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June 20, 2009

Cord Houle: Shanghai day-2

Our final day in china was bitter sweet; a part of me was looking forward do going home while a big part of me wished I had more time. As we did our activities for the day I couldn't help but reflect over the past four weeks at all the things we experienced and all the friends we made.

One of the more notable experiences we had that day was visiting the world's highest observation deck and using the world's highest toilet. We were able to accomplish this by visiting the Shanghai world financial center. The day we visited was also a day of very high air pollution. Because of this poor air quality, we were only able to see perhaps a mile into the distance before it got too foggy to see any further. This observation deck was very unique as it had a floor that didn't have another floor under it. This allowed them to place glass viewing windows on the floor that allowed you to peer down at the streets below. While in the building we could also see where they plan on building the next building to claim the title of tallest building in the world.

The air quality in Shanghai defiantly gave me a deeper respect for the air quality back at home. While in the past environmental protection was not a primary focus for the Chinese government, the teachings of Tao and the harmony between people and nature are becoming more popular. Looking forward, it would be great if the people of china took a more conservationist approach to their expansion. China has a great beauty that would be very sad to lose.

Cord Houle: Shanghai day-1

Today I woke up at 5am in order to get a better look at the second part of Wu Zhen before we headed to Shanghai. Wu Zhen was as beautiful at dawn as it was the previous night. I was able to walk around the streets in a rare moment of quiet in china. I was one of the only people out at that early in the morning. Since we landed, I couldn't remember a time when I couldn't hear the sounds of traffic or horns honking so I savored this rare moment. After a couple of hours to myself I joined my fellow students in front of the hotel rooms as we walked to the building our breakfast was in. after a great breakfast and grabbing all our luggage we crossed the river to front desk and the bus were and said goodbye to out secluded paradise.

We the left for Shanghai and I grabbed a couple of hours of sleep to catch up for what I had forgone in order to fully enjoy Wu Zhen. When we arrived in Shanghai we immediately had free time. This was my first look at public transportation in china. We decided to utilize the massive subway system in Shanghai. Entering to the subway tunnels I immediately noticed how clean they were. Having used the New York subway system and the L in Chicago this places cleanliness caught my eye the moment we entered. The fair was 3 Yuan for a one-way ticket to anywhere which seemed affordable. The train also didn't lurch forward like the subways in New York. Chinas efficient use of public transportation really impressed me on my trip. There high density cities made the utilization rate of any mile of road or any mile of track much greater than in the states.

We also visited a mall that rivaled that of most malls in the states. This mall had 7 main floors and stretched a big distance. Many popular American stores were here as well as some major European and Japanese stores. We finished off the day with a boat ride on the river at night were we got to see the entire Shanghai skyline lit up and the buildings built by many foreign companies. This boat ride gave a great perspective of how large the city actually was and provided a unique way to look at it.

Cord Houle: Wu Zhen

In our first day at Wu Zhen, we walked around some of the historically preserved areas of the town. One of the things about this place that will stay with me was how nice the local people were. One lady in particular was very gracious, allowing us into her house and showing us her family pictures. She told us about her children and about how she used to work at a silk factory. One thing that struck me was how much she reminded me of my own grandma. Always talking about her children and grandchildren and showing guests her photos of friends and family. After a tour of her small house and meeting her curious friends, we continued on our way looking at the different sites in the historical district.

That night we visited the second part of the town that was historically preserved. This area was a vast hotel and very beautiful. The rooms were on the top floors of the buildings that housed the various shops and restaurants. The beauty of this place was very overwhelming as it showed the architecture that ancient china was so well known for. This made me think about the history we have the states or rather lack thereof. China has a rich cultural history and is fortunate enough to embrace it. In the states, the only cultural history we possess goes back a mere 300 years. Other than that, we have Native American culture; however, much of the cultural history involved with the Native American people is dismissed as a whole. From my time in china, I have come to greatly appreciate the rich heritage of the society. It is great that the Chinese people have something like that to draw upon.

shanghai day two also the last day

So, today is our last day that we visit in Shanghai. And also is the last day of the study aboard program. I do think this month is going so fast and I learn a lot of things; and I like this trip very much.

For the last day, we went to the world's tallest building. This building is use for financial center in shanghai, and in china too. This financial building is design by a Japanese designer and the building looks so cool. We have chance today that we can go up to the highest floor of this building and watch the view from there. It feels awesome when you stand on the highest building in the world. The view is good but just too smoky.
One thing I should mention about shanghai's taxi driver. They are very mean. They vary take short distance trip. I remember last light we went to club; we need to take a fifteen walk with Zhou to a taxi station to take a taxi to the club. Although we able to take a taxi, the driver does not being nice to us. I do not why they like to been act so mean to the customer, but I do not doubt they can get more if they being nice. We get in a terrible time when I come back from the club with my roommate. The driver said very positive that he knows the way. So, as he keeps driving, he's getting nervous about the way he was drive. Although we finally get back to the hotel, we pay more than normal.

I like shanghai this place because here has a mall like Hong Kong's and many pretty girls are in this city. There are something that make me think badly about shanghai. The prolusion is the first problem. Second, people are mean in this city. Finally, there is no sky on shanghai. In general, shanghai is a good city. At least, shanghai is one of the centurial city in china. I would like to live in shanghai.

shanghai day 1

This is my first time to visit shanghai. I am getting exciting when i still in the bus. As I know, expect Hong Kong, shanghai should be one of the most modern city in china. So I am pretty looking forward to take a round trip in shanghai.

As our bus getting close and close to shanghai, the sky is looking smoky and smoky, too. I have never see prolusion so bad like this. I have been to Hong Kong couple times, although the air in Hong Kong is not as clean as Duluth, but the sky view in Hong Kong is much better than I see in shanghai. Sometimes, I think growing so fast would come with a side effect like in shanghai. They take off a clean sky to get a growth in global economic market. Shanghai is success and become one of the top financial markets in the world. Maybe is the weather bad today, but i do not know.So sad that I am not feeling there is a sky here in shanghai. There is smoke around the city sky, that is what I see in shanghai this morning.

So I am not expected that shanghai get a very clean sky. Although shanghai is growing so fast and become a head of financial market in china, maybe it is suppose to have a sky like that.

Other thing I have done today is go to a shopping mall. The name of this mall is Zheng Da mall. In my eye, I think this one should be the best mall in shanghai. I do not want to compare those malls in Hong Kong with mall in shanghai. I think there still a generation between these two. Although there is difference between shanghai's and Hong Kong's, the Zheng Da mall let me see an equal balance. Zheng Da makes me feel I am shopping on the Hong Kong mall. So if someone wants to shop, I would suggest he/she come to this place. forget to mention, there is a Best buy inside this building. And I think this is the only one Best Buy in shanghai and the only one in China. Maybe you can they a look the one in china then compare to the U.S.

wuzhen

Wuzhen is a super pretty place. The city is build up on several rivers. Every house's appearing has not get any changes seems the day was build. Once I go into this city, I am feeling that I go back to old Asian time. The view in Wuzhen is very nice; I can sit on a chair and look at just one view for an hour. I feel very relaxing when I inside Wuzhen.

We are going to stay in wuzhen one night before go to shanghai tomorrow. So, we ate a dinner before went to check in to the hotel. Our hotel is separate from other side of wuzhen. We need to take a boat to cross river and reach our hotel. This place looks more beautiful when was at night. Our team takes a boat trip around this place. It is a very fun time when I sit on the boat. I have a feeling that I am back to my home. Maybe that is wired but this place really gives me this feeling.

Shanghai- Boat Ride & Sky Club

This night again proved that Americans are from a first class country and receive V.I.P. in China. We went on an amazing boat ride, got VIP; and went to a very nice club in Shanghai, got VIP. The boat ride was great; we had a corner of the second deck all to ourselves. The town of Shanghai at night has some very interesting buildings along with the lights on the buildings. I was hoping to find a picture that one of us took, but it seems as everyone has gotten lazy and stopped putting their pictures up on facebook... I am sure that most people have seen pictures of the skyline, but that is not even close to how cool it is in real life! I was going to say that this boat ride was one of the best things we have done or experienced, but there are so many; each day added something new and interesting. After the boat ride, we went to the hotel to take a shower in like five minutes. We all wanted to get to the club. We walk into Sky Club and see two VIP tables open for us. Joe, our awesome tour guide, his girlfriend knew that manager. With that said, we didn't have to pay the minimum 6000 yuan (around 900USD). On top of that, the club gave each table a fruit plate! We were there for four hours, maybe longer, and everyone had a great time! I have to say Thanks to Joe for the great hookup. It is not what you know, it is who you know.

Shanghai Day 2

Today, was one of my favorite days on the whole trip. I had seen the Shanghai World Financial Center on the Discovery channels' "Build it Bigger" get built, so I was very interested when I found out that we were going to actually go in it. The top of the building has a large rectangle cut out of it for the wind factor. It looks a like a bottle opener or a Japanese sword if you think that way. I kind of remember the showing talking about the 100th floor observation deck, which happens to be the tallest observation deck in the world, but I now remember what it looked like. Half of the floor was glass; you could see straight down to the lower deck as well as 1,555 feet down. It was pretty amazing. My mind was racing a little bit up there and thought of how the rest of China was built, it does not last very long. Any second this brand new building could fall because China does not have any authority caring about building regulations. We again went on the high speed elevator, which does not tell you what floor you are going though, but tells you how high up you are in meters. We ended off the evening on the front step of the hotel talking about the trip! Great way to end it off.

June 10th- 12th

10th

Today before we leave Wuxi, we went to visit a place which making tea set. In this store, they have the biggest tea pot in the world. Base on what the instructor from there told us, Wuxi used to famous of mining purple sand. And this mineral is good for making tea pots and tea cups. At noon we arrived at Wuzhen. The buildings in here are like the style of ancient China. There are two parts in Wuzhen, for the first part is mostly the gift shops. The second part is the place where we stay for tonight. We are going to spend three hours in the first part. For most of my time, I was bargaining with someone. It was fun. And I also visited a big house called Hundred Beds House. Inside, they display many different kinds of beds from ancient China. And different bed also has different meaning. Some bed is for married people, some is for brother, younger brother, or older brother. After dinner, we went to the second part of Wuzhen by boat. The view in here is wonderful, and it is even better when at night. Also we got the chance to have a boat ride on the river. It was fantastic. I think the most beautiful place during this trip is here.


11th

Last station, Shanghai. We are going to stay here more the last two days. The first feeling it gave me is, this is a huge city and there are so many cars! Also it is so hot. The plan for today is, museum, mall, and boat ride. Because the museum and the mall is very close to each other. So we decided to go to the mall first. Everything is different in here, the clothes are much better and the price also make them have many "face". In the mall, they also have a Best Buy. Base on the Chinese translation of Best Buy, Bai Si Mai. It means, think one hundred times before you buy. It seems kind of doesn't make any sense. Well, that's just my personal translation, maybe it doesn't mean that. For the museum, I didn't have anything to talk about. Because I didn't even go into the museum. Why? Because I spent so much time than I thought to find my way back to the museum. At night we had a boat ride in Shanghai to see the night views. It is very beautiful. When the boat was going back to the port, I also watch a magic show at the first floor. After we put all our luggages back to our rooms. We're going to the last bar in China, the Sky Bar. Thanks to Joe's girlfriend has some guanxi with the bar manager, we got our two VIP tables for free. Also, we felt we have many "face". Everybody was dancing, drinking, and playing dices. We had a lot of fun here.


12th
Today is the last day in Shanghai. At the morning, we went to the Chenghuang Temple. The mostly scenes in here is, there are many people showing a menu of what kind of shoes, watches, clothes, and some electronic products they have to anyone who pass by them. If someone wants to buy something, then he will lead them to a small house where they put their products. I think many people do that is because the rent in the Chenghuang Temple is very high. At the afternoon, we went to visit a new built Global Financial Center in Shanghai. Also, this is the highest GFC in China. It has one hundred floors and over four hundred meters height. It felt so well when I stood at the one hundredth floor and looking around Shanghai. Our trip is going to the end. As the Chinese said, no feast can last forever. But there is end means there is a new start. I hope everyone can for a good time for the rest of the summer.

Venice of Italy- Wuzhen

This afternoon we walked around Part one, which started off for some of us on a little boat. It was a nice afternoon, it got a little long. After a couple hours, me and a couple other found Dr. Li. He took us to some areas to look and stuff and then got us into a ladies' house to see what it looked like. She used to work in a silk factory but had retired 30 plus years ago. Her husband had passed away and kids had left the city, so she was all she had left in Wuzhen. She obviously likes it, she is right on the water, so how couldn't you like that! Later that evening, we moved into out hotel rooms. We had to take a boat to get to the island that we were staying on. It was a nice room with views of the water. We again took a boat ride from by our hotel room to the bar area. We sat down, ordered some beer, ordered some food (Hack & I got a very good pizza with garlic bread!), and listened to Bob Marley; how much more American than that can you get! We stayed there a couple drinks and then headed back to where our room was and hung outside on the bridge. It was a great night, wished we would have had a longer time there to explore more.

June 19, 2009

Last One!

So, here I am at work a couple of days after returning from an unforgettable month in China. I can hardly believe a month has gone by. Adjusting to life back in the United States has not been as easy as I thought it would be. Over the last month, I have become accustomed to sleeping in, drinking beer, having meals prepared for me, and not having a care in the world. Back to my beloved fifty plus hour per week job and the real world of having to make my own meals. Driving has been an adjustment too. I can't tailgate, run red lights, speed, drive down the wrong way, etc. like I observed while in China. I'm not too sure about the rest of you, but jet lag dragged me down drastically until about Wednesday or Thursday. My wife and coworkers have caught me "in a daze" multiple times. I'm so tired and it won't go away!! It was quite the contrast compared to when we arrived in China. We were all so excited that I think the effects of jet lag were minimal. When I approached this trip, I thought it to be the "trip of a lifetime." My opinion has changed. I would be really disappointed in myself if I do not make it back again in my lifetime. Our class became close over the last month. I cannot think of a better group of people to have gone on this trip with. Sure, we got on each other's nerves a bit there toward the end, but all in all everyone got along well. I am excited to see everyone at our fall reunion. I hope all can make it back to Duluth whenever it is. Good luck to all as you some of you search for jobs and some come back to school in the fall! Thank you everyone for making the last month such a great experience!

Last Few Days in Shanghai

Wuzhen (6/10/2009)

Hands down, this was my favorite day in China. Wuzhen was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life (aside from sitting on my dock at sunset on a warm July evening haha). Wuzhen is a scenic town, which is said to have had people living it for over 7,000 years. This is also the birthplace of Mao Dun, a famous writer/novelist in modern China.

Upon entering part 1 of the city there were a lot of vendors and gift stands set up for tourists (Chinese people are rarely, if ever, asked to come and look at the items they are selling). After getting past the gauntlet of vendors though it was smooth sailing the rest of the day there. The rest of the town was mostly residential and side museums, such as wood carvings, world currency, and silk weaving. That evening we lodged in what they called a "guest house" but it was more of a hotel. Not a hotel you might think of like a Super 8, but this one was much more charming and simple (although it did have internet access). This was one of the best nights of sleep I had during the whole trip. I think it was due to the fact that we didn't hear one single car horn honk the entire night.


Shanghai (6/12/2009)

I am incredibly happy I had the Shanghai experience. It was great being able to be in the 2nd most populated city proper in the world. Thursday night our tour guide, Joe, took us to a club in Shanghai called Club Sky which was a higher class club. He even got us two VIP tables for free! Everyone seemed to enjoy their night there. We found it a bit difficult to find a taxi that would take us back to the hotel afterwards though. Joe told us ahead of time that taxi drivers in Shanghai sometimes won't drive you if your destination is relatively close to the starting point. We found this to be true, but after about asking 10 cab drivers we finally found one who was willing to drive us back to the hotel. We made sure to give him a nice tip afterwards which surprised him quite a bit.

The following day we walked around another market and visited the Shanghai World Financial Center. Professor Li, Cord, Jeff, and I ended up going for a walk because I think all four of us were quite sick of markets and shopping by the end of the trip. We walked down the street close to the river hoping to be able to actually walk along the river bank. We had no luck but did get to see some streets and side-sights thats we otherwise would not have been able to see had we stayed at the market. As for the SWFC, I'm usually not afraid of heights but being at the top of the building at the observatory gave me sweaty palms and a bit of vertigo. I'm glad I made it through it though and now I can say I've been to the tallest completed building and used the worlds highest toilet. Shanghai was a great end to an excellent trip.


Coming Home (6/13/2009)

Today is our last day in China. I don't know how to feel about going home. I am excited to see my family and friends. I am excited to get back to American living. But I am not so excited about leaving the country and culture we've learned so much about in the last month. It's been a blessing being able to travel half way around the world to visit this nation that is so rich in culture and history. This morning on the way to the airport the hotel took the time to prepare all of us bagged breakfasts (sandwich, fruit, and water) since we would be leaving the hotel before the breakfast there would be served. This was a nice gesture on the hotels part. Well I hope everyone's travels today go safely and without children kicking the back of their seats on the airplane. Even though all of us will go our separate ways now, I hope we stay in touch. It's been a great month! Take care everyone!

Kevin O'Connell

It feels awesome to be home. Touching down on American soil in Detroit was a great feeling. During our layover in Detroit we went to a sports bar in the airport and got some great American food and American beer--it was only 10 am local mind you, but we were still running on China time. It was great to order in regular English. In China we had to use very simple English (sometimes we had to point at a picture of what we wanted while at other points we were dependent on our group's Chinese speakers to order for us) and we were not able fully express ourselves to the server; back in Detroit, we were able to tell the bartender exactly how we wanted our burgers cooked and what veggies and condiments we wanted on it. We were also able to make small talk with the bartender which we never did in China (except at Hank's Sports Bar in Tianjin).

One of biggest differences that I immediately noticed was traffic--I'm sure everybody else noticed the same thing. For one thing, there are far less cars on the road making travel much easier. This is because the population of our entire state is less than many of the cities we visited while in China. Another thing is the lack of bicyclists and pedestrians. In China, there were hundreds of people on bikes everywhere one looked; also, there were a lot of people walking on the sidewalks. These people biked and walked as their main forms of transportation. In the US, people normally only walk and bike for exercise, not necessarily for transportation. Driving is far more structured is the United States. In China, there would be 3 painted lanes; however, there would be 5 lanes of traffic and a lane for bikes. Here, people stay in their lanes. There is about 1/100th of the honking in Minnesota compared to China. Although driving is much more structured in the US it is not necessarily safer. I only saw about 3 accidents in China the entire month I was there. I have already seen like 10 people pulled over on the side of the road with minor accidents. I think this is because people in China have to drive much slower (about 20 mph) because of all the traffic. We drive so fast and are distracted by things like cell phones and loud music that there are a lot more accidents.

Last day in China

For my last blog I am going to talk about how Shanghai is much more westernized then any other city that we went to. Right when we got to Shanghai I started to notice a lot of differences compared to the other cities we had been too. The one big thing is the fact that so many more people spoke English. This was a nice change because it was getting kind of frustrating not being able to communicate with them to get the basic items that you wanted. In the other cities that we went to you were lucky to find someone that could understand everything that you were saying. Another thing is that all of the cool buildings that they have there. Some examples are the Pearl T.V. tower, the Jin Mao, and the new Shanghai World Financial Center. I especially like the SWFC because it is one of the tallest buildings in the world. I had never been on this one because when I was there before it was not done yet. It was awesome to see the final product and to get a chance to go up to the hundredth floor. Even though we were in Shanghai for a short period I thought it was awesome to be back and be familiar with some of my surroundings.

Kevin O'Connell

Shanghai is the largest city I have ever been to--both in the sheer size of the city and also in population. When we were first driving into Shanghai I was in awe of the architecture. Everywhere I looked I saw big, bigger, and even bigger buildings. I imagine that New York City looks very much like Shanghai except on a smaller scale. We arrived in the middle of the day and traffic was still terrible. I can't fathom what rush hour would be like in Shanghai. Our tour guide, DJ Joe, said that if one lived twenty minutes outside of downtown, it would take them about 2 ½ to 3 hours to get to work each day. Since that is the case it is no surprise that real estate in downtown is far more expensive than property outside the city.

Shanghai was the most 'Western' city we traveled to on the trip. It was by far the most developed city (from what we saw). Every bathroom that I went to had western toilets--I'm sure the girls in the group were very happy about this. It had a new and intricate public transportation system. We took the subway our first day in the city which was a lot of fun. That was the first time I had ever been on a subway train. Even though the city was very developed there was still quite a bit of construction going on. It made driving around downtown a hassle--especially for our big tour bus.

For me, there were two places we went to in Shanghai that were truly amazing. On the first night we went on an evening cruise on the Yangtze River. The Shanghai skyline is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. One guy on our boat knew how memorable and beautiful the skyline is--he proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the cruise (by the way, she said yes!). Every building on the river front was lit up. Some of the buildings had LED lights with fancy designs while others had TV displays. The cruise alone makes me want to go back to Shanghai in the near near future.

The other place we visited that stood out to me was the Shanghai World Financial Center. It is 492 meters tall; at the time it was completed it was the second tallest building in the world. Currently, it has the world's highest observation deck. I'm not necessarily afraid of heights but they definitely get my heart racing, especially when I'm a mile high in the air!! Being at the top of the World Financial Center is something that I will never forget. You could see most of Shanghai. The only reason you couldn't see all of Shanghai is because the smog covered up some of the city. The building next to the World Financial Center is a skyscraper and we were looking straight down it! It was so cool to be able to stare down at a city of over 18 million people and just watch the traffic and the people move around.

Kevin O'Connell

I can't believe how fast the last week went. One minute we were on a train from Tianjin to Wuxi, the next minute I'm in the car on the way home from the MSP airport. The last week was truly amazing. I loved every city we went to--each had its' own special aura. Su Zhou is a city I had never heard of until we arrived there; little did I know it has a population of about 6 million people in whole metro area. The atmosphere is Su Zhou was amazing. Our hotel was in the middle of the city about two blocks away from the heart of the shopping area. There were two or three streets--each about five blocks long--lined with shops ranging from local vendors to global companies like Nike and Adidas. We wandered around for a while taking it all in while trying to find a place to grab a cold beer. We finally located a Western style bar that had cold beer from the tap with frosty mugs, and ESPN on TV. We only stayed there for a beer or two then went back on the streets. I couldn't believe how lively the city was considering we were there in the middle of the week. People lined the streets doing their shopping while spending time with friends. We were getting money from an ATM when some Chinese girls asked if they could take a picture with us. It is so weird how the locals were surprised to see Americans. We are from the States so we are used to seeing people from every country around the world; I don't look twice when I see a Muslim woman wearing a shawl or an Indian woman in traditional dress. In China, 99% of the time they see people that are just like them so I don't blame them for being in awe when they see a group of six white guys walking the streets. I mean, I thought it was weird seeing a city of 6 million people where pretty much everybody looked very much the same. We just come from two different places and cultures.

First Day in Shanghai

The first day In Shanghai. I was really looking forward to be going to Shanghai because I have been there and I knew what it was like. When we first got there we got lunch and then went to the mall after. This mall was huge and had everything that you can ever imagine. It was 10 floors high and it looked like a high-class place. As we walked around we came across some store that were very familiar to us. We first saw Best Buy so we went in and checked it out. It was very similar to the ones back home but one major difference that I saw there was the fact that it didn't have video games. I thought that was kind of weird. It was also cool to see a store that is based out of Minnesota all the way across the world. Another thing that was cool about the mall was the fact that it had a skating rink inside of it. I was amazed to see this because the Mall of America doesn't even have one. Once we left the mall and ate dinner we got to go on a boat ride on the bund. This was so awesome to see on the river. I had seen it before but I only got to see it on land. So getting the chance to see it again at night on a boat was one of my highlights from being in Shanghai.

The island

I am going to blog about the city that we got to stay in. we were in the old town. This place was amazing. First thing that I thought was really awesome was the fact that we had to take a boat across the lake because our hotel was on an island. The town that we stayed in looked like Venice. The city was nothing like I have seen before. It had a river running right through the middle of it. The river had house and restaurants lining it. If you actually lived in the city you would not have to leave because you could get all of your essentials right there on the island. When the sun went down and the lights turned on it was a site to see. It was the most beautiful city I have ever seen the lights the lit up the river were awesome. We got to tour the city by water. We rented a boat that took us through the town. It was so cool and the whole group was just amazed by the experience that we had. Most of us could not believe that we would ever get to stay at a place like this on the trip.

Suzhou

Yesterday we went to the city of Suzhou. I am going to blog about how the city changes when it is nighttime. Last night when we got to our hotel it was still light out and our hotel didn't look like it was near anything that would be fun. After we unpacked all of stuff and got settled into the second hotel in two nights we decided to go check out what was around the hotel. We met up with some of our buddies that are on the trip and walked the streets for a while. We were amazed on how the city is much more nice at night. There was just blocks and block of stores and restaurants. Everything was lit up and it looked really cool. This is the first time that we really experience a town in China at night since we have been here. Even though we were only there for one night it was one of the most fun nights I have had since we had been there.

