May 2010 Archives

Tianjin - Day 14

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So today being a fairly uneventful day, I figured I would take time to sum up some of the major differences I've noticed in China in restaurants.  We had a short conversation at dinner today about these differences and there are quite a few of them.  First of all is payment of the bill, which always seems to be confusing.  In America, most places have your server take your bill and a few places let you pay at a central register while you are leaving.  Here in China, they give you the bill, but never collect it.  And sometimes there is not always a register to pay at, so I often get confused.  I received some strange looks the other day when I walked out of a restaurant and left the payment on the table, so I had to walk back in and actually hand the payment to the waitress.  Another difference is the delivery of food to tables.  They seem to just bring food out the second it is ready, rather than waiting for the rest of the food for your party to be ready.  Personally, I like this because it means you get your food fresh out of the over, or freshly made.  I think the reasoning behind it might be that in China, they tend to share dishes much more than we do in the States, but I'm not too certain on that one.  Either way, the food industry just operates differently than I've ever seen, but I guess I've never been outside the U.S. before this trip.

Food Service

The past few days I have realized something that has been happening to us this whole trip.  The food service that we receive at restaurants is so much different than at home.  I don't know if these differences are because we don't speak the language, or if it is just how it always is here.  When we get to a restaurant, they seat us and give us menus like they will do in the USA.  The difference is in how we order the food.  It seems like we always have to go and find the waiter and tell him we are ready to order.  They don't just stop by and assume we are ready.  They never order our drinks first, but we order everything at the same time.  During the meal the only time we see the waiter is when we order and when our food is taken out.  They never stop by to see how it is (we wouldn't be able to understand them even if they tried to do this) or if we would like to get anything else. 

 

The thing that I really don't like is that when they bring us out our food, we never get it at the same time.  They bring it out of the kitchen when it is done cooking, but they do no planning about getting all of our food at the same time.  It has been annoying being at the end of the line and getting my food towards the end at a couple of meals, when everyone is finishing their meal.  It would be so much better if we could all get our food at the same time and enjoy our meal together.

 

Smoking

People smoke everywhere here in Tianjin.  In the clubs, in the classroom, basically wherever they want.  Today, when we went on our tour to Tasley the pharmaceutical company people were even smoking in what looked like a 5 star hotel, with shops and many pieces of history.   Even at the airport, there where smoking lounges, which were designated places to sit down, relax, and enjoy your cigarette.  It seems to me that smoking and conversing with the Chinese people go hand in hand, because if a Chinese person offers you a smoke, you must take it and smoke it, out of respect.  It seems strange to me that the people here smoke because they are so healthy in all other aspects in their life.  

Hotel Motel

It was a great day again in China nice and chill but always something new to see. Sunday was our day of rest so we tried to soak up as much of it as we could. Over the past two weeks that I've spent in China I have noticed a variety of things that are so different than in the U.S. Before I have talked about the amount of construction that is going on all over China and how everything is either getting built or repaired. Walking the streets you see so many workers all over the place maintaining the buildings or repairing the roads. For instance right outside our hotel the street is under constant construction, the roofs of all the buildings are being redone to resemble more western style buildings, and the sidewalks are being torn up for sewage maintenance.   

That another thing that surprised me when I came to Tianjin, the sidewalks are also roads apparently. Not only do you have to look out for bikes but also cars because they use the sidewalk as another lane. Getting back to the construction, comparing it to how the United States construction is run, it is completely different. If there is debris from broken glass or rusted nails or any other sort of garbage they will leave it in pills on the street until sometime later. This would not fly in the States. Also the construction workers live at the construction site because often they are brought over from northeastern China. When working on tall buildings the worker simply build scaffolding up the side and climb up to work on it, no ropes attached.   Yesterday I was walking down the sidewalk when they were removing the scaffolding and they would just unscrew one big pipe and pass it down to the next person then down to the next and so on. I thought to myself what if one of these workers was to loose his grip on the pipe and drop it onto the people walking below. In the U.S. we would have regulations on how to operate a work site but here it seems they do not. These are just some differences between the two countries and more will come.....

Tasly

Chinese medicine is the treasure of traditional Asian culture, and has made great contributions to the prosperity of China as well as to the health care of its people.  The company, Tasly, we went to visit today is one of the modern TCM industries, has made great achievement in China and become one of the advantageous industries possessed international competitiveness. It has been in business for almost 16 years, I am so amazed at their settings layout in their home office.  It seems like they have accomplished a lot.  Their target, introduced by the tourist guide, "share the benefits of modern TCM with all", does take the road leading to industrialization and internationalization.  I hope they can continuously successful throughout the century and eventually become the supporting industry for the rapid economic development of the world. 

Cheating China

So, as we are here in China not always having access to a person that can speak english and chinese I have realized that there are many opportunities for us "dumb" Americans to be cheated by some of the natives.  Whenever we try to pay for something well me anyway I basically just hand the merchant money until they tell me to stop.  Its all just fake monopoly money anyways, everyone knows money is green and this money does not even smell like money.  Maybe it is just my devious nature, but I feel that I should be getting cheated at every turn.  I know from everything I have been taught and from what I have seen that this is never going to happen here.  It is a cluture and respect thing.  Also along these lines falls the safety of our group.  I am kind of a live and let live sort of guy, and if someone or a group of someones dip's out and does their own thing I don't really care.  I am not the chivalrous type of person that needs to be protecting someone at all times.  I figure we are all guided by a higher power and can take care of ourselves.  That being said some people should not be alone around here because they simply do not have the wherewithal to handle some situations.  All in all I think this is a pretty dang safe place to be, and as long as everyone respects everyone else life should remain peachy.  Just keep your face and you will have a good life... Face you wonder what that is?  well that is a whole separate topic for another day my friends.

Menu Roulette

So today before dinner me, Ben, Nick, Charlee, and Sarah came up with the idea to go grab some coffee at a coffee place nearby the hotel.  We walked in and the atmosphere felt very comfortable and very cafe-like.  It of course smelled like coffee.  I was happy. Sarah instantly spotted a guitar nearby.  She was happy. We sat down and we were provided with menus.  I guess we didn't think this far ahead because the entire menu was in Chinese.  Somebody came up with the awesome idea of picking something out at random and just going with it.  So that's what we did.  When the waitress came by we all took turns at picking something entirely random from the menu and hoping for the best.  We listened to some sweet tunes provided by Sarah's badass ability at guitar and also talked amongst ourselves.  The first drink came up and ironically it was a Tsingtao beer and they gave it to none other than Sarah.  Next up was hot tea with a little bit of honey to Charlee.  Then I was given a glass of ice and a cold Red Bull.  Somehow, Nick actually chose right and they brought him a big piping glass of hot coffee.  Lastly, Ben was served with a cold glass of a lemonade slushy.  All in all it was a good experience and later we found out our waitress spoke some English.  I would definitely try Menu Roulette again.

Tianjin School

This morning was hopefully my one and only sick morning.  I didn't go to class as I felt yucky.  Whoever said today that Chinese people must have stomachs of steel, I agree with you!  We eat such a wide variety of food here that it is difficult to pin it down to one specific thing. 

When I woke up again, it was to the sound of loud patriotic music coming from somewhere outside of the hotel.  I looked out the window and realized for the first time that I can see a school's sport stadium over the top of the market place.  There must have been close to 300 students in their blue and white jumpsuits.  They were all lined up military style doing exercises as a Chinese man commanded over a megaphone.  This went on for about 30 minutes.  At the end, they played what sounded like a national anthem and payed tribute to their flag.  Then as all of the students left the sports stadium, an English version of Jingle Bells was played...very strange. 

This was the second school exercise regimen that I've witnessed in China.  The first was in Beijing where the students ran around a city block because they did not have a sports area near their school.  Both types have been extremely entertaining and although they are a bit different from a gym class in northern Minnesota, I guess the main thing is that students get exercise.

Interesting Lunch...

Today after class a few classmates and myself followed a couple Chinese students to a restaurant across from the business school. The building was pretty sketchy and we were led down some pretty shady stairwells and hallways. The Chinese students ordered our food for us and assured that we would like it. Food came, and I have got to say that I was not very impressed. The first dish that was served, spicy beef pieces was by far the best right along with some style of mashed potatoes. From there it seemed that the dishes got progressively worse. We ate some pig intestines that were OK, but later were served a dish with scrambled egg layered on the bottom with a smelly meat sauce on top. The students couldn't really explain what it was but as far as we were concerned, it was some sort of intestine that was not cleaned properly. There were some other miscellaneous dishes that were fairly decent but nothing worth going back for more. It was interesting to find out that this restaurant was a favorite among students, but each to his own I suppose. 

Lazy Sunday

A couple of girls took Eric and I to a very nice Thai restaurant for dinner last night. I was feeling pretty brave, so I decided to try one of the spiciest things on the menu. Unfortunately, because both our hosts and the waitress proceeded to giggle after I pointed to menu, I was talked into getting something that was barely even spicy. It was still very good, but I was disappointed I did not stick with my original choice. I think we will have to go back sometime this week so I can experience some really spicy food.

