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June 6, 2009

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.

June 5, 2009

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.

June 4, 2009

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.

June 3, 2009

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.

June 1, 2009

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.

May 31, 2009

Friday, May 30

Today we were fortunate to ask questions about the China's financial industry and receive answers from people who work first hand in the field. I was most interested in hearing their opinion's of how America is dealing with the financial crisis. Since their banking system is controled by the government I wanted to know how they viewed the different bail outs. From what I could gather they first off think it is done in completely different contexts, since China has always had governmeent involvement. They basically viewed the bail outs as a way to control the financial industry. I wish that they would have gone into further detail on the comparisons of US's involvement using bail-outs and how the Chinese government is involved in everyday financing.

Business Cards

I am going to blog about China's business cards. Professor Li talked about this today and it really interested me. The Chinese use business cards in the same manners as in the U.S. The way the business cards are structured and handed out are a little different than the U.S. They serve the purpose for telling people about your business, what type of work you do, and hopefully they will contact you in the future to do business. So those purposes are the same as the U.S. They are also supposed to be engraved in gold to make it stand out which is kind of like the U.S. because I believe the U.S. people do that as well so their card has some more power. A major difference I know is what type of information is on there. In the U.S. you put your name, profession, and contact information. On a Chinese business card not only do they include this but much more. They include stuff that would be on your resume. For example, if you serve on a committee in your profession you put that on there. So they put a lot of extra things like that. I like that a lot because than you know more about the person and I believe that would make it more comfortable to do business with someone that I felt like I knew more about. Another difference is the way you accept the card. You give your card with both hands so that the text is facing up so the guy accepting the card can read what is on the card. The acceptor also receives the card with both hands and is suppose to skim over it quick. If they don't it is an insult and they won't be happy with you. I like this because it shows you are interested in what this person does. The last difference I notice is that the text is centered on the card. I like this as well because it looks more professional. They are some differences and similarities and it's amazing to see what they are.

Cord Houle: Tianjin day 6

On day 6 in Tianjin we toured the campus. One of the first things that became apparent was how boys and girls were separated. They had their own dorm halls and neither sex was even allowed into the others. Upon more investigation, apparently girls are not often able to socialize with boys growing up. And often times College is the first real time they spend time with the opposite sex. Often they meet in classes and may do some social things outside of class. When a couple decides to date it’s a huge decision because a relationship will usually last for three years in China. The couples we have seen are usually noticeable, they will often times wear matching outfits. The dynamics of relationships and dating in China are completely different than what they typically are in the states.

Another thing I noticed while I was on campus was that most students never need to leave it. They have everything they need from bike repair stands to food markets right on campus. Their only need to be off campus is when they want to do something special. This is completely different from Duluth especially because other than classes students really don’t have any need to be on campus.

Day 7

After talking with Tracey, June, and Stephen one day at lunch, a difference between Chinese and American relationship history immerged. As an American, we are used to having, in most cases, several different girlfriends or boyfriends before we get married in our early to mid twenties. Americans generally like to play the field and tell ourselves “there are many fish in the sea.“ It was interesting talking to them because when asked if any of the three of them had a girlfriend only one said yes. They spoke about it a bit and said some people by their early twenties have never had a significant other. In the case of the three of them, one said they had a girlfriend, one said they have had a girlfriend in the past, and the other said that they had never had a girlfriend (but will have one some day). Collectively, they said that usually people wait until they have completed the university before dating and settling down to get married. Just interesting to think about and to see the differences. Another good day today, looking forward to another one tomorrow!!

May 30, 2009

Plastic Bag Ban

So, I grabbed a newspaper yesterday on the flight back from Xi'an and found an interesting article. I think we were all dumbfounded the first time we got charged for a plastic bag. Well, come to find out, in China there is a ban on free plastic bags. This was done to save energy and protect the planet. So far, the initiative seems to be working. In 2006, 50 billion bags were used, consuming about two million tons of oil. In 2007, 60 billion bags were used consuming 2.4 million tons of oil. The ban was enacted in 2008 and usage dropped to 20 billion bags and .8 million tons of oil. Wal-Mart alone reports distributing eighty percent fewer bags in its 106 stores. The ban is working and people have adjusted to it and either bring their own or make do without. The State Administration of Industry and Commerce is the enforcement agency and non-compliance is costly. Retailers caught giving free plastic bags are subject to fines up to $10,000 yuan (about $1,500). I like to see that China is taking action to reduce oil consumption and become more green. There are other incentives, like tax breaks for vehicles with motors under a certain size. The Chinese economy and industry have come so far in the last twenty years. Cars are becoming more and more common. A close eye needs to be kept on pollution and these levels need to be kept in check to help the environment.

Day 7 - Home Alone style...

Today we started back up our classes and our daily field trips. The day started off with breakfast as usual and before getting on the bus I decided to go back to the room and grab my backpack. Upon returning to the lobby about 5-10 minutes later I had found that the group had left without me. I was left alone “Home Alone” style in China because there was a miscalculation during the head count on the bus. Luckily upon reaching the Tianjin McDonalds, roughly 3 blocks down the road my classmates realized I was not there. They turned around and came back and got me which I was happy about because we were on our way to a Winery where we got to taste wine and brandy. A few days ago I had a conversation with one of the Chinese students about China’s one child law. The student I spoke to was one of two siblings, she had a younger brother. She explained that her parents had to pay a onetime fee or tax on her brother. I believe the tax was roughly $1500. I explained that I only had one sibling myself but have friends with families consisting of up to four children. I also talked about how there a craze in America going on is families with multiple children. I told the student about some families that have 8-12 kids. They were really surprised on how people in America could care for and take care of so many children. I tried to explain how there are special services for families under those types of conditions, but the more technical my English got I could tell I was losing them in the conversation. My Chinese student friend said that many of her friends are only children and that even in China you can easily tell the difference between a child who has a sibling and one who is a single child. This aspect is common in America as well, I can often pick out an only child without asking if they have siblings or not.

Tianjin - Day 7 (5/31/09)

Today was our first day back to our normal routine after the holiday weekend. We had a change in schedule that switched our visit to the winery to 9 am and class to 2:30 pm. We left for the winery at 9:05 thinking that we had everyone until someone mentioned that Jeff's birthday was on Friday and nobody responded. We then realized that Jeff was not on the bus; we had a miscount because Margo's mom was on the bus with us. It was a good thing we realized early, we were only about 5 minutes away from the hotel when we did. Jeff was playing real life "frogger" trying to cross the street to get to our bus. That's one thing that is quite different from the United States. We yield for pedestrians when we're in our cars or on bikes, and cars yield to bikes. Here in China the cars have the right of way, then the bikes and finally the pedestrians. This makes street crossing a more involved activity, you can't just cross the street if the crossing sign is green, you'll inevitably be hit by a motor vehicle. Cars will usually yield if you're a part of a decent size group, but if you're alone they're pretty unforgiving. I can't wait until I'm back in the states and can cross the street based on the light rather than trying to play real life "frogger".

Brandy For Breakfast

Today I am going to blog about how we started off the day right. We got our wake up call at 8:20 in the morning got up showered and hopped on the bus to take us to the Dynasty wine factory. It was about a 40 min drive in the hot bus cramped in the back seat so I was very happy to see the sign for the winery. When we got there we were taken into a lecture hall looking thing but with big comfortable seats. This is where they gave us a little history bout the Dynasty winery. It has been around since 1980 and has been growing into a big company. They sell about 40 million bottles of wine each year. They are in the process of making a huge castle looking building that will have a lake and a golf course behind it. We didn't get to see this because it was not finished yet. When we walked into the bottle processing factory it was all ran by machines and it was really cool to see first hand how it was so automated. It was also interesting to see how many people where sitting around doing nothing. It looked like the easiest job ever. After the bottling process we went down into the wine cellar which was nine meters below ground. This is where we train a glass of when that cost about 750 U.S. dollars. IT was very good even though I am not a big wine drinker. The Cellar was huge it just had barrels and barels of wine. She told us that most of the wine stays down there for at least 3 years before it is bottled. After this we went to the brandy cellar were they gave us a shot of brandy that was 10,000 yuan which is about 1,500 U.S. dollars. It was good but very strong and when you don't eat breakfast before going it doesn't sit well in the stomach. After the brandy part that ended our tour of the winery. IT was really fun to see the operations of a company like that.

Friday & Saturday

Both days were free days. Friday was my sleep and resting day and also a two hour question and answer session with some on Dahui's college friends. It was an interesting lecture since it was first hand information. Each of Dahui's colleagues had very insightful topics to discuss. It was nice having them talk since they work here and can tell us first hand work experience. After they spoke, it was back to sleep! I think that i slept for at least 15 hours on Friday. I didn't go out with the group to AliBaba's or the dance club. I did see the sun come up Saturday morning which was kind of nice other than the fact that it was at 4:30 in the morning.

Yesterday, Saturday, was another low key day. Lots of sleeping! Pass & Angel took us around campus which was cool. It seems a lot more spread out that UMD. Also, just about all UMD's building are connected in some way. One of the coolest buildings on campus was just built last year for a competition. I can not remember what Angel said it was for. Some of the group went to play basketball while Steve Ashley & I went to a pizza place. We walked in but could not understand the hostess and she could not understand us. We thought it was closed because there were no lights on and no one else was in the place. We kind of figured out that we wanted to eat so she sat us down. It was an interesting time ordering since we could not read the menu, we could only point and that really didn't work either. We saw garlic bread in the menu but I guess it was not available when we were there. The pizza ended up being very cool and it was one of the few places we have gone to here that actually had very cold beer! After walking on campus in the hot sun, a cold beer was all that we wanted. It was very refreshing and I would definitely go back and get a different pizza with some cold beer!

Construction

Every direction that you look there is something new getting built or renovated. Whether it be a skyscraper or business getting fixing a few things. The amount of skyscrapers that are being built, whether their business or living complexes, makes me wonder a few things. First, is how is there funding for such construction jobs. To me there must be some very rich people, hence the saying the rich get richer and poor get poorer. It also makes me think how much do the works get paid, and what happens when the building is complete. Since the cost a labor is generally low here I cannot imagine many Americans working for wages that are probably paid here. Also, since there are so many people here do the workers keep there jobs and have to look elsewhere. The last thing I found interesting is the renovation McDonalds has done on their exterior and interior. In the one week we have been here they have almost completed their transformation. They wait till night to start working to avoid the amount of people they would run into during the day. Lastly, I will not be surprised to see even more buildings going up in Shanghai, like we did in both Beijing and Tianjin.