Coming Home

I was not ready for this trip to end. The four weeks seemed to have passed so quickly and I still am having difficulty keeping everything that I got to see straight in my head. The plane ride was long and tiring but when I finally received my luggage and exited the airport it felt weird to be home. Everything from the cars, people, and scenery all looked different. I definitely appreciate trees, lakes and blue skies a great deal more now then I did before this trip. However, it is weird because I don't know how to explain what it felt like over there to people who have never been. I also don't even know exactly what I liked so much about being there. The group of people that I traveled with definitely helped because we all wanted to do and see as much as possible while being there. The Nankai University students made us feel so welcomed and it was great getting to know all of them. Having a personal connection to Chinese people definitely helped in making my time there more real and not just tourist like. I am just glad that I was able to meet so many different people and get to see things there that I never could of imagined and then be able to come home and see our country from a new perspective.

Shanghai

While in Shanghai we spent our first night on a boat tour of Shanghai. I am so happy that it was dark out when we were on the boat because I can not believe how amazing the city looked with all the buildings lit up. It was amazing and absolutely beautiful. Shanghai is a city that I am so happy that I was able to see it. The size, location, and the architecture alone were mind boggling as we sat on a boat and stared. I really have enjoyed the architecture throughout our travels of China. The time and effort that is put into buildings is evident and appreciated. The beauty of these building were awe worthy. The next day we visited the Observatory. What a difference this vocal point had on my perspective of Chinese architecture. The attention to detail was apparent the second we entered the building. The employees dress and greetings were done in a way to create a respectful image of the building. The elevator ride was so high-tech and again attention to detail with the color and the music light show on the ceiling and walls. The view from the top floor was spectacular and they even had a parts of the floor made of glass so that we could look down and really get a sense of how high up we were. The finally aspect of this building that surprised me was the bathrooms. High tech is not enough to describe those toilets. I cannot believe that this bathroom existed if I had not seen it for myself. Shanghai definitely impressed me.

Su Zhou

The gardens that we were able to visit here were the most breathe taking places that I have ever seen. Tiger hill had this well that had an amazing story behind it. The man decided to drill for water in a place that another believed impossible to find water. The first man ended up being correct and able to find water, resulting in the other man being turned into a toad for doubting this endeavor. When we saw the well a rock sat next to it that slightly resembled a frog. I really enjoy how Chinese culture has so many stories and superstitions. It makes learning about a culture even more fascinating then just hearing the historical significance.

June 18, 2009

Last day In China

This is our last day in China. I can't believe how fast the trip went. I really wonder where the last month went because it feels like yesterday I was on a plane to fly over here. I really have enjoyed this trip. It has been by far the best experience of my life. It is going to take a lot for a trip to go ahead of this one in my book of trips thus far. I have learned a lot from this trip. I have learned tons about Chinese culture and history. I plan on checking out a history book so I can understand Ancient China a little better. I don't know if I would vacation in China but I really what to do business in this country in the future. I see them prospering for the next 10 to 15 years before they slow down. You just see the massive growth of this country by looking in each city we have been and see the construction that is going on. There are cranes everywhere and to me that's a sign of modernizing into a great state. Also, I have a better understanding of the culture. I believe if you know the culture down to perfection you can easily do business there. You have to do things that they want you to do and if you do something to insult them without you knowing you did, you have lost your chance in this country and that would be unfortunate for you because there is so much potential. I see them opening up more to the world and letting companies come in because it will not only help the international companies but also their own country. So I am excited to see what happens in the future and hopefully I will be working their someday.

1st day in Shanghai

I am going to blog about Shanghai. Shanghai is absolutely amazing. The city is beautiful and it has really cool looking buildings. The architecture of these buildings is amazing. I can't believe they could actually build something like that have. They have odd shaped buildings that come to points. They have a building that has a bottle opener at the top which is called the "Shanghai World Financial Center." There is plenty others to go with these examples. They have a mall that was 10 stories high. I have never seen a mall that is that big other then the "Mall of America," but I don't think the United States mall is bigger than Shanghai's mall. All the stores in this mall were identical to that of the U.S. malls. Everything in Shanghai is wrote in Chinese and English. This is really helpful for westerners because it is easier for us to get around. This city is way more westernized than all of the other cities we have been to. I like that but I don't because it feels kind of like you are in the U.S. when you should get the feeling you are overseas. Some of the downfalls of Shanghai are the people. There is 20 million people in this city. That is the biggest city we have been to so far so it gets really frustrating when you constantly run into people and it takes the bus forever to get through traffic. The other downfall is the smog that is there. There is so much pollution that you can hardly see the other buildings around. You can't get a sense of how far the city stretches because you can only see the building you are standing by. For only 2 downfalls this city is pretty amazing.

3rd to last day in China

I am going to blog about the island we are staying on. The resort we are staying in is really sweet. I like it a lot because it is quiet. You don't hear the horns that you do when you stay in the city which is really nice. I feel at peace because we are away from lots of people and don't have to push your way through people to get somewhere. The room itself is different than from what we are used to staying in. You have the normal two beds but this time we have mosquito nets because the mosquito's here are very bad. I have probable 20 bites on my leg from them already. Also we have a separate room where you can smoke if you are a smoker or just a place to hang out and chill. Finally, you have your bathroom which is just a normal bathroom other then that it takes 30 minutes for the hot water to work again. The island itself is beautiful. We are separated from the mainland. They have condos all over the place and little markets. There are restaurants and bars which is nice. The lights are really cool to see at night. It looks amazing. Also, there a little rivers that run through the island. We were able to take a boat ride on the river and I enjoyed the scenery greatly. I really like this island and wish we could stay longer.

Back to the States

It is sad that our trip to China is over.  It was very challenging to go back to work, especially because of the "jet-lag" I am experiencing. I had never travelled overseas prior to this trip and had I known how the travel was going to effect me on the way back I would have taken a couple of days off of work upon my return.  I slept 13 hours the first night, 4 hours the second night, 11 hours the third night (yes, I turned my alarm clock off and fell back to sleep - I finally showed up to work 2 hours late - thankfully my boss is very understanding and just laughed at me), and about 6 hours Wednesday night.  Finally today, it seems like the times are starting to level out and I am starting to feel normal again, but I did not expect to have trouble sleeping since my transition to China time was so easy. I have also found myself to be in a kind of fog. It seems like my body is just not functioning like normal and my brain is jumbled. Maybe that is because I learned so much on our four week adventure! Oh well, I will take these troubles in stride for the wonderfulness that was our China trip.

Thank you everyone on the trip for being such awesome travelers and great classmates. I hope we can all keep in touch! And, of course, thanks Professor Li for taking us all on this grand adventure.

Potty in the Streets? 6/12

Bathrooms in China are much different from the types of toilets we are typically used to. There were a few places there that had similar toilets and on that occasion it was a treat. Toilet paper was also another issue when it came to the bathrooms in China, because it was often absent. Many times we had to bring our own toilet paper with us to insure we had some. One of the strangest things of all to see though was children who had pants on with a rip from front to back so they were able to go to the bathroom where ever when ever, and that can be taken literally. There were a couple places where we saw some very strange places for children to go to the bathroom. The first unusual thing we saw was when a young girl near us just pulled down her pants and started peeing. We were a bit shocked because we could not believe that just happened. Another occurred when we were all in a group waiting for everyone to get together and a young boy and his dad were standing next to us in a very public location. The dad held open the rip for the young boy to go to the bathroom very close to where we were standing. After that we saw many people walk right through it and it was a little disturbing. Things like that would never happen in the states, it just wouldn't. Young kids would be wearing diapers, but seeing they are overly expensive in China they do not. It is also illegal to urinate in public in the states, but I have never heard of a 4 year old getting a ticket for that.

What's The Best Deal You Can Give Me? 6/11

In China we have had the fun experience of bargaining; some of us have had this experience before here and in other countries, but either way it is fun. It is nice knowing that we can have part control in the price we pay for items, and back home there is no exception. It is also just fun trying to see how much, or shall I say how low, we can bargain an item. It has been one of the many great experiences we have had here in China, and it also makes buying gifts for friends and family back home more enjoyable because we know we aren't spending an arm and a leg on them. Back home bargaining is really not an option, but on this trip I have learned that when you go to Best Buy and buy a computer you can ask, "Is this the best price you can give me?" I never knew that before, and granted it will not be useful to me for a while, but it was the closest comparison to the bargaining system here.

Drinking 6/10

There are numerous differences between the legalities of drinking in China and the U.S. Starting with the age you have to be in order to drink. Obviously as we all know you must be twenty one years of age to drink in the states, but in China if you can pop your little head above the bar and have money there would be no one stopping you except your parents. Also, you cannot normally walk around in public drinking any sort of booze, there exceptions made during certain events that are taking place, but during those events there is also a lot of law enforcement put in place to make sure everything goes ok. In China you might get looked at funny for walking around the streets drinking, but there is no one stopping you. One of the differences about drinking that I found the most odd was being able to drink in a motor vehicle as long as you are not the operator. No matter what under any circumstances in the states you are not allowed to even have booze in the vehicle unless it hasn't been open and is in the trunk. There are so many differences between so many things and this is just another that I noticed while in China.

Friendships 6/9

Friendships are made all around the world between all different types of people; the only difference between the friendships is what defines them. In the states there are many different friendships we consider many people friends even if we haven't spoke with or seen them in years. We know they are they and we know we have grown apart a bit but you just like to say they are still your friend. While in China we learned that they consider friends what we consider true friends, if you are friends with someone you are close with and communicate often with them. Many friendships are broken everyday in the states, and from the way it sounds that is not the same in China. It takes people a little while to open up with one another and once they have it is hard for them to break that trust, where as for us here in the states we take friendships for granted along with many other things. Another this that sets us is apart is for two females to have friendships you will not often see them holding hands, and if they are they often get pegged as "gay", and that is something that will rarely happen in China.

June 17, 2009

Last Blog: Dan Korman

As I arrived back in the US one thing stood out to me right away and that was the amount of obese people that are in the US verses China. In Detroit's airport there was more than an abundance of large people. In China most of the people tend to be slim and slender. Only rarely do you see a lot of obese people at once. However when I returned to the states nearly 50% of the people I saw would be considered over weight.

I believe this difference in obesity can be attributed to a few factors. One is the difference in diet between the US and China. Many Chinese diets lack the amount of fat and grease that we often see in many American diets. We also see a lot American diets to contain more food per serving than the average Chinese meal. Another factor that I believe accounts for this difference is the type of climate Chinese people are evolved for versus most European body types. Many European body types were evolved to handle colder climates than most of the Chinese people would encounter. Having a stocky build is key for survival in cold environments so I feel this is one reason why European descendants tend to be heavier than their Chinese counterparts. I am sure there are many different reasons that could be attributed to the difference we see, but I feel these are two substantial reasons why we see such a great difference between the two countries in terms of obesity amongst its citizens.

Friendly People

On one of our last days in China, Shane and I were wandering through a park in Shanghai and were approached by two different groups of young Chinese women that were on vacation there. Both groups were extremely friendly and wanted to chat with us, and of course practice their English. The first group we met included four women from Hangzhou. They were all very well spoken and really interested in becoming our friends. They talked to us for about 10-15 minutes and by the end invited us to tea tasting at a local tea house. Unfortunately, we hadn't been through the museum yet and had to meet up with the group so we had to decline. They were sad to see us wander off, but told us what direction to head to get to the museum. After we left the first group, we ran into a group of three women that were from Xi'an, the place Shane and I went to see the Terra Cotta Warriors! They were all very friendly and very eager to meet Americans. They were upset to find out that we had already been to Xi'an because they told us that they would have liked to take us around the city and be our own personal tour guides. After talking for about 10-15 minutes, again, this group was sad to see us go but we had to be on our way through the museum. The two encounters while walking through the park really surprised me. The two groups were so extremely friendly and really wanted to be our friends and I thought that was just amazing. Something like that wouldn't ever happen in the USA. It was another once in a lifetime experience in China.

June 16, 2009

June 11th

This day we arrived in the craziest city I have ever been to in my life, Shanghai. The amount of people is unbelievable and guaranteed to give you a big headache. The experience I want to talk about was our night that we had, that was set up by our guide Joe. Since one of his friends had connections to one of the better clubs in Shanghai, we were able to get VIP at the club. I have never walked into a place with a feeling similar to a celebrity. We were taking to our tables where we were provided with platters of fruit. We also had multiple waiters taking our orders while delivering them as soon as we ordered them. We also had bouncers that kept other patrons to walk by our tables which made our drinks and bags safe to keep while we were dancing. There were also performances by dancers from the club and no they were not the exotic type of dancers. It was overall entertaining night in which I got to live like I was in a dream and not in reality. The most special aspect of the night was that it was our last night for our group to be all together one last time. It was fun talking about previous things that happened and to laugh while becoming future lifelong friends. I thought this was a good send off before we had to get back to reality back in the states.

June 10th

This day was the morning after staying at one of the most amazing hotels I have ever seen. The day before we got a taste of what are hotel would be like. The hotel was basically a community on a island that we needed a boat to get to. On this island included our hotel, many businesses, restaurants, and homes where locals live. It has a river flowing through the middle of it giving you a feel that you're in Venice, Italy. We were able to take a boat ride at night which gave us beautiful sites from the water and the lit up buildings that left you amazed. The villas we got to stay in for a night were interesting as well. We had to take turns with the shower because of the water heater, window into the bathroom, and bug nets around the bed. Breakfast the next morning while talking to Dr. Li he informed us that there going to build an amusement park in the community. I am interested to find out what they would put in such a park, how much would it help businesses, and if it is a worthy investment for the builder. That night stay was a breathtaking experience that would be great to take your significant other for a week stay to take a break from everyday life.

June 14, 2009

day 25

I think last year I used a different airport from the one that I took today. I think out of all the airports I have used this one would be my second favorite one with Hong Kong being my first favorite. I really enjoy this airport because of how the place was planned. I liked how that there was a long hallway that connected one terminal to the another. This way we never even had to go outside or ride the train to get from one end to the other. One thing I noticed while I was waiting is the amount of people moving around. I never realize how many people actually traveled that were Chinese people. For some odd reason I just think like Americans or people that are different races besides Chinese use the airport. I feel like I seen more tourist groups of people then single people traveling around. Another thing that I thought that was really weird was how they would have the same gates with airplanes leave twenty minutes apart. I was really surprise when they told us that we could not board the plane yet until the other plane that was taken off first with all its passengers before they could start scanning us in. Then there was another guy at the entrance of the airplane he checked our tickets and looked at our faces but yet we didnt have an id out. I felt that this was strange was because it looked like he could be abloe to tell who we are based on our airplane tickets.

All in all we got back safely and had a great trip!

day 24

Being back in Shanghai was very interesting. The reason being is that from last year I do not remember so much construction going on. Anther thing is the amount of cars. I really do not remember seeing so many cars. For taxis, I most definatly o not remember it being so expensive to ride them.I thought it was interesting to be able to see some differences from one year to another. We also went to the mall. I really liked how this mall was so big. It was amazing to see that ever location had a store occupying it. To me this is kind of surprising because when I go to the mall I at least see one vacant spot. But in this mall not only was it eight floors high but ever spot was occipied. Another on the fifth floor was a place where you could play games. I thought this was really neat, because I have only seen these in China and never in the States yet. I felt like this is the biggest one I have seen since I have been to China.

June 12, 2009

Last Day

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Today was our last full day in China, so unfortunately this will be my last blog. Tomorrow at 8:35AM we start our long trip back home. During our last day in Shanghai we visited a market, walked around the Shanghai museum, and then visited the one of the tallest buildings in the world. The building holds the record for the highest occupied floor. I still cannot believe a month has passed already, the time really flew by. I have a feeling that when I arrive back in America I am going to experience what is known as reverse culture shock. When I arrived in China I was expecting many things to be different so I was prepared as best I could. Upon returning to Minnesota many things that I once found normal will feel strange, at least for a short time. It will take me time to readjust to the driving back in the states. China’s driving is crazy and there doesn’t seem to be many laws, the important thing it to just be aware of the other drivers. I am probably most excited to get home and eat all the food I have been craving over the past four weeks. My stomach was not so happy with me throughout the beginning of the trip. My diet has changed significantly since arriving in China and my body will have to readjust to American style food, consisting of a lot of salt, grease, and my favorite, cheese. Another thing I am expecting to experience is English overload. While in China my ears have been fine tuned to pick up any English I hear in crowds, once I get back to America I believe I will become overwhelmed. I won’t be able to screen the noise for a while, however, I am excited to be able to ease drop on people again and now what others are talking about. When you don’t speak the foreign language you sometimes get a little paranoid that they are all talking about you, especially when they point, laugh, and take your picture. Lastly, the overall crowdedness will be extremely different once I get back. My personal bubble has had to shrink a lot since arriving in China, one I’m back in Minnesota I will have so much space! I’ve had an awesome four weeks in China and couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish out my college career. Once I get back home it’s back to the real world and looking for a job. I guess it is finally time to be a grown up.

First day in Shanghai: Dan Korman

As I woke up when I arrived to Shanghai I thought I was still dreaming. Nearly 20 million reside in Shanghai making it one of the largest cities in the world. It is almost one giant skyline of business buildings, hotels, and apartments throughout the city. I was aware of the type of growth that has taking place here but you really need to see it in person to get the true perspective of how rapid the growth has been. One major difference about Shanghai compared to many of the other cities we have been to is the amount of American influence present. As we walked through the mall in Shanghai I thought I was walking through our own Mall of America. We even saw a skating rink inside, which had me dumbfounded. Seeing the main Shanghai skyline at nighttime is truly a treat. The architecture and size of the building is truly awe inspiring.

In America you would never see such rapid growth of a city. As the government has allowed more economic freedom in Shanghai it has truly exploded. The city to me is like New York City on steroids. One major thing that has stood out to me on this trip is the amount of buildings I have seen going up in Chinese cities. In every town there is massive construction happening. In my hometown of Minneapolis I think I have seen maybe two or three buildings added to the skyline in the last ten years. The amount of construction taking place here is one major difference between China and the US.

Wuzhen, and traveling through the Chinese countryside: Dan Korman

Wuzhen was probably the most beautiful town I have ever been to. It was as if I was isolated on my own little slice of utopia during the night we stayed there. To see that place lit up at night time is like seeing heaven on earth. In the US there are some beautiful communities and neighborhoods but nothing like what we seen in Wuzhen. China has had a very strong presence of old world housing styles throughout every city we have visited. In America you do not see any trace of colonial life unless you are visiting a museum of some sorts. Even Shanghai has a strong presence of old world architecture. I believe this really adds to the beauty of a city and gives it great character. This type of beauty is especially evident in Wuzhen, there is so much beauty that I am seriously considering having my honeymoon there.

Traveling from town to town this week we got to see part of the Chinese country side. It was much different than the developed cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. You could really see that the people living in the country side truly lived off the land, and lacked the everyday amenities that we American often take for granted. This is one major difference between the US and China. In China there is great economic disparity between the people who live in major cities versus the farmers who reside in countryside. Many of the farmers lack electricity, internet, and of course running water. They live in a very ancient manner, tending to their fields and livestock to ensure they have a meal for them and their family. The American farmer lives in much better conditions compared to that of the Chinese farmer. Almost all American farmers have electricity, and a large percentage have internet access. This is one major difference between China and the US that I have noticed.

Shanghai Nice...

We have been in Shanghai for two days now. This is the eve of our flight home. We are all pretty tired and ready to go home. I wish I were jumping on the plane right now, rather than in 13 hours. Yesterday, we visited the Shanghai Museum and a shopping mall. We took the subway between the two. Throughout this one month adventure, I have been extremely impressed with the fashion in which China moves people. Rarely during our excursions is there a long wait. There are always people everywhere, but the infrastructure is designed and built to handle a very large sum of people quickly and efficiently. Katie and I decided to leave the mall early and take the subway back to the museum and get an early start because we are usually the last ones out of these types of places. While walking from the subway to the museum, we encountered two groups of young, female Chinese students. We stick out in a crowd of Chinese people; in addition, I had my t-shirt on with all of our names printed on the back. They were really drawn to my shirt. They had many questions for us as we had roughly a fifteen minute conversation with each group. They were very interested in hearing about us and why we were in China. Both groups went so far as to invite us with them to their destination. One group was going to a nearby tea house and wanted us to come with, offering multiple times. Katie and I both said if we had more time, we would be happy to join them. One made a comment that she thought the USA was “strong and mighty” but then suggested that “we were so nice.” I wanted to say that “well, we are strong and mighty,” but figured she might take it literally and that we were arrogant. I wondered if this would ever happen in the United States (people coming up for casual conversation). Katie and I both decided that this would be a rare occasion in the US. However, it has happened countless times in China during our trip. I have thoroughly enjoyed and cherished every moment of this great opportunity (even the morning after the big night out in Beijing!) and am very excited to have built some friendships with both my American counterparts and Chinese as well.

Shanghai - Day 5 (6/12/09)

This is our last day in Shanghai, and our last day in China really (we only have the trip to the airport tomorrow and the long flight(s) back). I have experienced so much throughout this entire trip; it is quite difficult to sum it up in this short blog. I hope I can stay in contact with the Chinese students I have met during this trip, Facebook should help, but I do hope that I can meet them again someday, maybe even back in the United States. That said, I am excited to be getting back to the United States and seeing my friends and relatives there again, and I am also missing the food a lot. I hope that I will remember these experiences that I have had in China for the rest of my life, but if I do not I should have enough pictures to recall most of the things that we have done here during this once in a lifetime experience. Returning to the United States is both a happy and a said experience for me; having to say goodbye to new friends, but also looking forward to seeing old friends; wanting to see more things yet also wanting to relax and take a break; wanting to try new foods, but also wanting to get back to the foods that I am accustomed to. I just hope that I can use many things that I have learned during this trip in my everyday life and also when I start working for a company in the future. Maybe I'll be coming back to China one day to utilize the various things that I have learned over there for use in business practice. P.S. if you are going to be in the Shanghai area again next year, make sure to rehire Joe. He had to be one of the best tour guides I've ever seen and made the trip a lot more entertaining and enjoyable.

June 11, 2009

Shanghai

Today we finally arrived in Shanghai China. It took us an hour bus ride to reach Shanghai and when we arrived we visited a few local markets as well as the Shanghai museum. We had to take the Shanghai subway to travel between the mall and the museum. A one way ticket cost 3 RMB which is about $0.40, much less than a way one ticket would cost in any American subway. The one thing I noticed while in the Shanghai subway was how clean it was. The few American subways I have traveled on have always been dirty, dark, and smelly. Shanghai on the other hand was clean, well lit, and didn’t have any offensive odors. Also In many American subways one can find numerous homeless people. The Shanghai people had none. There was a few people collecting cans and bottles and selling typical tourist items. I found it very surprising that a city of about 18 million can have so little homeless and preserve their public transportation systems so well. Overall I have been very impressed with China’s public transportation systems. The ones I have ridden have all been clean and well organized. For the amount of people China’s government has to accommodate, they do a very good job in meeting the public’s needs. In my opinion America has a very poor public transportation system. The buses, trains, and other modes of public transportation I have taken have all been poor. The U.S. has not organized and the different systems as effectively as other countries have. Other differences between the two countries transportation systems are the usage rates. In America the public transportation is not fully utilized by the people. The trains and buses I have been on in China have all been packed and filled to capacity. America could learn a few things from China’s public transportation system in terms of organization and coordination.

Shanghai - Day 4 (6/11/09)

Today was quite a fun day, and going out to the club is probably a night I will never forget (though it was on the expensive side, even when compared to a club back in the States). One thing really surprised me about dinner today. There were many different people eating at the particular restaurant (most seemed to be white), and there was a performance being done on stage. We seemed to be the only people in the entire restaurant that clapped for the performers and I thought that was rather weird. Honestly I do not exactly know why we were the only ones clapping for the performers, whether the other people were just rude, did not enjoy their performance enough, or were too involved with their meals to take a few seconds to clap for the performers. The performers only did about four different performances and I do not know whether this was because the people seemed uninterested or whether they had planned only to do a short performance, and maybe I'll never know. Personally I thought their performances were good and the guy who was playing the gourd instrument was pretty good, the best gourd player that I've seen. The dancers were also pretty good at what they did, and performed a large variety of styles in different outfits. Another thing that I noticed was that we were pretty much the only ones in the entire restaurant (that I could see) that were using the chopsticks instead of the forks that we were given. Many people seem to stick with what they are used to rather than trying something new (this could also be seen by the types of food that were being eaten from their tables). I just hope that people would show a little more respect for other cultures and interest in what other people are trying to do to entertain them and not be so rude when others are trying their best.