I think that I am finally starting to get used to walking around in this city. I can call a cab pretty easily, I don't notice the bikes whizzing past, the constant honking, or the random car that decides to drive on the sidewalk instead of taking the road. Instead of being nervous about my surroundings, I have learned to embrace and appreciate them.

 

Local vs. Sit down restaurants

Today was my first somewhat lazy day, which was much needed after two weeks of nonstop, sightseeing, exploration, and nightlife.  It was a much needed relaxing day, and as a group we accomplished a lot, for being so lax.  We found American food and also went out to eat with Tracy, the Chinese student.  Eating at the restaurants here in China have definitely become, to say the least, interesting.  It has come to the point where you have to pay they waiter before you eat because they don't want you walking away without paying your bill.  Also, I have noticed at traditional Chinese restaurants, the food is brought out right away, and then is pretty much never ending.  Honestly, I don't think we could ever starve here, all the food is so cheap compared to the American prices. 

 

At the local shops, such as the pizza place across the street, they like to talk their time.  The coffee I ordered took longer to get than our food, which was also a wait, compared to what we are used to at all the other sit down nice places we have been going to.  I have also noticed that wherever we go as a group people just stare, they seem like they're in shock, and they can't look away from the 15 Americans.  Today was defiantly interesting though because we went to a small market place, with all native people.  It was hilarious to me to walk though what seemed like back alleyways to a small gathering place with tables.  It is also strange the way they packaged their plates, teacups, soup bowls, and spoons.  They wrap them in plastic to make sure they are sanitary and then they are just easier to disperse and keep clean. 

Sunday in Tianjin

Language seems to be a big barrier here. There is a lot of differences between the educated and the uneducated crowd in China. I have been in other Asian countries but I had not had such trouble communicating with people. Our day started with us getting a random call about the wall papers being done in our room. We did not know who it was. We kept trying to figure out if it was legitimate.. we even tried to tell them not to come to our rooms. They did not understand anything at all. So, we had to call Dr Li to figure this out. Later in the day when I wanted an extra towel, I called the reception. They kept giving the phone to each other failing to understand what I had to say. I went out and asked the cleaning lady. She thought I wanted my door opened and came with the key. It was not until I showed her a towel that she brought me one. This whole process took about 25 minutes. Even when we ordered food in the new restaurant that we discovered, it got so confusing to ask them if the food had beef or not. I feel like the students can understand english but the majority of the population cannot. I think the reasons that their books and everything is written in Chinese is because the government does not want Chinese language to fade away. I think the government wants the national language to stay as strong as it can be. This could be a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing because it is very important for a country to keep its culture intact. However, the world is globalizing and the majority of the people all around know english so I feel it is very important for people to have a common method to contact with each other. Many a times, the message gets lost in translation.

Saturday in Tianjin

The generosity of the Chinese culture still seem to amaze me. We went to the markets with some Chinese students on Saturday. The students were so helpful the entire time. One of my friends, Mao Mao took us to a restaurant. Since the restaurant was very packed all of us got separated and were sitting in different groups in different corners of the room. The waiters there did not understand english and Mao Mao kept hopping from table to table to translate what we wanted to tell the waiters. She kept going to the tables after every ten minutes to check if they needed anything.. and to see if the food was okay. Even when we went to the shopping center she kept asking us what we wanted to find, if we needed any help. I was amazed to see how she got water for us without us asking for it. They are very caring to other people's needs. 

Squirt Guns

As the thin stream of water arcs through the air in the busy club, I giggle like a school girl.  We are being treated as royalty again.  This is because the promoter loves Char.  I am sitting near Alex talking and looking at the surroundings.  The club we are at now is smaller that the one we were at before, it is therefore by definition more intimate.  We have a guard to our little couch area, and no one can come up unless they say so, I feel important.  Someone brought me squirt guns, I have the photos they will come later.  I was just shooting people whenever I felt like it, then one of the security guys would take my toys away, but then I would ask the other guy who was the ranking member to get it back for me and he would.  It went on like this for a few hours, I could not even concentrate on all the gorgeous ladies around me.  I was having way to much fun with my gun.  What a great night.

Girls like pig guts

So I have been out on a few "dates" with one or two of the female students that we  have here at NK.  During these we get food, and the food has a certain flair to it.  It turns out that Chinese girls like to eat pig intestines.  I thought I would be okay with that, and normally am.  However, sometimes the establishment that you are eating at may not be the most upstanding place in the entire world.  When this happens and your date orders this type of food, you can tell how well they have been cleaned by the taste.  Disgusting you might think?  Really not all together unpleasant, they have a good flavor if you can get yourself over the aroma of the well you get it.  So I have seen that the girls do not like to tell you what you are eating, being an old hand at FAA and farming and whatever I knew exactly what they were the first time this was tried.  It is just a cultural difference, and not even a big deal.

5/29 Chinese spoken/cultural differences

In speaking with Tracy a Chinese student at Nankai University I have noticed that there are many differences in the way these students speak compared to the ways American students talk.  The Chinese students are so polite and nice to others, often times they will talk about things in the future hoping to plan out events yet to come and provide help to others.  Americans are often blunt about how they speak, not as polite because they do not compliment others as much and also they tend to talk about now and not plan things in the future.  I think the reason Chinese students talk this way is the way they were raised by their family and friends, they also are trying to instill a lasting friendship by showing interest in others and what others are thinking about.  If Americans were more similar to the positive aspects that Chinese students bring out there would be a lot more Americans with many life long friends.  Often times friends start to split apart and not talk to each other as much, eventually just not talking to each other at all. Americans tend to put work and other things ahead of friends and family where Chinese are totally opposite on this aspect.  When Chinese people come back to their hometowns or to places where they have friends, there will often be celebratory meetings and partying going on to show the friendship is being instilled.  It would be a good change to the American culture to keep lifelong friends and show more care for them.  Overall there is a lot that could be learned from the Chinese cultural ideas on friendship and family.  These changes would be beneficial to the American society.

Market Food

There is a market right next to the hotel where they sell food, fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, clothes, shoes, etc. A lot of us have been going there to eat because it is convenient and very cheap. They have several things to choose from, you just point at what you want, they scoop it up, and put it in a styrofoam box for you. Each item is 1 Yuan, along with a container of rice for 1 Yuan. So you can get lunch for 4 Yuan, about $.59. Wow is that insanely cheap compared to America. It's pretty much a gamble at what you're choosing though, because you have no idea what you're ordering since you can't communicate with them. For instance, Sarah and I got what we thought looked like sesame chicken, well it was chicken pieces with bones. I couldn't eat any of it because I got too grossed out by the bones. The market is very new to me and very unsanitary for me, to say the least. I don't know where they make all the food or how clean/sanitary everything actually is. I guess that is the chance we're all willing to take whenever we eat there. No one has gotten sick from the food yet, at least none to my knowledge. So we will all keep eating there unless we have a reason not to anymore. 

Crazy Taxi Drivers!

So I think it is pretty obvious that in a city of 11 million people there is going to be a lot of traffic. Being that several Chinese can't afford cars, they take taxis to a lot of places. I don't even know how many taxis there are in this city but they are everywhere! Well when there is a lot of traffic and you have a crazy taxi driver, they will do anything to avoid sitting in traffic. This would involve honking the horn several times at anything and everything, driving in the middle of the lane, and driving on the wrong side of the road, just to name a few. Cars also drive down the sidewalk to avoid traffic, I haven't seen any taxi drivers do this though. Whenever we take a taxi I have to prepare myself in order to not have an anxiety attack or heart attack. I just can't believe the way they drive around here but I have yet to see an accident! They have stop lights, although no one really pays any attention to them. The taxi drivers will drive right through a red light. There are hardly any cops anywhere so they must not give out traffic violations like they do in the United States. To be honest I don't even think there are speed limits, not that I would know how to read a speed limit sign anyway. There is just no way I could ever drive here. There are way too many differences than the way we drive in the United States and I don't think I could ever get used to that.

Day 13- Tianjin

Today was very relaxing and laid back.  Allie, Dipti, Amanda and I went to a restaurant across the street for lunch, where we had pizza and french fries.  The restaurant felt exactly like one back home, with the decor as well as the fact that there were booths (pretty sure the first booth I have ate in here).  Ordering food when you are out to eat here is always tricky.  It is really nice when places have pictures, otherwise we would literally have no idea what anything on the menu was.  I have also noticed that at restaurants they do things in a different order than back home. I have almost always received my food before my drink, which is weird to me.  At the restaurant today, we paid her right when she took our order, even though it was a sit-down place.  The food was really good, and It is always a good feeling once you have successfully made a transaction with someone who does not speak English.