Tianjin - Day 6 (5/30/09)

Today was our second "free" day and we didn't have anything scheduled to do. We went to a nearby pizza place for lunch today and their pizza was pretty good. In China they seem to either go easy on the sauce or not even put sauce on a pizza, I don't exactly know why this is, although it does seem like the Chinese do not use much of the tomato sauces. This can also be seen if you go to McDonalds or KFC and order a large fry, they'll only include one packet of ketchup with your order. I'm not sure how many people can consume a whole large fry on only one packet of ketchup in the United States, but here they seem to manage fine. Most of the Chinese people I see that have fries eat them plain without any kind of sauce so maybe that is the reason why they only include one packet with your order. Anyway the menu at the pizza place was all in Chinese so we didn't know exactly what everything was, and we ended up getting a chicken and red pepper pizza which was quite good (even without sauce). Anyway tomorrow we start class again and we get to go to the winery which I think will be quite fun.

Day VI

Today, Jeff, Dylan, and I went to a few of IT malls. For the afternoon, I was just traveling in the heaven.. Tons of computers, cpus, motherboards, flash drives, mp3 players, and laptops. This is the place I never seem in the US. One thing I am very sure now after today's window shopping, no matter how much the price the salesman told you. It's always not the real price, because when I was in the mall and walking pass by a computer store, a sales told me a price for a laptop. Then after I left that store, another guy from another computer store just next to that one told me a price which is 1000 Yuan lower than that one for the same computer! So always keep bargaining when go shopping in the mall. Tomorrow we are going to have our first trip to a company, so excited!

Who’s the Minority Now?

When I’m in a group in a foreign country sometimes it is easy to forget that I am a minority in that foreign country. Then I traveled to Xi’an and had a moment of realization - I am completely and utterly alone as the minority and it has never been so apparent! A couple of my questions after a weekend in Xi’an are:
1) Do Americans have a “rip me off” stamp on their foreheads? OK, so I think Americans in China have a “rip me off” sticker on their foreheads. We talked about trustworthiness in class the other day and here is where I just have an issue with the Chinese culture. Why did a cab ride cost 100 Yuan, when it was only supposed to cost 80? Why did the woman at the bus stop try to make us get on a bus that would have cost 300 Yuan when the bus we were supposed to get on, for 7 Yuan, was only yards away? Why didn’t she help us instead of try to rip us off? Then, we are shopping at some shops outside the museum and they are telling us that all the other stuff is crap but theirs is “hand made.” I thought we learned in class that when marketing products, the Chinese culture doesn’t say one is better than the other. I am just having a hard time trusting any people in China and think that everyone is trying to rip me off. I don’t like this feeling.
2) Does the same supposed discrimination that happens to the Chinese in the US happen to us in China?
I noticed today, as we were walking through a courtyard lined with shops, that all the shop owners know enough English to yell “Hello, come look at my shop” to any white person that walks by. Too bad for them, there were a lot of white people at the Terra Cotta Warriors today, but I would bet only a handful of them spoke English. Then, we are trying to get on our plane and the woman taking tickets actually made us wait until a small group of Chinese people got on board. Obviously, these are just a few things, but I wonder if I would notice more things if we were here longer?
Anyway, the trip to Xi’an was great. Very rich in history! I can’t wait for another day tomorrow!!

Tianjin: Day 6

Today after lunch Jack, Jeff, and I went to a few of the Tech Malls around Tianjin. I was in geek heaven! There were motherboards, graphic cards, cpus, and other electronic equipment everywhere! These malls were much less extreme than the tech markets we went to in Beijing. By less extreme I mean that the sales people do not come and grab you and push towards their products, but here they usually will just say hello and ask you what you are looking for. A lot of the electronics in these malls were much more expensive than if you were to buy them online or in the States (except the DVD's priced at 6 Yuan each ;) ). What also was amusing to me was how in the markets they would sell pirated DVD's, software, music, and video games like it's a lemonade stand. If that happened in the states the RIAA and MPAA would show up with a SWAT team. Being in China affords me the opportunity to experience little things like this that I wouldn't be able to in the United States ... and I'm glad I get to experience them.

Nankai University

Today we got to walk around the Nankai University. It was very different from the UMD campus we are use to. First of all it was much larger, with many more facilities than you could even expect. The amount of dorms they have is ridiculous, especially knowing they have four students in each dorm versus the normal two that we typically have. They also have many more outdoor activity centers than we have back at UMD. Pass and Angel walked us around the campus from the west side to the east side showing us the different buildings and dormitories. The restrooms on campus were also very disgusting, back at UMD they would be required to up kept and maintained. I did enjoy walking through the campus though because they had a lot of beautiful scenery. Even though all their rivers that run through the campus were disgusting and green, over all it was very nice. As many of us have discussed before the architecture alone amazes us. UMD has a very nice campus, but I would love having a campus like the Nankai University; with a few alterations.

Xi'an field trip

I visited Xi’an on my two free days. Xi’an is about two and a half hours west of Tianjin by plane. Xi’an is home to the Terra Cotta Army (among many other things), which was ordered constructed by China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. The Army was discovered in 1974 by some farmers digging a well. Little did they know over 7,000 clay, life-sized soldiers would be discovered along with 130 chariots and nearly 700 horses. Much of the discovery has yet to be unearthed. The museum consists of three pits where excavation is still occurring on a daily basis. Many of the statues are broken due to pillagers trying to overthrow the Qin dynasty years later. They ransacked the site, and set fire to the wooden structure that sheltered the soldiers after construction. The broken statues are painstakingly restored and placed strategically back into place once finished. This experience was very unique and like nothing we have seen thus far. There were hardly any English-speaking people in Xi’an and communication was difficult with hotel staff, and bus and taxi drivers. Picture pointing, hand gestures, nodding, and making airplane noises and using my arms as wings seemed universally understood but still did not make it an easy trip. It was, however, a fun and educational side trip while we had a couple day break from lecture.

Recession??

On Thursday we attended a lecture which included an overview of China’s economy by Nankai Professor Qi Zheng at the hotel. The lecture provided extensive coverage of many aspects of China’s economy. The Chinese economy has been growing at a staggering rate of 13% in 2007, 9% in 2008, and a projected 6% in 2009. Professor Zheng seemed discouraged that China’s GDP was on the downward slide. The rest of the world is experiencing a recession, thus negative GDP growth. Therefore, by my calculations, a 6% growth in GDP is rather attractive in the state of the current worldwide economy. Another positive sign for the Chinese economy is that 1st quarter 2009 retail sales were up 15% year over year. In the US, 1st quarter 2009 retail sales were down year over year. Yet another positive indicator for the Chinese economy is the number of office buildings (skyscrapers, if you will) that we have seen being constructed. Between Beijing, Tianjin, and Xi’an (visited during our free time), there are dozens upon dozens of buildings being constructed. Professor Zheng pointed out that concrete and steel production are actually down, but just based on my own non-expert opinion, things really seem to be rolling in China. This country is definitely moving in the right direction and is a force to be reckoned with.

Basketball

I am going to blog about recreational basketball in China. This is almost the same as the U.S. but a little different. The kids here love basketball. They try to model themselves after a professional NBA basketball player. They are very knowledgeable about the NBA game. You can ask all of these kids who is playing in the finals game right now and they would be able to tell you the answer plus more. They could tell you who plays on which team and almost most of their stats. They absolutely love the game. If you walk by a basketball court here in China you notice that all of the hoops are full of kids playing. It is hard to find a spot for you to play. If you walk in the U.S. you are almost guaranteed a spot. They play outside here and very rarely inside because they don't have indoor courts. They suffer through the heat while they are playing and I give them credit because today I couldn't handle the heat anymore but they still wanted to play and pushed through it. The pick-up games they play are similar to the U.S. They keep score but their seems to be more of an emphasis on playing for fun. Nobody gets mad or very competitive. You play competitively and try hard but to them it doesn't matter if you win or not. They basically just want to have fun and they get a very big smile on their face when you tell them that yes I will play with you. Their style of play is similar to the U.S. other than that there seems to be more of a trend towards team play. They pass the ball a lot more and take shots only when they are wide open. Today I noticed that a kid was wide open and still passed the ball before shooting. These goes for most of the students other than Pass but he just loves the game so how can I blame him. This kid is so passionate about the game that I wish more students in the U.S. would be as passionate about sports as him. I have had the best time so far playing sports and getting to know these kids. They are great and I am so excited to see what else they have to offer in the next week.

Day 6 - No I Do Not Need Any Help Thanks....

Today was our second free day in a row in Tianjin. A few of my friends and I went wandering around and walked through three different electronic malls. Unlike in America where the retail stores are all consolidated under one name and brand China’s stores are all independent retailers competing with one another. They purchase the space within the building to sell their products. Many of the retailers sell the exact same products so the only differentiation they can offer is price, which is why bargaining is possible in many of China’s stores. The thing I have noticed though about almost all of the stores I’ve visited is that you can’t tell who is a customer and who is an employee. They typically do not wear a name tag or even a similar shirt to identify them as an employee. In the stores random people will come up and start talking to you about the products and it takes a while to register that they are sales people. The malls always seem to be extremely packed with people but it is impossible to determine how many are shoppers and how many are employees. I’m sure the workers at the mall can identify the shoppers much easier, especially when a bunch of white Americans come wandering through. Luckily in China there is no concern on finding an employee to answer a question. As soon as you look at a product they start talking to you trying to pull you into their booth. On a few occasions I have been physically pulled into a booth by a salesperson trying to have me look at something that I am not even remotely interested in. I have learned that the best tactic is to not make eye contact, look at products you are not interested in, or say hello to anyone. I will never complain about the one Target employee coming up and asking me if I need help finding anything ever again once I get back to the US.

Security?!?

Security - a little different than the USA. The first thing I noticed about going through airport security in Tianjin was that they did not make us take our liquids out of our bag. They did say that we couldn’t have large amounts of liquids, like a pop or a water, but they didn’t need our stuff segregated into Ziploc bags like in the USA. The second thing that surprised me was that we didn’t have to take our shoes off to go through the security checkpoint, but everyone did get “wanded“ (you know the wand metal detectors) once through the big metal detector. I was impressed that I did have my bag searched, for my electric toothbrush, on my bag’s trip through the checkpoint, so at least they were looking at the X-ray monitor! That much cannot be said for the security checkpoint at the Terra Cotta Army Museum in Xi‘an! The Museum had a BIG sign posted that told us NO liquids were allowed except for non-alcoholic beverages. Shane and I both walked in with shampoo, conditioner, water, toothpaste, etc. without an issue. Our bags went through the scanner, but who knows where the monitor was, or even a person to check a bag if it had something dangerous in it. I guess if I look at the security measures I witnessed during out trip to Xi’an, they weren’t too bad, but they weren’t too good either. I have a better appreciation now for our security in the USA but that’s not to say I don’t feel safe in China. My trip to Xi’an was fantastic! I can’t wait for the rest of the trip!

day 12

Today we went to a western restauant. I thought this food was very good. For the pizza I think that it was better tasting than the Pizza Hut they have over here. The spagetti was just okay. For the salads, I thought that was horrible. I think it is really interesting to see what kinds of food the Chinese people have came up with. In the states we have Amercanized Chinese food and it feels like it is totally different from what we eat over here. Where as the restaurants here that serve Chinese Amercanized food, the food is similar but taste different. I wonder if somebody actually opened up a real American food would people be willing to get the food.

day 11

Today, Dahui's friends came and talked to us. Origninally I had thought that it was going to be boring. But it ended up to be really interesting. The thing that really surprised me the most is when one of the guys were talking about the jobs. Like how it use to be where they would hire people outside China before their own people. Now its the opposite where they hire Chinese people before the outsiders. This is interesting because now it feels like in the economy in the States, if you are Chinese and can speak and write you have the leverage above everyone. This is interesting how the business world is revolving. Another thing that was intersting to me was that I did not know there was such thing as a VIP thing. This is interesting becuase I thought all banks just treat their customers all the same.