June 10, 2009

Wu Zhen

Today, our travels have brought us to Wu Zhen which I believe I heard referred to as “Venice of the East.” The town essentially has waterways instead of roads. There are still a few roads and sidewalks still run up and down the water streets. I thought this to be one of the more interesting places that we have visited this trip. I definitely would not have minded an extra day here. Wu Zhen has preserved its antiquity well as the people seem to live a very simple, seemingly isolated life. The environment, almost car-less is far different than we have experienced in the last few weeks. Today was rather quiet, not as many horns honking, people shouting. Tonight, there was a welcomed silence that filled the streets after 9 pm. The locals mostly were in their humble abodes while we were wandering, looking for the next cold beer and some tunes. This was a welcomed respite from the normal hustle and bustle of the big city. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. We are staying on an island, accessible by boat. We have taken a couple of rides on the water canals. The rides are so serene and peaceful; and very quiet, especially at night. The waterways are lit well at night and there is steam on some parts. Some great pictures were taken tonight; I cannot wait to see how they turn out. The bridges are beautiful, some ornate, some just plain. I have to respect the locals for sharing this wonderful Chinese treasure with a bunch of Megorans. When I revisit China, Wu Zhen is definitely on the list for places to see.

Cord Houle: Su Zhou

Today we were in Su Zhou, the Venice of china. The city was very beautiful and we were able to see parks that resembled what I imagine when I think of china. We visited a couple of gardens that were filled with amazing history as well as some amazing architecture. These places had a lot of beauty even though it was raining all day. The best garden we visited was tiger hill. This garden covers a lot of area and was very peaceful with amazing vistas. Tiger hill was also home to the Chinese version of the leaning tower of pizza. Tiger hill had many sights and gardens which were some of the most amazing things I have seen since I have arrived in china.

The downtown area by our hotel in Su Zhou was full of all kinds of shops. Not just tourist shops but also places that local people would go. There was a mall that was five levels high and many small stores that sell very unique cloths. Seeing all this makes me wish I had more to spend so I could buy some of the unique cloths offered by the small stores. We also came across an American style restaurant. This place had Tex-Mex as a specialty. While much of the menu sounded delicious, the prices were rather steep so we spent only a short amount of time here before moving on and exploring a different area of the city. We eventually found a bar that was more of a local spot and had more eastern food and cheaper drinks. We decided to patron this place for a bit as it had a great atmosphere and was close to the hotel. I would say that this city, while the weather was bad, was a very spectacular place to visit.

Age

While at the Tiger Hill garden we learned from Joe that when a child is first born they are considered one year old. Also if the child is born after the Chinese New Year they are considered two years old. I was really confused by this until he said that he was born in 1983 and called himself twenty seven years old. Katie was also born in 1983 and she is called 25 years old in the United States. This way of age really surprised me. How does this affect the expected lifetime of a person when dealing with insurance of statistical data. Does this apply when they are traveling internationally? I also want to know how this custom began, because when a person is born how are they even seen as having completed a year. How does having a Chinese New Year occurring after you are born seen as another year. I just want to know why this is considered a completion of a year of life.

Age

While at the Tiger Hill garden we learned from Joe that when a child is first born they are considered one year old. Also if the child is born after the Chinese New Year they are considered two years old. I was really confused by this until he said that he was born in 1983 and called himself twenty seven years old. Katie was also born in 1983 and she is called 25 years old in the United States. This way of age really surprised me. How does this affect the expected lifetime of a person when dealing with insurance of statistical data. Does this apply when they are traveling internationally? I also want to know how this custom began, because when a person is born how are they even seen as having completed a year. How does having a Chinese New Year occurring after you are born seen as another year. I just want to know why this is considered a completion of a year of life.

Age

While at the Tiger Hill garden we learned from Joe that when a child is first born they are considered one year old. Also if the child is born after the Chinese New Year they are considered two years old. I was really confused by this until he said that he was born in 1983 and called himself twenty seven years old. Katie was also born in 1983 and she is called 25 years old in the United States. This way of age really surprised me. How does this affect the expected lifetime of a person when dealing with insurance of statistical data. Does this apply when they are traveling internationally? I also want to know how this custom began, because when a person is born how are they even seen as having completed a year. How does having a Chinese New Year occurring after you are born seen as another year. I just want to know why this is considered a completion of a year of life.

day 23

Today we arrived in another city. In this one, it is all shaped like the ancient times. Honestly for some odd reason I thought that it would look way different. As soon as I stepped into the place it felt like walking into an old movie. I the thing that I thought was the most interesting is how when we were walking in the part with the attractions, it felt like we were walking through the streets back in the day. While we were walking I notice that so far out of all the tourist places we have went to, today's attraction had the most people that spoke Cantonese. In fact I stopped by a couple that spoke more like me and I asked them where they were from and they were actually from the same place as Jack,Hao and I are from. Sadly to say since I was in such a hurry I did not really have a conversation with them. Out of all the hotels I have been to I think this one is the most interesting. The reason being is that it reminds me of living back in the days. I really enjoy the windows because I think that is the best feature that best matches the times. Another thing that I thought that was really interesting is how we got to the hotel. How many places can you honestly say that you got to your room by boat. Once you get over there there are many shops also. As you walk by it also makes you feel like you are back in the day.

Water Living

Being on the water in Wuzhen is a whole new experience. We have visited a lot of different places in China, but today we got to experience life on a river in the old architecture of Wuzhen. The buildings are the river walls and there are stairs going to the water everywhere. I saw an abundance of people washing dishes and clothes in the, what looked to be, very dirty water in Wuzhen. The community around the water is very welcoming, but the living amenities didn’t seem extravagant. The houses seemed quite small and the transportation throughout the community, like sidewalks/roadways were very thin. It was hard to not get run over by a bike today.
My favorite part of today was riding in the first boat right when we walked into the tourism area. Eight of us got on and paid 10 Yuan each to take the boat to the other end of the area. It was a really unique view of the city from the water and I really enjoyed the experience. I love the old wooden boat driven by one person with one paddle. You just don’t see things like that in the USA. I really like the area and am enjoying the new feel of China from the water!!

Tiger Hill

We went to Tiger Hill and it was a beautiful garden. It was raining but that did not stop us from enjoying our time there. My cousin had told me about this before I left, so I was really looking forward to this. I was very impressed with the size and how it was laid out. There were many areas that had water, which is always cool to see. I saw a group touching a rock and asked Dr. Li what they were doing. If you touched the rock once, you would get fortune, if you touch it twice, you would get a promotion, if you touch it three times, you will commit adultery. I only touched it once, which seemed like the best one for me as of right now. I wish that America would have places to go that were as beautiful as the gardens here. Everything about the garden was gorgeous. Duluth has similar nature centers, but not even close to what we saw at Tiger Hill. It used to be a Buddhist temple, but obviously now it is a tourist attraction. There is a tower, it now leans at the bottom to the right and the top to the left, that used to have a wood building around it, but burnt down due to a fire from incense. I would definately go back to Tiger Hill when I come back to China whenever that happens!

Shanghai (Wu Zhen) - Day 3 (6/10/09)

Today we left Suzhou and visited a few different places. My favorite place was Wu Zhen which was basically China's version of Venice. The people seemed to mainly use the road but there were a few boats (they were mostly for tourists and visitors though that I could see). The place was also littered with shops and also residents who lived there, which was quite interesting. There were also sections which you could enter with your ticket and see various things, but none of those were very interesting. We met a little dog which was 2 months old, very small and liked to play. I talked to some other Chinese tourists when we went to the beginning of the second portion of Wu Zhen, before going to the hotel. I don't remember exactly where they were from but they were medical students/practitioners that were from about 100km away. Their leader or tour guide, I'm not exactly sure which told one of their members that they looked like me and that's what got us started talking to each other. He was talking about that they were touring this portion of Wu Zhen and that it was quite beautiful (which I agree with). They had to leave so we said zai jian to them and they departed. Next we're going to take a boat trip around the area which I'm quite excited for. I can't believe that the trip is almost over, it really doesn't feel like its been nearly a month since we arrived.

Grandmas are Always Cute

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We are winding down our month long trip in China, only two more days then back to Minnesota. Today we visited a Buddhist temple as well as an old Chinese town along a river. In the little city we met a little old lady who lived by herself along the river. We were able to walk through her house, look at a few of her belongings, and take a picture with her. The attached picture is of her little garden on her porch. She was very cute and reminded me of my grandma back in the U.S. She kept calling all us boys very handsome and was running around her little house pointing out different pictures on the wall. At one point she pulled out a few photo albums and began flipping through the. Dr. Li had to translate for us and that was even difficult because the woman spoke a different dialect. She had different magazine and news paper clippings and a plaque given to her by the silk factory that she worked for when she retired. My grandma also loves talking to people, no matter who they are. She loves showing old pictures, talking about her family and just her life in general. This lady had explained that her husband had passed away and her children are all gone, working in different areas throughout China. My grandma has pictures of all of her grandchildren in her apartment and loves telling stories about us to all of her friends. It was just interesting to see that grandmothers are very similar in China to the ones in America, or at least mine. Seeing this little old lady with her crafts table and sewing machine made me miss my grandma back in Nebraska because she too loves making crafts. My grandma makes me quilts and other gifts that only a grandmother could make. It was an awesome unexpected experience meeting the old lady. Like I said at the end of our chat we took a group picture with her and wrote down her address because she wanted a copy herself.

June 9, 2009

A day in Suzhou: Dan Korman

Yesterday we visited the beautiful city of Suzhou. We got to visit the Tiger hill which I found to be the most beautiful scenery we have seen in China. If it wasn’t for the rain I could have stayed there all day. One thing that is very different about China and the US is the amount of time each nation has been around. America is very proud of its history however its history is just a blink of the eye compared to China. China has thousands and thousands of years of history. As we have traveled through China we have seen many of the ancient sites of old dynasties and civilizations. As I read more about the inhabitants of these cities of old I get a much clearer picture of old world China. I now understand why so many Chinese cherish their history so much. Also, throughout each city we have visited we have seen old world architecture still present after many years since its arrival in China. In America you do not see too much of the architecture present during the colonial days, at least compared to the amount of old world architecture you see present in China.

Again, Americans do deeply care about their history. However the time frame of history in the US is really incomparable to that of China. This I believe is one major difference between Chinese and American culture.

SuZhou

Today, we are going to Suzhou. One thing that comes out form my mind is: The City of Beauty. That is what I heard from my friends, parents, uncle and aunt. So, I am very looking forward to see many hot girls over Suzhou. Also, today me and my brother Jack, we go to meet our Chinese friends that from UMD. We are all study in UMD and come back to china for summer times. We are friends although we in different major. I am very glad that they call us to play and have a dinner when we come to Suzhou. That is how Chinese building friendship. Once you play with them, they will also play with our next time. We are set the time at seven in the evening and meet in the No.1 mall.

The weather is a little bit bad today. It is not bad but that is not a good weather to hand out with friends. We go to a restaurant to have a hot pot together. We also go to play karaoke for a hour. It is pretty fun.

Actually, I hope to check out some pretty girl here in Suzhou, but I don’t see any so far. Maybe there is because of the bad weather, or I go to a wrong location that girls went. I am really wanted to stay here longer enough to see every hot area in Suzhou. Also, I want to check out some art in Suzhou. I love people create art stuff.

Suzhou is not what I image is, but it is a cool place to visits. Like the two garden we went today. There are many architecture things that make me crazy. “How can people do that?” a question comes from my mind. I am very proud of the old Chinese that they made so many cool things.

Wuxi

Wuxi, lost and finds office, where I am sitting now. It is so badly that I loss one of my black bag in the train. Actually, I feel find because there is nothing very important inside my bag. I am feeling hot and sweat when I sitting lost and found office.

Ok, let me describe what I do when the police want meet me. He looks like just wake up when I first seem him and he try to text message in his cell phone on his right hand, I guess. “what the……”said to myself. I try my best to explain what my bag looks like and how many stuff is inside my bag. His face looks “what the…….!” This is no fun in this situation.

Finally he gets a call to the train and helps me to find my black bag (Calvin Klein). I told him that my bag is Calvin Klein’s’ but I do not know he knows any logo or not. So, I need to sit in this office and wait for a call back. I do not know how long I need to be sitting here and it is so boring.

Let me describe how this lost does and find office looks like while I sitting here. The office is as wide as LSH’s dorm, same high as LSH’s, but just about three longer than LSH. The space is a little better than LSH but it is no comfortable at all. The floor is dirty and maybe because of the weather, I think. There is a long table set in the center of back of the office. Many chairs sit in both side of the office and able to fit ten persons at least. Couple polices are sitting there already. Some of them are working, some of them are talking joke, and one police is sitting. And I am listening to the joke that they are saying. It is very funny that they are talking sexual thing about how to take care your wife before her birth.

What the ……….is this situation. Two persons are catch in the office because of use fake tickets. A police is coming up to yell to them and using bad words between their conversations. I am sitting on my chair and look at them. It is been two hours and I still here.

At last, I am safely getting my bag back. I have been waiting for three hours. During this three hours, I feel those policies are not bad. One the police even through me smoke. Badly that I do not smoke. So, do not leave any stuff on any transportation you take. It is not fun and boring.

last day in tianjin

This is the last day that we stay in Tianjin. From all two weeks that we study in Tianjin, I think Tianjin it is a very good place to study. It is probably even better than take study in Beijing. I remember yesterday had a closing ceremony. We all get a special shirt that has everyone’s name on the back of the shirt except Christina Lau’s. Maybe someone just ignore her name. Also, we got a graduation certificate. That gives me a lot of face and I can show my parents, and said that was how good I study in Tianjin able to get this graduation certificate.

After the Korean BBQ dinning, we went to the roof of the hotel. We were starting to exchange gift to those Chinese student. I just have a small size of UMD shirt that was bought from UMD store. So, a small size cloth must go to girls, I guess. Actually, that is what I want to do when I bought this shirt. My shirt fall to Angle’s hand. She is small and thin. So I thought it would be fit on her. And really does when I saw her wear the UMD shirt. She looked cute with my t-shirt. I am happy to see that. Then I felt sorry for other two girls that did not get presents from me. What I try to think was going to give them something that I bought from Beijing 798 art zoom. They both felt happy the gift from mine. Actually, I am not really wanted to give because I like the 798 things very much. It is something that very created, unique and special that you cannot get from anywhere. But if they happy, I would like to give them. I like people who like the taste of mine. I do not doubt my taste is worse. With my both eye, I can select many interested things, something that is do not come out from other one’s mind, but one feels special.

CD: V

Today, we got to Suzhou at the afternoon. The Chinese said, " There is heaven on the sky, there are Suzhou and Hangzhou on the earth." After we visited the Tiger Hill and Lingering Garden, I think Suzhou it is a very beautiful place. The Tiger Hill is the most famous place in Suzhou. If you travel to Suzhou and don't go to the Tiger Hill, it will be a shame. In Pisa, it is famous of its Leaning Tower. But in China, we also got our best leaning tower, which it is in the Tiger Hill. Even thought today's weather is not very good, it was raining all the day. But with the rain, everything I saw just gave me a different kind of feeling. And of course, it is good feeling. After the Tiger Hill, we also went to visit the Lingering Garden. In Chinese, we called it " Liu Garden." Liu means stay in Chinese. So base on the characters I think it means, once you are in the garden, you would not want to leave, you would like to stay there as long as you could. I think the best part of the Lingering Garden is the lake. It is so beautiful! As you walk around the garden, you will hear somebody is singing and playing traditional Chinese music. If it wasn't the bad weather we had today, I really wish we could stay longer in there.

Suzhou is a very pretty city, it has many traditional Chinese buildings, but also mixture with many modern buildings. If I have chance, I want to go travel there again. Because one day in Suzhou is totally not enough for me to go shopping and trt different kind of food.

Chinese Gardens

We visited two beautiful Chinese gardens in Suzhou today after spending last night in Wuxi. We started with Tiger Hill and then proceeded to The Lingering Garden. Too bad it was raining all day! The whole experience would have been more enjoyable with no rain. However, we all withstood the rain pretty well with our $1.50 umbrellas. Despite the inclement weather, the grounds were beautiful, with much greenspace. China has much more in terms of green areas (trees, shrubs, flowers, grass, etc.) than I expected to see. Beijing was absolutely beautiful with well-groomed shrubbery and flowers at every turn. There are even extensive gardens in the median on the freeway system. I believe much of the greenery in Beijing is a direct result of the Olympic Games held in August of last year. Tianjin was not nearly as green as Beijing. Tianjin has many parks, but not nearly as much greenspace as Beijing. Wuxi and Suzhou (the last two days) are considerably smaller than Beijing and Tianjin, but both cities have displayed tremendous examples of beautiful parks and gardens that our group has thoroughly enjoyed. One has to wonder what kind of “army” is required for all of this grooming, watering, upkeep, etc. All of the above mentioned cities spend considerable amounts of money and capital on maintaining their “face.” This face has in part allowed China to grow more as an International tourist destination. China does not seem to be as popular as a tourist destination for US citizens, but is becoming an increasingly popular destination for many others throughout the world. China’s reputation, political environment, and human rights standards have been improved in the last two decades, making it a more attractive destination for many. The thousands of gardens and parks in China only add to the attractiveness by providing absolutely gorgeous areas in the middle of a busy city.

Water

We have traveled through a few cities in China and seen a lot of different sources of water, but not a single one of them would I have had the courage to swim in. Yesterday, in Wuxi, I got an up close view of a river that flowed through the city and it was disgusting! There was garbage all over the banks, the river was really cloudy, and crap was floating in it as it flowed under the bridge I was standing on. There was a river boat tied up to the bank and it looked like they were just throwing crap overboard as well. What is even harder for me to take in is that people fish on these lakes and rivers and eat the fish they take from them. I think as Americans we take our clean water sources as a kind of “given.” It wasn’t that long ago that some of our lakes and rivers were very polluted, and some of them we are still trying to clean up (the Port of Green Bay or Gary, IN for instance). We obviously have lasting effects from our days of heavily polluting our lakes and rivers, such as the mercury levels in our fish. I love the water, so it is very hard for me to see the pollution in China. I know from here on out I will not take any lake or river in the USA for granted!

Shanghai (Suzhou) - Day 2 (6/09/09)

We really packed today with things to do, and even taken the silk factory activity from tomorrow and moved it to today; this was mainly because we didn't spend too much time at Tiger Hill or the Lingering Garden due to the rain. There really is not much rain it seems in China as compared with most of the United States, but today had to be an exception. Honestly the rain had its good and bad points of the day. The good side mainly being that it made the gardens we visited less crowded and more beautiful overall. This showed up in the pictures that I took throughout the day, many were very interesting and turned out very well. My favorite place we visited today had to be Tiger Hill. Many of us purchased umbrellas when we arrived for ten RMB. The umbrellas themselves were not the best umbrellas; they allowed rain through the center which was not sealed properly so we were getting dripped on even under the umbrella (after all they were quite cheap at about $1.50). It was at Tiger Hill that many of my most beautiful pictures (in my opinion) were taken. Tiger Hill had a variety of different things from the various stones which had different uses, to the leaning tower in the center on the hill, to the wonderful views from the hill, and finally to the garden there which was quite beautiful with many types of bonsai scattered throughout the garden. There were also a number of shops once we exited selling various items which could be negotiated in price like the markets in Beijing. Hopefully tomorrow it will not rain as it did today.

I Wish I Knew the Metric System...

Only five days left in China and today we visited Suzhou, a city located about 40 minutes for Wuxi. Today we visited two Chinese gardens and a silk factory. My favorite thing we did was visit Tiger Hill. Unfortunately it was raining today, the hardest it has our entire trip. Throughout the trip there has been one thing that always causes confusion for me, the metric system. America is one of the only places in the world that has yet to adopt the metric system and I really wish they would. Everything in China is in Kilograms, kilometers, and meters. I have a basic understanding of the two units however I cannot fully grasp their actual value. Our tour guides will say we are about 25 kilometers for our stop; I have no idea how far that actually is. I know a kilometer is just over half a mile, but in my head I cannot visualize the actual distance like I could if someone told me that our stop is 15.5 miles away. The metric system is in China is just another barrier for we Americans to try an overcome. It is just a constant reminder that we are different from the rest of the world and that we are stubborn. Honestly, it would be make a lot of things easier for the US citizens traveling abroad and the world in general if the U.S. were to adopt the metric system. I went to weigh myself yesterday and it gave me my weight in kilograms, I then had to go to my computer and find an online converter into pounds. Food packages are also in kilograms as well as other everyday objects. I have no idea how many kilograms I could pickup/carry; my only option is to try and pick it up and hope for the best. It would be extremely tedious for the US to start switching over to the metric system and convert everything. Children should start being taught the metric system in school so they are better prepared for the world when they are older. U.S. adults should also do their part and try and educate themselves on the metric system. I am not sure if the US will ever officially adopt the metric system, I wish they would have about 22 years ago so when I go to China I would know how to do simply measurements and be in sync with the rest of the world.

Foods

I am going to blog about the differences in food from the north and south that I have seen thus far. The north is focused more on meat like pork, lamb, beef, etc. The south I have noticed is more into the seafood type of food. They eat lots of fish and like shrimp a lot as well. The food down here is also a little sweeter and better tasting from my point of view. I really liked the food in the north to but down here it just seems better to me. The only problem with the food is that a lot of the things have bones in them. You have to work at the food a lot more which gets kind of annoying. Even the beef that we had the other day had bones in it and it became a struggle for me to eat. I am interested to see what the street food has to offer because in the north it had a lot of meat. I am going to guess that the street food here is going to have more fish food types of things. The vegetables are basically the same but I notice they don’t eat as much down here. Up in the north we would have huge plates full of vegetables and there would be a variety. Down here in the south there seems to be only one or two plates of vegetables. They also start the meals out a little different as well. When we walk into the restaurant they have some vegetables and fruits on the table already instead of it being empty when we walk in. Also, there seems to be a greater tendency of us drinking beer at the table. We have had beer at every meal thus far. In the north I believe it was our last meal that we had the choice of having beer. Those are just some of the differences I see. There still is the emphasis on family dinner and it all tastes good.

Solar power

Throughout our trip in China I have wondered how they get electricity to power various things. The most popular source I have seen is solar power. I have seen only one other source and they were power lines. The only time I really remember seeing them so noticeably was on our way to the great wall in Beijing. After traveling through the cities we have solar energy is definitely popular with housing and powering street lights. Seeing how they use solar energy to power such things as street lights was very interesting. Even though it might not be the most attractive thing to see but I am sure its very cost efficient. I do not know how much they save, but I wonder if it would be as cost efficient in the United States. Obviously the U.S. is not as big and less populated we drive a lot farther than the Chinese. From my understanding we drive from more rual areas to the city and travel on highways so I think it would be worth considering. Some things we would have to take into account are first if it is cost efficient, is it worth switching from another source, and would Americans accept the site of it. On the other side of powering apartment complex I believe is different. We do not nearly have the amount of people in small areas or the buildings comparable to China. So I think it would not be realistic for the U.S. to undergo a major change in that regard. I know China uses windmill, but I have not seen them. I would like to see the number of how many China has compared to the U.S.

First Day in Southern China- Wuxi

The train ride was not that bad even though it was around 14 hours. It was a little different than my last train ride experience granted it was in the US. I took a five-hour train ride from Winona, MN to Chicago and thought that is was a great ride. Last night, we had four people in a cabin that had two sets of bunk beds in it and a small table in the middle. It was probably six feet wide and maybe 8 feet long. It was the size of a very small bathroom that would only have a sink and a toilet. We also had to pack our entire luggage in it, which made the cabin a little tight. Since it was an overnight ride, we slept or watched a movie.

This morning was difficult to want to do anything but sleep. When we got off the train, I saw a sign for McDonald’s and wanted an egg mcmuffin. Dr Li said no. We went to the hotel and had an amazing breakfast. It was the first time here that it was a breakfast that we would have at a hotel in the states. I feel that this would have been the least likely to have a western style breakfast. Our tour guide, Joe, said that there is very little tourist stuff to do in Wuxi. After hearing that and thinking about breakfast, I am amazed that I was able to order an omelet with bacon, ham, peppers, mushrooms, and other veggies. Tomorrow we are off to Tiger Hills in Suzhou, which is what I have been looking forward to since my cousin, who lived in Suzhou for a couple years, told me about it. Off to bed, have to be up bright and early!

Suzhou // Chinese Gardens

Today was a picturesque day in Suzhou, China, though some may not agree since it was raining. Though in my opinion, walking through the gardens in the rain was peaceful. This is the type of atmosphere I imagined China to be outside of the city before coming here. Although these gardens were in the city places like this do exist, much of China in the cities are not as peaceful and serene as it is in the gardens. As I watched the large lily pads fill up with water and bend over, pour the water out over and over again I began to get the same feeling I would get from being out at my cabin during the summer sitting on the dock when the lake is still and no one is around. It's a feeling of solitude and absent-mindedness. I felt totally unaware of the fact that I was in Suzhou surrounded by 6 million other people within a little over 5,000 square miles.

If I come back to China again in the future I will definitely want to visit Suzhou again. Also I would recommend to anyone coming to China to take a visit through here. I am also loving the types of food here. The dishes we've been having in southern China have been some of my favorite. To those who wonder what it's like ... you have to come and try it first hand to fully experience it's greatness. I will miss the food here when we leave.

day 22

Today we are in a different city. I feel kind of sad that it rained all day. I heard alot of things about the Tiger Hill. I was expecting it to be better. From what people have sad they mad it like the place isone of the best places to visit. What I do find interesting is the pagoda. I think that it is kind of weird how they did not even notice that it was leaning towards the right until five stories later.