Tonight some of us went to a barbeque with students from the University.  It was a lot of fun because they ordered all of the food for us, and we got to try some of their favorite dishes.  One of the things that was good was marinated chicken skin on a skewer.  I know it would be smart to not ask what something is until you try it, but that is always harder to do than you think.  When it comes to food, I am happy at the variety of meals we have had here in Tianjin.  It is always fun going out to eat!

Contsruction

The construction in this town is amazing to me.  It clearly is growing at a rapid pace that I have never seen before.  Everywhere you look there is construction cranes with new buildings being build, with some places having like 5 buildings going up at once.  It is just crazy to see this since I don't remember the last time I saw a large building built in Minnesota. 

 

The other thing about the construction that is interesting to me is the method and the lack of safety.  The building next door is getting scaffolding put up and watching how they build it is scary.  They each stand on a different level with no safety straps and they hand the metal bar to the next person above them.  This looks inefficient and unsafe for both the workers and the people on the ground.  If the worker falls they will seriously hurt themselves and if they drop the metal bar they could hurt or kill a pedestrian walking down the street. 

 

Construction on the street is something else that is really unsafe.  They don't block any sections off, no cones, and there is nothing to warn the people of the construction.  It is possible to just walk through it, fall into the whole or break your leg.  Something like this would never be legal in the USA and there would be major lawsuits if it did occur.

Day 12- Tianjin

I think it is so refreshing being able to make friends so fast here in Tianjin.  It is so different than from back home, where it is hard to break into established groups of friends.  With almost all of the students I've met, even if we just talked for 30 minutes, they ask for your e-mail so that they can stay in touch with you.

Yesterday, our friend Mao Mao took us out to eat as well as shopping.  I thought it was nice that she planned out the day for us, and it was fun to be able to do something on our own, since it was a Saturday.  Shopping is still something I am getting used to because the places we went did not seem like shops you could bargain in.  Good thing I had Mao Mao with me, because she said the shop owners would have tried to charge me double what I paid if she hadn't been there.  

Saturday was a fun, relaxing day that was much needed.  Although all of the sightseeing in Beijing was fun, it was nice after two weeks to finally have a break from things.

Weekend In Chengdu

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit a lifelong friend of mine in Chengdu, the capital city of the Sichuan province.

Thursday
 I left Thursday afternoon and arrived later that evening after a 2hr 20min flight from Tianjin. First thing about Chengdu that I noticed was the weather. Chengdu is located in South Central China surrounded by many mountains thus making the climate very hot humid, and rainy. Chengdu at first glance seemed much like the other cities I have visited so far but after being shown around, the city has some very unique features. Chengdu may be a smaller city compared to Beijing and Tianjin, but in my eyes seems to be more clean and better kept. I got to visit a market similar to the Ancient Street here in Tianjin but this market was instead centered around a small river/creek. It was really amazing seeing all of the different shops such as people who clean your ears to ancient Chinese scrolls. The people also were very friendly and everyone seemed to be happy. I learned a lot about the city and its people here in my first night in Chengdu.

Friday
My first full day in Chengdu. Somehow this city seems to get more humid with every passing hour as making the slightest movement results in instant perspiration. Before I left everyone told me about how Chengdu is known for its amazing food and how spicy it is. This pleases me, as so far I have been disappointed with the spiciness of food in the Northern cities. My friend tells me that if there is one thing to eat while in Chengdu, it is hot pot. Hot pot is a Chengdu specialty that serves a large pot filled with spicy oils and large peppers, onions, and other herbal spices. You are given a menu with a lift of raw meats and vegetables to choose from that you can throw into the pot. Thankfully, my friend who is fluent in Mandarin knows exactly what to order. The pot is placed on a burner in the center of the table which eventually brings it to a boil. When the meats/vegetables arrive, you toss them into the boiling pot and wait a short while for them to cook. After about 5 minutes you start picking up the pieces of food that you tossed in and eat it. Instantly I become aware that this is the most spicy thing I have consumed while in China. I'm sure if it wasn't already sweating from the insane humidity I would be from the spiciness of this meal. I also learned that there is a tiny pepper seed in the hot pot that actually makes your mouth go numb and tingly. My friend orders a round of milk to soothe our mouths but not just any kind of milk, peanut milk. This milk has a very sweet but delicate taste but almost instantly cures any burning from the hot pot, if it were not for this magic milk this meal would have been a bit more difficult to consume. So far Chengdu has lived up to its hype.

Saturday
Today's schedule entails a hike up a very famous mountain outside of Chengdu, the name escapes me at the moment but it is known for its Taoist temples and beautiful scenery. Though the mountain was beautiful and lush, but today's real adventure was the trip to the mountain. To get to our destination, it requires a 90 minute bus ride through the country side. Having purchased out tickets the day prior we were ready to go upon arrival at the bus station. All of the bus lined up look like the typical large travel bus, such as a Greyhound so we were thinking we would be able to enjoy a nice long ride to the mountain, maybe take a nap. This was not the case. Our bus by far was the smallest, oldest, and most worn down vehicle at the station. Just boarding it made me nervous as it made strange noises from the weight of the passengers getting on. Just taking a look at our driver and his crazy eyes made me instantly regret getting on the bus. The bus somehow started and we were off. Every time our driver applied the breaks the bus produced a horrible screeching noise that made me contemplate jumping out of the window. After getting on the highway in the country side our driver decided that slowing down at intersections was a waste of time and instead just honked the horn as we approached them. Taking wide turns was horrifying, there have only been a few times in my life where I genuinely thought I was going to die, this was one of them. The bus at times felt like it was on only two wheels, even other passengers, non foreigners had looks of horror on their faces when we turned wide going 55mph. Eventually we made it to our destination, but I think it would be safe to say that I did not get much sleep during the trip.

Sunday
Sunday was a very uneventful day as it was my last day in Chengdu. In the morning I attended a Catholic sermon with my friend, though not a Catholic myself, I thought it would be interesting to see if there would be any differences on how Chinese ran mass. The church itself was fairly similar to those in the states, it seemed like it was recently built and had the stainless glass, alter and everything else that comes with a traditional Catholic church. The hymns and sermon both were in Chinese so my level of comprehension of what was going on was 0. Everything seemed almost exactly the same to the last time I went to mass which was many years ago. It was interesting to see that even the locals were dressed the same as someone in the states would dress on a Sunday. Though I didn't understand any of it I'm glad I went to experience something familiar to me from home in a foreign country.  

Lazy Sunday & Chinese TV

Today was a much needed rest day.  I watched a decent amount of Chinese television and I will write my blog about that.  First off, it kind of bugs be how I will be watching a movie, more specifically an action movie, and they cut to commercial literally in the middle of a scene.  They don't wait until a break in the action like in the US, but instead do it as you are most interested in what's going on. 

Chinese commercials are some of the weirdest things I've ever seen.  There is this one commercial called Waterboy.  From what I've seen, it's this superhero in all white spandex that drinks water and fights big bird-like bad guys that throw trash on the ground.  He has a motorcycle bicycle and rides around on that.  He likes to sing a lot, especially about water.  All of it is very confusing.

While skipping around the channels, I found two channels in which it seems like it is an ever constant war between the Chinese and Mongolians.  The action is relentless and each frame of action lasts only a few seconds here and there.  It hurts my eyes to watch because it's always something new and ridiculous.  I wish I could have understood what they were mad at each other about.

Other than that,  today was slow.  I went to Carrefour with Curtis Ben and Nick and became friends with a Tianjin University student.  He is going to email us and show us around his campus.  I really like how friendly the students are here.

Transaction Fees

Today I finally checked out the damage of transaction fees and service charges from my bank card and credit card.  Before we left for the trip, I was told that we needed to call our banks and credit cards to let them know of the dates that we will be traveling internationally.  I made sure to do this and did not further inquire about transaction fees or charges.  My goal was to just get on the plane and figure it all out later.

Since we are on the topic of travel currency, what happened to traveler's checks?  That was the way to travel with your money a few years back.  Did they go out of style or did ATM's and credit cards just become that much more efficient?  On our trip I believe there are no students with traveler's checks. 

Back to the transaction fees.  It seems I got extremely lucky...so far.  As of yet, it seems that my capital one card does not charge any fees for international transactions and my bank card charges 1%, well below that of normal withdrawal fees by random ATMs in America.  I did a quick search online and capital one seems to be known for their non existent international charges.  Let's see if my luck continues.

Tanggu

One of my cousins works and lives in Tianjin, and he recommended me to visit Tanggu.  This Sunday I finally made some time to go and the experience is impressive. 


Tanggu is the center of Tianjin Binhai New District. Situated in the east of Tanggu District, the Port of Tianjin is the biggest comprehensive trading port of North China. Tanggu is also a city with a long history and unique culture. Rumor has it, the whole area started to develop in the period of Cutlure Revolution in China in 1960s.  It is not important to retrospect how these settlers ended up living here, what really matters instead, is they made Tanggu the way it is today.