Cord Houle: Tianjing Day 5

Today’s class was lead by some professionals from the financial services industry. I was intrigued to find out the current state of the financial services industry in china. One of the large drivers of the growth is all the construction projects in china that need funding. Another area of growth is the personal wealth of the individuals within the banking system as the standard of living level increases for many Chinese. I was surprised to find out about the relatively immature derivatives markets in china, consisting primarily of swaps and forwards. The US has an extremely advanced derivatives market with the ability to design instruments to hedge against almost any event, including weather. The professionals were all really knowledgeable and provided a unique firsthand perspective at the thoughts of many financial service professionals in china.

Later that night we visited a local bar known as Ali Bah Bah’s. This Bar was located down a dark alley near the university; on the outside, it had no lights and would have been very easily passed had we not known were to go. It was interesting to find out that in china, places cannot be a bar. They can only be labeled as restaurants that serve beer. This means that they were subject to laws that govern restaurants. The place was full of mostly international students as it was a local hang out for them. After getting smoked a few times at foosball, we sat around and talked with our new friends from the Nankai University.

Pass and Tracy

Yesterday afternoon during our free day we were visited by Pass and Tracy from the university. We spent time watching the movie Matrix, and we showed them pictures on facebook. We got to show them some of our hometown friends. After showing them this Pass showed us something very interesting that Nankai University has set up. They have a similar social networking system to facebook that is run by Nankai. I thought it was interesting because it gave them the capabilities to post pictures, talk with other students, make friends, and communicate throughout the campus. While signing on it showed Pass friends that were currently online at the time. One of the names of the students was MonsterJam! We also learned that Tracy tried to get the name T-Mac first, but it was already taken. This made me think if a social networking system like this could work at a smaller University like ours. One problem would be other networking systems in place like facebook, myspace, and twitter. Would people want to switch or even take the time to use the system. I thought it was an interesting setup and I am sure there are others like it else where.

Day 5

I am going to blog about some of the stuff I learned from the professionals, especially the SEC rules and regulations. I really wanted to know whether or not they had strict rules like the U.S. I learned that after the 1998 Asian Financial crisis that the government came up with some strict rules. Some of the rules that are required is full disclosure and the disclosure is an annual thing. It is not just a one time disclosure rule. There are also different rules for different size companies. The big corporations are required to release information on a regular basis and more disclosure than the smaller companies. Some of these rules seem similar to the U.S. and it is amazing to see how that works.

May 29, 2009

Handicap Ramps

Today here in Tianjin was a very relaxing day. Other than having a Question and Answer session with a few professionals in the banking industry, the day consisted of whatever we wanted to. For most sleep was of first priority. I got to try the Chinese burgers for the first time today for lunch, I heard many good things about them so far so I was excited. I believe my expectations were set to high to start because I didn’t enjoy them that much, they were ok. But, it was the trip to get the burgers that I found interesting. On our way back we had to walk close to the buildings because there was a car driving on the side walk, which for one I find very strange. So while walking on the side of one of the buildings we walked down a ramp, we then realized it was a handicap accessible ramp. That was the first handicap accessible ramp I had seen in the two weeks we have been here. Back home its required for every company and business to have handicap accessible everything, from ramps, to parking spots, to bathrooms. It still amazes me how simple things like that can be so different in different areas of the world.

Tianjin - Day 5 (5/29/09)

Today was a very nice and relaxing day (first one in a while and best one overall). We had some Chinese bank employees come from SPB Bank to answer some of our questions. I was surprised when I learned that 3/4 of them were MIS majors in college; being that they're in mainly the finance industry now and only one of them had a finance degree. This really does illustrate China's need for persons with a finance degree and I see how far organizations are willing to go to get them. They also nicely explained how the Chinese economic situation was performing, and it is doing relatively well compared to the rest of the world. The increase of the value of RMB has affected the export companies in China the most and is causing a lot of them to go out of business due to the fact that foreign countries have to pay more for their goods because their monetary unit is worth significantly less than it used to be compared to RMB (hence the Chinese goods are costing them more money). It is amazing how well China is thriving during this economic downturn, it's probably one of the few places in the world that currently is doing alright.

Day V

Today I finally didn't hear my alarm from my cellphone, I can keep sleeping until I wake up naturally. What a forgotten wonderful feeling! At the afternoon, Teacher Li has invited his friend who are professional in the finance and banking areas to have face to face discussion with us. I personal think that I learn the most from today's short discussion. From today's discussion, I noticed that, the global financial crises does't seem to really impact the Chinese banks. One reason for that might be most banks make many loans to the government for their project. And the interest they get for these loans are one of their majority incomes. The other thing we need to remember is, sometimes the major we have chosen in the college is not really decide the job you have to do in the future. And finally, like Mr. Zhou said, no matter where we go, where we work, we need to set goal for ourselves and go for it. Then one day we will success. Then one day Teacher Li might ask us to speak to his students, if he can wait. :)

Day 5 - Working Hard

Today was our first “free day” since being in China. Last night we went out to a local bar called Allibabas with some of the Chinese students from Nankai University. I was able to have a few really good conversations with some of the students about various topics. One of the topics I found to be most interesting was that of working while in college. Back in America it is very common if not expected for a student to have some sort of job while attending school. In China it is the exact opposite. They explained to me that so much time is devoted to school that they can’t find outside jobs. I spoke to the students and told them that while in school I worked only 1-15 hours a week and that was considered relatively low compared to other students. They were surprised and thought 15 hours was a lot. They couldn’t understand how we can balance both school and work. I asked if any of them have ever had a part time job and most of them said no. I then described how I have had about 5-6 different jobs since I was 16. The students asked if the school helps you find a job and I told them that at UMD there are roughly 1200 on campus jobs which are created especially for students. I also told them about how our school has a work study program and there are links on our website to help UMD students find job openings around campus. In America it is often necessary for students to work to earn enough money to pay for school and other living expenses. The Chinese students told them that all their education funding comes from their families back home.

club scene

Today I am blog about how the nightlife is in China is the same as most of the bars that I go to in the states. Last night we went to a bar that was called summerset. When we walked in they were playing American music and everyone was dancing around. This is like most of the bars that I go to in Duluth and in the cities. Everyone is having a good time socializing with each other. The other bar that we went to called Alli Babas was more of a restaurant not a bar. We didn’t realize this at first so we were being very loud and yelling at each other. We quickly found out that we could not do this because there was a family that was living up on top of the bar/restaurant that complained about the noise. It was still loud so the cops actually came to the place and told us that we had to be quiet. This was the first time I have been to a bar where the cops had to come because it was so loud.

Nightlife in Tianjin at AliBaba's

While at AliBaba's, we were sitting around a table and telling others to chug some or all of their beer. While they were chugging, everyone else was yelling. It was fun at the time, but a little later the cops showed up at the restaurant. I would say it was for sure our fault they came. Also, the owner came over to our table and told us to be quiet since it was after 10 and we were in a restaurant. I later had a conversation with Dahui about how we were acting. When we were yelling, Dahui wanted to come over and tell us to be quiet. He again wanted us to learn from our mistakes. Chinese drinking culture is a lot different than what we are used to in the US. On any given night in the US, we can go out and be loud with loud music. The main difference is that we can not drink outside or drink in the taxi or bus. I am amazed that anyone can drink and drink anywhere they are. You can walk down the street with a beer, but you will most likely never see a Chinese person walking down the street with a beer. The Chinese people will not go to a bar and be loud as we were.

Where are the Women?

I am trying to figure out if women aren’t very into sports over here. You always hear about the Chinese Women’s Soccer Team but what else. The other day when we went to the university we started in the gym playing bad mitten and ping pong. It was all guys originally playing in there until Angle came and played ping pong with us. Then we went outside to play basketball and the basketball courts were completely full but still no girls. Margaux and I were the only girls playing basketball, and you could tell they didn’t often play with girls. Granted we were the best basketball players it was still really hard to get them to pass us the ball. Margaux and I came up with an agreement that we would let each other be wide open so they would pass us the ball, and then if we got it we could shoot. Very rarely did one of the Chinese students pass us the ball still, when we got the ball it was usually from one of our American guys. After we each had a few shots and still missed that even limited the number of times we got the ball as well. It is understandable that they wanted to win, but everyone keeps saying that men and women here are actually on the same level when I just don’t see that.

May 28, 2009

Basketball

What a great Birthday. After class I was able to go over to the University and just play games. I played bandmitten and then basketball. Ashley and I noticed that we were the only girls out playing basketball. I wasn't exactly surprised by this but I wish that I saw more females partcipating in "male" activities. Ashley and me played on opposite teams and left eachother open to see if we ever get the ball passed to us. Let's just say it was rare. For the evening we wwent to the Korean Barbeque next door and then out to Alli Babas. My question is how are birthday's celebrated in China?

Basketball

For the sports day i made the decision to play basketball with the Chinese kids. There streetball is a little different then how we play in the states. First off, when warming up if you make the basketball you do not get the ball back (change) the person who gets the rebound just takes the next shot. Also when playing a game if a team scores a basket, the get to keep the ball aka make it take it. It was very fun playing but i am definitely sore from yesterdays activities since we playe not to 11, 21, 31, but 45! It was crazy and i thank mother nature for giving us rain so i did not die on the court. There is one huge difference when it comes to American basketball and Chinese basketball. Americans are a lot more aggressive when it comes to the game. We definitely bump bodies more, rebound better, and make more contact in a usual play. I noticed, besides pass, all the Chinese students were very timid when it came to the game. When getting a pass and having an open lane they would not drive the basket, but take the open jumper right where they were. Also if i were to be aggressive enough i could have gotten every rebound. The last thing that made the game much more interesting was playing on the stiffest rim ever. Even John missed a few lay ups during the game, also the nets had niether chain or silk nets. I look forward to playing with pass and his friends again.