Another place we visited was the Lingering Garden. Compared to the Summer Palace, I enjoyed the garden more. The reason being is that this place is not as big. The garden also looks more like the culture. I really like the winy paths made of rocks. As I was walking through the place it felt like I was in one of the old Chinese movies.

Tonight we were side by side another tourist bus. Inside that bus there was a little Chinese girl with the biggest eyes I have ever seen. I thought that it was really weird to see this. The reason being is usually when you meet Chinese people they have small eyes. I have noticed that a lot of the children around China are getting bigger. To me this is weird to see because I am so use to seeing everyone all skin and bones. It is good to see that kids are actually getting the nutrients they need and are living a good and healthy lifestyle.

Wuxi

Monday June 6 was a very long day after we had a 14-hour train ride from Tianjin to Wuxi. We arrived here in Wuxi at about six in the morning and we had to start our tour at 8:30 am. The only thing that kept most of the group going was the great breakfast that we got. They had bacon, omelets, cereal, and many other things that most of us have not had since leaving home. But after that we went to the village that was supposed to be the richest in China. It was about an hour drive so I was just thinking to myself that I was going to see houses that where huge mansions really nice cars and big pools. I think I got this idea because that is was what most Americans think of when they think of rich. They think of the towns like Beverly Hills and other cities in California or Florida. But when we arrived that was not the case. The houses were nice but I thought that they looked like most of the house that you would find in my neighborhood. I also found a lot of the house looked alike. So I thought it was kind of weird to compare what the Chinese think of when you say rich and what Americans think of when you think of rich.

June 8, 2009

Cord Houle: Wu Xi day 1

Today we arrived in Wu Xi, stop one on our way to Shanghai, after a long night on a train followed by an early wakeup call. I had unfortunately not been aware we were basically starting our day in Wu Xi once the train unloaded which was about 5 am. So while running on about 4 hours of sleep we headed to the hotel for a quick shower and breakfast. This breakfast was the best one I’ve had since we arrived. I had cold milk bacon French toast and an omelet, not very Chinese cuisine, but amazing none the less. I attempted to let our friends back in Tianjin know we arrived safely; however, my SIM card must not work in this city because I am unable to get any signal.

Our first stop was one of the riches communities in China. While I was looking forward to see how it compared to America, I also reflected back on all the farmers we had met who had little or nothing in the way of net worth. The poor housing conditions and the lack of technology stood out most in my mind. We had been fortunate enough to be shown the less glamorous side of china as well as the booming metropolises with skylines of cranes. As we pulled in and started our tour I was surprisingly underwhelmed. I guess I was expecting Orange County extravagant but in reality it was maybe a little better than the average American community. While the level of living was way higher than anything I had to that point seen in China it was still a lot different than I expected for one of the riches communities in China. This fact drove home even more how I felt from seeing the poor farmers in the countryside. I think I appreciate much more now what I have back in the states now that I have seen a more realistic look at life in emerging economies.

We also went to see the Three Kingdoms amusement park were we saw the location the movie was filmed. We also learned a lot about the famous period in time when Wu Wei and Shu fought for rule over China. This look at a famous historical even that every Chinese person seems to be familiar with was an amazing experience. It also made me appreciate the amount of history China has as a nation. In America we might have a rich history but it only dates back about 300 years. China on the other hand has well over 2000 years of history! We got to watch some trained actors reenact the battle between Dong Zhou and Yuan Shao’s forces. The park was a fun look at the history of the three kingdoms time period and the well know Novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”.

day 21

Today, we arrived in Wuxi. The train ride was a very enjoyable ride. The reason being is that last year when we rode the train from Beijing to Qingdao if I remember correctly, we had to ride in the part where there were three beds on each wall. It was kind of creepy sleeping like that because we had to make sure we put all our valuables under our pillows when we went to bed. We also had to make sure that we had a guy sleeping on one of the beds. Plus another thing it was kind of weird how whenever people walked by they would just stare at us. I felt pretty happy with this train ride because we could have our own privacy and we did not have people staring at us while we were sleeping or awake.

I really enjoyed this city. I am sad to hear that we have to leave this city. I really felt more like we were at home. The reason being is there were barley any horn honking sounds. All the cars and busses stayed behind the cross walks. All the mini motorcycles all seemed like they went in a fashion order, instead of just driving everywhere. The taxi ride back to the hotel from the downtown area felt the same. The reason being it felt like the driver just swerved everywhere to get where they need to go. All in all that was okay because then we could just save money.

Today all the sites were very enjoyable. For the richest village, I actually expected something different. The reason being is from my own experience, I was always told that the houses are very nice, everyone drives a really nice car and the family has at least two children. The house that we visited, I was not very impressed with. I was kind of confused how that was a farmer’s house where as when we pass by the stuff that should have been the farmers homes. What I mean is that the homes that look like that were going to fall apart should have been the farmers’ homes. The place that we walked through should be like a middle class person’s home. The reason I think this is because the living room, no offence I felt that my uncles down in the South have a better tv and better furniture in their living room.

Manners

I was raised where in a family where manners definitely mattered. No elbows on the table, eat with your mouth closed, no bodily sounds at the dinner table or in the vicinity of my mom at least, and always say your please and thank yous. Being over here I have seen a culture that values respect and reputation. It just amazes me how we will emphasize different ways of showing repect. I asked the Chinese students if they would be allowed to burp or pass gas in the presence of their parents or grandparents and they said of course. I also saw a little girl at the miniature architecture area who pulls down her pants and underwear down and pees in front of seventeen strangers. Also when were at the three kings temple an older woman just let out the loudest fart ever right ext to me and Ashley. It makes me laugh at how cultures decide which values to emphasize and which ones not to.

You speak Chinese? Good. Wait.....

The official language of China is Mandarin although there are over one hundred dialects spoken. Many times, a specific dialect is only spoken in one or two small, usually neighboring communities. Sometimes the dialects are spoken in a much larger, regional area. Today was our first (and only) day in Wuxi and Dr. Li had trouble understanding the waitress during our lunch. Some of the words are the same or very similar in sound and meaning. In other cases, there are virtually no similarities in the phonetics of words in different regions. There are some regional differences in the United States as well, but one that speaks fluent English generally has no difficulty communicating in different areas of the country. As in China, there are a number of different accents that make understanding even more difficult in some situations. In da United States, up dare in Minnesotah, da people tink ve talk veird, but dare nuts, eh? Take off, eh? The point is that even if you are a fluent Mandarin Chinese speaker, there are still difficulties communicating sometimes even one or two communities away, let alone in the opposite end of the country. I would imagine that this makes travel somewhat difficult intra-country. Business travelers, students, vacationers, and others face a continual language barrier, much the same as our group does. The major difference is that most of us have little or no background with Mandarin. Knowing the complexity of the following proposal, I wonder how difficult it really would be to somehow achieve a more consistent, “base” language. Mandarin may be used as the base due to it not only being the official language, but also the most widely spoken. This process would take many, many years (perhaps generations), but would be useful in easing communication barriers both within China and also for foreign travelers.

Kevin O'Connell: form Tianjin to Wuxi

Well, we are out of Tianjin and are on the road to Shanghai. We took an overnight train from Tianjin to a town to the East of Shanghai called Wuxi. It was the first time I had ever been on an overnight train. We had cabins with four beds in each. It was a tight squeeze considering we all had our suitcases, backpacks, and some had another carry-on bag. At first I thought it was going to be uncomfortable, however, once we got settled it wasn’t bad at all. We had dinner in the train’s dining car which was also a new experience for me; you have to be careful not to have any cups filled to high. If you do, you better watch out if the train downshifts—you might need a change of clothes.

While watching the landscape of China’s countryside I observed a side of China I hadn’t seen to that point—rural farm towns. On one side of the train was the town itself. The houses looked like they were falling apart. The towns looked very poor for the most part. Looking out the other side of the train I could see farm land as far as my eye could see. These people farm not necessarily to make money; they farm in order to feed their families. It seems as if they would care less about a monetary economy but are more concerned with a traditional, trading economy.

Being on a train wasn’t too bad. I was able to fall asleep fairly early so that helped a lot. The ride was smooth for the most part; it was only shaky when the conductor changed gears. Our room didn’t get unbearably hot which was nice as well. The unfortunate part was that we arrived in Wuxi at like 5:30 AM. We were all pretty tired all day but we had some long bus rides where we could catch a few ZZZZ’s here and there.

Wuxi is a beautiful city. It is a lot less crowded than both Tianjin and Beijing (Even though it still has just under 5 million people). What is very interesting is the difference in dialects between each city we have been to. Although I cannot tell the difference, Dr. Li says that it is night and day when he talks to people. It is like when people from Minnesota go down to Texas or Louisiana and have a tough time communicating with the local.

Cord Houle: Tianjin day 13

Today was a sad day as it was our farewell dinner and the last time we would be able to spend any real time with the students from Nankai. We went to play sports for the day and a random student from the university, curious about hearing that there were foreigners in the teacher’s rec room wondered in while I was playing ping pong. She then had the courage to ask to play against me. This event intrigued me because to this point I had not meet too many Chinese students, especially female that would walk up to a random boy and start up a conversation. Through brief conversation, I found out she was a master’s student with an English name of Fiona .It was a good example of while most Chinese people we meet are in general shy; there are some individuals who are very outgoing. I am lucky to say that the students we were fortunate enough to meet from Nankai, Pass, June, Tracy, Miao^2, Gracie, and Joyce were all outgoing easy to talk to people that made us feel at home.

After sports we went and had dinner. We had Korean barbeque which was delicious. We got platters of marinated meats grilled at our tables and also enjoyed plates of sushi. This was one of the best places I have eaten at so far, tied with some of the other places June and Miao^2 have showed us and the random meat stand outside Alibaba’s. The last big meal together was bitter sweet as we spent a great deal of time reminiscing over the past couple of weeks. When things finally wound down we headed back to the roof of the hotel. Up there we exchanged gifts with our friends. We all got a lot of great and sentimental stuff from the students and in return gave them gifts such as clothing from our university and local music.

After we exchanged gifts we headed back to Alibaba’s for one last hurrah. The night was very mellow except for a couple of games of blackjack. This was a lot closer to what a normal night for Chinese kids is a social gathering that is usually in a quieter setting. We talked for a long time before heading back to the hotel, some of the students mentioned that they might not participate in this program again next year as it is very hard emotionally for them to build such strong relationships in a short amount of time only to have the other person leave. This feeling is quite different from the normal US perspective. In the US we can have a strong friendship for only a short period, and we don’t hold every one of our friends in as high of regard as they do in china. It was great to have last final conversation with them before it becomes a primarily e-mail based contact friendship.

cord Houle: Tianjin day 12

We had our last day of class, today. The topic was on e-commerce, a topic I don’t usually focus on. However this presentation was pretty good. By far the most interactive presentation, we looked at specific case analysis of examples of successful e-commerce in china. We also looked at the market potential and growth trends within china as well. It became immediately apparent that there is a lot of potential growth in this segment especially when compared to the US. The overall message was that there is an abundance of opportunity within the Chinese markets and being able to successfully tap into that could mean great things for both domestic and international companies.

It was also my new friend Jeff’s birthday today! To celebrate we went to a local restaurant called Golden Hans. This restaurant was a Chinese take on a German buffet with all kinds of grilled meats being brought to peoples tables. It was very interesting to see how they prepared western style foods including potato salad and a salad bar. I found it funny that they made their employees dress up in lederhosen. While at this birthday party I found out that it is customary for people to give a small speech about their friend’s birthday and sing them a birthday song. In this particular restaurant they had live music. Unknown to me, our friends Miao Miao and Joyce arranged for me to give the speech in front of the whole restaurant. After taking a few minutes to coordinate everything and take some time to prepare a few words I approached the microphone and gave it my best. Unfortunately my best was irrelevant as the birthday boy Jeff was unable to hear a word I said sitting in the far back corner of the restaurant. Not to let my preparation go to waste, I represented my speech to the table and lead the birthday song again. Later that night we had the traditional birthday cake and I found out that birthdays in china are celebrated in a very similar fashion as those in America.

After the birthday party we went to a local bar to enjoy a few drinks and celebrate Jeff turning 22. While on the way to Alibaba’s a low key bar near campus, we found a random meat stand. This random stand was grilling and marinating skewers of all kinds of various meats. The food from this stand was surprisingly amazing. Some of the best food in china is the food you get from street vendors so keeping an open mind is always important. While we were enjoying our skewers of meat we sat at a table with some local kids who had at this point in the night, hit it pretty hard and were all intoxicated. We spent a good deal of time using our wonderful translators Joyce and Miao Miao to build a friendship with these guys. They were a very nice group of people and as interested in us as we were in them.

You want me to pay to pee??

Today was the first time in my entire life that I have been asked to pay to go to the bathroom. A group of us went downtown Wuxi for some shopping and a little walking. When we got to the mall I realized that I had to use the bathroom and saw a sign that pointed to the "toilet" and followed, expecting that it would be like every other place we have been that has public restrooms. Well I was WRONG!!! I saw a sign for the "toilet" but when I tried to go up the stairs to go into the bathroom a guy at a table stopped me and told me it would cost me three Yuan to use the toilet. (Later, Christina told me that the three Yuan would at least get me some free toilet paper...thanks Christina) Can you believe that someone asked me to pay three Yuan to be able to perform a bodily function in a toilet?? Well, I turned my butt around and went and found a public restroom that was FREE. I am damn happy to be an American when it comes to bathrooms. We take these little things for granted some times - free toilet paper, free toilets, free soap, and almost always some paper towels or a working hand dryer! I can't wait to use my own bathroom in my own house when I get back to the USA!!!

Count down: VI

Today, after taking about fourteen hours of train, we finally got to Wuxi. After we got there, we were so tired. The sleeping in the train just made me feel more tired. Then we went to the hotel and checked in. After I took a bath, I felt very good and had many energy. But the good thing never last too long. After the delicious breakfast we had, I felt tired again. At the morning we went to visit the number one village in China, Huaxi Village. After I stepped out of the bus and had I look. I was so shocked, this village is really the richest in China. Each local family here have their own house, and I believe each of this kind of house would at least worth millions yuan. Then we also see many interested things like, the biggest drum, the biggest ox, and many ridiculously big pumpkins. After the tour, we had a special lunch on a boat, so that we can eating while enjoy the great lake views. The lunch is very good and very traditional. After the lunch, we went back to the hotel and bought the missing Jun with us to the Three Kingdom Cities. I really got many flashback when we were visiting there. It let me remember many scenes that have played on the Three Kingdoms series video games.
After all, I think Wuxi is a pretty good city. There are not as much cars as in Beijing and Tianjin. People do not seems to live in a rush hour life. But there is one thing I don't really like, which is the weather. When I went outside, I felt very hot and my body just keep sweating. Then I felt so sticky! Tomorrow we are heading to Suzhou, can't wait to see what does Suzhou look like. In the ancient China, people always said that there are many pretty girls in Suzhou. Tomorrow, we are either going to prove is or reject it. :)

12 Hour Train Ride and Wuxi

Well yesterday afternoon we said our farewells to Tianjin and boarded our train to Wuxi. The train ride took about a good 12 hours. We all passed the time by either watching movies, talking, or sleeping. I found the train ride to be very fun. It was a great experience. There's something about riding on trains ... the feel of being on one makes me feel like I'm back in a different time, as if it almost sparks a feeling of nostalgia for something you've never experienced. It was also one of the most comforting sleeps I had during the whole trip. I may want to take the Amtrak somewhere in the United States some time soon.

We arrived in Wuxi around 5:30 (don't quote me on the exact time, it was incredibly early that's all I know) and met our new tour guide, Joe. Today, aside from learning about Wuxi history and a bit about the Three kingdoms, we got to eat some local Wuxi food. A lot of the local food we had for lunch and supper reminded me of a more western style of Chinese food. A lot of it is typically sweeter and sometimes sour. I've also noticed that not a lot of us eat the soup that's always brought to us at every group dinner we have. The soup is always usually very good, but I think we're just too used to eating soup when we're sick or it's cold outside. It's a bit hard for me to eat/drink soup when it's over 90 degrees fahrenheit outside.

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Move Your Car

This morning we arrived in Wuxi, a city just outside of Shanghai. Similar to our first week in Beijing our first day was filled with numerous touristy activities. We have a new tour guide, his name is Joe and he likes to tell jokes. Joe’s English is probably the best out of all of our previous guides. While driving around the city of Wuxi we saw a few different car accidents, nothing major, just a few fender benders. The group however was getting annoyed because every time there was an accident in the road the Chinese people would not move their cars, they simply got out of their cars exactly where the incident took place and stood there. Also, a few people who witnessed the accident will come and stand in the street. This all adds the confusion and congestion of China’s traffic. It wasn’t until later in the day when Dr. Li explained that in China after an accident it is almost “illegal” to move your car until the police arrive. After a collision, the two parties exit the vehicle and determine whether or not the police need to be called, if they agree to call the police they must leave the cars exactly where they are. This is a little ridiculous in my opinion especially in areas with such high traffic. However, keeping the crime scene untouched allows the police to more accurately assess the situation and appoint blame. In American after an incident the two parties typically pull over to the side of the road and contact the police. But since the cars have been moved it is hard for the police to get a clear image of the situation, especially when the parties begin to lie to protect themselves. China’s way may seem to be more of a headache to the other drivers on the road, but by not moving their vehicles it actually helps the authorities evaluate the situation.

Planes and trains

Today we arrived early this morning in Wuxi via train. For my blog tonight I would like to compare traveling 12 plus hours in both a plane and train. I would first like to say that both went a lot better than I thought they would. About the train some of the different things I noticed were: you were able to smoke on the train, the bathrooms were basically a hole that led to the tracks below, you stayed in a small room with two sets of bunk beds, and some people had to stay with random individuals. The biggest pros for the train were the dinner we received, the ability to observe different areas of China through the window, able to walk around freely throughout the train, and also able to have conversations with many people. The cons for the train include the bathrooms were gross and had water all over the floor, the air conditioning was turned off later in the night, easy to hear others out in the hall, hard to fall asleep in a uncomfortable bed, and storage for luggage. The pros for the planes included movies and television shows throughout flight, quite and easier to fall asleep, and different views of terrain from above. The cons were the long lines for bathroom, food was not anything special, drinks and snacks were expensive, and not able to have conversations easily. Both also had some sort of delays, the train made frequent stops that were jerky but did not take long, and the plane they had quarantine checks after the flights landed. Overall, I preferred the plane since you could watch American movies and fall asleep much easier. The train was a lot nicer though then one might think with the food being amazing. It has been an interesting experience of traveling so far on this trip. Only 5 days left to the final flight and I look forward to anything planned next.

A day in Wuxi: Dan Korman

While in China I have noticed that they do a wonderful job of trimming bushes and planting flowers along the sides of many roads. In Beijing, Tianjin, and Wuxi I have noticed that they do a much better job than any city I have seen in the states. I wonder why this is. It sure does help make their cities look more attractive. I wonder why US cities do not take the same measures to make their cities more attractive.

I have also noticed a great number of buildings being built here in China. I was aware of the rapid growth going on here, but needed to witness it in person to get a true perspective. The types of expansion I have witnessed here is mindboggling to say the least. You never see this type of growth in America. This is just a major difference you see between developed and developing countries. However, most of the cities we have been in have been fairly developed and still have buildings going up in every which direction. It is truly amazing to witness such growth. I do see some of the construction projects appear to be shut down or no longer in operation, but there is still a great abundance of new construction considering the economic state of the rest of the world.

Shanghai (Wuxi) - Day 1 (6/08/09)

I learned some interesting things this morning from Professor Li on the train ride over to Wuxi. Many of the words used in the Chinese language are translated into Chinese quite literally. For instance primary school translates as little study, middle school translates as middle study, and the university level translates to big study. They basically take a root word for most things in a category and add on another descriptive word or two to arrive at a usable form. Some translate kind of weird, such as Pizza Hut which translates as "must beat up guest" and sounds kind of like a bad name for a restaurant. It's kind of interesting that even though Pizza Hut's name translates what to me seems to be horribly, they manage to perform well here in China. The literal translations can be useful sometimes but other times they really don't make a whole lot of sense such as cigar translating as "snow eggplant". Hopefully I'll be able to improve some of my Chinese speaking skills in this last week and learn more about how some words translate to English, I find it quite interesting and sometimes quite funny.

Some other interesting words:
America - Beautiful Country
Computer - Calculating Machine
Calculator - Calculating Tool
Dryer - Blowing Wind Machine
Cigarette - Rolled Smoke
Car - Gas Car
Train - Fire Car
Airplane - Flying Machine
Mountain Bike - Mountain Earth Car
Bike - Self-Walking Car
Bachelor's Degree - Study Guy
Master's Degree - Plenty Guy
Doctorate Degree - A lot of Guy

Natural Environment

Today we were all very amused with the monkeys and alligators. At the same time I felt a bit bad for the animals. The alligators only have a concrete pool with a little water to stay in, and the money was roped to the tree with about a foot of slack. I felt so bad for the monkey because he kept trying to tug on the rope so he could get closer to us. Finally the owner of the monkey went to play with him, along with the other guy. The other guy grabbed a stick and it looked like he was going to play with the monkey. Then we saw him start hitting the monkey in the face, I am still not sure if it was a game and the monkey was just bad at it or if he was punishing the monkey. Either way back in the states that wouldn’t exactly fly. We have so many animal rights people around that if one of them saw something like that happened there was be a protest for sure, if not an attempt at a lawsuit for animal cruelty. Back home we are always criticized for the way we treat our natural environment and the animals in it. Until now I don’t think we actually treat them that bad after seeing how things are done here in China. After seeing the monkeys and alligators we also saw horses that looked very unhealthy. Shane made a comment about how it was not good that you could see their hip bone. And for the environment, it is illegal to throw trash on the ground, and at some food vendors there they tell you to just throw your garbage on the ground and they will take care of it later. If that were said back home no one would believe that it would actually happen so someone would get in trouble.

Wu'Xi

I am going to blog about the city that we just got to today and describe some differences and similarities between other cities we have been. Wu'Xi is a more peaceful city. There is not as many people as the previous places we have been. I don't see as many big buildings as I have seen in Tianjin and Beijing. You can see that they are starting to modernize more by seeing the development of some buildings they plan on putting up. The infrastructure of these buildings is similar to the other cities. This city reminds me a lot of the United States. Professor Li and I were talking about this on the bus. There is more grass and trees. Everything is spread out and not clustered into one area. The city is very clean and well maintained. It is not the nicest city but it is way more comfortable to me because it reminds me of home. This city also has a major river that runs through it that goes all the way to Beijing. This river is used to hall materials up and down from the capital to the other cities along the river. The raw materials flow up the river for production and the finished goods come down as Joe was saying on the bus. This is an interesting fact because it makes sense why this would work. Most of the manufacturing is done in the major cities and most of the raw materials are found in less developed cities. Overall, this city is more peaceful and very relaxing. It is to bad were only staying one day.

June 6, 2009

Day 14 - Last Day

Today is our fourteenth day in Tianjin and this afternoon we are heading by train to Shanghai. Last night we had our farewell dinner with the Chinese students and some of the Chinese professors. The food was great and it is always fun to visit with the Chinese students. After dinner we all headed to Alibabas one more time before leaving in the morning. We decided to play cards and started up a game of Black Jack, but in China it is just called 21. Throughout our two week stay I enjoyed speaking with the Chinese students, teaching them English words, simple games, and over just talking about the American lifestyle. One thing I have noticed throughout the trip is that cabs are way easier to get here than back in Minnesota. It makes sense, when you are in a city with 11 million people and majority of them do not own cars, a saturated taxi population is needed. All the taxis here have to reach quotas and pay rent on their cars. I believe all of the Taxis, at least the majority we saw in Tianjin are owned through the government. This is not the case back in Minnesota, especially in Duluth. Getting a cab in Duluth is nearly impossible when you want it. Cabs are not driving around waiting to pick people, you always have to call the cab company and tell them your location. You sometimes have to wait 30 minutes to an hour for a cab. And if the cab can’t find your address they just move on and the company never calls you to let you know so you could be waiting for a cab that is never coming. Also cabs rides in China are much less expensive than in the United States. In Duluth an aver taxi ride can be $15, if you have not joined the $2 taxi service. The average cab ride in china has been roughly $15 RMB which is about $1.75 US. I enjoy just being able to stick my arm out and hail a cab, once I get in and try and tell them where to go however is another story.

Good Bye, Tianjin

The last two weeks has been an unforgettable experience. The folks here in Tianjin are second to none when it comes to hospitality. I want to thank Nankai University and the entire faculty, staff, and mostly the students that made our stay very warm and memorable. Many took precious time out of their busy days to show us around campus, take us to lunch, teach us, and play sports with us. We may have even picked up a few new Chinese words, if you know what I mean! Everyone was very patient with our sometimes loud and obnoxious group (remember karaoke, anyone?). Monica, Bessie, and Joyce are saints for putting up with us! I also wanted to thank all the professors for great preparation of the lectures. Much time was taken as they prepared some very informative, intriguing lectures. Last night was the farewell dinner, at a delicious Korean restaurant. The food was great, the company even better. Later, we exchanged gifts and ventured to Ali Baba’s one last time to celebrate our new friendships. A great time was had by all! Now, preparations have begun for our fourth and final week in Shanghai. I can only hope the hospitality is half as good in Shanghai as it was in Tianjin and Nankai University. Thank you everyone!