My favorite attraction in Tanggu is the Exotic Cargo Market, as thousands other visiters, both domestics and foreigners, everyday. There is a variety of Exotic cargos, from big items such as motors, cameras, videos, to small items such as garments, shoes, watches, and lighters.  The merchandises there are cheap, but with good quality.  The beauty of the whole thing of course, is you are able to haggle over the price, and find something unique and fits your needs.

I had a good time shopping there! 

Tianjin - Day 13

Today, being a free day and us having class tomorrow, was a fairly uneventful day.  It is now the beginning of our second week in Tianjin, and I had quite the interesting interaction with a Chinese student today.  While at Carefour, a Chinese student from Tianjin University began conversing with us in English, after hearing us speak English.  We talked about many subjects, most being sports in the U.S., especially the NBA.  After our long dialog I gave the Chinese student my email because he wants to invite us to see Tianjin University and play some sports.  This just struck me as cool, mostly due to the fact that he isn't even part of the University of Nankai, he was just genuinely interested in foreigners.  I think I will take advantage of this opportunity to see Tianjin University, and compare it to Nankai and maybe gather some insight from the students there as well.

Taxi in Tianjin

My parents came visit me.  We went out having meals, shopping, visiting local friends, and I, therefore, have many experience of taking a taxi.  As a result, I have more knowledge about this industry after been kept interacting with cab drivers all the time.  Unlike some taxi drivers in Beijing, the cab drivers in Tianjin speak little or no English.  The minimum cost for taking a taxi in Tianjin within3 km is 8 yuan, and then a further 1.7yuan is added for every kilometer after that. Taxis also charge for the time while the vehicle is stationary at 1.7yuan for every five minutes (cost is exempt for less than five minutes). For example, if you are unlucky enough to get trapped into a traffic jam, the meters are still going.  In other words, you will have to pay for the waiting...

It is strongly recommended that you do not take a taxi from near the railway station. The same advice applies at tourist stops, it is best to walk a few blocks to a regular street to catch a metered taxi.  I usually do not support non-metered taxi drivers!  Also, tipping taxi drivers is a Western trait. Most local Chinese do not tip except for exceptional service. You will not be treated poorly if you cannot afford to tip or to tip much. It would be generous of you to tip in certain situations, perhaps when the driver gets out to take care of your baggage.

Tianjawesome

Saturday was our free day which was much needed. So far this trip we haven't had a day where we can just relax, sleep in and explore by ourselves. So that's exactly what we did. I ended up walking the city and exploring the main downtown of Tianjin with Trent and Tracy, a good bro date. The area where our hotel is, is near to campus and not the busiest part of Tianjin, which means it's still very busy, so today we went to the down town of Tianjin. One thing that still amazes me is how many people there are and how massive the layout of the city is. The part of the city we were in was where all the shops and business buildings are. This part is highly developed and looks similar to a mini time square.   While we were walking around we stumbled across a wedding ceremony that was held at a cathedral style church. We were lucky to get a picture with the bride and groom in front of a perfect wedding backdrop. We were so out of place that many of the friends and family members of the bride and groom took pictures of us too. Throughout the day we surprisingly saw three different weddings in such a big town. Tracy told me that maybe today was a lucky day or a good day to get married on. Chinese people often will get married on a certain date because the numbers represent good luck and happiness. Also red is a very important color in a Chinese wedding. While we were walking we saw a wedding party in all red Mazda 6's. It looked very strange but it was because of what the color red represents which I believe was happiness. I find it very interesting that Chinese have so many traditions and representations that are a part of their everyday life.....

China Style

Today we had a chance to get to know our Chinese classmates a little more. We started off the day with calligraphy then moved onto sports in the afternoon. All these activities give us a better chance to know our classmates and learn about each others culture and hobbies.  Like I have said earlier getting to know the Chinese students is my favorite part of this trip. Trent and I had the opportunity to meet a student by the name of Tracy who, in my mind is the coolest kid in the world. He has been so generous and helpful and is always down to show us around. For example, Tracy talked to his friend who plays guitar and asked if get would lend me a guitar for the next week ill be in Tianjin. It's just so cool that he will go out of his way to make a stranger feel comfortable in his country. Another interesting thing about the Chinese students is how in touch they are with American basketball. Many of the students follow the NBA and know the majority of the players whereas in the U.S. we follow football more closely.

I also enjoy these crazy UMD students that I've had the chance to meet. We all get along so well and complement each others differences. It has been a blast getting to know them and I know these next two weeks will be just as good as the first two.

5/28 Calligraphy and Sports

On Friday in class we worked on Calligraphy with the Chinese students.  The student instructing the class had great skill in this form of writing and it was interesting because the symbols stand for different meanings and can tell stories.  Jue who was the student me and Kevin were working on our calligraphy skills with was very helpful.  She showed us different symbols and explained what they meant like one symbol was of mountains and told a story about some specific mountains in China.  I think its cool that symbols have been used in Chinese history for so long and still often times mean the same thing.  Simplifying stories with beautiful writing is a good way of telling stories or ancient philosophy. 
Later on the day we played sports and I think its weird how in America American Football is the most popular sport being played along with Major League Baseball and in China neither of these sports are really played or even known about over in China.  The students can name off a lot of American basketball players and soccer players from around the world but do not know one baseball or football player.  This cultural difference is surprising to me it makes sense that baseball takes a lot of area for playing but football could be played on the same fields as soccer nearly.  It could be due to the fact that Chinese are not as aggressive and do not like to hit people like Americans.  This is one area that is interesting to me that the Chinese follow America closely but dont follow our most popular sports.

Police and Ambulance

Today we were discussing the lack of police officers in this town so far.  We rarely ever see a police officer or any other emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks.  This seems really odd to me because I see all kinds of this stuff every day in Duluth.  It is almost a little scary thinking about if something did happen where someone needs urgent medical care, a building is on fire, or someone is harming other people.  Who will be there to help and fix the problem?  The police officers don't carry guns, so who will stop a criminal, or how does this not make people less afraid of the cops?

 

It seems like the overall safety standards are a lot lower here that in the US.  Every time I walk next to the scaffolding next to the hotel I am worried they are going to drop part of it and hit someone.  It is almost a little scary for someone who is used to having ambulances available within minutes to here where I have not seen one this whole time.  I haven't heard any sirens at all yet.  This is definitely different since I hear so many random things out of my window but no sounds from emergency vehicles.  

Tianjin

I know that I wrote a blog topic about this before, but I am simply amazed at how easy it is to have a conversation with the Chinese students. Its sort of a surreal experience being over here; we go to clubs, party until the sun comes up, and have conversations in broken English with kids from around the world. Everyone is genuine, they want to know more about you, where you're from, and who you are. I've met so many incredible people, some of them live radically different lives than I do, and some of them don't. I can't explain it, it's like a scene out of a movie or something. These last two weeks have been a blur, I cannot wait to see what happens next.

The streets of Tianjin

We walk the streets daily and many things are comparable to big city streets and many things are just strange.  I'll let you decide!

The first thing I've noticed is the abundance of holes in the street but no yellow cones or tape to alert you to the danger.  Sometimes the hole is accompanied by a Chinese man digging or installing piping.  There are also missing street bricks all over the place.  With all this uneven footing, you would think that all people would wear sturdy footwear.  However, the Chinese women are interested in looking tall so many wear high heels and are quite amazing! 

Another thing about the streets is that the sidewalks, the roads, the lines mean nothing.  Cars drive on sidewalks and frequently park on sidewalks.  Bikes travel the roads or sidewalks and weave in and out of traffic (or between) at all times.  I'm not sure why this city has lines because cars frequently cross the center line to pass the cars and then cut off the cars when making a right hand turn.  It is crazy and I expected that we would see many more accidents but it somehow makes sense to the residents. 

A final thing that I've noticed is that many of the construction workers live in the middle of the street in tiny trailers.  We figured this out last night when we noticed that a man in his underwear was outside the little hut standing holding the door open.  It is all so interesting here!


Tianjin

 

Still behind on my blogs but trying to catch up, just having too much fun. Luckily tomorrow is Sunday and I will have time to catch up. Thursday started off with class at 9:30 which was one of my favorite lectures. The professor's discussion was on Chinas business markets, but really what caught my attention was how important Chinese people's image is. Something called "face" is what the Chinese refer to when talking about their image. As business professionals it is important for them to give and support their own face (reputation). I found this very interesting because I feel that there is a little bit of that respect in the states but not to that extent. Often Chinese students will not be lat to class or do anything to ruin their face because it is what tells people who they are and what they are all about may even be a deciding factor for an employer. I think that the states needs to work on their face and working with each other.