Nightlife

I am going to blog about the nightlife of China. From the first 2 weeks of going out I have noticed some things about how the Chinese people party. There are many clubs out there and it seems like a lot of the people really like to go out and dancing. Drinking is involved but I don't believe their main goal is to get passed out drunk. Like Dr. Li was telling us people feel embarrassed for someone when they are drunk so I don't believe it is something they like to do. The dancing in these clubs is kind of like the U.S. where there is dirty dancing but I see the dancing here is more contemporary as well. You don't dirty dance, you just dance with them. I like this style a lot. It is hard to describe but I am sure you know what I mean. Also, the DJ's in these clubs are very good. They know what music to play and how to keep everyone involved dancing. They play a lot of Techno and American music. This shows me that the Chinese really like our Hip Hop style of music so they use it over here. Lastly, the bands they have are amazing. They are very linguistic and can speak 3 or 4 different languages. They can sing many songs in different languages and it is really neat to see how they accommodate the foreign people by singing in all these languages. I have really enjoyed the club scene so far and I am excited to see what else is out there.

day 10

I noticed another ambulance go by with the lights on today. Yesturday there was one with its lights on. I feel like that it is so pointless with these things. What I don't understand is why have the lights on and the sound going if nobody moves or pay attentions to them. Even more werid is they stop at the stop light or wait for people to move around them. It feels like they are a normal vehicle except it has flashing lights and sounds.

Tonight for dinner we went to the Korean bbq. This was most definetly different from the one that I went out to Las Vegas. I noticed how we had someone cooking for us. There was always somebody serving us. We were never left alone for more than a moment. I think that is so awsome that we do not have to tip. Otherwise we may have went poor just with the tipping seeing how impressed we all were with the servers.

Cord Houle: Tianjin day 4

Today our class was on economics and marketing. The bulk of the lecture was talking about Chinese GDP growth rates and economic trends within china. This was a very interesting, albeit dry lecture. The professor did a great job to identify both positive and negative trends within china. Some of the positive trends are its growth rate even in the face of a global recession and Chinas high amount of foreign reserves. Some of the negative things mentioned where the high leverage to exports during a economic downturn and a slowdown in housing purchases and starts within china. A major trend that was pointed out was a fundamental shift in Chinese policy; this shift was that the government would start to focus on expanding the domestic consumption part of the GDP and scale back the reliance on exports. Once the majority of Chinas GDP is no longer reliant on foreign purchasing of Chinese goods, the currency will be free to fluctuate. This would most likely result in an appreciation of the Yuan to the US dollar.

After Class I had my first visit to a Chinese McDonalds. The McDonalds was BUSY, there was nowhere to sit and a mob in front of the counter. A woman with a picture menu was walking around taking peoples orders and writing them down on a piece of paper for us to give to the cashier. This made the whole process a lot easier and painless. I am happy to report that if anything the food is less greasy over here than in the states but tastes just as good. The fries were fresh and hot and the big-mac was just as it is in the states. It was a little nice to give the stomach break and feed it something it is used to.

After lunch we went to the university to play some racquet sports. Ping pong and badminton to be exact. I realized that Ping Pong in china is not the same sport as in the US… haha. But badminton was great! One thing that all students shared was that we all loved to play sports. Their favorites were ping pong, soccer, and basketball. Many of the students paid attention to the NBA playoffs in America and probably knew more about the players than I did. Overall we shared a lot in common with the students from china and they were all easy to get along with.

Tianjin - Day 4 (5/28/09)

Today was a very interesting day. It was Margo's birthday so we went out to one of the fancier restaurants we've been to so far, which was right next to the hotel. The food there was fantastic, especially the marinated beef; everything was cooked at your table on a coal fire pit which they brought out and placed in a receptacle on your table. The most amazing thing about it was that for how upscale the restaurant was it only cost us around what a fast food value meal would back in the states. They also played birthday music for a while in Chinese as well as English and the cake we had was unique but very good. Later on we went out to Ali Baba's with the Chinese students. I was astounded by the skill of some of the foosball players that were there. Hanging out with the Chinese students was one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. Most of them are pretty quiet except for Pas and Tracy, both of which were quite fun and at some points got pretty wild. Pas seemed to be a big fan of tapping his bottle on yours so that your beer would overflow (I don't know if it was a good idea for us to teach him that). The night had to be one of my favorite experiences thus far, being able to hang out with Chinese students our age and have a great time.

day 4-------------

Today’s lecture was interested. Professor bill taught us an economic class about china economic market. From the estimated number of export, china becomes the third market in the world. Also, china’s GDP has growth up since twenty century. And china becomes one of the highest GDP in the world. There are somehow getting some problem why become so strong in couple years ago. We look at the GDP per person, china is ranked 107. That is why people see GDP person rather than GDP. With 1.3billion population live in china, china cannot get a good average of GDP while there are so much more poor people than rich people. So, when we divide the GDP and 1.3billion, we would expect a low average of GDP.

In the middle of the class, I felt my stomach hurt so badly. Although, I try to drawing some picture to relieve my hurt, but it still hurt. With the hurt, I cannot listen to the professor and I just want to get out of class earlier. Class still going on, but my stomach still hurt when time past. Finally, I cannot sit anymore. Then I went to bathroom for a toilet. I felt some embarrassing when I go to bathroom, everyone just look me. I just want to go bathroom because I cannot hold it anymore.
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that is what i get today~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`


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In the afternoon, we went to the university to play sport with those Chinese students. I went to play basketball with Alex, dj , and Margo’s brother. Her brother is super tall and strong. He just reminds me Michel fell. The one who won eight gold in the Olympus game. We have a game together; Margo’s brother is play like machine. He just do whatever he want when he plays and no one can stop him while he is moving.

And today is Margo’s birthday. Happy birthday………………..

Ctrip - how does that work?

Shane and I have found out, the hard way, just how difficult it is to travel within China - using ctrip.com. It isn't as easy as making a reservation and knowing everything is done. It took us two different internet accounts, three different credit cards, an unknown number of phone calls, and an extra fax in order to make reservations to get to Xi'an for two days and one night. I never thought that traveling within a foreign country that I am already in would be so difficult, but apparently foreigners traveling around the country by plane is not as easy as if we were doing it within our native country. Passport information needed to be provided as well as a local mobile phone number. How many foreigners do you know with a cell phone from China? Not many!! Then, we had to send in an authorization form including copies of the card holder's passport and credit card into to ctrip.com to confirm our flight. Thank goodness for the Hanting staff that made the hotel booking process easy; the only thing that has been easy about the trip to Xi'an thus far!! I think, looking back, if I would have known that this was such a pain in the butt that I still may have tried, but this blog should stand as a warning to any others that may want to travel within China by plane. It isn't as easy as it seems and be prepared to be frustrated!

Day IV

Today we spent a couple hours on playing sports in the Nankai University. I was very excited, because I can play badminton there! I was enjoyed playing the sport for two hours, although my shirt got very wet and my body got very sticky. I hope we can do the sports activities more often. After that, I went to Mr. Li for dinner. When I sat down on, the waitress gave me the menu and I ordered their famous California beef noodles. After the waitress put the order to the kitchen for about 20 seconds. A bowl of hot and delicious noodle came straight to me. So next time if you are in a hurry, don't go to KFC or Mcdonals. Go to Mr. Li, it is faster than the fast food and it tastes very good too. Also it is cheaper than Mcdonals, I only spent 11 yuan and felt so full. At night, we went to the "A Li Ba Ba" with the Chinese students. It was my first time to go to a bar. And Dan and DJ bought me a Qingdao, my first beer I ever have in China. Hey guys you are the men! I am very appreciate that.

Day 4 - Does Everybody Know What Time it is?

Today was our fourth day in Tianjin and if finally cooled off! Something I am noticing that really upset and annoys me is the lack of Clocks there are in this country. China is more polychromic when it comes to time which means they aren’t as time oriented as Americans are, but I can’t find a clock anywhere. There isn’t one is any of the restaurants we have been in, there isn’t one in our class conference room, and weirdest of all there haven’t been clocks in either of our hotel rooms. I used to get teased because I always wore a watch and become upset when people were two minutes late. Since then I have stopped wearing a watch and I have gotten a little better, but being in China is a whole new test for me. People who know me from home know I need to know what time it is and since I don’t have a watch in China and I don’t have my cell phone you can understand how frustrating this experience is for me. There aren’t even clocks in the hotel lobby, I keep looking around for them but rarely find one. Chinese people value time differently than do Americans. We Americans like to stick to lists, order, and specific date and times. In America if we say we will be there at 5:30, we will be there at 5:30. In China if you say 5:30 that could mean anywhere between 5:25-5:45. Typically in China they run on the later side of the time spectrum. Our group has been running late to a few different activities throughout the trip but we have been told to not worry and that the Chinese people will not be upset if we are a little late. In fact they may not be there waiting for us anyways.

Tianjin: Day 4

What a great day ... after lecture this morning we went to the University to play ping pong and badminton with a few Chinese students. Ivan, one of the students taught my how to play ping pong with a "penhold" grip on the paddle. This is typically the preferred way of holding a ping pong paddle in Asia as compared with the "hand shake" hold in western culture. It was as if I had to completely relearn the game from scratch, but I wasn't too bad after a few games. Ivan even taught me a couple new serves which also took a while to get the hang of.

After supper at the Korean BBQ, next to the hotel, we all went to Ali Baba's which is a restaurant/bar where a lot of international students hang out. Quite a few of the Chinese students who have been coming to lectures in the morning and ones we played sports with this afternoon also came with. It was great to get to socialize with them. We did a lot of talking of cultural differences and even similarities. We all were laughing when they (Tracey, Pas, and Jun) would talk about scenes from the movie American Pie (which is more popular in the US, and a few of them have seen before) or when we would try and learn new phrases in Chinese. It was great for all of us to get along, talk, laugh, and have a good time.

Does anyone have any Ben-Gay???

Today, our group enjoyed a couple of hours of sports activities at Nankai University with the students. It was an enjoyable experience and a good time was had by all. Sports are one of those things that are understood universally across all cultures. We chose from badminton, basketball, or table tennis. I spent the majority of the time on the badminton court, watching the birdie sail through the rafters on multiple occasions. It proved to be a good workout for “the old man” of the group. My right shoulder is killing me right now. Does anyone have any Ben-Gay? There was plenty of laughing and camaraderie that occurred on those courts today. Any minor cultural barriers that may have existed before we stepped foot out there has now vanished. The only barrier that might still exist is the language barrier, but we have a ways to go before that is overcome, just a few thousand characters and phrases to learn…I am extremely impressed at the abilities of the Chinese student’s to speak English. I think I mentioned yesterday that Tracy has been working on his English for eight+ years. I have been practicing Chinese for eight+ days and am still not very good. I still wonder what I was hollering on the streets of Beijing (thanks, DJ) the night we all went out. Today was a great experience. This trip just keeps getting better and better. Every night I go to sleep (or, pass out more like it-from all the activities) wondering what the next day has in store for us. What will tomorrow hold???