Saturday June 6

Tianjin days have sadly come to an end. I really like how this place became a home for the short time that we had here. The feeling was definitely due to the students at Nankai University who took the time to get to know us. Back home you rarely see people of our age group give up their time to help people they are just meeting. Everyone made me feel completely comfortable and welcome. I hope to have a chance to either come back here and see them or if any of them come to the United States provide them with the same courtesy that they were nice of enough to do for us. I am excited to see what the rest of the trip will be like in Shanghai. I really want to bring the concept “face” back home and work on building long term friendships instead of acquaintances.

Saturday June 6

Tianjin days have sadly come to an end. I really like how this place became a home for the short time that we had here. The feeling was definitely due to the students at Nankai University who took the time to get to know us. Back home you rarely see people of our age group give up their time to help people they are just meeting. Everyone made me feel completely comfortable and welcome. I hope to have a chance to either come back here and see them or if any of them come to the United States provide them with the same courtesy that they were nice of enough to do for us. I am excited to see what the rest of the trip will be like in Shanghai. I really want to bring the concept “face” back home and work on building long term friendships instead of acquaintances.

Walk at your own risk

When one goes for a walk in Tianjin, they take their lives into their own hands. The street walks are made of bricks for the most part, but there is constant risk of tripping or falling into an abyss. There are countless uneven, broken, and missing bricks. You must pay attention, or risk personal injury. I was walking along downtown today and came upon an open hole, about five feet long by five feet wide by five feet deep. There was absolutely no warning, no caution tape, no orange cone, nothing! I am not known to be the most graceful and agile person on the face of this earth. There are many other holes too, this is not an anomaly. I mention the sidewalks because in Beijing, the sidewalks were either new or in great condition. There are other sidewalk dangers too, such as cars, bikes, and mopeds. I have seen a number of cars sneak up behind you (yes, on the sidewalk) then honk the horn and scare the living daylights out of you. Tianjin does not have nearly as many English speaking citizens as Beijing. It was difficult at times to communicate. However, I am not complaining. I am the one that does not know the language, which is kind of opposite to what I am used to. Another frustration for me is the street signs and even more so the shop signs. Sometimes we are browsing for a good restaurant or a gift shop, but many are upstairs on the second level and there is not really a way to tell at street level what each sign is conveying. Needless to say, it was beneficial to have the students and/or Jack or Jun with us to help out!

last lecture

June 6, on Friday, that is the last lecture we expect to have. This lecture is pretty interesting and I thing that would consider one of my favorite lectures. Professor Lin show us how E-business work in china.

The first thing that he told us about is how cell phone interacts into people’s life style. We could book any type of tickets online and we will receive a list of numbers or a 2-demensional figure by messages, said Dr. Lin. We can carry out our tickets by cell phone, then go to check out. This type of technology also can be use in subway and bus. It is a very high-tech thing that would be use in the future. As I know, Japan is using this type of technology already. Japanese holds some of the top high-tech technology. Cell phone is one of high-tech in Japan; they use is quite different than other country. Such different things that I said above and it is first been use in Japan. I think this technology have been use five or six years ago or maybe even earlier than that. That is not easy to public such kind of thing in china because wi-fi is the important thing in this project. Without a country wide wireless, it cannot be work. China is not fit in this technology yet. There are several reasons. The first reason is cost a lot to build up a country wide wireless. Second, Chinese is not ready to get such high tech thing yet when there is technology problem in china’s cell phone companies. The last one, it is not efficiency to import this technology in china. Chinese still have a long way to go before hit this because it is useless now in china.

It is interested to hear the professor mention this technology. It makes me thing through to Japan because got many sweet high-tech stuff. Like the electronic car is first develop by Japanese. Sky train is a train transport that road is build on the sky and train is hang on the road. This is why we call that sky train.

I am taking far away from the lecture. Sorry to mention so about Japan, but it is fun to know how high-tech Japanese at and compare to china. China still have a distance to catch up and I want to see this time when is coming.

Day XIII

Tonight is going to be the last night we stay in Tianjin. In the evening, we and other Chinese students went to the Korean BBQ restaurant to have a dinner together. After dinner, we all decided to hang out on the hotel's roof in the hotel for a while. When we got on the roof, the Chinese students started to giving us gift. I got a pair of chopsticks, a lucky charm, and a hang decoration for the cell phone. They are so nice. I am sure I will use them, because they are so special and useful for me! Then later at night, we went to the Alibaba. It was pretty crowd for a while. But later, we found a big room, which can fit in everybody. Then we started to drinking some beers and playing blackjack. After we played blackjack for a while, Alex suddenly think out some awful rules for the person who loses. And no doubt, Christina is the biggest loser tonight. People who missed the punishments she got would be a shame. Tonight is also the last night we are going to stay in the hotel, so I am going to try my best to enjoy my last sleep in Tianjin.

Farewell Dinner and Gifts 6/6

Tonight we got to have one last dinner with the Chinese students. We got to eat a good meal and have a few last conversations. We couldn’t have asked for more awesome students to meet. They were all very fun and extremely nice. It’s a good thing for facebook because it is going to make staying in contact very easy. I am going to miss playing sports with the other students, and talking about difference between our two cultures. We also exchanged a few gifts up on the roof top after dinner. We brought gifts that represent Minnesota, Duluth, or UMD and received gifts from the Chinese students that were traditional items in China. These gifts are amazing and will be kept forever to remember this trip and experience.

Language Barriers 6/5

This has one of the most wonderful experiences of my life being over here in China. But I will always say that if I could speak the Language it would even be that much better. I’m sure it’s not fun for people to always have to translate for us because we have no idea what is being said. We have picked up a few words but are far from having a conversation any time soon. When we go to clubs and bars the only people we can communicate with are a select handful of people who can speak English, so it limits our amount of interactions with others. Most people here can speak a bit of English but at the same time out the millions of people who live here many cannot. An experience we had on the roof tonight is a prime example of a language barrier. A lady came up and was yelling at us (or so we think by the sound of her voice) we had no idea what was being said, but we knew we seen her following us earlier that night when we went to The Golden Hans. After having Angle translate what she could for is it sound like the lady lost her daughter because her daughter ran off to follow us and she was saying that it was our fault she lost her daughter. It was difficult to communicate back because we were all yelling different things for Angle to say to her. There are many more barriers just having that lady freak out on us made the difficulties of the language barrier more noticeable.

The Dentist

Tracy and I were talking about how much we both loved candy and I thought about how bad candy is for your teeth so I asked him about the dentist. Tracy said that as a kid, when he had braces, he would go in for check-ups quite routinely, but once that was over he never goes to the dentist unless he has a problem with his teeth. He said as children, before braces, and as an adult most people only go to the dentist when something doesn’t feel right. He was curious to know that some people in America go to the dentist every six months to get a check up and cleaning. He said that they never do this in China because you don’t have insurance for your teeth. Paying to get a check-up or a cleaning seemed ridiculous to him if you don’t have anything wrong. I haven’t noticed that Chinese people have bad dental health, but not going to the dentist unless something hurts is not the way I would want to go. I am certainly happy that at my job I have good dental insurance and can afford to go the dentist every six months!

day 19

Today is the last day staying in Tianjin. I cannot believe that the time has gone by so fast. For this city I never realize how much stuff it has. I just thought it was a plain old city with not much different companies. Boy was I wrong, I never realize how many different companies are based in Tianjin. Especally with the Coke company and the ACS. I was the most impressed with these companies. Another thing that was really interesting is how many odd looking signs there are in this city. I do not think I have ever been to any other city with this many odd looking signs. Then comes the bicycles. Wow I have definately never seen so many. Feels like they run the roads and parking spaces instead of the cars. Last but not least the food is awsome! All in all this is a great city I would definatly come back to it.

Last Night in Tianjin: Dan Korman

Today was our last full day in Tianjin. It is a bittersweet feeling leaving Tianjin and the great friends we have made at Nankai. When exchanging gifts tonight I noticed that the Chinese students were extremely gracious for the gifts we gave them. I especially noticed that the girls were a little embarrassed when I gave them my gifts. It was very fun though, and helped establish more guanxi between our students and theirs. My time in Tianjin has been one for the ages. I have enjoyed myself very much, and will be a little sad to leave. I have learned a great deal about Chinese culture, and have learned much about Chinese students. I have built friendships that will last for a long time. Many of the students told me to contact them when I return to China, which I plan to do. In America it is easy to build good friendships, but there is something different about the way it happens in China. It is tough to explain, but it has been a great experience to go through.

Last night in Tianjin

Tonight is our final night in Tianjin. This has been such a great experience where I have learned so much about the culture, met life long friends, and an appreciation of the life I have been able to live. Tonight we had a farewell dinner with our Chinese friends where we ate mass amount of beef, chicken, and pork. They have taught us many things about how they live their lives and we have done the same. It was nice to bring our out going personalities to bring the best out of these students. We have shared many laughs along the way from karaoke to playing basketball. It was great to end the night with the exchanging of gifts between the two of us. The students provided very generous gifts the are symbolic of good luck and fortune. They were very happy to receive gifts as well we provided key chains, magnets, and even dollar bills as souvenirs. It will be hard and pretty awkward leaving a place that we have finally gotten use to the city and how to manage each day. It will be great to be able to sustain a relationship with these students in the future and I will enjoy this night to the fullest.

June 5th and 6th

I am going to blog about yesterday and last night. We had lecture in the morning and it was really interesting but at the same time it was kinda of all over the place so it was hard to follow. After the lecture we had to do our presentation about what we have learned or experienced while we have been here in China. My topic was about the food and how there was a lot of things that were different from America. Overall all of our presentations we very well I would say. It was fun to here about what people though about China. I also learned a lot from the presentations and was really interested in what everyone had to say. That night we all went out on the town for Jeff's birthday. We went to Alibabas and met this guy that was from Florida State University. I was talking to him for awhile and asking what brought him to China and he said had taken summer classes here and he wanted to come back and become fluent in Chinese. Now he is here promoting parties and it sounded like he was having a lot of fun doing that and i may even what to come back and do something like that.

Today we had our final dinner party and we went to the Korean Grill. It is a place where they have coals in front of you and they cook the meat right in front of you. The food was amazing but I really enjoyed the last piece of meat that they served. It looked like it was rib that had been marinated for hours. This was so tender and I think it could be the best tasting meat I have ever had. It was also nice that the Chinese students came to join us for dinner. Over the past two weeks we have formed friendships that we will never for get. They have been so nice to us and have showed us a great time in Tianjin. I cant believe that our time here in Tianjin is coming to an end but I am very excited to go back to Shanghai for the second time.

Tianjin - Day 13 (6/06/09)

I have had a great time during my stay here in Tianjin. The people, the students, the professors, the atmosphere, everything was wonderful during my stay here. Exchanging gifts with the students was fun, I only wish I had brought more things to give away. The key chain I had originally brought seems to have vanished so I ended up giving away the UMD key chain I had on my keys. It was black so I hope that Tracy didn't think I was wishing death upon him, because I am not, it's just the color of the key chain I had and I was kind of nervous about giving that one away. I really wish I had known to bring more items to give away since all of the students here had given me something I feel bad about not having an item for each of them. I still need to mail out my swords so hopefully I can get that accomplished tomorrow with the help of either Jack or June. I just want to thank everyone (hopefully they'll be reading this) for a wonderful trip and time here in Tianjin, I hope that Shanghai will be as fun as it was during my stay here, but I kind of doubt that it will be. I also hope that I'll have a chance in the future to return and visit some of the new friends I have made during my time here. This has been so much more than just a trip to another country, it has been an unforgettable experience and undoubtedly the best foreign exchange program I have been on (so far this is my third) the other two being to Mexico and to Hawaii. So zai jian to all of the people that I have met during my time in Tianjin!

Kevin O'Connell

Today was our last full day in Tianjin. I can’t believe how fast the time has passed. It seems like just yesterday when we arrived on the high speed train; in less than 24 hours we will be on a train for our final stop—Shanghai. I have had a wonderful time here in Tianjin. We have been to so many cool places and done so many fun things—The Eye of Tianjin, our river boat ride, hot-pot dinners, sport days with Chinese students, karaoke day and countless other experiences. I am so glad we got to settle down here for a couple of weeks so we could experience more of the culture on our own instead of in a big group. You get a better feel for a place when you can walk around by yourself and just observe what’s going on around you as opposed to taking a bus from one tourist site to another. The lectures that we had were very interesting as well. I learned the most from Dr. Li’s lectures on Chinese culture. Their culture and traditions are so full of customs that I didn’t know about before coming here. From how to accept a business card, to nap time in the afternoon, to family style meals. I could go on forever listing little aspects of Chinese life that make a big difference on how one is perceived by others in Chinese society. Our other lectures were good as well. We had professors that are top people in their fields take time out of their busy schedules to teach our class. I am very appreciative of the quality of schooling we received here. I wish we could have spent more time being taught about the Chinese way of life; it is just so different than the US. One month isn’t enough time to get fully acquainted with another culture but it is a great start.

One more week in Shanghai then back to the States!

Last day in Tianjin

I am going to blog about my overall experience here in Tianjin. This was one of the best experiences of my life and something I will never forget. I have enjoyed everything greatly and have learned a great amount of information. The people and students I have met have been nothing short of spectacular and great. All of the students have been the best and I have learned so much from them and I hope they have learned some stuff from me as well. I will be practicing the concept of Guanxi with these students and I am excited to hopefully see them all again someday. These kids are great and I can honestly say I am going to miss them. Tomorrow is going to be hard to leave them back here but each one of them is smart and going to do great things. Pass is going to keep playing basketball and keep his passion for the game. Tracy is going to be the tricky little guy he is. June is going to be the level headed guy that runs the group. Miao squared is going to be a very successful person and is going to keep being great. Gracey is going to be also very successful with Miao squared. They are like sisters. Monica is going to keep doing great things as the leader of this program. Joycee is going to go on and become a very successful person as well. All of these students are going to be successful and I hope to do business with them someday. I am going to miss them and always wonder what they are doing at the same moment as I. Take care my friends from Tianjin and hopefully see you again someday.

Last Day in Tianjin

After two weeks in Tianjin, and one week in Beijing, I have learned a lot about the Chinese culture as well as people. It is completely different than Minnesota and completely different than I was expecting. I will definitely not miss the amount of people and traffic, the noise of the horn every five seconds it seems, and sometimes the food. It will be hard going to a "Chinese" restaurant in the states because I have seem and tasted what real Chinese food is. I really enjoyed most of the lectures from the Nankai professors but especially like Dr. Li's lectures because they were interactive and we were able to stop him and ask questions all the time. The one thing that I would change from the lectures is to have the professors talk more general and not get too specific about topics such as finance. I would assume the professors thought that we all had taken finance or whatever their lecture was about before we came here. That was not the case for some of the students. Everyone has to take core business classes, but students specialize in a certain subject or subjects. I am a finance/accounting major, so I was looking forward to learning about the accounting here. We never talked about that, but most of the students are not in the same boat as me so they would not have been able to follow accounting. I had an idea about topics discussed for HR, or marketing, but since they are not my area, I knew the bare minimum and could not follow. I think us students just need to be more open while taking classes at UMD if they are wanting to study abroad. I would suggest this specific trip to any major but especially ones in the business school. Again, I will end my blog by saying, thank you Dr. Li for planning a great trip so far (and am looking forward to Shanghai) and the lectures were very beneficial for business professionals looking to do business here in China. I learned a lot and would be willing to travel for a future employer to China because I feel I would know how to interact and get business done right. Thank you Dr. Li and Nankai University!

Day 13 - Birthday

Today is our thirteenth day in Tianjin, and our last full day here in the city. Tomorrow afternoon we will take a 12 hour train ride from Tianjin to Shanghai. Last night a group of both the Chinese and American students went out to dinner for my birthday, we went to a really good restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. At the restaurant they served a lot of delicious meats and cakes. The wait staff also wore cowboy hats; I think it was some form of American style restaurant. There was a little band playing on the first floor of the restaurant and a few of the students went up and requested them to play happy birthday for me. The whole group came down stairs and sang while I stood in the middle with my awesome birthday hat on. Once again all the Chinese people in the restaurant decided to take my picture and laugh and stare. Honestly, at this point I have gotten used to it. Later today we will be going to play sports at Nankai University one more time before we leave. Unlike in Minnesota, Nankai students love badminton and ping pong. They also have become fans of basketball and the NBA since Yo Ming has become such a huge celebrity in China. I typically stick to badminton while playing since my basketball skills are sub-par. Playing Badminton brings me back to when I used to play in gym class back in high school. Most of the Chinese students are very good at both badminton and ping pong, however their competitiveness is extremely different. In America we like to brag and are very competitive. If you were to ask one of the Chinese students if they were good at the sport they would say they are just ok. You will then start up a game with them and learn that they are far from just OK. Also in America we shout, talk trash, and lie about how good we are. The Chinese have all been very shy about there actual skills, trying their best to brag or boast. This differences boils down to the idea that American are more individualistic while the Chinese are far more group oriented.

Yesterday's Lecture

I am going to blog about yesterday's lecture, some on the content and some on how he taught. I really enjoyed how he taught. He was the most enthusiastic teacher we have had and he got the class involved. It was nice to finally see a teacher ask us questions during the lecture and get us involved into the lecture. This made it more interesting and more apt to pay attention. Some of the content that I learned about was the m-commerce or mobile commerce. This is kind of new to me to the fact that this is something the Chinese use more than e-commerce. I know what m-commerce is just didn't know that they use is all the time. So that was an interesting fact to me. I also learned that Ebay failed to Zaobao because they didn't adjust to the culture and were paying fees for people to sign up. I had no idea that Ebay even tried to market themselves in China and I didn't know they failed at doing it as well. The QQ part of the lecture was interesting as well. QQ is not only an IM site but is capable of doing a lot. Online games, shopping, music, etc. The teacher was saying that this has the potential to be one of the largest markets in the future they just have to keep adjusting. I believe all businesses that want to expand internationally have to adjust to the culture because if you don't you will more than likely fail.

Night with the locals

In our last friday night in Tianjin I got to experience even more new things. First off many of the students were buying fresh meat to be cooked over the grill. Andy was nice enough to let me try some chicken which was amazing. It is something that the United States should try doing more. That is a cheap snack which can be cooked fast and right in front of you and taste amazing. But after eating that i walked over to some of the locals that were sitting next to the grill. They were drinking and socializing very similarly to what we do in the U.S. Since only one could understand some english and the others could not really understand any at all Angel was nice enough to interpret for me. We had some great conversations about similar topics i would talk about with friends at home such as basketball. She was also nice enough to translate that i was very appreciative of their time and they expressed the same to me. Overall the people in this city are very caring, considerate, nice, and welcoming to us americans. It only helps me love this country more and more. It is just amazing how we are treated for not ever meeting these people before. I wish it were as easy in the U.S. and people were to have a more Chinese mindset of we not I.

Friday June 5

For our last day of class we were assigned a short presentation on something that we have learned about China while being here. Trying to decide on a topic was difficult since we have been so many places in such a short time. I was happy when I saw June, Tracy, and Joyce take the time to come and see our presentations. The funny thing is that we talked about comparisons between America and China. I think that the whole point of this trip was just building a relationship with these students. Getting to meet people that I never would have met if not for coming here has been the best experience of being over here. It is one thing to learn the history of a country but it is so much better getting to know the people. At the end of two weeks I am amazed at how great they have been to us and I am really happy that I got to come on this trip.

June 5, 2009

The Last Lecture

Yesterday we had our last lecture, which I found to be the most interesting because it was focused around technology, the web, and e-business/e-commerce. Professor Ruihui did an excellent job with getting the class engaged and involved in the lecture by asking a lot of questions and really making us think. He lectures on everything from internet use in China as compared to the United States to Web 2.0 basics and user generated content to covering a few of the best web-based companies in China. My favorite part of the lecture was where he talked about how and why companies stand out among other competitors in the Chinese market. Interestingly enough I found that in order to be successful as a web-based company in any country you need to focus your image, usability, and business mode to the countries economic and social context. Understanding mores and folkways also help a lot in creating a successful web-business in other cultures. This will help to keep the company away from unwanted criticism and not offend any of the users on the site because you have displayed arrogance toward the culture. A lot of the points behind many of the web companies he talked about was based on innovation. Innovation is what allows one company to stand out from the next. The corporation AliBaba.com has just created a web-service in 2006 similar to eBay, but puts itself above competitors by connecting large whole-sellers to consumers, rather than acting as a middle man between goods and services and the customers. Taobao has hundreds of thousands of transactions everyday. Before we could disperse from class he made each of us fill in the blank to this phrase. "Innovation is the ___________."

day 18

Today was Jeff's bday. We went to the Golden Hans to celebrate. It was interesting to see that the restaurant had to see something of an ID to see his bday if it was valid or not. Once they got his driver licences then they took off about 11 dollars off the tab as the bday present. Then Cord went and asked the live band to sing hapy bday to Jeff. I thought this was interesting because normally when we go celebrate bdays in China we usually go to Mcdonalds or KFC and play little kid games. I feel that I finally got a taste of our age bday party.

Last night we went to a actual Chinese club. Boy was it expensive. After going to this place last night it made me realize why alot of clubs closed down in the South. This club the music was way better it was really good Techno. The club as soon as you walked in felt very high class. Like the way you just step in their it makes you feel like you have alot of money. Down in the South those clubs when you step into them you do not get that feeling. You get more like your just going there to party and have a good time. I think that is one of the number one reasons why alot of the clubs fail down in the South.

Freedom of Speech

Did anyone else watch the video on the link that Dr. Li sent to us in our email? It was about the Tiananmen Square 20th reunion and how broadcasters are having trouble videotaping and reporting from the square due to service people with umbrellas getting in the way. I thought that this was very interesting because in the USA we have the freedom of speech a freedom of information, and a freedom of religion - our First Amendment Rights. The Chinese government limits internet access, limits what gets reported on TV by either blacking out the TV station or getting in the way like we see in Tiananmen Square, and doesn't allow publication of any other religious materials other than what the government sees fit. Journalists have been imprisoned in China for reporting information for other journalists, outside China, to use. I read about a Priest that was imprisoned for providing "unauthorized" Bibles to people on the street. I just can't imagine living that way and constantly being lead to believe or know only what your leaders want you to believe or know. I am happy that we have the First Amendment in the USA! Great trip so far, fun night last night, looking forward to today!

Cord Houle: Tianjin day 11

Today was one of the best days I have ever had in Tianjin, we started out with the usual lecture. The lecture was good but the trip to the karaoke bar was the initial highlight of the day. We drank some beer and sang a lot of American music to our Chinese student friends. Am a terrible singer but I really enjoy singing to songs I know and making a fool of myself so this was great. The students like Gracie and Miao Miao showed us up by singing some local music amazingly. Not to be undone we sang some classics like sweet Caroline and some Beatles songs.

What made today one of the best experiences I had the whole trip was I allowed to go biking in Tianjin. Miao Miao, a friend from Nankai University, was brave enough to allow me to ride her bike. She even trusted me enough to ride on the back! I learned that biking should be considered an extreme sport within China. With Tianjin having the highest population of bikes in China it makes the already congested vehicle traffic even crazier. I was fortunate enough to be given the chance to ride a bike through the madness. We were told by Dr. Li that by letting us ride their bikes it meant we considered friends and we should be honored. Before I was told this I even felt honored as it must have taken a lot of trust to let us ride their bikes without a lot of experience especially with them riding on the back.

We ended up biking to the TV tower in Tianjin, the second highest tower in China. Here we discovered you could rent roller blades. Not to miss out on any experiences we leapt at the opportunity to rent the blades. I was clearly out of practice but had a great time none the less. On a couple occasions we had some curious people ask for our pictures. While some get embarrassed by all the attention I don’t mind it and gladly take pictures with curious locals. Interestingly, Miao Miao had never bladed before so we got to spend some time teaching her the ins and outs. By the end she was grinding rails and doing stalls! (not really, but she did great) After bladeing we decided to head back to the hotel. So we got back on the bikes and headed back. It was a great experience to travel with experienced bikers in Tianjin. It was one of the more real experiences I had while in china so I will always remember it fondly.

Street Food

Tonight, after we left AliBaba's and a club that was way to packed and expensive for my taste, we went to a guy that had a grill with chicken and other meets. I first had Kristina order for me and then Jun showed up and ordered more food for me. I had two different kinds of chicken and they might have been the best or one of the best meals that I have eaten granted it was at like 12:30 in the morning. I paid 15 yuan, which is like $1.50, and they put a sauce on it that made it even better. I wish that in the states we would have the opportunity to get food as good as this as late as it was. We were the last customers and I am sure that they were greatful that we had stopped by. Jun was with Dan and I as we were talking to them. We had a great conversation even though Jun was translating for us. It kind of made me feel like I was a Chinese man just walking down the street just looking for some food.