After class we went on a short tour around Tianjin where we saw the future plans for the city in terms of expanding economic development. One thing I have noticed is that although it may not all happen according to plan the Chinese have such high standards for the growth of their city. Everywhere you look there are buildings being built and construction on roads and bridges etc. This may have some contribution to there recent booming economy. To end the day we went to the largest Ferris wheel in the world which was placed conveniently in the middle of a bridge. This thing was massive and from the top you could see the roofs of 10 story buildings. It took a good 30 minutes to complete the whole circle but it was a scary/fun 30 minutes but great at the same time.

Clubs and friends

So last night we went to the club again.  Well this one was different because a few of the people I was with have a very close relationship to one of the promoters.  One of his friends and I hit it off right away when they came in with some super soakers for me to play with.  .  I have to go.  Finish later.

American Food and Dance Club

So today was our first day on our own without plans.  We could do whatever we want. 

Tonight for dinner I talked to Amanda and Curtis on Facebook.  We decided to walk across the street to some Pizza and Sandwich place that I never even noticed.  It was amazing. 

When we walked in we noticed an all Chinese menu on the board.  We instantly thought we were in for a traditional Chinese restaurant.  When we looked at the menu, it took us by surprise when we saw that it was all in English.  We finally found the first American diner.

We ordered typical American cuisine.  You know, pizza, a BLT, a cappuccino, and a root beer float.  What's to go wrong?  It was awesome and they even gave is some weird hot lemon flavored water.   I am so going back there.  It was cheap compared to the states, but expensive when comapred to market food.  The 3 of us (Curtis, Amanda, and I) ordered enough for 4 people and it only came out to less than 150 RMB.  You gotta love China.  TIC!

After that, we got ready and met in Eric/Sam's room.  We then hopped in a taxi and went to the miniBull's dance club.  That was insane.  We danced, drank, and danced some more. We met a lot of cool people and even some kid that studied in France for 6 years.  Tianjin is full of people of all origins and nationality.   After that we came home and went to our rooms.  This place is awesome and seems almost essential to be able to speak Mandarin.  If you know the language, you instantly have an 'in' with the local community.

Pizza Day

Yes, it finally came, the day I got to eat pizza in China.  Those of you that know me from back home know that I love pizza and have been waiting to try it for quite some time.  What luck!  I got to eat it twice in one day! 

This morning we went shopping and ate at a restaurant that had all sorts of different food from American to Italian and yes Chinese.  The best menus here are with huge pictures of the food with both Chinese and English.  You simply point and smile.  I ordered the BBQ buffalo chicken pizza and prayed that the pizza would not have bones.  No luck.  When it came, it was bones and all on the chicken.  Also, it did not have any tomato sauce.  Other than that it was an ok pizza.  I give it a 5 out of 10.

For dinner, Alex and Curtis and I had dinner across from the hotel that had pizza, coffee, and sandwiches.  I ordered the double cheese pizza and it was fantastic.  There was even a thin layer of tomato sauce!  Curtis even had a rootbeer float with icecream and all.  It was a welcome break from the Chinese food.  I give it an 8 out of 10. 

Day 11- Tianjin

Yesterday we started off with a calligraphy lesson from some Chinese students.  It is really hard to do! The characters that they have to draw are very specific, and when it comes to using a calligraphy brush, the amount of pressure you put down on it can make or break what you're working on.  

After class I went to Carrefour to buy some treats and pringles.  Although I am craving cheese I have not yet pulled the trigger on buying any.  At 2:00 we played ping pong and badminton with Chinese students, which was a lot of fun.  I decided that knowing how to play ping pong and badminton is so important because even if you cant communicate well, then at least you can play sports and interact with them that way.  It was fun talking to the students and answering all of their questions about America.  Almost all of the students I've talked to want to know very simple things like what a typical day is for me at school.  It is really interesting learning about the differences between our cultures.

At Alli-Baba's last night, I ate a grilled cheese sandwich, which was really really good.  The menu there has a lot of options, and it will be nice to have somewhere to go if I want a break from Chinese food.  

Taxi

Instead of class today we learned to write calligraphy.  It was very difficult and harder than I expected it to be.  My friend was at class and she helped me and showed me how to do it correctly.  It was really interesting to learn more about it since I have no previous education about it.  It was very difficult for me to understand it and use proper form.  The most difficult part for me was line thickness.  It was difficult using the brush strokes but I think that a little more practice and it would become a lot easier. 

 

Another thing that I have been meaning to write about for a few days now is the taxi situation here in Tianjin.  The time it takes for us to grab 3 taxis is so short.  I am amazed at how we can get one whenever and wherever we want.   It seems like there is at least 10 taxis on every major street corner.  I don't understand how this is possible and why they rely so heavily on taxis.  It must be difficult for them to make money having so much competition. I don't know how often there are empty cabs but I'm sure that they are not always busy.  I also don't understand why they rely on them so heavily.  You would think that the city would want to make a better public transit system to help manage the flow of traffic.  The traffic is terrible in this town and reducing the number of taxis would take many cars off the streets.  Getting a better public transit system would also reduce the amount of cars.  I think that they should invest more in a  metro system and more lanes made just for busses to increase the productivity of the public transit system.

Driving

Taxis here in the city are crazy, and by crazy I mean insane.  Today, while driving back from the shopping mall, we almost crashed.  If my mother were in one of the cabs here, she would have a heart attack.  At first all the honking and the hustle and bustle of the city was very annoying and obnoxious.  But then you realize that there honking actually holds a purpose of communication between all the drivers and the people on bikes.  I guess you need to have some sort of organized chaos when driving so people don't crash all the time because there are no traffic rules.  Well, there might some rules or laws regarding traffic but they are not enforced, in fact I have not seen a whole lot of cops at all since we have been in Tianjin.   

Tianjin Day - 12

Another trip to the mall today lead us to quite the interesting restaurant.  Although the name eludes me at the moment, the style of food was very unique in its "easternization" of western foods (I'm aware that Easternization isn't an actual word).  It reminds me of chains like applebees in the U.S., where different food like pizza and pasta is made using western cooking methods and styles, where here it takes that idea but obviously uses chinese cooking methods and styles instead.  So the menu consisted of things like milkshakes, pizza, pasta, and different appetizers, but they obviously had the good old chinese spin on it (except the waffle fries, which tasted like waffle fries).  I decided to grab myself a bit of pizza and it was a bit weird eating pizza without sauce, but i quite enjoyed it.  The milkshakes also tasted quite different, although I couldn't decide what it was about them that made them so different.  All in all it was a great meal, and an interesting experience to be had (this country seems full of interesting experiences).

Tianjin - Day 11

Today we had a short class on calligraphy, which, to say the least, was not encouraging.  It didn't start to well with ben exploding a bottle of ink over half of the classroom, and from there it just went to show how talented the Chinese students are.  I tried to write 4 different characters, for 2 hours.  Although I did start getting the brush technique down by the end of it, I didn't exactly have a "good" writing of any of the 4 characters I tried.  Just thinking about learning all the different characters makes my head hurt.  Well I guess this just gives me a little more respect for the Chinese, and their intensely complicated language.

Friday- Tianjin

We had some students from the Nankai University teach us Chinese Calligraphy today. Chinese writing is beautiful. We were taught how to write chinese characters. I have always thought of the Chinese calligraphy to be amazing.. at one oint of my life I was about to get a tattoo of Chinese writing too, therefore I was really excited for this day. The Chinese students were really helpful while we were trying to learn. The Chinese guy who was teaching me was really patient with me. I think China's culture is very encouraging and helpful.
I went to the markets today with Sindy - one of my Chinese friends. She had brought two of her roomates and they were all extremely nice people. The best part about being in the market is about bargaining with the shop keepers. Even if something is not expensive, I just like to try to get the price lower just for the sake of it. When the shopkeepers give me a discount, I feel thing feeling of immense satisfaction that makes me want to give a big smile to myself. But, the markets in Tianjin are a little different than that of Beijing. In Beijing, people come down with their prices drastically. In Tianjin, maximim you can get a shopkeeper to go down is 20 rmb. I think the difference is because people in Tianjin do not like to cheat the shoppers as much. They know if they do, we will come back. However, in Beijing they already know that we are going to bargain so they give us this big price and then smartly come lower selling it to us in the price that they want us to buy. The shopkeepers in China are smart. I do think that every time they sell something, they always make a huge profit on it and they jinx us into thinking we got a great deal. But, I  still love shopping in China. Bargaining is not something you get to do in the United States so might as well enjoy it for the few days I am here! 
Also, Chinese people love to feed you. When I was hanging out with Sindy, she and her friends took me to every eating place and kept feeding me. They did not let me pay for anything at all. They are very generous and loving people. One of the things that Sindy told me which I could relate to was how lonely one could feel in United States. She had studied abroad in Canada for a semester and she had got really lonely there. I think its because in places like India, Nepal and China we like to stick with our girlfriends all the time and cannot spend even an hour being alone that we get used to people being around us. In America, people like their space. They enjoy being alone. This difference continues to amaze me till today!