May 27, 2009

day 9

Today we went to some historical chinese place. I thought that it was interesting because its something you would see in the States. I think it is kind of odd to see something like this in China. It is so tourist that I think it is just a little ridiculous.

The boat ride was interesting. I thought that it was a good thing thing that we took the ride. The reason being is that we got to see all the bridges. But getting there was kind of nasty. I mean I have seen rivers but this one was interesting nasty. I thought that was kind of sad to see a dead fish loating bottoms up.

Class was really interesting because we all got to interact.

Day 3

Before class, we learbed what our chinese names would be. The chinese students initially shared their ne=ames and what they represent. Christina told me that since her birth date was on the 14th, very unlucky, her parents names her Good Luck. The girl Joyce's name seemed to imply that her father wanted a son to ensure that the family money would be passed on. I like how the names represent something so literal.

After c;lass we went and purchased Chinese burgers. The thing that I noticed for the first time since being here is that they have no taxes on food or anything that we bought at the markets. This then made me wonder how does the governnment raise money? Do they have income tax, property tax, or are businesses taxes. In America taxes are partly used to create programs that will help the lives of its citizens like Welfare. In class we were told that volunteering or giving back to the community was rare. So I guess what I really want to learn more about is how does the government operate over here.

Cord Houle: Tianjing day 3

Today was the second day of class and was kicked off by a great lecture by Professor Li. He talked about the cultural differences between Americans and the Chinese and how those differences come into play in both social and business settings. He stressed the importance of GuanXi, a term that also showed up in the book I read before we left for China. GuanXi is all about the relationships you build with people be it friends of partners in a business venture. This theme is one deep seated in the Chinese culture and one that should be learned by anyone tempting to do business in china. The turnover rate for expat corporate executives in china is about 50% largely due to them no learning this single important lesion.

After class we went for lunch and a couple of the Chinese students brought a few of us to one of their favorite places to eat. It was a Korean BBQ buffet where we could get all kinds of meat as well as desserts. Surprisingly, this place didn’t have chopsticks… we were forced to eat with the old fork and knife. The waiters came around and would lop off hunks of this meat or that onto our plate and move on. The chicken hearts and cow tong weren’t bad but what really through me for a loop was when they brought out their version of German sausage. While it tasted very similar to a sausage link it was the fact that we were being served this in China. The food was great even if the slight western theme to some of the dishes and lack of chopsticks weirded me out a bit.

After lunch we were off to a market that was reminiscent of those back in Beijing; except for one thing, everything in this market was much cheaper than anything we paid for the stuff in Beijing. This market was in a cultural market that sold a lot of traditional objects like tea sets and chopsticks. The shops were less abrasive and the prices they quoted you where much closer to the fair prices for the products. The whole market looked quite traditional and in Tianjin this markets buildings are some of the only building I have seen that look traditional. Most of Tianjin seems to have cranes building huge buildings as far as the eye can see. Chinas dramatic growth over the past five years doesn’t seems so crazy when you observe a skyline of cranes and half built skyscrapers.

Day III

As Teacher Li mentioned yesterday, today's class will be the most interesting. Indeed it was. We talked about the differences between Chinese culture and communication and other Western countries. At the afternoon, we went to Hai He and took a boat for tour. Then we went to the Ancient Culture Street to go shopping. And I found some very interesting thing between bargaining in Tianjin and Beijing. Which is, in Beijing you usually have to bargain with the sales once by once. But in Tianjin, when Dylan was watching in the Chinese chess, the sales was offering 180 Yuan at the first time. Then the sales us if we are really interested to buy the chess or not. Then we said maybe. Then she said that she could give us a lower price, 110 Yuan. Then we said we will think about it and ready to leave the store. And then the sale just offered another lower price for only 80 Yuan. I can see that that's the lowest price we can get, but I want to tell you we get this more than 50% off price with a conversation without any bargaining for less than 45 seconds. So here is one little suggestion for bargaining, sometimes if you can't get the price you want, you may just leave, and then there is a very big probability that the sales will offer you a lower price.
Tonight, when I was watching TV, I saw a channel was posting a conundrum, and the interesting thing is they were offering cash for people the tell them the answer. Here is the question: When you buy it, is black, when you use it, is red, when you are done finish it, is grey. (This is a living good) HInts that the TV give us: people tends to buy the darker one. we usually use it more often during the winter.

Do signs replace police?

We have all seen and talked about the terrible drivers here in China, but I still cannot grasp the concept that police rarely ever have someone pulled over. The only times that I can recall seeing police officers was if they turned on their lights to try and get through traffic faster, or when there lights are off and our taxi drivers cut them off as if they were any other car. I understand that bicycles can also drive on the street because they can do that as well back home. But when you have two lane one ways and the bikes are going the wrong way down the road just riding through traffic how can that not be illegal. It makes me wonder what the point is for them to even have one ways. Back home you always see people pulled over whether it’s for speeding, no seatbelt, drinking and driving, or wreckless driving. We have seen many signs throughout the streets that imply these rules, but have never seen anyone pulled over showing that the rules are actually enforced.

Group Pictures(Click for Better View)

At Beijing Bullet Train StationIMG_1755.jpg
In the Classroom with Chinese StudentsIMG_1773.jpg
In the Classroom with Chinese StudentsIMG_1774.jpg
In the Classroom with Chinese StudentsIMG_1775.jpg
At Tianjin City Planning Exhibition CenterIMG_1787.jpg
At the Highest Tianjin Ferris Wheel IMG_1850.jpg

Tianjin - Day 3 (5/27/09)

Going to the market today was quite interesting. The prices there were significantly lower than the markets in Beijing even after negotiation with the people at the Beijing markets. I purchased a custom made poster with my name in Chinese written on it (as did many other people) with a box for 20 yuen. I also purchased a relatively inexpensive but quite cool looking katana, wakizashi, and tanto set with a stand for 180 yuen. I figured I could put them in either of my bags but the katana turned out to be larger than both of the bags. I'll have to try to mail at least the katana back but I will probably try to mail them all back since I'm not 100% sure that I can have them packed on the plane in my checked bags (but I'm pretty sure I can, I've checked knives and things before and the swords are not sharpened). Hopefully it won't cost too much to ship these items back to the United States. I don't imagine it would be more than the cost of the swords themselves but I guess I'll find out when I go to the post office. I could just mail the katana and pack the wakizashi and tanto away, they both will fit in my bags (the wakizashi with a little bit of finagling, but it should fit).

天津: Day 三

Today really emphasized the importance of relationships among individuals within a culture and cross-culture relationships. This morning Professor Li gave a very interesting lecture on cross-cultural communications between The United States and China, focusing a lot on "Guanxi" which references interpersonal relationships that are based on trust, mutual benefit, and long-term orientation. After lecture a few of us went with a few Chinese students studying here at Nankai University to a barbecue restaurant. The students who took us were Stephen, Tracey, and Jun. It was great getting to sit down, have lunch and talk with them. It turns out Jun and Stephen are also MIS Majors so we had quite a bit to talk about: comparing MIS courses offered at Nankai University as compared to UMD, courses we were taking, and goals we hope to achieve after graduating. I look forward to talking to them and getting to know them further. I also look forward to playing some sports tomorrow at the University!

Difference in 2 markets

Today I am going to blog about the difference in two markets, the Beijing and Tianjin Culture Street. The Beijing markets have people that are way more persistent. They hardly let you walk down the street without getting yelled at to come look at their product and how they have a good price. They seemed to be really pushy and it made me not want to buy their product. Today we went to Culture Street. This was very calm and peaceful. The people weren't pushy and just let you walk around. The prices seemed also to be cheaper here as well. I enjoyed the market a lot more because it was actually culture stuff they were selling. In the Beijing market they were selling Ipods, cameras, watches, etc. Most Americans don't need stuff like this because we have a lot of it already. The Culture street had stuff that was handmade and really represented what type of culture they were. I really liked that about this market a lot. i didn't even bargain any prices because I felt so comfortable and relaxed that I couldn't do that to them. They also had put a lot of time into what they had made and it wouldn't have felt right to bargain their prices. I didn't mind bargaining in Beijing because they were so pushy and sold fake stuff, like their watches and sunglasses. That is the differences I see in two markets thus far.

Another day in the life of the Chinese in Tianjin

This blog is not about today in particular but it was very noticeable for me today. Steve and I walked to McDonald's for dinner and almost got hit by bikers, moped-ers, and cars. When walking, you need to pay more attention than anyone else on the road. Drivers could care less about walkers since they are in cars and are bigger. I really never feel safe when on the sidewalk since I guess you can drive and park on the sidewalks. Also, when we were eating, we sat by the window and watched the intersection near McDonald's. The arrows directing traffic really don't mean anything. The color of the arrows also don't mean anything. Cars and buses won't even stop when their arrow is red when they are taking a turn. I am amazed that we haven't seen anyone injured since we have been here by a car, bus, or even moped. It just seems that the drivers are way more attentive than drivers in the US. If we were to go through a red light, we would for sure get pulled over and get a ticket.

During class this morning, Dahui showed us a picture of a line and then a picture of people cluttered around an entrance. This is the same with drivers, when turning there could be five cars cluttered up wanting to turn when there should only be one car turning at a time. I can't believe that they are not accidents every five seconds in China. Chinese drivers must just be better than we are.

Day 3=Chinese BBQ

A few of us enjoyed a delicious lunch with some of the Chinese students today. It was a very enjoyable experience for all involved. I think we were as excited to hear about them as they were us. It was intriguing to hear similarities and differences in our two cultures. For instance, we were explaining that Americans drink beer socially and they did not quite understand until Jun said “like we drink tea in China.” Yes Jun, as a matter of fact that is correct! We tried a variety of dishes from chicken heart to squid to German sausage. It was all quite good (I was too stuffed to try the cow tongue!!!). The experience was more than the food. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Jun, Tracy, and the tall, skinny gent (I didn’t catch his name). The students were very easy to communicate with-I was amazed at how good their English speaking abilities are. Tracy was the comedian among us. One of our group asked him if has eaten dog before. Not only did he tell us yes, he told us how to best prepare it! Eating dinner with them was an eye-opening experience for me. It helped me realize that we all have very much in common and the cultural differences are so minor, they hardly bear mentioning.