Again we eventually went to AliBaba's after our snack I guess you could say, and met many people from different countries. Tonight, DJ introduced me to a gentleman named Sean for Uzbekistan. We had a good conversation on why he was here and how long he will be staying here. We talked for a while and before he left, he came up and said" Nice to meet you, have a good night and maybe we will see each other and talk tomorrow. I am glad for these nights since I stay at AliBaba's and other head off to the club to meet people that I can actually see on a regular basis if we keep going to AliBaba's. I am sure that I would have a great time at a club, but I guess I am more looking forward to meeting people from other countries and interacting with them and seeing what their story is on why they are in China. Again, I will say thank you to the owner of AliBaba's for allowing us kids to enjoy ourselves at a place where we can meet other people!!

Day XII

Today is our last lecture class, and it is also the one of the most interesting classes I had so far. Our lecture topic for today is " E-business in China". When we talk about E-business, the first thing pop out from my head is doing business through the network. Compare to other western countries like US and Europe to China, China is just a developing country for internet. In China, there are only about 22.6% of the population have internet set up in their house. In the western countries, there are more 70%. But remember, China has the most population in the world. So the 22.6% is a lot. And that's why the internet market is so hot in China, because as the year goes by, there will be more and more people in China can have internet in their homes. Taobao is an example of successful E-business in China. The main reason Taobao can beat Ebay is, they know what the Chinese's cultures are and what they need. People shop in the Taobao don't need to worry about they don't know how to bargaining to get the best price. Because in the internet everything is clear. Shopping in the internet is totally different from street, the sales wouldn't grab you on the street and start advertising their products. Then you start bargaining with them to get the price you want. There's no doubt with that, people are price takers. We choose the lowest price of the product. In the internet, sales persons cannot stop you by looking other people's product. The only thing they can do is to post the price as low as they can to compete with others.
Today is our last day of the class, but also is the day of Jeff's birthday! After the presentation, we went to the Korean BBQ to celebrate Jeff's birthday. The food in there is very good. When we were in the restaurant, the Chinese students and Cord went to ask the singer who works in the Korean BBQ restaurant to sing a birthday song to him. That's so sweet. Happy birthday Jeff! Tonight, I can finally have long sleep, and as long as I can. But I am sure I will wake up before 2:30, because we can go play badminton again! Oh yeah!

Kevin O'Connell

It is hard to believe but we only have one more day in Tianjin. I have really enjoyed my time here. It has been nice having so much more free time to go out on my own. In Beijing, our day was planned from the time we woke up until after dinner. Here, we have had a lot of time to go out our own during the day and experience a little bit of the city. I have enjoyed going to local shops to eat lunch and dinner. We frequented a couple places. Two of them serve “Chinese hamburgers”, as we like to call them. They have bread filled with pork, beef, or chicken. We also went to a local market located next to our hotel. The market is probably 3 or 4 blocks long with hundreds of choices. I would get a stir fry type dish and rice. It is going to be weird going back to the US and paying more than a few dollars to eat a meal. I’ve eaten lunch every day here for no more than $1 USD. If one goes to a fast food place in the states and orders off the dollar menu, it takes about three times that amount of money to get filled up. Even when one buys food at the grocery store it still costs two or three times what it costs here to eat. I’ve really enjoyed Tianjin but cannot wait till we arrive in Shanghai!

Last day of class: Dan Korman

Today was the last day of class. The trip is almost coming to an end. I have really enjoyed myself in Tianjin the past two weeks. I have made new friends and built some guanxi here in China. It is going to be sad to leave here, but Shanghai should be a good end to the trip. One thing I have noticed about China is that is does not possess nearly the amount of diversity as far as race that the US does. In the US it is quite often to see many different races congregate in the same city. In China almost all of the people are Hun. There is of course some diversity, but not too much in terms of race and skin color. I have noticed that there is a difference in the language and dialects that people use. When I talked with Tracy he said it took him awhile to understand the language used here in Tianjin because he was use to speaking a different dialect in the southern part of China. So diversity does exist, but in different ways than we tend to think of diversity in the US.

Only two nights left in Tianjin. I will truly miss my experience here. Meeting the great people from Nankai University has been one of the best highlights of the trip.

Tianjin - Day 12 (6/05/09)

Today was one of our last few days here and I'm really going to miss some of the people once we leave on Sunday. Hopefully we'll be able to stay in contact through facebook or other such means. Anyway today we went out to Golden Hans restaurant for Jeff's birthday. It was quite inexpensive for all of the food and drinks we ordered, only 50 RMB for each person. It was basically all you can eat buffet style (lots of different buffet items such as cakes, fruit, and different types of foods but no meats) with them bringing around various meats and putting them on your plate. One thing that was pretty amazing was that the 50 RMB also included six 3.5 liter (I think) "pitchers" of beer. The dark beer there was really good, and its been a while since I've had a dark beer but it was great for switching things up. Miao Miao and Joyce both tried the dark beer but switched to drinking the medium beer that we ordered instead. Cord also made an announcement about Jeff's birthday but we couldn't hear it due to the lack of speakers near to where we were sitting. After we went down near the band's stage and they sang happy birthday to Jeff in Chinese and in English. Cord tried to replicate his speech at the table afterwords so we would know what we missed due to the lack of speakers. Anyway Golden Hans has to be one of my favorite restaurants so far both in terms of value and quality of the food.

Day 12 - Best Day Ever

Today was our 12th day in Tianjin and last night was probably the most fun I have had on the entire trip. We all went and sang karaoke yesterday afternoon which was crazy; it was like no Karaoke bar I have ever seen. After that a few of the American students went to dinner with two of the Chinese students to a noodles and soup restaurant. Once we finished eating the two Chinese students asked if we wanted to ride bikes around Tianjin and see the university’s campus and the TV tower located nearby. I wanted to ride a bike through the China traffic since arriving in China so I was very excited to go. We only had three bikes so the two girl Chinese students rode on the back of my bike and another American student. The bikes were not the easiest to control and I scared my passenger a few times as I tried to navigate the traffic. Being a passenger on a bus in heavy traffic in Tianjin is one thing, riding a bike at night through it is completely different. All of the traffic safety laws, right of ways, and driving laws I learned in drivers’ education went out the window as soon as I started peddling. Cars will run red lights with pedestrians and bikes obviously in the way. I made it safely to the TV tower after about a ten to fifteen minute bike ride with Miao^2 on the back, hopefully I did not scare her too badly. Once we got to the TV tower we parked our bikes, it costs money to park your bikes at certain places and I didn’t know that. Inside the square or plaza in front of the tower there was a lot of people walking around, visiting, and hanging out. We then saw that we could rent rollerblades for 5 RMB for as long as you wanted. I don’t know my shoe size in China so I just grabbed a pair and made it work. My rollerblading skills are not that good but I was able to get around and was better than a few other people skating around. Gracie decided not to skate and helped Miao^2 because she had never rollerbladed before. She did a good job and only fell a few times. They were surprised that we Americans have been rollerblading or learned how to back when we were in elementary school. Also, instead of wearing socks with our rollerblades they gave us plastic bags to slip over our feet. After a while of we got tired and decided to head back to campus. On our way Gracie and Miao Miao took us on a little tour of campus showing us some of the important buildings around campus. The streets are not very well lit and I was worried I would hit a pot hole and fall. Once we parked the bikes back at campus we asked the Chinese students if we could go up into one of the boys’ dorm buildings and look around. They were not as nice as the ones in American, but honestly they were not as bad as I had anticipated. Throughout the trip the main things I wanted to do was walk around campus with the students and experience activities that real students do, not just the touristy stuff. Yesterday I was finally able to explore and really experience things first had and saw things that I never thought I would. I probably learned more yesterday about Chinese students and their lifestyles than I have throughout the entire trip. Before attending this trip I was interested in the business aspect of China of course, however, at UMD I also studied anthropology so the cultural aspect of China is equally interesting to me. Also today is my birthday so tonight some of the Chinese students will join our group for dinner and then a night on the town.

June 4, 2009

Ali Baba the restaurant

Last night we visited a popular restaurant for foreigners in Tianjin. In first glance you would think that this place was a bar. With people eating food, drinking beer, socializing, and smoking. It turns out that is technically not a bar in the fact that its in a residential area so it cannot have the name of a bar. For this reason it has to be quite later in the night when residents were sleeping. One of our first nights being there we were not aware of this place being a restaurant and the cops were called to the establishment. This restaurant offers a nice place for people from all countries and majority of the people speak English. It also helps you find other clubs or bars to go to that are suggested by other students or teacher that have been in the city for a longer period of time. Last night was a nice experience to be able to socialize and learn about many different cultures. Also, it gives you an opportunity to smoke out of a hookah which is an experience in itself. This restaurant has provided us with a fun and positive experience in many ways.

Karaoke day: Dan Korman

Yesterday we went to a Chinese karaoke bar. It was quite different from the method of karaoke I am use to in the states. Instead of performing for the whole club or bar, you and a group of people rent a large room and perform in front of your group. I also noticed that when the Chinese students performed their songs they sung in a much softer voice than the loud and boisterous Americans. Most of us were quite horrible in my opinion, butchering the lyrics and singing way too loud. I felt the Chinese students were much better at the songs they sang. It was a great experience though and a lot of fun. I have also noticed that American music is quite popular in China. I knew it was popular to an extent, but I did not realize the magnitude of it until I have stayed here for a few weeks. In almost every club and bar we have been at they have played nothing but American music, especially hip hop. I guess it’s just really good for dancing.

Gotta love China

June 4th, Thursday, we headed to a Karaoke bar. It was a completely different set up than any of us could have imagined. It was more a less a VIP room in the back that only really rich people would spend there evening. It had plush couches, bar stools with high tables, two microphones, 4 LCD TVs, and many other amenities. I was very impressed that we as a group were able to be in that room. We had a staff that waited on us, granted is was really really slow. But, there was like a total of five or maybe more working waiting on us. Steve and I were talking and wondering how much it would cost to rent out a room like that for an evening. I do not even want to put a price tag but it would have to be around $500 US dollars a evening or maybe more. It would be sweet to be able to go back and rent it out for a night or even an afternoon again. I even made my way up to sing, even though most of the group was up there. We sang "Let it Be", "Sweet Caroline", and may others. I would have to say that this afternoon ranked as the top two things that we have done behind the club night in Beijing. Thanks Dahui for planning such a great trip. I can't even imagine what he has planned for us in Shanghai.

6/4 Service

In America most people are very time oriented. We do not like to want and we always want to go go go. So it is quite difficult to not get frustrated sometimes here in China because they are the opposite of that. Kind of like the way they speak; where they think about it before saying things, they do the same when it comes to actions. When we were at the karaoke bar we all ordered one beer when we got there. It literally took fifteen minutes for us to get them beers. It may be different in the states because we tip the servers so the better service you get the more money you make, and here you do not get tipped for your services. Being a server I know that whenever some ones glass is half empty you ask them if they would like a refill. Here when we wanted another drink we had to roam around the halls trying to find someone who could help us. That would never fly back home in any restaurant; people would threaten to leave or request something free. I cannot recall any time since I’ve been here that someone was yelling at their server or manager for poor service or food, and almost every day back home you will typically see it at least once somewhere. It may also have to do with the “free” factor. In the states there are people left and right trying to see what they can get next for free. It doesn’t seem like many things are given away for free here in China. For example the first time we went to Pizza Hut the server forgot to order Andy and Steve’s Pizza. He apologized and had it made right away, but never offered any discount. Back home immediately after something like that would happen some discount would be offered or it would be free.

Karaoke

Yesterday we went out to a karaoke bar as a group. When I first heard that we had to go sign in front of a bar I was very hesitant to go do then that and really didn't what to go. But when we got there it was a whole another story. I was expecting us to be going to a bar that we had to go up up on stage and sign in front of the bar but that was not the case. when we got there when were not expecting it to be like that at all. It was more of a room that looked like VIP room. We got to get our own room that our whole group go to go and sit in. We didn't have to sing in front of the whole bar like I had thought. It was great because there were a few people that sang a lot but I think everyone finally got the courage to go up and sing. It was a lot of fun and I was not expecting it to be like it was. I enjoyed my experience and i am glad that i participated because you are only in China once.

Kevin O'Connell

Yesterday afternoon we went to a karaoke bar. I had a lot of fun. We had a huge room all to ourselves. Everybody from our group came and some Chinese students came too. At first, some people held back and didn’t sing; after a few beers, however, everybody got involved. There were differences between the Chinese and American student’s karaoke styles. The Chinese students were more reserved and sang quietly compared to us. They tried really hard to get the correct pitch and to say the correct words. The American students were more concentrated on entertaining the rest of the group. We were loud singers and weren’t as good at getting all of the words right. However, we danced around and tried to put on a good show. Talking to the Chinese students, it seems like karaoke is a popular activity here. The place went to was huge. There were probably like 30 different rooms for karaoke. When I think of karaoke in the states, I think of one stage, one microphone, and a bunch of people sitting around watching. The place we went to was really nice with flat screen TVs and nice leather couches.

M & A's

I am going to blog about mergers and acquisitions. I didn't know much about this topic because I am only a sophomore and haven't had much lecture time on it, so I came into the lecture with no previous knowledge but I learned some interesting things. Professor Ren Bing talked about how developed countries are using M&A's for expanding their business and making them bigger. The developing companies and countries are using them to acquire new technologies and this seems to be more successful then the developed ways of using M&A's. That was a very interesting point that made a lot of sense. Also, these developing companies don't have the previous knowledge so they are constantly learning which makes sense. She also talked about upstream and downstream. Downstream means they acquire companies that have the same resource but make different products out of the resource. I am not sure about upstream but I am going to imagine that it is acquiring companies that do the same thing as you basically. A last point that she made was about SOE's. Here in China the companies top guys are given the regular CEO, CFO, etc. names but they also get titles of the government officials. That is pretty cool I think because it really makes you feel you are part of the government. These were some of the things I learned and thought it was really cool.

Thursday June 4

Our lecture on mergers and acquisitions was extremely informative. Expanding companies globally has been going on for a long time now, but it is not always successful. When looking to expand think of what it is you are trying to gain from this merger. When deciding which company to merge with look at their Industry structure, Resources, and Government structure. The main point that I got from this lecture is that our cultures are different and it is better to know this and accept it. Then instead of trying to make them our way look and see what is most practical for the company. I wanted to know what is China's number one natural resource?

so far-----tianjin

I like Tianjin. It is a very sweet space. I do not know what does Tianjin look before, but I am sure that Tianjin becomes one of the major cities in china. From all those high building and neat building, we would consider that Tianjin is a modern city. Tianjin is not good enough when compare to capital city of Beijing. But, I feeling I love Tianjin more. There not so cloud as Beijing, not as many cars as Beijing, and not as big as Beijing.

Tianjin now is a perfect life style. Not so cloud that makes people friendlier. As you know people is not so friendly in a bigger city compare to Duluth. The food spending is cheaper than Beijing city. You can even spending one yuan for a lunch and make you full. Although, everyone may not feel comfortable with one yuan food; but it is a good experience to taste. Many student and labor are go to the market that next to our hotel to get this kind of lunch. So, that would be good way to see how everyone eats for lunch compare that in united state. You can realize that one yuan can get more than you in Beijing. That also give us a message of city is different by city. Not as like as in united state those goods in the market (wall-mart, super one) is in a stable price.

Tianjin’s shopping area is very close from one area to other area. You can bike to everywhere, if you live in hanting hotel as we. I would suggest that next group should have a time to bike in Tianjin. It should have a lot of fun. I have a very good experience with this group. Everyone is very nice and friendly with me. It gives me so much fun in this trip.

Tianjin - Day 11 (6/04/09)

Today has to be my favorite day of all so far. First of all karaoke was much more fun than I had expected it to be. The room itself was amazing and everyone had a blast singing, I'm very glad the Chinese students came along with us, that made it even more fun. After that Me, Cord and Jeff went out to a local restaurant with Gracie and Miao Miao, which at first I thought was a hot pot restaurant and was kind of dreading it, but it turned out to be really good. It was more of a big bowl which they serve to you with the ingredients already inside of it and allow you to add spice and other things to your dish and also the "soup" itself. After that we went to Nankai University and picked up a couple more bikes for me and Jeff, Miao Miao rode on the back of her bike with Cord. After a while the chain slipped off of the spoke on my bike and we ended up fixing that but then the tire seemed to be misaligned and was rubbing up against the metal on the side so the bike was not working. I felt bad about it, but Miao Miao and Gracie said it happens all the time and not to worry about it. So I took Jeff's bike, Gracie rode on Miao Miao's bike with Jeff and Cord rode on Gracie's bike with Miao Miao. We went over to the TV tower, which was very cool and did some roller blading. It was Miao Miao's first time and she did pretty well. I talked with some of the Chinese girls there and had a good time. After that we headed back dodging cars on our bikes and we got to see one of the student dorms and take some pictures; it was bigger than I expected but that may have been because they were new dorms which were somewhat larger than the older ones. After visiting the dorms we headed back to the hotel and hung out for a bit before going back to our rooms. If Gracie or Miao Miao are reading this, I just want to thank you for the wonderful time I had, it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Day XI

Today, after the interesting lecture we had, Dylan, Jeff, Jun, and me went to the Korean BBQ for lunch. The food is fantastic! But my stomach was totally not satisfy with that much amount of meat. And also I think is kind of expensive, we spent 37 yuan on average. When we paid the bill, we found out we could either get a 12% discount or 60 Yuan lunch coupon. After thinking at the margin, we chose the 60 Yuan lunch coupons.
At the afternoon, we went to Karaoke. The room is so big, it likes as big as three of our room in the hotel. Everybody
was in a extremely high motion, we were singing out loud and dancing. Even thought I just sat there all day, but I was still very enjoy. What a good thing to do, to have some musics, sing a few songs, have some drinks, and talk with your friends. Tomorrow is our presentation day, I need to start working on my power point now. :)

Karaoke is serious business.

Today was karaoke day. After lunch the bus picked us up and took us to a karaoke bar. As we were walking to our private room for karaoke we were all amazed with the building and our VIP room. It seemed like the kind of place the president would go to get a little singing in in-between meetings. The singing started off slowly but as more and more people sang and filled themselves with liquid courage (leaving myriads of bottles on the table), the more prevalent the belting out of lyrics became. I'm sure many of the American songs were quite idiosyncratic to the the Chinese students, just as the Chinese songs were to the American students. Altogether though it seemed as if everyone was having a good time and enjoying each others company. And what would a day of having drinks with friends and music be without the famously-gregarious "Sweet Caroline." Leave it to college students to turn a Neil Diamond staple into a bitter cacophony.

Chinese military

While visiting the former Ukrainian aircraft carrier Kiev yesterday, it got me thinking about China’s armed forces. I was curious on the size, nuclear capabilities, service units, etc. So, a quick search on the Internet yielded some interesting findings. For instance, the size of the People’s Liberation Army, which is an aggregate total of the ground force, air force, and naval service is estimated at about three million. The Chinese government has come to the realization that quality is better than quantity. Therefore, the force has shrunk considerably (estimates at one million plus) in the last two decades. For comparison purposes, the size of the United States Armed forces is about one and a half million with an additional 850,000 as reservists. China’s military is one of the largest in the world and spends roughly $70.2 billion per year on armed forces expenditures. Again, for comparison purposes, I will use the United States, which spends roughly ten times that to defend our country. I think we are all very, very proud of our US Armed Forces being the most powerful in the world. Rather than increase military spending, the Chinese government maintains dedicated amounts and instead focuses on increasing training of soldiers and relying on the technology and weaponry of foreign countries, including Russia (former USSR), Israel, and Germany. Much of this technology is outdated and if the government were to invest more money into the defense system, the military would be much stronger. However, much of the Western world may not want a stronger Chinese army. But, that is not up to us to decide...

day 17

Today, our first lecture was very interesting. For a lady that has a lecture already prepared, she was pretty good at lecturing us on a different topic with such short notice. I thought her topic was very interesting about the companies.

Karoke was very interesting. From my experience people are playing games and drinking. For tonight it was pretty interesting to watch everyone drink and sing the whole time. Between variety of different songs to running around laughing everyone was having a great time.

Dumplings are haunting me

I actually woke up dreaming about dumplings this morning, so I think I am going to blog about them. I know it has been a few days since we made dumplings, but thinking back I really thought it was a great experience. I had never made a dumpling before and I had only probably eaten five in my life before coming on this trip. It was really interesting to see how all the Chinese students had different methods to creating their own personal family dumpling. Everyone rolled the dough in a little different way and everyone made the dumplings into different shapes. I was talking to Tracy at the hot pot dinner the night before we made dumplings and he said every year his family has a festival (reunion) and they all bring their favorite dumpling to pass around. Before this trip, I really had no idea that dumplings had such a big impact on the Chinese culture. Of course, the best part about making dumplings is eating them, but for some reason right now I get a little sick just by thinking about them. I am certainly all dumplingged out for now! The past few days have been amazing and I am looking forward to the next adventure.

June 3, 2009

Day 11 - "That ain't no Etch A Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be undid, Homeskillet"

Today is our eleventh day in Tianjin, only nine more days until our departure. Later today we are going to a Karaoke bar to completely embarrass ourselves; it has already been established that no one in our group can sing. Last night we hung out with the Chinese students again on the roof of our hotel, listened to music, and play a common dice came played in Chinese bars. So far on the trip speaking with the Chinese students has been my favorite part. I learned that one of the students, Miao Miao, or Miao^2 as I like to call her really likes the movie Juno. We then went on to explain that that movie was based in Minnesota and that the author of the book is from Minnesota as well. I found it interesting that they liked such a sarcastic, American-humor movie because a lot of our humor does not translate into Chinese. A lot of my jokes are not understood by the Chinese students, which is ok I guess. They students mentioned that they really liked the music in Juno. I then asked them about something I have been observing on Chinese music channels. A lot of Chinese songs are of course in Chinese, however random parts of the song are sung in English. I asked why certain sentences in their songs in English, apparently it is trendy or cool to do so. I was surprised on how much the Chinese students knew about American music and movies; they even knew Green Day when the song was played on one of our computers. Towards the end of the conversation they asked if I knew any Chinese movies or actors, I was embarrassed to say I only knew Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Jackie Chan. They weren’t surprised when I said I knew Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon because that movie was big internationally. They also mentioned that Jackie Chan is one a big celebrity in China as well, one of the biggest. I have seen so many commercials and advertisements with Jackie in them, the most common are for hair care products.

wed. 6/3 - Twins

So to start off I understand why China has a one child policy; with a population as large as China’s it is understandable that they want to keep it under control. But at the same time for me personally I would hate living in a country that would limit me to only having one child, and also being the only child growing up. I have two brothers and a sister so imaging a life without them is impossible. I used my siblings to learn from their mistakes, and I also looked up to them for advice and help though high school and my start of college. The reason I choose this topic to blog about is because I saw a set of twin girls when we were outside of the hotel. It made me wonder how that works; do they have to choose to abort one, do they have to pay money for one, or do they just get to have both? It also raises the question for when the go to school, seeing all families are reserved one student ID for their child does one child get left out and not able to go to school, or do the schools make exceptions when it comes to twins. I am very interested in finding out how all these things work because we have heard so much about the one child policy, but nothing really when a women ends up having twins.

Wednesday June 3

Last night we went to Hank’s Sports Bar. After finishing up with the meal we were fortunate to meet some Americans that actually work abroad. Dwayne is originally from Jamaica and moved to the United States when he was sixteen years old. He attended the University of Florida and studied mechanical engineering. He now works for main company that includes Blackberry. He now comes to China 4 times a year for trips that last 3 weeks. I am really happy that I got to meet someone who travels like he does and to hear what he looks for when hiring someone. Knowing how to speak Mandarin has become one of the most differential qualities. He was really impressed by us for coming here and studying. He thinks that this will show employers that we know how to take advantage of a great opportunity. It seems that the general situation for people who travel over here they get a driver, don’t know the language, and are amazed by the culture. They also said that this is the time to come to China because of its economic growth and future potential.

i am showing pictures

Tianjin is very good space. It is become more and more modern. It is going to catch up to Guangzhou city. I think the 2008 Olympus game is one of the reason that Tianjin develop faster.

Ok, I should return to my topic. I do not have very much picture, but I got the quality.

Today's No. 1 picture I hold:
jack.jpg

This picture is cool, as you know, jack does not very like to take picture. And this one shows how cool he is. With the old style method makes jack even like model. This photo I just put up some words on it; I have not using any photoshop on it. If anyone want it , I would happy to give everyone the original one without any words.

Today's No.2: Tianjin Rocks
tianjin.jpg

The photograph's background is my bag pack. I use Marco mode to an area of my bag. Using Photoshop to write some words on it. It makes the picture nice and cool. By use black color words, everyone would focus on my words and this is what I want everybody to see.

Today's No. 3: Road Way
DSC02419.JPG

This photo is take place from Tianjin Port. it is a huge ship port and has a nice view. Also this one I use the old style color background lens. It gives a different feeling of it. The little on the left of the road in the front gives little life on this picture.