Thursday - China

We had a lecture from Professor Liu on thurday about the Chinese culture. This class was definately my favorite. I got to learn a lot the Chinese culture. Since I come from Nepal, a lot of culture in Nepal is similar to that of China. "Saving the face" is a very important aspect in my culture too. However, I noticed one more difference between Chinese culture and American culture. When the students were talking to the professors, they were all standing up and talking. In America, we ask questions sitting down but in China I think they think of it as a sign of disrespect. There is a high power gap in the Chinese society. When students come late, they ask the professor if they can come in. This is very different than what happens in the United States.
We had also heard a lot about the strong drinking culture in China. I definately saw that in teh dnce club I went to Thursday night. We were hanging out with a bunch of Chinese students and they all were playing a game that was similar to rock paper scissors in United States. We were swinging with music in that game and every time one would loose, the person had to loose. They played this game for hours. I dont think our American guys could drika s much as the Chinese guys could :)

China 6/27/10

On Thursday we had a lecture from Professor Liu Jianhua about Chinese market and culture.  Some of the more interesting topics we discussed was about the value of face in China.  It is important in the Chinese culture to provide good face for you and the people you represent.  Face is how you present yourself to others and how you are perceived, by having poor face you are not only hurting yourself but also people close to you.  Once you lose face it it hard to get it back from people and takes time.  If you have poor face with people it will be hard to communicate with them or do business transactions so it is always important to keep face.  After class and lunch we went to the giant Ferris wheel, it was very large and provided a view of many interesting buildings around the area.  It took in total 25 minutes to go all the way around on this giant Ferris wheel.  After this we went and shopped at a mall which I noticed was more expensive than Beijing and you could not bargain prices.  I explored and noticed many beggars on the street with different deformities asking for money.  I noticed people are much more giving in China to these people than in the United States because several people were giving money to these poor people. It was very noticeable that there was a large difference from these people and alot of the people shopping in the mall because some of the people I watched going in were wearing fur or carrying Coache purses into the mall and a lot of the people outside were not so wealthy. The prices for much of the items in the mall were as expensive or more than in the United States.  I learned a lot this day about Chinese culture and how there are large economic gaps in income.

ping pong

Today we went and played ping-pong and badminton with the Chinese students. Professor Li gave me a few tips that have tremendously helped my forehand shot. Hitting forehands with a little power was something I was decent at before, but now I finally figured out how to do it consistently.  The spinning aspect of my game was pretty good to begin with, but has also gotten better through playing the Chinese students. Many of them have incredibly tricky serves that take me a few shots just to figure out what kind of spin I have to put on the ball just to get it back over the net. People say that in order to get better, you have to play people who are better than you. I will have improved very much by the time the trip is over with.

 

Cameras are also beginning to drop like flies around here. I had a close call in Beijing, another was lost in a cab, and another one bit the dust at 3am after a night of clubbing.

T I C

So, here I am sitting at the computer again and I cannot really think of a single topic to write on.  I think I have just found one.  T I C is a saying the I learned about a week ago at the bar that we frequent called AliBaba's.  In Arabic this of course means "bad person"  this bar is fun as heck though.  We get to sit around and chill, smoke a hookah, order some food, and meet some cool people.  So I met these two American students the other night and we were talking, this is China one said to me.  I have adapted that to mean exactly what it says.  Whenever one of our group says anything about it like man food is cheap here, I simply reply with " T I C".  Seems to be catching on.  Good times.

Chinese Student Life

So every blog I usually write about what I did that particular day. But today I am going to switch it up.  This time I am going to write about differences in the student lives of Chinese and American.

I had a good talk with Martin (one of the coolest Chinese students here) about a bunch of different things.  He came out with us tonight to Ali Baba's (an international bar for those who don't know) and it was his first time coming to such a thing.  I asked him "So Martin, what do students usually do on the weekends?"  And he replied back "Well, we study a lot, talk to roommates, and play computer games."  Needless to say,  me and Trent proceeded to buy him a beer and talk him into trying a hookah.  American's aren't really the best influence.

I talked to Martin about a variety of other things.  Washing clothes in a washbin and bar soup is the norm, where as in America we get mad if our school doesn't provide free laundry service with washer and dryers.  I had to wash my clothes for the first time today in my sink with a bar of soap and it sucked.  I'm pretty sure all of my shirts are going to be all stretched out whenever they get the chance to dry.  I also asked if it is customary for Chinese students to get their undergraduate degrees in China and then go to Graduate school in America.  I thought that was a popular thing to do, but apparently it's only 1 in 15 students that do.   Still a high amount, but I honestly expected more.  Martin told me how he invested the money he earned over winter vacation into stocks and then asked if students in the US invest in stocks as well.  As much as I hate to admit, it's not usual for students to have invest money in the stock market that early even though it would be wise to do so.  Also, a year of college is 6000 RMB (which is roughly less than a grand of USD) and is paid for by the parents.  I told him how almost every student comes out of college with massive debt.

There are a lot more, but the finer details are hard to remember.  I will post more when I think of them.  The language barrier is hard to get passed and this trip is really pushing me towards learning Mandarin.  I might just have to do that seeing how big a powerhouse China is becoming.

Efficiency

Efficiency seems to be the common theme everywhere in China.  The best examples of this would have to be the hotel rooms, every time you leave; you need to take the key card out of the door.  Therefore, the hotel saves money on electric and promotes a greener environment.  The factories we visit have their processes down pack and their manufacturing processes perfected to promote the least amount of error.  The construction workers are efficient as well, one day you see trucks and roadwork and the next day you don't.  The people here are so hard working, it is ridiculous the amount of work they get done in one day.  

China 6/26/10

Yesterday we did not have class in the morning but instead went on tours for the day seeing different places. The Pocari Business was a simple place on the outside but it was nice on the inside. It was interesting to see how the business was set up on the inside with all the different processes that take water and turn it into a flavored hydrating water and then bottle it.  We also saw cans being made.  While we were there one of the lines broke and there was a major backup that resulted.  When listening to the business brief it was interesting to learn how they market their products to Asians and how its different than in the United States.  It was neat to see professor Li exchange cards with the president of the Pocari Sweat business because we had just learned the proper way of receiving business cards from people.  When we visited Master Kangs it was fun seeing how the make all their noodles and package them,  It was weird that most of the steps were completely automated and had very few workers for them.  I think some of the flavors they had were interesting because they were ones that people in the US would not be interested in but are some of the top sellers in China.  I believe they had some curry flavors and other random flavors.  It was a good day overall. 

RW Tianjin

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Today was a lot of fun, instead of class we went to two big companies in China. The first company we visited was Pocari Sweat which is similar to Gatorade. I was very interesting hearing the business presentation and learning about the future plans for this company. I haven't been to a professional business presentation in the states but I can imagine that they would be similar. It was fun seeing the production line and leaning about their plans to branch out and globalize.  We also visited Master Kong which is one of the biggest noodle companies in China. Master Kong is comparable to our romen noodle with a better selection of ingredients. Here we also saw the production line and an informational video on the history and future plans for this company. I really enjoy getting a different perspective on local businesses in China, and discovering little differences between China and the states.

After visiting these companies Sam and I accompanied three Chinese students to a KTV which is a karaoke club. This was an experience. We paid 25 rmbs for our own private room two mikes and some snacks and drinks. It was such a blast going back to elementary school and singing backstreet boys "I Want it That Way." Not only were we having fun but we were learning about the Chinese culture and what students do in their free time. The highlight of the karaoke was singing "My Humps" with Kiki, who sang the girl part and I sang the guy part. After that the group got together and went to a dance club called Scarlett. Perty fun day!!....

Club Scene

I've had the chance to experience the club scene in Mexico, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and now China, and I've been pretty surprised to find that there isn't much of a difference around the world.

In Mexico you usually pay a cover charge to get in and then it's open bar all night long - as long as you keep tipping the bartenders - otherwise they'll quit serving you. In the European clubs that I was in I don't really remember paying for anything - but I'm sure someone did - I was being hosted by a German family and their friends hooked me up while I was there. It's been interesting to get the hang of how things are ran here in China though.

The first club that we walked into was completely Avatar themed and we had to pay about $100 for our group to get in and then they would give us a case of Heineken - but all of us girls had to check our bags and cameras which kind of freaked us out. It was pretty clear that we weren't allowed to have the beers on the dance floor which is much different than the dancing around with drinks how we do at home and in Mexico.

At home, there is no way that you could walk away from the table with full beers and drinks sitting out - unless you want someone to take them or roofie them for you. We noticed at Scarlet the other night that one of the club managers would stand at our table and watch our drinks whenever we would go out to dance - sweet!

It's been fun to get a booth much like the VIP sections in Mexican and European clubs - but instead of just ordering drinks you pretty much order a package for however much and then they bring huge mixers to you with glasses that look like the shot glasses that are sometimes given to us back home - and we never have to worry about loosing our table when we go to dance!