Laundry attempt...first and maybe the last

I first want to say I respect everyone in China that has to do their own laundry. Today I attempted for the first time to do my laundry by hand without a machine. Since many people in China do not have access to machines or cannot afford to use a machine they have to wash everything by hand. After listening to others I figured the best way to go about doing my laundry is washing and letting the clothes sit in the sink, then rinse with in the shower, then hang in the shower. To wash my clothes in the sink I used a tide bar that I purchased at Wal-Mart in Beijing. It seemed to work well in getting out the dirt and making the clothes smell somewhat decent. The problem I had while washing was keeping the water from getting all over the floor and from making me soaking wet. At which I accomplished neither of these. I had to wipe the floor and change my shirt after I was finished washing my clothes. Since I was not thinking that I had to rinse my clothes as well, I preceded to get my other shirt wet while rinsing the clothes in the shower. After doing this for the first time, I have come to the conclusion that it will probably be my last. So I will try to find any possibly way to wash my clothes that will not cost me as much. So I feel bad that many Chinese people do this by hand. I assume that they have the technique down a lot better than me so I am sure its not as difficult. So I and everyone in the U.S. should be thankful that we get to use such great machines that I took for granted growing up.

Workers safety in China

Today I am going to blog about the safety precautions that the Chinese have. The whole trip overall and today I have noticed that the Chinese workers are not very safe. When you look up at the sky scrappers that are being built all around China you will not find much safety equipment that they use. Today I saw workers on top of what looked to be a 35 story building walking across steel beams that couldn't be much larger then a foot wide. They didn't have a safety cord or harness attached to them all that was below was a thin netting that was there to stop falling debris from falling to the ground not falling people. This would never be the case back in America. You would be strapped in with a harness and safety line. Another thing that I noticed today was when we went to McDonalds For the THIRD time since we have been in Tianjin there was workers working on the outside of the building. They were welding off the sign for the building and I couldn't believe what they were wearing. There was sparkes flying every where they didn't have eye protection on at all and were wearing what looked to be slippers. This did not seem to be very smart on there part and they could have been injured very easy. It just show how different China is from America in trying to prevent injury.

Car Statistics

Walking on the street with three Chinese students provided another couple of scary moments today. Two of the students had bikes, but they all walked with us. As we were walking I was again amazed at how frantic all the pedestrians, bikes, and cars are. The crossing signal says to walk, and in the US you can for the most part do what the sign says, but in China you must still yield to the cars and the bikes. If the cars don’t look like they are going to hit you and the bikes are swerving then pedestrians have the right to walk. As we were walking I asked Tracey (one of the Chinese students) how many people get hit by a car here every year. Jokingly, he told us that everyone gets hit by a car at some point in their lives, but in all reality he thought that every year about 1 million people get hit by cars. This peaked my interest, so I did some research. Here is a paragraph from car-accidents.com:

“China is the world's most populous country with over 1.3 billion people, about a fifth of the earth's total population. According to official studies there are about 450,000 car accidents on Chinese roads each year which cause about, 470,000 injuries and 100,000 deaths. The total cost of these crashes was 2.4 Billion dollars. The study concluded that 92 percent of these accidents were due to bad driving skills. These figures are disputed by a World Health Organization (WHO) study. The WHO study reported that the actual number of fatalities on China's roads is more than twice the official figure or about 250,000 killed each year. This study estimates that 45,000 people are injured and 680 killed on China's roads each day! Road traffic crashes are believed to be the leading cause of death for people 15 to 45 years old. The direct and indirect costs of these accidents are estimated at between $12 to 21 billion, or about 1.5 percent of China's GNP. This accident rate means that roughly 20 percent of the world's fatal car accidents take place in China. The Chinese Government has formed a new ministry committee and introduced a major new Road Traffic Safety Law throughout the country in an effort to reduce the accident rate.”

I can believe and have fully seen with my own eyes that these figures tell the truth. Watching the drivers in this country, I would have guessed the figures to be much higher. It is terrifying to walk the streets of China and I hope that the Road Traffic Safety Law will help protect more lives.


Day 3 - Fast Times at Nankai High

Today was our third day in Tianjin and our second day of class. We have Chinese students from Nankai University come join us every day to join in the discussions. We were able to talk to them about some differences between student and professor relationships between our two countries. In china a student must address their professor formally by calling them Professor or Li Lao Shi. They were all very surprised and shocked by the fact that we all call our professors by their first name. It is considered extremely rude and disrespectful to address in any other way. We then explained to the Chinese students that it is very uncommon in the United States for a professor to want to be addressed formally. We explained that many teachers ask us to call them by their first name. We went on to say that we even would call our high school teachers by their first name; however, it is less common. Along similar lines we discussed one another address adults in general. For many of the US students they described how they call their relatives by their first name as well as their friends’ parents. Calling a friends parents’ by their first name was split roughly down the middle on the American side and unheard of on the Chinese side. Other topics discussed were dating among the Chinese population and Americans opinions on Chinese beauty. The Chinese men said they like liken round eyes while the American men said they like small eyes. One of the male Chinese students also said they like tall girls, but our definition of tall varied. We considered a tall girl 5’9-5’10 while the Chinese students thought 5’5 was tall.

May 26, 2009

Day 2

I know that the lack of safety is something we have all noticed since being here in China. Today when we were at the Ferris Wheel a women came up on her bike with a baby. The baby looked to be around the age of just under 1 years old. If she had stopped fast of been bumped into something hard the baby would of been jolted and been given whip lash. For a culture who values having a family and only able to have one child this surprised me. I am curious if an accident occurs and you lose your child are you allowed to have another one? I guess what surprised me the most is if I could only have one child I would be doing everything I could to keep it safe and healthy.

While riding the Ferris Wheel we saw a construction site and with the same topic of safety I am curious at how many ppeople die a year from accident related deaths, Is safety not as important here because population control is in need?

Day II

Today we had our first lecture class. I think the professor is very good, but I believe most of us cannot really understand. Because we have not never reached those stuff before. After class, I went to have lunch with Dr. Li, Curd, Dylan, Jun, and Christina in the dumpling restaurant. We just spent 14 Yuan per person and got 90 dumplings on a table. And we left the restaurant so satisfy. At the afternoon, we went to ride the Tianjin Eye, the biggest fear wheel in the world. Though it is very low, but the view is just great. At night, I was planing to go to a restaurant I found online. But I still cannot find it after I spent at least two hours. I feel so sad. Maybe I should just go to Mcdonal, KFC, or Mr. Li, which they are all very close to the hotel next time.

Cord Houle: Tianjin day 2

Today was the first day of class and I found out through conversations with students that even they fall asleep in some of their more boring classes! The lecture today was good it was on my field of study finance. We discussed efficient frontiers and portfolio theory which was interesting to probably only me. I am really excited for tomorrows lecture on cultural differences by professor Li.

Today was one of the first days I summoned the courage to cross the busy streets numerous times. I would say I have gotten better at negotiating traffic and figuring out were in a busy intersection to stand and how to negotiate drivers intentions. Dr. Li explained that in china eye contact with other drivers is important as it is primarily how they communicate with each other and determine whose turn it is. It is interesting that a society that doesn’t use a lot of body language relies on it for such an important act as driving.

In the afternoon we visited the world’s largest ferris wheel. The thing was bigger than many buildings around it and took 30 min to complete a single loop. Apparently such an amazing spectacle commands very little respect as it attracts only about 500 people a month… this is crazy because the capacity of the behemoth has to be close to at least 250! I am sure the people whose jobs it is to sit around all day and man the wheel don’t mind though perhaps they like the quiet.

Finally, to finish off the day we decided to visit the campus for the first time with plans to spread ultimate Frisbee to china. The campus is huge, taking 25 min to walk from one end to the other. We finally staked out some prime real-estate in a corner of the soccer field next to the running track. Although we played for quite a while we were never able to draw any curious people in to play we only drew a lot of stares. I think when we get more acquainted with the students we will be able to play more activities and draw in more people but until then I guess we will have to suffice with stares.

Tracy & Lecture

Today’s lecture was very interesting even though there was a lot of information about financial markets, and I have not taken any finance classes yet so it was hard to pay attention. I asked Tracy, who was the Chinese student who sat close to us during class, if he knew what was being talked about. He said that he didn’t know much of what was going on because he was an HR major so he wasn’t very good in finance, and also he was hard for him to understand the professors English and how fast he spoke. I was also really curious how the Chinese people their English names, and especially how Tracy which is commonly a girls name, decided he wanted that to be his name. Tracy seems just as excited as we were about playing sports with one another. He seemed like a very cool guy and I look forward to getting to know all of them more as the class goes on.

City plan

Today we visited the Tianjin city planning expo. This was very similar to the city planning expo we visited while in Beijing. At these expos they provide possible architectural projects and small models of the city. These models are done with great precision and detail of the city. It is very interesting taking a bird eye view of the lay out of the city. It gives you an eye opening experience on how big and advanced this city is. First off, there buildings are a lot more interesting and creative than buildings in the U.S. Seeing these possible plans for building such places like museums, libraries, art galleries made me realize do the Chinese have all the creative juices in the world or are they just superior architects. Professor Li brought up the point that architects in China are one of the top paying jobs around the country. It shows in the beautiful plans that the Chinese people will get to choose from. The buildings range in size, shapes, and colors while battling for the same location. Seeing how beautiful these models are gives me the idea if I open up a bar or restaurant I will be hiring someone from China.

Sports on T.V.

I am going to blog about the sports on the Chinese T.V. There is one channel or maybe two that is designated for only sports on the t.v. Before every game it is similar to the U.S. to the fact that they have an analysis of what could happen in the game, strategy the teams are going to use, key players, and starting lineups. Than the game begins. The games that are included are: table tennis, badminton, basketball, and soccer. There always seems to be either soccer or table tennis going on. They tend to show the basketball games in the evening around 7. This is usually a re-run of the game that was played earlier on during the day. They don't have commercials during the game or timeouts so you can get through the basketball game in roughly a hour. It is really sweet because you can watch the whole game without having to sit down and watch it for 3 or 4 hours when you watch it live. Of course you can't understand what is said because it is Chinese but it is still cool to be able to watch some of your favorite teams and se what happens to them. The soccer and table tennis games are fun to watch because it is always on and they are sports I don't know much about. So I can sit there and watch them and learn something. I really like table tennis because I am amazed how good they are at the sport. So the sports on t.v. are sweet other than they are in Chinese.

Day 8

Today we finally go to start our classes here in Tianjin, China. We are taking class that are taught by professors through the Nankia University and our one and only Dr. Li. Today the class was taught by a professor from the university. It was a hard first day of class because I didn't understand what the teacher was talking about. I was expecting the class to be more of a class about the Chinese culture and how they do business but it was more about finance. This was hard for me to follow because I have not taken any finance classes yet. We also got to finally meet some of the Chinese students which I found to be cool because I have been waiting for that since we have been here. For lunch we went back to McDonalds because we all enjoyed it so much the night before. It was just as great as the night before and most of us think it is even better here then in the U.S. After lunch we went to the city planning building which was pretty awesome to see. I couldn't believe some of the things that they want to do with the city. After that we went to the Ferris wheel that was so big I couldn't believe it when I saw it. When we got to the top i stood up and I was a little nervous knowing that I was in a Ferris wheel that was about 400 feet above the ground. After the the wheel we went back to the hotel and just made our own dinner and worked on the paper that is due Friday.