I hope everyone enjoin my photo. hope to get more stylist photo in shanghai.

Day X

Today we first went to visit the Coca Cola company. Through the tour, we knew the basic basic production for everyday, but too bad we didn't get the chance to try a bottle of fresh coke. Then we went to the ACS company. After the short meeting we had, it seems knowing English is not enough. Since more Chinese companies are expanding their products and services to Japan, so if you want to have some advantages compare to other people, you need to know both English and Japanese. After we had lunch at the Hundred Dumplings Garden, we went to see the Soviet aircraft. It was my first time to see a aircraft, it was a very good experience to have a deep looking inside to see what does it look like. But what is interesting is, there are only three Soviet aircrafts are open for tourism, how come there are not much people. Maybe they do not show enough "Face"?

The Kiev

After touring a Coca Cola bottling plant, a business called ACS, and seeing the Tianjin port we went to see a Soviet aircraft carrier in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin. The carrier, named Kiev, was bought by China in 1996 and was turned into a theme park in 2004. The ship was built in 1970, launched in 1972 and finally entered into service in 1977. After 16 years of use, the ship was finally retired in 1993.

It was a great experience to be able to go through the ship and learn a bit about it's history and ships in general. There was definitely a different feeling when you entered the ship and with the mannequins and lit-up command center you could sort of get the feeling of being apart of the crew on board. Many sections of the ship were blocked off, it would have been cool to go into the bridge of the ship. It would also be interesting to tour a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier and also a U.S. Aircraft carrier from the same era and compare the ships.

Images here.

Kevin O'Connell

Today we went to a few different places. First, we went to a Coca-Cola Co. bottling plant. Next, we went to Affiliated Computer Services Ltd. (ACS). We spoke to with the Vice President of the China site for ACS. I never knew how many things companies that get outsourced work do. ACS is one of the biggest companies in this line of business in the world. They have offices in many countries around the world and are based out of the US. It seemed like very interesting work. They take care of HR issues like benefits and pensions; they take care of small accounting tasks like Accounts Payable and Receivable; they also provide IT services for all of their clients. I always knew of the type of work these types of companies do, but I had no idea of the scope of their operations.

In the afternoon we went to an aircraft carrier that was formally used in the old Soviet Union and is now a tourist attraction in Tianjin. I had never been on a boat that size before so this was a great experience for me. The boat was refurbished nearly back to original form. It was a lot of fun to walk around that giant ship.

After the war ship, several of us went to Hank’s Sports Bar and Grill to get some great American food. We sat outside on a perfect evening. I ordered a cold beer in a frosty mug and one of the best tasting burgers I’ve had in my life. For a brief moment I thought I was back in the states grilling on a perfect Minnesota evening. I had a smile on my face the entire meal. It hit the spot like no other meal I’ve had on this trip. It brought us all home for an hour or so and made us happier than kids on Christmas morning.

Cord Houle: Tianjin day 10

Today was spent all out of the classroom. We started out by going to the coca-cola bottling facility in Tianjin. This facility was one of around forty in the country of china and serves the Tianjin city area. At first this doesn’t sound like a big area for a bottling plant that can pump out 300 million bottles a year; however, when you consider that the city of Tianjin has a population greater than the entire state of Minnesota it sounds realistic. From our tour it seemed like a very American style production plant and I am sure it closely resembles those found back at home. The trip was interesting as I had never seen the inside workings of a bottling company.

After the bottling plant we visited ACS, or Affiliated Computer Services. This was a branch of a company based out of the United States and ranked among the fortune 500. ACS is an IT and business solutions company. They are involved in taking over functions for companies such as HR or accounting and finance. Many of their client are large us companies; however, they have client around the world in 100 different countries. From our time there it sounds like the company plans to grow over the next few years through M&A activity. Visiting this company was great as it gave us an insight as to how the foreign branches of us companies operate. They had a much more American style business culture; however Chinese aspects were clearly present.

Finally we ended the day by visiting a Soviet Aircraft carrier from the Cold War era. It was decommissioned upon the collapse of the Soviet Union as it was too expensive to keep in duty. This ship is based around a different thinking than American aircraft carriers. While American carriers roam with a pack of ships to defend it, soviet carriers were designed to be able to sail solo. This means that the soviet aircraft carriers are more like a carrier destroyer hybrid. It has long range medium range as well as short range weapons capabilities. It was designed to be a self sufficient military weapon. The tour was rather interesting as I have never looked closely at Soviet weaponry from the Cold War. It represented a different mindset from the American military and gave me a feel about how the Soviets approached war.

day 16

Today it was a full day of activities. The one that really made a big impact on me was the ACS company. The reason being is during the presentation and listening to the general manager, it made me realize that I really need to learn more Chinese. I mean I knew that I needed to learn Mandarin. All my life I always hear that I need to learn it so I can get a good job in the work force. In the back of my head I always think that there is time to learn don't worry. Just wait till next semester to pick up the pate. Boy was I wrong, listening to the lady talk it really made me realize that I need to get a move on the language. So many jobs and potential different options now revovle on knowing Mandarin, its kinda of scary. Realizing this thought I feel like I need to get a move on it.

Another thing that was pretty cool today was the Aircraft carrier. Geez I did not realize how big it was. I am also really glad that the guy gave us a brief introduction on the aircraft. It definatly gave it more meaning on the place today. My favorite part was where there was a mini tunnel where when you walk through it was spinning. Kind of felt like I was drunk without the wanting to throw up.

day 15

Today we made dumplings. Prior to this, I have had four other experiences making dumplings. Out of the five times I believe this time was the funest. This time around I learned four other ways to make dumplings. Sadly to say I could only manage the orginal making of a dumpling. So far I still have not tried the rolling dough part. I feel that I would never be able to roll so therefore I stuck to the making the dumpling part. Once we were all done, the hotel staff cooked it for us. Me and Alex sort of had a contest, I had 30 and he had 28. Sadly to say I do not think I could ever beat Dan at his fifty dumplings. Amazing how that guy could eat fifty and not get sick off them.

After we were done with the dumplings, there was a guy from the aircraft carrier place. I thought that it was pretty cool that he was willing to give us a brief intro about the big ships. I thought it was also interesting that I could pick up some of his mandarin. Although not much but at least a little bit.

Day 10 - For a day I felt like Brad Pitt

Today was our tenth day in Tianjin; the time is just flying by. Today we had a very full day or touring different companies and other landmarks of Tianjin. The last thing on our agenda of the day was visiting a real air craft carrier ship located at the far end of Tianjin. The ship had been converted into a museum almost with pictures, information facts, and authentic artifacts include torpedoes, missiles, etc. Towards the end of our hour and a half visit I was on the deck of the massive ship. I was with a few other of the students when all of a sudden a small crowd of Chinese people started to crowd around me. A man and woman approached me and began talking to me; in Chinese of course, I just smiled. I soon figured out that they wanted their friend to take a picture of me with them. So I took a few pictures with random Chinese people on top of an Old Russian Air Carrier. I noticed that another person in my group had also attracted a small crowd and was taking pictures with them as well. They treat us like we are part of the museum they are touring. They smile at us, take pictures without asking with cameras and their cell phones. Today however was the first time someone actually came up to me in public and asked to have my picture taken with them. I do not have a problem with it; I just find it really strange. When I am in America and I see foreigners I would never think of going up to them, speak a language they don’t understand, and take pictures with them. However, Tianjin is a smaller city than Beijing and it is possible that some of the people here have never seen a white person. Also, a lot of the places we tour are national attractions and many of the Chinese people visiting are not native to the area and possible come from even rural areas where white people are not very common. I just find it amusing how they giggle, point, and overall seem really interested in us whenever we are in public.

Ahhhhhhhhh Coca-cola

Today was a fun packed day where we witnessed and heard a lot of interesting things. The event that we did today that I want to blog about is our tour of the Coca-cola company. After taking the tour it was a lot different than I expected it to be. For the tour we basically walked around a single room and was able to look down at all the various machines they use for their operations. I thought we were actually going to go down and get a closer few of the operations, but I understand why they didn’t. They work 24 hours a day working at various speeds based on demand. Depending on the size, amount, and type of bottle whether plastic or glass. The most interesting thing was how they found defective bottles throughout the assembly process. It looked as though they used a light which probably measured requirements for the bottle and then would separate them from the pack. It was a very fast process, but I thought the conveyer belt for the caps and how they were screwed on was most intriguing. I also notice from one of the first rooms we looked at was a water treatment workshop. This is interesting to me since my dad’s company works with water treatment processes and I build water treatment tanks during the summer. So my question would be if the products offered by Engineering America Inc. could be used in any way in Coca-cola’s operations. It was overall a learning experience and I was surprised by how much that they can make a day.

Good 'Ol Hank

A group of us went to Hank’s Sports Bar for probably one of the best meals we have ever had. You see, Hank’s serves good old-fashioned American grub. While I have not a complaint about the wonderful Chinese food we have had the tremendous opportunity to devour over the last two plus weeks, we were all craving a big, fat, juicy cheeseburger. We are nearing the end of week three and I can see some restlessness and homesickness arising from the group. Whether it’s missing friends, family, pets, or food; we can all relate. Hank’s provided us with some of that we miss so much from home. So, I’m not sure if the food was really that good or if we just miss home that much. I have come to the realization that it is both. I have truly enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will cherish the memories for the rest of my life. I do, however, miss my wife, family, friends and all of our pets back home. Although, Nichole (my wife) tells me that there is a frost advisory in Duluth tonight. What the hell is that? Isn’t it June? I do not miss the weather! It has been extremely beautiful here, although we could do without extreme heat and smog some days. With more free time now, we are able to have a chance to sit down and reflect on all that we have seen and done over the last few weeks. I hope all of the people on this trip realize what an opportunity this is and take it for all it is worth. I hope all of you back home understand how excited we all were to come on this learning adventure. Now, we are nearly ready to come home. It will be over before you know it. And, for all of you reading these blogs back home, we will be home safe before you know it!

ACS & Hanks

This morning we tour a couple different companies but I will discuss ACS (Affiliated Computer Services- http://www.acs-inc.com/). ACS is a company that provides outsourcing services (HR, accounting & finance, IT, BPO, and a couple others) to many companies worldwide such as GM, Motorola, Cigna, and many others. ACS is headquartered in Dallas, TX but has a very strong presence in China especially in its Tianjin office in TEDA (http://en.investteda.org/). We met with President Chen, who gave us a brief overview of ACS as well as a Q&A session. Among the many topics she discussed, I was amazed with the low turnover rate of around 8%. She made some good points on why it was so low. Tianjin and TEDA are an area of China that is growing very fast. And the fact that many companies are trying to cut costs, outsourcing with an elite company such as ACS would be beneficial to any company in the long run. President Chen said that the company wouldn't notice much until two or three years after the relationship. She also said that ACS has a 98 percent satisfaction rate, which again impresses me about ACS.
Now, onto Hanks. It is a western style restaurant that serves burgers, pizza, tacos, nachos, steaks, and many other dishes. The weekly special was a Aussie Roadhouse Bernie Burger, which I got (the only one at the table to get) and it was great. It has double bacon, double cheese, an egg, mayo, lettuce, fried onions, on a delicious bun. I couldn't have asked for anything better after not eating a real burger in over two weeks. Thanks Hanks, and we will be back!

Aircraft Carrier

I am going to blog about the aircraft carrier that we visited today. This was by far the highlight for me today. I like learning about military and seeing what types of weapons they use in combat. I have been really interested in the Navy so seeing this carrier was amazing to me. I had never seen one and was very excited to see what I could learn. I noticed the size of this carrier and it was enormous. Next, you walk inside and the ceilings are very low. I am not sure of the reason for this but if I stood straight up I almost hit my head. It was interesting to see all of the things inside. The sleeping areas were very small because they had to store a large number of crew members so they made the beds small to take up as little as space as possible. The bullet storing area was really cool because I couldn't believe the number of bullets they could store in a little room. Also, going to the torpedo and missile storage area was very cool. I could not believe the size of these weapons and can only imagine the kind of damage they could cause. The control center was really cool to me. I would love to know more about the technology that was used during this time and how to operate all of the controls they had. We were playing military like a bunch of 5 year old kids because it was so fun to play with the controls even though the controls didn't do anything it was really fun to go back to childhood memories. I really enjoyed being on deck level because I sat there and imagined what it must have been like for the sailors that were on this ship out at sea. I looked around imagining planes and other ships attacking them while helicopters and planes tried to land on the carrier. It was very exciting for me because I imagined what both my grandparent's had done in the military. One grandpa was in the Air Force and flew war planes during WWII. My other grandpa was part of the Navy and this was extremely special to me because I never did learn much about his experiences do to unfortunate reasons. So I tried to imagine what it was like for him and it really made my day after being on the carrier. I enjoyed it greatly..

Gentrification of the waterfront

As we were at the Port of Tianjin today, the guy that spoke to us near the container cranes said that the whole East part of the port was created from dredge spoils. After thinking about it for a while I realized that Tianjin created a port for itself, whereas, in Duluth we have to live with the port we have already created. Duluth has gentrified so much of its waterfront that there is no way to vastly expand the industrial space for new or expanding business. Duluth is not the only city to have done this, the West Coast could be in trouble in the next few years when expansion may be needed. In fact, Prince Rupert, BC, was the first new major Container Terminal opened on the West Coast of North America in recent years (2007) due to the congestion at the other ports of entry.
Another issue with using dredge spoils in Duluth is that the dredging material is polluted so we cannot use it to actually produce anything helpful. In the US, once the government pulls the material from the bottom of the channel if it is polluted it cannot be put anywhere else, unless it is for treatment or disposal. I wonder if China has the same regulations? The guy speaking to us also told us of sand that is coming from Southern China to be put on the beach of the Tianjin Port to create Tianjin’s only beachfront. I have to wonder if this sand will be tested for pollutants prior to people playing in it and laying on it. The port was very interesting today, and I thank Dr. Li for allowing us to visit it! (I requested we visit, hope everyone thought it was worthwhile.)

Hank's Sports Bar and Grill

Today I am going to blog about my amazing dinner that I had at Hanks. Hanks is a sports bar that serves Chicago style burgers and steaks. We only found out about this place by chance when Andy, Dj, and I decided to go out and look for a nice cold beer when we first got to Tianjin. We saw the the sign that said sports bar and we were like that is where we are going to get a drink. So we went in and met the owner Hank and he was really nice. He started talking to us about how he had been there for 8 years and that he was only suppose to be there for 6 months but he loved it so much he didn't want to leave. He got the idea for the restaurant because when he first got here there was not many western bars or places to get western food. It looked like a great place and we saw the menu and when we saw Chicago style burgers we were like we have to come back here and get food one time. So tonight a group of eight of us finally made it back to Hanks for dinner. We all were craving a big burger so everyone but one got a burger. When they finally came out and we saw them our mouths dropped and started watering because they looked so great. There was a period of about 5 minutes where there was complete silence and all you could here was people chewing. After were were done we decide that it was the best thing ever and we already want to go back for more before we leave Tianjin. This was a great way to end a long day looking at different companies and riding on the bus.

Yesterday and Today: Dan Korman

Yesterday we had a dumpling making party, and it was great. I also set a new UMD study in China record by eating 50 dumplings! I learned how to make many different styles of dumplings, and it was great to see the diversity that dumplings possess. At night we went to Ali Baba’s with a few of the students from Nankai. I learned that some of them like to drink warm milk before bed time. In fact I have noticed that much of China likes their beverages warm, which is quite different from the states. It has been quite interesting when going places to eat and be handed warm water, defiantly not use to that, especially during summer.

Today we visited a few companies located in Tianjin. The first was a Coca-Cola company which serves the Tianjin area. It was amazing to see their operation and the machines which performed the operations. They had amazing technology, to say the least. We then visited a consulting company, and got a great presentation from the company’s VP. She taught a lot about her company, and specifically performing business in China. To end to the day we got to go see the seaport of Tianjin. It was absolutely HUGE! I was amazed at the amount of cargo that I saw. I guess when you are supplying so many people you need a port that large. It was also interesting to see that the shoreline did not have any sand, just mud. Not my favorite type of beach. The last part of the day was visiting an aircraft carrier. It was one of coolest things I have ever done. It was great to go on the ship and view all the weaponry, and see how it is once operated. One thing that stood out today about Chinese culture is the amount to which they smoke cigarettes, specifically the men. Every restaurant we have been to there has been many men smoking at the tables. In America you can barely smoke anywhere anymore, but here it is almost expected it seems. It appears to be a great social device for men when they are talking or meeting in groups of friends or colleagues.

Tianjin - Day 10 (6/03/09)

One thing that I've realized today looking at the pricing schemes of China versus the pricing schemes used in the United States is that China does not seem to use the high amount in cents as compared to most of the pricing in the US. For example a lot of places in the United States will price things with an ending price of .98 or .99. In China most of the prices will be even numbers, which makes paying for things a lot easier because you don't get a ton of coins back when paying with cash. The other thing that seems nice is if you do get change back it's usually in the form of bills instead of in the form of coins. I dread carrying around a ton of coins (which is one reason I usually pay with a credit card instead of with cash, but here I can't do that many places and the credit card company will charge me a decent fee for international transactions). I'm not exactly sure of the reason for the prices not usually being advertised with a value in cents here; it may be the fact that cents here isn't worth very much as compared to US dollars or it may also be that prices can be negotiated in many locations, but I still find that many restaurants and things still state prices in whole RMB rather than with cents. The United States usually adds a large number in cents to make it appear less expensive than it really is and make more profit while the price appears less expensive. Whatever the reason, I find it a lot easier to pay in cash here than in the United States due to the fact that you rarely receive coins in return when you do pay with cash.

June 2, 2009

Cord Houle: Tianjin Day 9

Today we started out by talking about cultural differences again; however, this time it was more focused on the specific cultures within china itself. We talked about the demographics of china and who makes up the majority and minorities of china. Looking at it is very obvious there is a single majority and only a few of the minorities left. Within the majority, differences in culture and dialects in language do exist. Overall though, the people in the majority all identify themselves as Han people. We also discussed the differences in social mobility and the standards of living within china. China has much more disparity between the rich and the poor than America. The elite are less than 1% of the country; however, account for the majority of the GDP. The farm worker is one of the lowest positions in the society.

For lunch we ate at the cafeteria on campus. This cafeteria was the expensive one on campus but provided some great food at reasonable prices. We got to experience how the students of Nankai deal with when eating their lunches. We saw the crowded cafeterias and long lines that are customary to student’s life. It was very reminiscent of the cafeteria freshman year. I remember the long lines and the crowded seating arrangements as people scavenged to find a place to eat. The difference between where I ate as a freshman and this cafeteria is theirs was a three story building for the whole campus and ours was just a place for freshmen.

Later that night we made dumplings. My time at the Costco bakery didn’t help at all! I spent most of the time rolling out dumpling shells as it was the hardest part of the process and I figured I might as well suffer for the delicious meal. There is a tradition in china to make a “special” dumpling by putting a coin or candy in one and designating that one the lucky dumpling. I however figured if there was a lucky dumpling with candy there might as well be a prank dumpling. So I made a dumpling filled completely with raw flour. While I waited in anticipation for someone to bite into it during dinner it was never found and I wonder what happened to my prank. We found a special dumpling and I presented it to Dr. Li our professor. The traditions of china are often open for interpretation and can be made in to a fun scenario with a little bit of imagination. Overall I would have to say dumpling making was a lot of fun and I would not hesitate to prove my skills to others.

cantonese

China is a big country. It has 56 ethnic groups. The biggest one is Han Chinese and holds 90% of the Chinese population. Not only people is difference, our language also differences in different city. Mandarin and Cantonese are the most popular in china. Mandarin is the one that everyone knows. On the other hand, people from very south of china, like Hongkong, GuangDong are the two major city that us Cantonese.

We can understand with each other although there are 56 ethnic. The person who makes that happen was the king of Qin in the Qin dynasty. Three important things that he did is unification of the currency, unification of language and unification of characters. Without those three important concepts, we will not able to communicate.
One of reason why Cantonese become one of the most popular Chinese speeches, because of the first economic growth is located in GuangDong area. Most of the factories are located in GuangDong. You can see many product are from Guangdong. Although, Beijing is catching to Guangdong, but there still have some distances. First, it is hard for company just move their manufactory from one city to other city. Sometimes it will make them better off to stay in where it is rather than move away. Second, the average spending in Beijing is getting more and more because of the Olympus game last year. Business man would stay in Guangdong While Guangdong is cheaper than Beijing. Last, I think Cantonese is already creating a popular. With so many stars are also speak Cantonese. So, people would love to learn Cantonese normally.

Now, a mandarin is importance, too. That is why foreigner learns to speak mandarin not Cantonese. The majority is speaking mandarin and just few cities are speaking Cantonese.

China infrastructure

China has invested billions of yuan into building and rebuilding infrastructure in recent years, including mass transit initiatives such as rail and multiple freeway systems designed to move traffic quicker and more efficiently. I am amazed at the lack of investment in infrastructure in the United States. There seems to have been little improvement in the US transportation system since the interstate highway system of the 1950’s. If anything good came out of the I-35W bridge collapse in August of 2007, it was an in-depth review of all bridges and their structural integrity in the United States. Unfortunately, many of them are in very poor condition and will need to be replaced in the near future. To repair and update the roads, rails, and bridges in the US would literally cost billions and billions of dollars. It seems to me that the US is years behind China, especially in the areas of mass transit. Dr. Li said that much of the construction in China is not designed to last because it will likely be torn down and rebuilt within a few years. In any case, the US and individual states need to develop a more extensive plan in order to avoid catastrophic failure with transportation within the country. This has happened in Duluth in recent past. If the city of Duluth replaces roads at their current rate, it will take something like 100 years to fix all of those pothole ridden streets. I don’t know about you, but I would like to see something done sooner than that. China has the right idea, however, it is not productive to build roads to last only a few years either. But, at least the country is making an effort to improve transportation within and between China’s large metropolitan areas.

Day IX

Today at the afternoon, we were making dumplings at the dining room at the hotel. But I didn't make any, because I am more enjoy watching other people making dumplings than making by myself. Our group is very creative, we ignore the traditional shape of the dumplings and made our owns. For example, Alex made a dumpling like a "ginger man". Also Dan hold a record of eating 50 dumplings for the next year's competitor. I don't think anybody can beat it, unless he or she is starving for a few days. At the evening, we got the opportunity to play sports again. This time, my arm didn't feel that pain anymore. It was very fun. Tonight, Dylan, Cord, Jeff, John, Margo, her mom, Steve, Dan, me, and other Chinese students hung out to Alibaba again. We called three taxis, Cord, Jeff and me were the last group got there. Because we stopped more than 8 taxis and asked them if they know the way to Alibaba. I think this is a very nice place to get some drinks and talk with your friends. When we came back, I was planing to go to McDonald's, but it was closed for some reasons. I might need to get up earlier tomorrow and get a big breakfast. :)

ritual or memorial

Fires in the middle of high traffic roads in Duluth or almost any other city would be prohibited. Tonight we saw a large fire in the street right outside of our hotel. They were burning large wicker items along with flowers and greenery. I really have no idea why they were doing this but I do have a few assumptions. My first is that someone’s life was taken in that exact spot where the fire was lit. As they lit the fire and kept it under control there was a man yelling on the side. As he yelled people lined up on their knees would bow over and over again. I figured it might be a religious way of honoring a family member or friend who has passed. But what I thought was weird was that after they stopped bowing they got up and all left right away, except for the people controlling the fire. During the fire we also saw a man who was receiving many hugs from different people, so we figured it was the main person who lost a loved one. This also could have been a ritual that is performed by these people every year for some reason. I was very surprised when we were walking back and were lucky enough to see the fire and everything take place. I have never seen anything like that before and am very interested and curious to what was actually going on, and if it is a common thing.

Kevin O'Connell

Today we had a dumpling making party—and then a dumpling feast. I had never made dumplings before so it was interesting. I thought I did a pretty good job considering my lack of experience, but there is much room for improvement. The cooks from our hotel’s kitchen, Dr. Li, and the Chinese students were all experts. They tried to teach us but we still weren’t that great. They could make great designs that put some of our designs to shame. But like we kept saying, it’s not how they look, it is how they taste—and they were delicious. Dan somehow ate 50 of them!!

Dan and I had quite the experience getting to China. We were on a different plane than the rest of the group. Our flight out of MSP was delayed so we missed our connecting flight from Portland to Tokyo. Northwest shacked us up in Portland and we got to go out on the town. The next day, our flight was delayed 3 hours leaving Portland. We got to Beijing at like 2 in the morning local time. Dr. Li had left a note at the gate for us giving the name of hotel in Chinese so we could just hand it to the taxi driver and we wouldn’t have any communication issues. Unfortunately the gate was closed because it was so late so we couldn’t get the note.

Next, we had to pass through the health inspection (even though they took our temperatures on the plane and everything was fine). Surprise, surprise—both Dan and I got pulled aside (along with pretty much every other Caucasian person). They took our temperatures again and we both passed inspection.