Oh and let's not forget the American dance music that dominates the world - I can't believe that no matter where I am around the world, I can bank on hearing my favorite guilty pleasures from back home :) Let's hear it for the YingYang Twins!

Calligraphy

I guess I never thought of Chinese calligraphy as being such an art form - maybe I just assumed that anyone who wrote characters everyday of their life must be able to paint them - which apparently is not so.

I used to paint a lot in high school and thought that this might be kind of easy for me - again, not so. Oliver was so good about showing me the proper techniques - like how to hold the brush, how make the sweeping lines while pressing the brush down and lifting it back up all in the same stroke which makes the characters so beautiful. He would also tell me which strokes to make first and explained that (if I remember this correctly) you have to go left to right and top to bottom.

He showed us all how to make the symbol for forever and once I got that one down he showed me how to do my name. I enjoyed my time with Oliver and near the end of our lesson he pulled out a big scroll of traditional paper and painted in a different style than we were being taught. His brush never left the paper for each character it seemed and I would compare this other style to the cursive version of our letters - it was really cool to watch.

I can't wait to get home and try to find a giant frame for it - I think Dr. Li told me that it says something about "If you read 10,000 books then you will be able to write with heavenly words?" or something like that - I'll have to ask again.

If anyone wants to e-mail Oliver and thank him for his time with us today his address is 486xiouozhou@sohu.com

tianjin

We went on the Tianjin Eye Ferris Wheel today. I believe that it is the 10th largest Ferris Wheel in the world. After that, we took a short trip to the Tianjin city planning center and then went to do some shopping. The mall had a familiar feel to it, similar to an American shopping mall; higher prices, flashy advertisements, eager salespeople. I hated it. I don't know how I am ever going to buy anything in an American mall ever again. That will probably be one of the hardest things to adjust to when I come back.  Having to pay ridiculously higher prices for the same things. Here, I eat a filling, healthy, tasty meal for less than a dollar. You can't get anything like that back home.

Guanxi

On our first night in Tianjin, after spending two hours in Carrefour trying to find converters and peanut butter with Charlee, we headed back to the hotel with our arms full of munchies and wine that we didn't even go there for. As we came up to the second to last corner before the hotel we noticed that we were trapped in - a sewage drain was overflowing and it was surrounding the entire corner. Just as Charlee was trying to step over it onto the bricks that someone had thrown out in the street this Chinese guy said in plain English "Careful! Here give me your hand." We stood in the street chatting for a minute before he helped us with our bags back to the lobby of our hotel.

Turns out that Apollo grew up in Tianjin and went to school in San Diego so his English is just as good as ours - I would have never guessed that he was actually Chinese.  He finished school in the states in time to head back here for the Olympic games in 2008 and has been in Tianjin since working as a club promoter. He said he knew American girls and their friends would be down to party so he invited us to this All White Party that he's hosting at his club on Saturday night.

Charlee and I didn't really know what to think about meeting a guy in the street and getting invited to party across town in a foreign country. After everything that we've been learning about Chinese culture and their strive to maintain "face" and guanxi - which is like a network of people that you can go to.

Apollo kept talking about his guanxi in a way that he described as being his "homeboys" and our classroom descriptions were a little more formal - but I definitely get it. After talking to Dr. Li about the invite from Apollo and learning what it is that makes the Chinese so trustworthy and generous, I'm ready to make a scene tomorrow night at the club - which is just what Apollo wants us to do.

The whole give and get idea that was explained in class yesterday makes sense in this situation - Apollo meets us - a couple of American girls much like the people he would have hung out with at school in the states - and happens to be a club promoter - knowing that we would know how to get his party started. In return for us bringing all of our friends and giving him business he's gonna hook us up with a limo to drive around the city in and get ready to have the time of our lives. I trust him more because of everything that we have learned about the Chinese - living honestly and respectfully as a way to save face is a way of life for them - and I wish Americans would take note.

Largest Ferris Wheel in the world!!

I was so excited to go ride on the Ferris Wheel. Little did I know it was the largest in the world, as we were told by Monica, our tour guide. As we drove up it looked very big but not as big as we had all expected, until we actually got on it and started to get up in the air. It was also located in the middle of a bridge, which was very cool. It was a 110 meter diameter Ferris Wheel that lifted you 120 meters into the air. We went as high up as a 35-story building. We could actually see on the tops of some of the buildings. I could not believe how high we were! I was in a bucket with Kevin, Trent, and Sarah. The boys kept trying to shake the bucket and I was getting a bit scared. We all enjoyed the view of Tianjin and took several pictures. It took 28 minutes to get around one time as the bucket was moving very slowly.

After the Ferris Wheel we went to a Chinese mall. There was one large department store with several floors, 7 or 8, each floor selling different things. Outside the department store there was a strip of stores including; Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Pizza Hut. We went to Starbucks and I got a Caramel Frappuccino, it was absolutely delicious but wasn't the best idea for my stomach. It was also comparable in price to Starbucks back home, as they don't drink much coffee over here. We walked down the strip for a bit, I bought a tank-top, and dress, then we decided to leave. We showed two cab drivers our card which had directions back to our hotel and they refused to take us back. At that point we were a bit worried we wouldn't be able to get back. We didn't think we were that far away but we must have been. We then found two cab drivers to take Sarah, Curtis, myself, Allie, Alex, and Eric. We went half way across the city, well it seemed like it, and we only paid 30 Yuan, about $7. Wow I love how cheap everything is here!!!

Um...Excuse you!

I didn't notice that there is really no such thing as waiting in a line here - it's more like waiting in a cluster and trying to make sure that people don't budge in front of you.  The first encounter that I noticed this was when we were trying to pass through the gates to get on the bullet train to Tianjin. Dr. Li told us all that it was time to go and we automatically got the the line that had formed only to notice that it wasn't really moving because - oh wait - people were sneaking in left and right and there was no longer a line - it was a giant crowd in front of two tiny gates. I was instantly angry - it is so rude to us in America to cut in front of someone who has been patiently waiting - especially in a hot terminal with about 105 bags weighing more than we do.

The next time I encountered this struggle for order was at McDonald's down the street from our hotel when Charlee and I were trying to get a quick lunch so that we could go back and nap before more touring in the afternoon. We were a little more prepared for this and didn't have much trouble making sure no one got in front of us.

When we went back for ice cream a few days later I had forgotten about trying to keep people behind us and right before I could order a little 10 year old kid slipped right in front of me with a fist full cash and shoved it through the window to order. I almost punched the kid in the face - you should never get between me and my ice cream.

Chinese Food

Today's lecture was basically about the culture of China.  I found it to be very interesting and we had a really good professor.  I followed along closely and found a few things interesting.  The main thing I learned overall from this was that culture plays a larger role in business than I had previously imagined.  I always new that it was important but the professor put it in a different context and I think I am beginning to understand the true importance of our cultural differences and how I can become more understanding. 

 

After class we went to the Tianjin Eye, the Ferris wheel in Tianjin.  I really liked it because it showed us a different view of the city that none of us had ever seen before.  It was also the largest wheel that any of us had ever been on.  I really like being able to see a large city from the top and this view put it in better perspective how large this city is.   I was a little shocked to see that we were basically the only ones there.  It seemed like either it is only busy on some days or it just doesn't attract as many people as they would like.  I wonder if it is always empty like it was or if they do attract a decent amount of people. 

 

The other interesting thing of the day was eating street food (SF) in the market right next to us.  We paid 4 Yuan for a good amount of chicken, peppers, onions with rice.  It was very cheap, but the place was dirty.  If I was in the USA I would never eat at a place like this.  The smells of the market, the dirtiness, I have no idea how long this food has been sitting out, and it wasn't really warm.  When in China I have to eat this food and it was actually good.  I am glad I tried it and I will be eating this kind of food again in the next few days.

Day 10- Tianjin

Yesterday our class lecture flew by and then we were off to the ferris wheel.  The ferris wheel we went on is the biggest one in Asia.  Sam and I were hesitant because we are both uncomfortable with heights, so we decided to go in the same car with two other people we deemed "safe" to have with us.  It was not as scary as I thought it would be, but whenever there was a creaking noise or too many people on one side, which made it lean, I got nervous.  The pictures I took from that high up were pretty cool, although it would have been nice if it wasn't so cloudy.

Later that day we all got dropped off at a shopping mall, which had clothes that were way too expensive, and I at least could not imagine spending that much after having bought shirts for $5.00 in Beijing.  Next to the shopping mall, we found a market, (yay!), and I found 2 tops and a belt for 20 bucks.  