China Nice...

I have noticed that the Chinese people show a lack of nonverbal communication as a whole. Nonverbal communication plays an important role in our daily life and sometimes can convey more meaning and power than actually speaking. Americans are very vibrant in their nonverbal communication. For instance; head nods, hand gestures, and facial expressions can imply anything from a call to action to a person’s mood. The Chinese people seem to be more reserved or at least the gestures are less expressive. I am not sure what the reasoning behind this might be. I assume that is the way that people are raised and is deemed culturally acceptable. In the United States, you are continually told to “express yourself” and “be yourself.” In China, the message seems to be “blend in and don’t make a fool of yourself.” I think this is unfortunate because nonverbal communication can speak volumes about a person’s thoughts and feelings without verbal interaction.

I have also noticed the lack of politeness in some of the areas we have visited. For instance, if someone bumps into you, the likelihood of an “excuse me” (in Chinese, of course!!!) is almost nil. ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ are definitely not as common in China as in the United States. Good luck crossing a street in a crosswalk while you have the ‘walk’ light. One takes their life into their own hands when crossing the street, especially when alone. Just a few observations...This has been a fantastic trip so far; I have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far. We are all looking forward to the second day of class tomorrow!

day 8

Today was our first day of class. It was really interesting because this was the first time I have attended a lecture that I did not understand what was going on at all. Another thing was i was really surprised how cold it was. I think that it was interesting to see the proffesors senior student there with him. The reason why I thought that was really werid was because she is like a TA and I never see the TA together with the teacher in one classroom so that was different for me.

We also went to the Tianjin planning center. I learned that all the smart chinese people become the aritects because they make the most money. I thought this was interesting because in the states you would barely make any money doing this job. I thought all the models were pretty interesting to look at. I was really sad to hear that we could not try out the 4D place.

Class - Day One

The first day of class I found to be quite interesting. I was happy to see that the professors here, like in the US, use Powerpoint for their presentations. Professor Qi Yue was very easy to understand and was very personable. I was very happy to meet some of the Chinese students for the first time today. They all seemed a bit shy, but opened up once we started asking questions. I was a little disappointed that they weren’t as interested in us as we were in them, but I think that will come as we all spend more time together. Speaking of interaction, today was the first day that the language barrier really hit me. When talking to the Nankai students the language barrier isn’t so bad because they have studied some English, but I was in the City Planning Expo today and tried to speak to one of the high school students and had no luck. She told me that she spoke some English but wasn’t able to understand the question I asked her, even after I repeated it several different times in a multiple of ways. Also, in the Expo, I noticed that English was not displayed much. The Beijing City Planning Expo had everything in English and Chinese so we could understand what we were looking at, but today no English. Without Dr. Li, I would have been lost. It has definitely come to my attention that Tianjin is not nearly as integrated with the English language as Beijing. Chinese is a very unique language and I think I would like to learn more in the future!

First Day of Class in Tianjin

Today, Tuesday, was out first day in class just not in the University but at our hotel conference room. We had a few students from Nankia U joining us for the lecture. A professor, who got his PHD from University of Georgia, teach us our first lesson. He was comparing the US stocks, bonds, and mutual funds to the Chinese version of the same. It was a little confusing for me and I have take four finance classes. Some of our students probably had no clue what he was talking about if they had never taken a finance class. After a little while, I kind of started to get the hang of what he was talking about. After class, we went to a city expo which had some cool architectural designs for future buildings such as a new library and art museum. After that we went to the "Eye of Tianjin" ( http://english.sina.com/life/p/2009/0407/231894.html) At its peak, we were just under 400 feet in the air which is 35 stories high. We were above move of the buildings that were around us. They are not kidding that it is the eye of Tianjin. You could see for miles except for the fact that is was foggy out, oh wait I mean smoggy out. I was a little nervous at first since it was so huge walking up to it, but I got over it and had an amazing time on it. It took about 30 minutes to do a complete revolution. I am glad that we got the opportunity to go on it, it is like a once and a life time experience!!

Tianjin - Day 2

Today we had our first lecture in the meeting room downstairs in the hotel. The lecture was given by Professor Yue Qi on the subject of "Mean-variance efficiency and diversification contraction" and Portfolio selection ... Yeah, it was way over my head as well. The couple finance majors in the group seemed to know what he was talking about quite well, but Professor Yue spoke on a level to which everyone in the group could grasp the essence and objective behind the material. It's quite an honor though to have such knowledgeable professors to give lectures to our group.

After the lecture we were given a couple hours to eat lunch and relax. In the afternoon we went as a group to the Tianjin City Planning Exhibition where we saw future projects which are currently under construction and also the city layout on a 1:1000's scale model similar to the one we saw in Beijing. At the end of our day as a group we got to see the city from a birds eye view from the Eye of Tianjin, a ferris wheel which towers 394 feet high. It took approximately 30 minutes to go a full rotation on the ferris wheel. I will admit ... as we ascended higher my heart was beating a bit faster than normal. Once at the top though it was a great view of Tianjin.

Tianjin - Day 2 (5/26/09)

Today we had our first day of class, which was a fun experience. I'm still searching for a new power cord for my computer, so I'm stuck using the hotel lobby computers until I can find a replacement. Before I came to China I had thought it would be a lot easier to obtain electonics such as a computer power cord. I don't know if it is the fact that we just havn't been in the right places or if it is actually that hard to locate one here. I have seen tons of them being sold on ebay from China and have even purchased one in the past. The internet really does have a dramatic effect on business, being able to purchase items from a specific dealer in a specific location from anywhere in the world. I suppose it doesn't help that I can't read Chinese or understand much of the language. Hopefully within the next few days I will be able to locate and purchase a new power cord for my laptop.

Day 2 - Super Size my Butt!

Today was our first full day in Tianjin; also we started our daily class. For lunch today some of us went to McDonalds...and it was amazing. Just like any McDonalds at 12 PM it was packed. People continued to push and try and budge by my defensive line standing is getting much better. When I reached the counter the cashier just hands me a placemat with all the food on it. All I had to do was point at the food I wanted. I decided with the classic Big Mac value meal. The food was awesome; the two main differences I notice between the Chinese and American McDonalds are the level of grease and the serving size. The Chinese food was much less greasy, which I liked. The fries didn’t turn the package see through from all the grease and the burger didn’t drip. Also the fries were a lot less salty then the one in America. I order a large drink and fries with my meal and found that the serving size were different. The large in china is the medium size in America, just goes to show how fat we Americans are getting. On a similar note about being a fat American we went to Pizza Hut one night in Beijing and found out that in China it is a fancy, sit down restaurants. There were ten people in our group and we order 6 large pizzas between us, which should feed about 18-24 people. We got some stares from the people inside the store as well as the waiter taking our order; he seemed a little surprised on how much food we were actually eating. I personally don’t care if I get stared at for eating large portions, when I’m hungry nothing gets in my way. I do believe however that one of the main contributors to American obesity is our portion sizes. At some restaurants the serving sizes are ridiculously too big. Another possible factor is the concept of the “clean plate club” which means you have to finish all the food on your plate.

May 25, 2009

Day one in Tianjin

Yesterday we started the day off by getting on a high speed train that took us from Beijing to Tianjin. It was crazy to be on because it was traveling around 220 MPH. It took about 25 min to go 80 miles. I wish that we had a train like that from Duluth to the Twin cities because I would go home a lot more to do laundry and have my mom cook some good food for me. Once we got all settled in at the hotel we went to the grocery store which was called E mart. IT was a very unique experience because we all went in and were very confused of what the food was. Most of us got a lot of chips because we knew you couldn't go wrong with that. It was also hard to shop because our hotel rooms don't have fridges. After E mart we had a welcoming from the school that was fun but was really hot in the room. After that we went back to the hotel and played cards and then we decide that we needed a midnight snack so we decided to walk to the McDonalds down the road. When we got there it was much different then the ones back home it was a place to hang out with friends. I got a big mac and it was amazing i have been waiting for one since I got here. Overall it was a great first day in Tianjin

First day in Tianjin

Yesterday we arrived in Tianjin by a high speed train. The train at top speed went 210 miles per hour. It was amazing to look outside the train and see how fast objects went by. When we got into the town, we went to E-Mart for my first time. It was difficult shopping there since everything was in Chinese and I did not want to ask Jack or Jun about everything that I wanted to purchase. After E-Mart, we walked into a bakery that had some amazing looking breads, doughnuts, and sandwiches. I got a sugar twist doughnut and it was very good. Before dinner, Steve, DJ, and I walked to a place called Hanks Sports Bar & Grill. We met Hank who is from Chicago. He owns a western style restaurant which has steaks, tacos, Chicago style hot dogs, and burgers. He said that he was going to roast a pig leg on Sunday night which sounds like a great idea. After dinner, we came back to the hotel and had some people in our room to play cards. We eventually went to McDonalds and had some great food. We sat next to a delivery biker who had some helmets which we decided we wanted to put on and take pictures with! It was a lot of fun. Now class time!

First Day in Tianjin

Today was a day of firsts. We went on a train that was able to go as fast as 360 km/hr. I loved watching how the scenery changed from beijing's metropolitan to farm looking fields. On the way we also spotted a christian church and i was extremely surprised by that. I may be wrong but I thought Lisa told China's population of christian's was 2%. The church was quite large and beautiful in the middle of a field.

Once we arrived in Tianjin we were introduced to our new Chinese guide, Monica and Bessie. Their english really good. So at dinner we asked many questions about what Western enertainment is popular in China. Because of the internet they said that they did know South Park. Friends and U2 were some of the all time tops over here too. I am extremely excited to meet with the chinese students and be able to learn what is like for someone my age over here.

day 7

Today we arrivd in Tianjin. This is my first time to be in this city. I thought it was really interesting to find out that this city has the most bycycles in the world. After that comment was made I notice that there was indeed alot. Feels like every parking spot was taken by a bike.

While we were driving to the hotel, we all notice the intersting signs. Some of them were just plain funny. I think it is really interesting how they come up with things like that. My question is do people actually follow it? I mean we seen a sign that saids do not jump over the fence, but yet there are still people we seen jumping the fence and crossing the street.

We also went to the emart. This was a pretty interesting experence to see everyone go nuts because we all couldn't read or anything. So basically we all guess at what we were buying or just buy the American things that we all know it was safe to eat and not die from it.