After all that was the hardest part—getting to the hotel not knowing the language. Luckily the cab driver knew a little English and recognized the name of the hotel. To make a long story short, the cab driver couldn’t find our hotel for a while. When we got there we couldn’t get a hold of Dr. Li. Dr. Li was going to pay for us because we didn’t have any cash. We had to find an ATM to pay the fare. At last, after plane delays, health inspections, and one long cab ride we finally made it to China.

Emphasis of Education

I am going to blog about the emphasis of education that is put on the Chinese people. I have noticed that the people here take education very seriously. A reason for this is because they really want to be successful at what they do. I would say some of it is because of Mianzi or face. They want to portray themselves as something good and education is by means of doing so. Also, students have a test weekend to get in college which basically decides their fate. If they don't pass this test then they won't be able to go to college. If they do pass then they get in. The colleges around Tianjin only let in around 5,000 students a year. If you look at the population size of this country, that's not a lot of kids and so it is very selective. Another reason is cost. The cost to go to school is not cheap and only the families that have the money can send their children to school. There isn't many people that can afford to send their kids to school and for the ones that can, they know they are lucky they can go to school and want to make sure they put all they can into it. Also, people here need a good education to achieve a higher status of living. When you want to go into a profession the first thing they look at is your education. This is true in the U.S. as well. There is a lot of poor people here and most of them will never get the chance to move up because they lack an education. These are some of the reasons why I see them so serious about school.

Breakfast in Tianjin

This morning we went and bought some breakfast on the side streets from a vendor selling deep fried bread sticks. It was a nice change from the same thing we have everyday for breakfast at the hotel (rice, fried noodles, zhongzi, and really bad coffee). The bread sticks had a very buttery flavor. I watched as the man made them, he would roll out the dough, chop it up into very small pieces, and pull the pieces into long strings and drop them in the deep frier. Professor Li asked the man how much he sells every morning, and he said that he goes through about 50 pounds of dough every morning. They sell for 50 Jiao for 1 (half a Yuan) breadstick. Apparently this is what the majority of Chinese people have for breakfast on their way to wherever they are going. The food they serve in the hotel would be pretty expensive for them and thus why the majority of them stop at the vendor stands. I also saw hotdogs this morning for the first time since we've been in China ... for breakfast ... I may have to try some tomorrow along with some other various breakfast foods I see along the way.

Women in the Workplace

It came as a big surprise to me today that women are not really considered to be promotable employees in China. Dr. Li said that women that are already at a high level do very well, but Chinese women are not expected to be managers. I asked Gracey about this point and she stated the very same thing. She said she wants to be a manager, but it will be hard because women are expected to have the children and take care of the household. I guess this is what us Americans would consider "old school" or the old way of doing things. It is no longer that the women take care of the household in the USA, and we have started to become equals in the workplace. Women are very promotable in the USA and usually make great managers and employees. I was a little disappointed to hear that women don't have the opportunities in China that we do in the USA. When I asked Dr. Li about how the Chinese will work with women cooperatively that are perhaps customers or co-workers in the USA and he said that they will not show a bias. It is only Chinese women that are seen as the childbearer and household keeper. I guess this could be a good thing for me as a manager in the USA. I shouldn't have trouble working with China. Overall, a very interesting lecture today. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow!

Random Things

Today I am going to blog about the random things that you see around China. Tonight I looked out the window and i saw what looked to be fire in the reflection off the building across the street. At first I was like I hope that is not my hotel i am staying in but it turns out that it was a fire in the middle of the street. This was so weird because it was not a little fire but was a huge bonfire. The Chinese men were just throwing in random chairs and other pieces of wood into the fire. What I thought was really funny is the fact that a cop drove right by and didn't even stop or say anything. It didn't last long but when it was over they didn't even bother to clean it up or sweep away the ashes. So now there is just a big black spot in the road. I just couldn't believe that would be allowed. If we were in America you would probably going to jail. But its just another thing that is different about the culture and what is the norm in China.

Fire in the streets of Tianjin

Tonight was a fun night, but I would like to blog about something I saw after badminton. As we were walking back I happened to look to my left towards the intersection and noticed something. A group of around thirty people were piling flowers and wicker basket type things getting ready to start a fire. Once they lit the fire a group of them got down on there knees and were praying. My first thought was are they really lighting this in the middle of the street! Next I was wondering what it was for and I thought it to be religious since people were praying. As the group slowly dispersed I saw them hugging a man. So I assumed maybe that he had a love one die at that intersection. I saw one cop just pass by with his lights on which made me think it had to do with someone dying so he passed out of respect. They were controlling the fire with shuttles and as the fire died down they left. The fire is currently smoldering in the middle of the street. It was a bizarre thing that I look forward to asking Professor Li question on what it was all about. I cannot imagine that being allowed back in the states.

AliBaba's

After going to Alibaba's again, I appreciate a lot what the owner has done. It is a hang out for international as well as locals (though I don't think that many go there or even go out at night especially on a Monday night) who speak English. When we walked in, we were greeted by University of Wisconsin-Madison students. They said it was their third night here and are studying Chinese at Normal University for three months total. I am just amazed that I am 7000 miles away from Minnesota with a 13 hour time difference, and I am seeing people that live less than 200 miles away from my hometown. In Beijing, a group of met ran into some students who were from the U of M-Rochester. That is like a 40 minute drive from Winona. Again we are half way across the world and seeing people. This just makes me believe the saying "The world is small". The owner did have to come over to us and tell us to be quiet again, but that is going to happen when have eight people around a table. But, at least this time we were not the only ones to be told to me quiet. Again, the owner must have to put up with a lot but in the end I am sure that he loves what he is going. Thank you AliBaba's for being an international English speaking bar!!

Day 9 - We need to stop teaching the Chinese students bad words...

Today was our ninth day in Tianjin and it is still really hot outside. My Duluth blood cannot adjust to such wide temperature swings. Today for lunch I finally got to walk around Nankai University’s campus with some of the Chinese students. We ate at one of their cafeterias, similar to UMD’s DC. The first two floors looked similar to a food court in a mall or other public area, however on the third floor were we ate; the tables were set up family style. Students would by their lunch with friends and then share it with everyone at the table. I got some tasty orange chicken, rice, some kind of roll, and chicken on a stick. I paid $10.5 RMB which is roughly $1.50 US dollars, so not a bad deal. Each food item had a price but I have learned it is just easier to pick something you want and pay later; trying to figure out the price for every item is a waste of time. At UMD it is all you can eat for about $7.50, there is no such system at Nankai. Nankai students don’t purchase meal plans as they do at UMD so either a food card must be purchased or pay with cash. At UMD all students who live in the freshman dorms have a meal plan and eat in the one dining center, at Nankai there are three cafeterias, however, students do not typically eat there because it is more expensive than going to a street vendor or some other nearby market. I also noticed that I did not get stared at as much on campus compared to walking down the street. Everyone at the university can speak some English, it is required. Some can speak it better than others, and those who talk to us like to practice their English for upcoming exams.

Cord Houle: Tianjin day 8

Today’s class talked a lot about face, or the way people or organizations represent themselves. It became apparent real quickly the one of the most important aspects of Chinese culture was this face or how people are represented. This issue was stressed in the context of both, international management in China as well as in HRM. Like guanxi, Face is a fundamental cornerstone that the culture is built off of and any business professional needs to have a solid grasp on it in order to do business in china.

The use of “face” was very apparent when we visited Tasly, a pharmaceutical company in china. The company spent millions of dollars to make their headquarters look fancy and elaborate. They had many sculptures and wall art. Often times these artifacts would decorate their very elaborate conference rooms. They had spent millions on a wall that depicted the history of medicine in china throughout the ages up to the current state. Tasly also spared no expense on their main building, having a elaborate fountain with a grand piano in the middle. While we were there the company representatives spent more time showing us face rather than explaining what the company does.

This idea of face is not so different from America. While it might not play as much of a role in our everyday lives people still care what others think of them and often times act in a way to send the message they want to convey. We will dress up for interviews and we will wear our nicest cloths out when we go somewhere where we might meet new people. While the Chinese people put a lot of significance on face, we as Americans can still relate to an extent. Appearance is everything in America and oftentimes we act just as the Chinese do regarding face. While we might not be as formal or as flashy in our private lives we often times “turn it on” for special occasions.

Tuesday June 2

For lunch today a group of us went with the Chinese kids to have lunch at the University’s dining facility. I was surprised by the quality of the room and food. Again though the food was left out on plates so when we purchased it the food had gone cold. Still the food was better then I was expecting. After lunch we went to find a souvenir store. It was nothing like the ones at American Universities where they have multiple stores dedicated to school memorabilia. We noticed that the kids on campus dress very different then we do back home. At American schools most student’s attire has the school logo on it. Here it felt more formal. I was told that the Chinese students were surprised that I addressed my older brother as John instead of a more formal title. This surprised me that age hierarchy occurred even between people one year apart. I understood the different generations, but I am surprised by the sibling relationship hierarchy.

Tianjin - Day 9 (6/02/09)

Today we went with some of the Nankai students (Tracy, Angel, Gracie, Jun, and Pas) to one of their three student cafeteria's for lunch. I was rather surprised by the fact that the cafeteria had three levels, the lowest being the least expensive food and the least fancy of the three levels, the middle being about the same (it may have been a bit better than the first level) and the third level (which is the level we ate at) was the fanciest and most expensive of them all. The food wasn't anything spectacular, but it wasn't horrible (probably the best tofu I've had so far to be honest). The meat skewers I loved, even though they were cold, they still tasted great. There were some form of bones in my meatballs that I got, which was kind of annoying but I dealt with them and spit them out. I'm kind of curious about the lower levels of the cafeteria though, and whether the food they get is the same or of lower quality than the food which you get on the third level. The reason we didn't go to one of the lower levels was because of the amount of people eating there. The first and second levels were both packed and had fairly long lines to get food. When we got to the third level it suddenly cleared out and there was tons of space compared to the previous two levels. The other thing that was surprising about the third level was the fact that they had the family style lazy susan in the center as compared to the first to levels which just had regular tables. This also made it look a lot fancier than the lower levels and I thought it would be somewhat more expensive than most of the places we have eaten out, but it only ended up being 14 RMB. I'm glad I went with the students to lunch, I learned many things during my visit to Nankai from them and seeing all the various things on campus.

June 1, 2009

A day at Tasly, and a religious observation about China: Dan Korman

Yesterday we received a tour of Tasly, a Chinese pharmaceutical company. The company had a lot of face, I mean A LOT. They have many grand statues and sculptures which must have been very expensive. They portrayed themselves as an international and innovative company. Throughout our tour you could see their Chairman in many pictures with world leaders, which really signified the company’s international aspect. I have never seen a corporate headquarters like Tasly, so it was quite the experience.

I also got to see more of Tianjin, and noticed that they have a Muslim population here. I knew China had a Muslim presence, but I thought it was limited to the northwestern part. I have seen a great diversity of religion since I have been here, much like the US. I have met Chinese Christians, Muslims, Buddhist, and atheist as well. I was unaware of the amount of diversity Chinese religious practices posses. I thought almost everyone was Buddhist before coming here. There is a strong Buddhist presence, but not to the extent that I had imagined.

Mian zi

Mian zi is face. The true meaning of that concept is people look at people or thing base on their out looking. That is why people want to get more face to do more on clothing. Most of time I look at a person will first focus on their clothing or dressing.

So, most of the face is from looking. If one building has a very good design and modern, we would consider the building has face. It is very easy to see a person has face or not, but it is hard to not the one do not loss face. I bet everyone notice that many girl wear fate LV purse. Although, you see it on the street, but you would not say it loud. Sometimes, you know what it is. If the person is not doing bed, it is better to not muckrake.

We went to the downtown city today in Tianjin. There are many shopping malls. We do a window shopping along the street. And we see a food street over there. It is smell very good.

Children's Day in Tianjin

After we visited Tasly today we went to a shopping mall here in Tianjin. This was the first mall we've been to since we arrived in China that reminded me of malls in the States. There wasn't anyone trying to get you to look in their stores or buy things. It was very laid back. The food in the food court was surprisingly good. I ordered chicken fried rice. It was nice to have some fried rice after eating SO much white rice the past couple weeks. After eating a few of us were walking around the streets outside the mall. There was people everywhere. I really wish I could fully understand Chinese language so I could understand what all the hype about the 喜洋洋 (Xi Yang Yang) Sheep cartoon is about. This seems to be a huge craze in China. Everywhere you look there is t-shirts, stuffed animals, and balloons of this sheep and, what I assume to be his enemy, wolf named Hui Tai Lang. So today during Children's day everything seemed to be themed after this cartoon.

Day VIII

"Who you know is more important than what you know." It seems to me, that is always the truth in my life. In the business world, what you know is just a little part, the biggest part is you know what the other people know. So you can always get many useful informations and opportunities from them. For example, if you are applying for a job
at the McDonald's while there are other 10 other people are applying for the same position at the same time, and they have more experience and education than you have. But you know the the manager pretty well, you always go to drink and hang out with him. Guess what, that will really help you to have a higher probability to get this job, and even you can't get it, you might still sitting at the first place at the wait list for the next open spot. At the same time manager is giving you "face", the mianzi. Because you get the benefit that the other people couldn't have. For the company we went today, Tasly. They show their face by the huge and well-designed buildings they have, put the awards they got on many closets, hanging many picture that taking with many famous people, like Chinese president, Hu Jintao. These things really give them many "face". Today Jun did a something that really give him "face". I hope Curd will upload the pictures, to let him have some "face". :)

day 14

Today we went to the Tastly pharmaceutical. The place I gotta say was very high class. For a second I thought I was stepping into a mall instead of some company. They had a very nice conference room. The VIP place made it look amazing and also gave me in hope to make lots of money to be able to sit in such comfy chairs during meetings. I was really surprised that we did not tour the part where they make the medcine. I thought that it was kind of weird to sit there and watch a movie instead.

After the place, we went to a mall. The mall seemed like a typical mall in China. Except this is the first mall I have been to where the food place was down on the first level. I ate a really good Duck with rice dish. I thought that it was interesting that the guy that chopped up the meat could speak Cantonese. I just always figure that everyone spoke Mandarin.

When we came back, I went with Kevin over to the market that is next to the hotel. The place look like any other market that I been to. But in the back on the otherside, we walked by the animals. Today was the first time I have ever seen dog and cat food. I guess I just always assumed that Chinese people just fed all their animals rice and stuff. I never thought that they would have animal food.

Diversity in China

From my observations, there seems to be a lack of ethnic diversity in China. I did a little research and discovered the following: As far as ethnic groups go, Han Chinese make up 91.5% of the population, while Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uyghur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities make up the final 8.5% (2000 census). So, I believe it is safe to say that well over ninety-five percent of the population is native Chinese, confirming my observation. This is in stark contrast to the United States, where seventy-four percent describe themselves as “white” Americans.

It appears that China is not open to immigration. Upon further research, foreigners are allowed to stay on (visa) for the following reasons: work, study, travel, or marriage over a certain period of time. I found this to be somewhat disheartening, especially for a country that is fast becoming (or has already become) a world superpower. It seems that the government has become somewhat more receptive to immigrants in the recent past. China has adopted flexible new visa rules to make it convenient for foreign professionals and investors to work and invest in the country. According to the rules, qualified foreigners may apply for a special multiple-entry visitor's visa which is valid for 2-5 years, allowing a maximum of 12 months' stay per visit. For foreigners who need to work in China, they may also apply for a special work visa which allows one to stay in the country for 2-5 years with multiple-entry rights. At present, those foreigners wishing to make China their permanent residence are simply out of luck. The Chinese government has made strides in immigration regulation, yet still has a ways to go, considering the amount of foreign investment (including many MNC's) that is occurring and is likely to greatly increase in the years to come.

Tasty Mall food

Today we were dropped off at the mall to eat dinner. This was my first experience with buying a meal from a mall setting. It was very similar to the states in the way that all the stores were together in a food court. There were displays of the meals on the counter in front of each restaurant. The prices were very cheap and reasonable to what the prices would be in the states. The portions for the food were much bigger here as well. When ordering they did not speak any English so we received help from June to translate what the meals were. After finding out the food we were able to decide and could just point to what meals and sizes we wanted. The funny thing for my meal was that when they tried giving it to me, it looked nothing like what I ordered so I did not take it at first. Since we didn’t know what they were saying we had to call June over to find out what was going on and he told me to hand them the receipt. Then June looked at me, laughed, and said the food advertise always looks better than what you get. I then grabbed the tray they originally tried to give me and laughed about the situation. Overall it was another learning experience with an added bonus of a cheap, tasty, filling meal.

"Face"

Many businesses pride themselves on having a good “face”. They like being represented in a good way, and it also helps business. We went to the Tasly Co. were displaying a good “face” is very important to them. Everything was very neat and tidy, and absolutely beautiful scenery. It was very understandable why they wanted their business to look the way it did, because if I were doing business with them their first impressions with me would be very high. You could tell that the Tasly Co. prided themselves on their reputation; they had many statues and pictures of important people and events that occurred within their industry that had major effects on it. There were also many different business room type settings. I am still a bit shocked with how many there were, I wonder if the amount they had was unnecessary, but I didn’t get a full description of what each what room was for either. Tasly Co. was the perfect company to look at when discussing how important face is to Chinese businesses. It is also very important in America as well, I just haven’t had the chance to visit a company that displayed that much “face” in one location. Once again pertaining to my last blog about factory production and the amount of jobs that were diminished; Tasly Co. originally required three hundred workers to produce their good and now it only take approximately seventy workers.

Monday June 1

During the pharmaceutical tour, Monica our tour guide shared with us that starting on June 7 Chinese high school students will be taking their standardized entrance exams. It is a two day process that is broken down into three, two hour long exams. She said that they are only given one chance on these tests and they will determine what kind of future academic opportunities the student will have. Back home we are able to take our standardized tests as many times as we are willing to pay for them. I was really surprised that a person is given only one chance. Especially with how important it is and how old a person is when they take this test.

Pizza Hut Portions

This evening a group of us went to Pizza Hut for dinner. Shane had said he wanted pizza right after we got off the bus, and I felt the same way. Monica walked around with us in the food court to see what we wanted to eat. A couple minutes later, I hear Shane call my name and says he found a Pizza Hut. We tired to get inside on the basement floor. We first thought that they were not opened until we walked a little farther and saw people in the restaurant. We knew we couldn't get in that way so we eventually found a way to get in on the second floor. We sat down and a Chinese man that knew English was our waiter which was great since all of us couldn't speak but only point. We ordered pizza and pop and whatnot. I was a little worried that I may not get my pizza since in Beijing our waiter forgot Steve and my pizza. Naturally my pizza was the last to come out so I was like if they forget my pizza again; I will never enter in a Pizza Hut again. It showed up thankfully. But comparing our pizza tonight to what we had in Beijing; the pizza was a lot larger this time. I dont know if Tianjin people eat more and Beijing people eat less, but I was very satisfied that it was the same price (maybe cheaper) and we got more pizza! Also, to end off the meal, Ashley and I split an amazing chocolate ice cream cake. I couldnt have asked for anything else. Thanks Pizza Hut for not letting me down!

Taxis

Today I am going to blog about the Taxis that we ride around in here in China. The taxis drivers here are much different then the ones back home. First off the taxis drivers here have to cover such a wide range of area. It is not like Duluth or even Minneapolis for that matter because it is so big here and there many different places that you could be going. I have been very impressed with the drivers here even though they can get a little crazy on the road they always seem like they know where they are going and if they don't no they will call someone and find out how to get there. I think that I could probably be able to handle being a taxi driver in Duluth but I know that there is no way that I could do it in such a big city like Tianjin or Beijing. The taxi here also are a lot cheaper then they are in the states. I haven't had to pay more then 30 yuan which is less then 5 U.S. dollars to go where I have needed to go. That's cheaper then if you want to got down to Grandmas Sports Garden or anywhere in Canal park. Overall I have been amazed with the drivers finding were we need to go because none of us can barely speak Chinese.

Day 8 - How Much Should I Eat?

Today marked the start of our second week in Tianjin. We went to the Tasly Pharmaceutical plant for a field trip; unfortunately unlike the Winery we didn’t get any free samples. Through my observations of Chinese packaged goods I have discovered that in China many of the nutritional facts of products are not included. Also, I have yet to a package which describes serving sizes per container. Granted in America few people actually follow these serving sizes but I still find interesting that such information is missing on all of Chinese packaged food products. For example if you bought a box of cereal or say a boxed meal like hamburger helper how would one know how many people the content could feed. I would find it very frustrating and confusing to try and guess how many to cook for a certain amount of people. In China however many of the families cook and prepare most if not all of their meals from scratch. They must learn my hand and by experiences how much to prepare of a certain item and how food is needed to feed a so many people. Back to the nutritional information on packaged items, sometimes have them while others don’t. For example, my Lay’s potato chips do have nutritional facts, while my Koala Yummies do don’t. I have been trying to decide what could be the determining factor that would cause some items to have the information while others do not. So far my best bet is it depends on the domestic production of the product. For example, Lay’s is an American brand and in America nutritional facts are required on all packaging. Lotte is the company that produces Koala Yummies and is based out of Tokyo Japan and I am unsure of their nutritional packaging laws.

Style of Business

I am going to blog about a style of business I have noticed in two different restaurant places I have been. This is quite different from the U.S. and I have been thinking about some of the positives or reasons for doing business this way. The first place we went to was a hot pot with Professor Li. The second place that did this is a series of restaurants in a mall that Monica took us to. The way these places do business is as follows. First you give money to a person, who then in turn puts the amount of money you give her onto a card. The card is then used to buy food or whatever else you would like. There is around a 10 Yuan fee if you lose the card. After you are done eating your food and have not used the full amount on the card, you go back to the person and they give you back your money. I think this is a very interesting way to business. An advantage I see to this is to avoid multiple cash transactions. The exchanging of money is easier in this kind of way because you only have to give your cash one time and the rest of the time you use your card. This avoids places not being able to give change back and also avoids you doing multiple cash transactions and misplacing some of your cash. Another advantage is that it makes the exchange of money faster. Instead of you counting out your money you just hand them your card, they scan it, take off the amount, and then you are done. It is quick and easy. Another advantage I see is if you work in the mall or somewhere close to it. You load up a card with money one day and then you use it on a regular basis to grab a meal. This avoids you having to bring cash without if you eat there a lot. The only disadvantage I see is the time it takes for you to load the card with money, and then if you want the money back you have to go back to that lady and get it returned. It doesn't take a long time it is just kind of a hassle in a way. Other than that I really like this and would like to see this in the U.S. someday.

Tianjin - Day 8 (6/01/09)

Today we went to Tasly Company who is in the pharmaceuticals industry and the company was a great example of Chinese "face". The company had invested so much money in art, a beautiful building, sculptures, and grand rooms within their complexes. The Tasly Company is truly a grand example of the idea of "face" in China. Their complex was amazing, it reminded me more of a mall when you first entered than a corporate building. They had a room off to the right hand side with many display cases for their various products and also a couple of display cases on the wall for different awards they have received over the years they have been in business. Then we went upstairs to see their VIP and conference rooms which were quite huge; they reminded me more of a room the United States Congress or the UN would use for diplomatic meetings than a meeting room for a corporation. Next was an amazing hall filled with various statues of historical persons involved in the pharmaceuticals industry. Finally we went outside and saw the "Hollywood" style footprints that they had laid out in a huge strip along the street of their employees. The greenhouse was also quite impressive, they had all the plants labeled so you knew what they were and they were being kept up nicely by the employees there. This has to be one of the companies most concerned with the issue of "face" having invested what I'm sure is millions of dollars on art, buildings and various rooms, and I have to say it was quite impressive.

HRM Class

I really enjoyed class today on Human Resources Management. It is very interesting to look at how the cultural norms in China are adopted in business and especially in HRM. It is especially interesting for me to see how our culture, at the Great Lakes Fleet (the company I work for), differs from the cultural norms in Chinese business. One thing that I found especially important from today’s class is that the Chinese use centralized decision making, and that individual responsibility is hindered due to the decision making process. I think about my workplace and agree that the most senior person gets to make the final decision, but in the case of my work, we all come to that decision together (there are 5 of us). In process of making a business changing or really crucial decision, usually my boss’ subordinates are all responsible for a different piece of the puzzle and producing our own conclusion, or decision, about that piece. We all then come together with our individual pieces and put them together to make the most informed decision and my boss transmits or carries out the collective decision. After learning about Chinese decision making, I realized how much I like our decision making style at the Great Lakes Fleet. I always feel like I am making a real difference in the decision process and I like to feel like a crucial member with important responsibilities when it comes to making a substantial business decision.

Sunday May 31

During my freeish time I was walking around Tianjin and I saw a Chinese woman with little African baby girl. Back home I wouldn't have probably even registered this, but here this was the first non-chinese child that I have seen. This made me wonder what are the adoption poicies around here. If you are allowed one child of your own or is it just one child in the household?

Also when we got back from dinner with June, Tracy and Angel I started wandering how they take into account safety when they create insurance policies. Can only the people who are extremely wealthy afford life insurance and do companies have to be accountable for working conditions. If someone were to be injured on the job, what would happen? Would they be given a compensation package or is everyone just responsible for their own safety?