Summer Palace

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