Mickey D's

Back home McDonalds is considered a fast food restaurant. People stop there when they are on the road, in a hurry, or just craving that type of food. Here in China when you go into a McDonalds it is always packed no matter what time it is, and many people are in there studying. That is very weird to see people studying in McDonalds at midnight. Most people back home study in libraries and if its during the day you may see many people at Starbucks or that type of restaurant, but never McDonalds. It was just a new way of seeing a difference in our cultures that came as quite a shock to me.

Cord Houle: Tianjin Day 1

Today we arrived in Tianjin, and the train to get here was awesome. We topped out around 333 km/hour which is roughly 200mph. it took us a little more than 20 min to travel 80 miles. This made me wonder why the US doesn’t have any high speed rail systems like this. The train was comfortable and super clean. It certainly would make commuting from Duluth to the twin cities much more convenient. I find that the US’s resistance to mass transit compared to the rest of the world, especially china to be old thinking. Maybe if the American way has changed and green is becoming vogue we will see a rise in the amount of interest America has with public transportation and ways to cut emissions.

After we arrived in Tianjin we visited an E-mart, a store similar to Wal-Mart but based out of Korea. This store had many employees ready to assist with any potential problem. However, when locating products for you they would always lead you to the product and try to sell you the most expensive one. This abundance of employees combined with their attempt to push certain products made me wonder who was paying them. Did the companies of the products they push have contracts with the stores to try and raise the amount of sales of that product or was it a deeper more cultural reason? The number of employees was excessive and which is very different from American companies that try to cut costs by eliminating as many redundant positions as possible. So the major difference I saw at the store was the large number of employees standing around and there constant attempts to try and sell you the most expensive product where quite different than what is common in most American stores.

Later that night we had an amazing meal hosted by the school we are studying at and afterwards we found an American sports bar. This bar was owned by a Chicago native who was thriving by bringing American style meals of mashed potatoes and steak to both Chinese and ex-patriots. His bar was very reminiscent of many sports bars in the states and was littered with jerseys from American sports teams. It was great to see how this Chicago native is able to carve out a living by catering to the novelty of the experience to the Chinese and the comfort of the experience to many foreigners.

Public Transportation

Today marks our first day in Tianjin. We boarded a high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin this morning that topped out at 334 km/hr. It was rather fast!!! It took about twenty minutes to travel about ninety miles. I have been truly amazed by the public transportation since we have been here. China has around 1.3 billion people to move around and they do it well. Between planes, trains, and automobiles (buses), people can get around from destination to destination. The grand majority of people still do not own a car, but ownership has increased by over 300% in six years. In Beijing, there are now over three million cars in a city of around sixteen million people. In addition, there are nearly twenty thousand buses in Beijing and thousands more taxi cabs. For a city of its size, traffic seems to move quite well. We ran into a number of traffic jams, but considering the numbers of people moving, I do not think they were too bad. While the traffic could be quite crazy at times, we saw only two accidents in one week of extensive travelling in Beijing. Tianjin is about four million people smaller than Beijing and is the bicycle capital of China according to Dr. Li. There seems to be less cars on the road here in Tianjin. We have not been around the city too much, but this observation may be due to more bicycles on the road. For those that do not own vehicles, public transportation is the way to go. It is a cost effective and efficient alternative to owning a vehicle. Bicycles are also a viable option, if the distance to travel is not too far. For many, owning a vehicle is a status symbol and not a necessity, as it is in the United States.

Arrival in Tianjin - first thoughts

Upon first arrival in Tianjin it was obvious that the city is smaller than Beijing. From the train, it seemed like it wasn’t spread out quite as much and the buildings weren’t built quite as high. Tianjin, in the short time we have been here, has shown me some differences between it and Beijing. The first thing that I noticed was that there is not as much grass, shrubs, or well manicured flowers on the side of the road as Beijing. I really enjoyed the flowers and nature in Beijing so the reduction in it in Tianjin is a small disappointment for me. The second thing I noticed is that the architecture of the city is quite a bit different from Beijing. Beijing has a lot of buildings that have the old feel, the kind of buildings that remind people of the Forbidden City or the Summer Palace with their unique roofs and colorfulness. I did notice that there is some of the unique architecture, just not the abundance there is in Beijing. Also, the city seems a little dirty and run down. Sure there are some beautiful buildings, but thus far I have noticed a lot of lack of maintenance and dirtiness. This may be an unfair assessment since Beijing was prepared for the Olympics last year, and maybe the rest of the City isn’t as bad, but it is just my first impression. Lastly, I noticed on the roads that the number of really nice high end cars was reduced. The taxis were a different color and a lot of them had an emblem on them that I had never seen before. The cars seem a little bigger here, more semis and trucks but all of the cars and trucks on average seemed a little older. I didn’t expect the difference in cars, so it was interesting to see. Overall, I am looking forward to learning more about Tianjin and the uniqueness it has to offer.

1st Day

Today, after we say good bye to Beijing. Then we went to the new train station to take the train to Tianjin. The train is very fast, it goes up to 300 some kilometer per hour. And it is very steady, it wouldn't always shaking. It only took about 30 minutes from Beijing to Tianjin. I think the hotel is much better than Beijng's. The only thing I am complaining about is, how come the bathroom is completely open. At the afternoon, we went to the E-mart to buy some necessities stuff. After I checked around the market, I found out everything is much more expensive than two years ago when I was back in China during the summer. After we went to checkout everything. I was very confuse about
why everybody bought so much stuff. Then I found out, we are going pay for the lunch and dinner by ourselves for the rest of the two weeks. It looks like I might need to go to the E-mart soon, because I am sure I cannot survive more than three day for the food bought today.

Tianjin - Day 1 (5/25/09)

I am so excited to be here in Tianjin, and to meet the various professors and students. The bullet train we took from Beijing to Tianjin was probably the fastest land based transportation that I have used. We don't have anything like it in the United States that I know of, we do have some light rail but nothing that approaches the speed of these Chinese bullet trains. It felt like we were in an aeroplane but on the ground at the same time. The scenery flew by so quickly I couldn't believe it. I took a nearly 10 minute video of the train ride which turned out quite well, showing the impressive speed that these trains reach (330 kph / ~210 mph). Of course we do have things that can reach this speed in the United States but they're either aeroplanes or professional race cars, nothing else that I can think of that exists in the United States reaches speeds this high. I can't wait until tomorrow when we meet our first professor and our fellow Chinese Nankai University students.

Day 1 in Tianjin...

Today we left Beijing and headed to the city of Tianjin by train. We traveled by high speed train which reached the speeds of 334 Kilometers per hour which is roughly 207 miles per hour. We have only been in Tianjin for less than a day and already I notice a difference in the way I am treated by the locals. Beijing is a large city, 15 million, and has had a lot of contact with foreigners lately due to the 2008 Olympics. In Tianjin however they have not. Shortly after getting off the train in Tianjin I began to have my picture taken over and over again by the Chinese people. Some of my fellow students can speak Chinese and were able to translate. The Tianjin people were saying that they have never seen a white person before in person and thought it was funny. They were taking pictures and asking us to pose with them. Tianjin is slightly smaller with a population of just over 11 million and I find it strange that many of the locals have never seen a white person. We are treated almost like celebrities, being constantly stared out when in public. Also people laugh and giggle at us when they walk by, I’m not sure what they are saying but I know they are talking about us. I just find it interesting that you can travel a mere 26 minutes by train from Beijing to Tianjin and receive such different reactions in public. I don’t mind being stared at, in fact I find it pretty funny myself. If I can tell my picture is being taken I try to smile or make a funny face in it or say “hello” to the person talking the picture. Today is only the first day but I have a feeling I am going to be continued to be stared at a lot over the next two weeks. Also the number of signs in English is greatly reduced compared to those in Beijing. Lastly the few people we have come in contact with thus far have had very limited English.

First Day In Tianjin

Today was our first day in Tianjin. Already I can tell that it is a smaller city (Only 11 million people as compared to 15 million people in Beijing). We took the Beijing to Tianjin Intercity Rail which reached up to 335 KPH (208 MPH) in speed. It only took 20-30 minutes to arrive in Tianjin from boarding the train in Beijing. We saw a bit of farmland in between the cities which was interesting. The smog did not clear up outside of the city as much as I thought it might, perhaps because of the short distance (70 miles) between the cities. It was a relaxing ride until we arrived and had to walk to the bus *DUN DUN DUN* which ended up being miles and miles away, or so it seemed. My first impression of Tianjin was that there is less traffic and the people tend to show more emotion when people say "Hello."

After shopping for necessities and the E-mart (mostly junk food and hoards of Koala Yummies) we went to eat dinner with two of the Professors from Tianjin who hosted the meal. It was a hot-pot style where your pot of water and vegetables are heated by a flame and after the water starts to simmer you can put meat into the pot and let it cook for a few seconds then take it out right away to eat.

Day 1 in Tianjin

I am going to blog briefly about the differences and similarities in the two cities thus far. I already notice that Tianjin has less people than Beijing. The way the people act is more laid back and not in a rush. There is some rushing involved but it is not near as bad as Beijing. The structures of the buildings are not as modern as Beijing. I have a feeling this has to do with that Beijing had the Olympic games last year so they had to modernize more quickly than other cities. I am not saying Tianjin isn't modern; it's just that the buildings don't look as nice as Beijing. Those are some of the key differences I notice already. The main similarity I see is that of the driving. The driving here is the same as Beijing; there just isn't as many drivers. The food here is also the same as Beijing; the difference is that here seems to be better tasting than some of the food we had in Beijing. I also notice the beds are still hard but not as hard as the previous hotel we stayed at. Another difference I notice is that between the two hotels that there isn't a separate room for the bathroom. The two areas are basically combined. The last difference is that we have two Ethernet cables and not just one, also the internet here is faster than Beijing. I am sure I will see more similarities and differences in the future as more days come in Tianjin.

Train

Today we got to experience one of the fastest if not the fastest in the world. This train was unbelievable in the fact we reached speeds up to 330 kph. Our trip consisted of leaving South Beijing to Tianjin. To cover a little of 70 miles it only took us around 25 minutes. It was an awesome experience that made me think about if Minnesota was to build a similar transportation system from varies places, for example Duluth to the twin cities. The main reason why they probably wouldn’t bother is that Beijing and Tianjin have 15 and 11 million people respectively. This would raise the concern of whether it would even be profitable. While arriving at the train station it was set up similar to an airport. Yet they only had a few destinations. It was rather cheap, but there are not nearly enough Minnesotans to sustain an operation like that. I thought it was cool how the train gave you updated speeds along the way. One thing I noticed were advertising billboards that did not really make sense to me because it would be so easy for someone to miss the companies message because of the speed. Riding this train was an awesome experience and worthwhile and just reiterated my feeling of how different there culture is from ours at home.