Although I am not much of a singer, this weekend we may head to KTV, which has karaoke.  That would be interesting! I am looking forward to the weekend off :)

Den of Debauchery

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As we exit the elevator, every single one of us sets off the metal detector but none of the guards check us.  We are instantly led by the laurels to the far back side of the club to a large VIP couch.  The bottle service was nearly instant, and we had ordered 4.  From there on in it was basically a blur of beautiful Chinese ladies dancing with me, and vodka never forget the vodka.  You can feel the beat in your chest, all you want to do is go and dance.  I have taken over the stage and am doing my thing.  Almost right away me and the other tall white guys became a spectacle of some great interest.  I noticed that a girl was noticing me, maybe a 7 or whatever, amazing body and I did not see a lot of her face.  We danced for quite a few songs, and she was skilled with her body movements.  I have not partied like this since 1999.  We quickly made friends with a table of Chinese, they had an IPAD.  This made for some awesome times.  It had a "billboard" feature, you could type what you wanted and then bam, a scrolling line of the words you typed came up on the screen.  Needless to say, we took over the IPAD and had much fun, turns out you could translate and then make the billboard.  There were all sorts of sayings flying around, this was entertaining to a bunch of us drunkards.  Then there was a commotion, and the table was cleared.  I was basically pushed down to the table, some Chinese wanted to arm wrestle.  I do not consider myself to be that strong, but these men wanted to impress their women.  Too bad I handily defeated both of them.  I then went back out to dance, and there was a minor scandal.  I was dancing with this other girl, and she seemed to like me a lot.  Then this other girl kept butting in, they were fighting for me, this is a cool situation.  I caused a girl fight.  The one girl kept looking at the other girl, and then the interloping woman would lean in and kiss my cheek.  They did not like each other, all because of my sweet dancing skills.  This is cool, girl fight.  We basically danced the entire night away, drank ALL our booze very rapidly and partied our butts off.

Tianjin - Day 10

Well today was an interesting day. I definitely did not expect to find a shopping mall that mirrored that of an American shopping mall here in Tianjin, but lo' and behold we wandered into one. The store layout was much more similar to the other shopping malls we have seen here, but the stores themselves were often major American brand names and they did not allow bargaining.  None of us actually bought anything, because we could purchase similar things at similar prices in America, but I thought the lower income of this country would make these types of stores rarer.  And most of the customers of this store seemed to be Chinese.  I mean, I guess there are some higher income people that shop there, but with good quality items for much cheaper in many places, this seems like a very unnecessary place.

Day 9- Tianjin

Yesterday was a nice break from class.  We went and visited two different companies as well as a Technical Development Area Planning Hall.  The planning hall was cool because of the huge model replica of what the plans were for the city.  After that, we went to the manufacturing plant for Pocari Sweat, which is a popular beverage in China and around the world.  The beverage is called Pocari Sweat because it replenishes the body with ions that are lost after sweating.  It was fun learning about how the company made efforts to help the communities that it served.  

Later in the afternoon, we visited Kangshifu, which is the company that makes the famous "Master Kong" brand that specializes in instant noodles.  I really liked being able to see the manufacturing plant, it was amazing to see how many different production lines were going on at once.  

For dinner some of us went back to the Korean restaurant that is right under our hotel.  It is so fun eating meals that are affordable and delicious! I am excited for this weekend because I made plans with some of the Chinese students to go shopping!

Doing it Tianjin style.

I have fallen behind on my blogs but in my defensive I have been really busy experiencing china. Everyday has been an adventure discovering new and different styles, beliefs and activities in China. I would have to say the most enjoyable part is getting together with the Chinese students and socializing discussing anything from history to what we do on the weekends. Every weekday we start out with class that usually lasts for about 2 and a half hours covering topics in finance, markets, E- business and much more. The classes, for the most part, are the same as in the United States with a difference in teaching styles.  Often if we don't have anything planned we will go find new restaurants to try different types of food or go to the activity center and play badminton and ping pong with the students.

Today was especially fun cause we got together with some of the Chinese students to play ping pong and basketball, which I thought that us Americans were going to dominate at. Apparently Chinese students, although shorter than most of us, are quite good at basketball. Afterwards we got together as a group and met up with Tracy, who is the coolest Chinese student ever, and some other for a little get together at an American café. Of course just like any old American café, there was a guitar for people to play which was a good refresher for me. Today was chill but much needed....

I think I'm finally getting used to just walking out in the road in front of cars and buses and being fairly positive that I'm not gonna die Final Destination style. The first few times people tried to cross when we got to Tianjin I would pull a motherly move by grabbing their wrists or t-shirts to hold them back - we quickly learned that if you're gonna go you have to commit - but there is always the option of just standing in the middle and having people drive around you.

There are actual walk signs that are green and red for go - much like the walk signs that we have at home - but at home those signs usually mean that cars won't be coming your way so you can usually just walk. Those signs mean nothing here. People walk and cars drive through whether it is red or not. I keep trying to get pictures in an attempt to capture the insanity - but there is no way that anyone could possibly understand without actually being in the middle of the intersection experiencing it for themselves.

I'm so used to crossing the roads like this now that I'm pretty sure there is a good chance I'll get hit by a car when we get back to Duluth - I'll just walk out in traffic being fairly certain that people know I'll be coming.

Sick :(

I woke up yesterday morning feeling better than I had the night before. Professor Li told me that the group wouldn't be home until 6:00 PM that night, so I decided to go with everyone, I didn't want to miss a full day of touring companies. So at 8:30 AM we boarded the bus and were headed to TEDA (Tianjin Economic Technological-Development Area). It was a two hour drive to get there and I listened to my Ipod and slept the whole way. Once we got to the first place, the TEDA planning hall, I wasn't feeling very well so I stayed on the bus and slept on the long back seat. Well, that is what my entire day turned out to be, sleeping on the bus. The group toured Pecari Sweat, a company that makes a sports drink much like Gatorade, and a company that makes instant noodles. My body ached so bad that I could barely move, so I listened to my Ipod and tried to sleep. I also couldn't eat anything so while everyone was eating dumplings for lunch I stayed on the bus. Professor Li was kind enough to have his friend bring me some medicine. I took it and wasn't feeling any better. I just wanted to get back to the hotel and to my bed. I'm feeling much better today, still some stomach pains, and I still don't know what exactly was wrong with me, but I'm very lucky to have people here that care about me. :)

May 27th, Tianjin

This morning we had an interesting topic about Chinese culture and Chinese market.  It is great to hear the professor talk about Chinese philosophy of confucianism.  As we all know, Chinese and Americans have different perception of value.  Confucianism plays a very important role in Chinese history.  Though Chinese society follow collectivism and selflessness,  majority Chinese try very hard to keep good images and buy luxury stuffs to promote themselves.  It does sound very contradictory, as Sam pointed out in class... I like the brotherhood or personal bonding Asian people try to build up when they grow up, because it does help you a lot when you step into the real world and need to rock your career.

Ferris Wheel & Market Food

So today, we took a little venture out to the the big Ferris wheel out here in Tianjin.  It is called the Tianjin Eye, and is in the top 10 largest Ferris wheels in the world.  It sits at around 120 meters high and took 30 minutes for a full rotation.  The crazy thing about it was that it was in the middle of a highway.  The lanes split off to the sides of it with it protruding out from almost underneath the roads.  When we got in and started moving, it was eerie to see all the cars racing towards you and then veer off the the side.

After that, we then went to the city planning hall to see all the miniature sets of what Tianjin will become, as well as a history portion of the city.  By far the best part was seeing the large scale set of the city and trying to pick out where Nankai University was, different landmarks we've remembered, and other things within the city.

We then got dropped off and walked around a mall that reminded me a lot like Macy's, but with each a specific vendor instead of departments.  That wasn't that interesting since bartering was not really an option.  We found a Starbucks logo and instantly went for it.  It was amazing getting a carmel machiatto.  Even in China my caffeine addiction knows no bounds.  After that we walked around an outdoor mall until we got bored and hopped in a tax.  The traffic here is absolutely horrible during rush hour (still bad even when it's not) and it took us a half hour to get back.

After we got back, I went to the food market close by the hotel with a bunch of people and ate a bunch of this great tasting flavored pita bread along with some fruit.  For a solid dinner, it only cost me 2 RMB (29 cents).  Hooray for China.



Transit

The traffic in Tianjin is insane; I do not know how people can get around without crashing every five seconds.  The city road and sidewalk is mainly composed of taxis, cars, tour buses, bikes, and electric scoters things.  I do feel rather safe in taxis though, they communicate with the other people on the road very well, by honking, all the time.  The honking is never ending, and continues to wake me up at 6:30 AM every day, on the dot.  I would have to describe the transit system as organized chaos.  People drive on the wrong side of the road and don't get hit and bikes are everywhere even in the middle of traffic, not to mention the people trying to dodge all these items to cross the street.  It is a whole new world over here and honestly; with 11 million people the transit system could never be regulated anyway, because of all the people.  They have a good system down; sometimes it is rather annoying on the ears though.  

Hanting Inn

This morning we went to breakfast and were gone for about 30 min.  When we came back to our hotel room, housekeeping was in the room...wallpapering.  Well that's never happened to me before.  They had all the stuff off the wall, the bed moved out, and the scraps all over everywhere.  To their credit they finished quickly and came back later to finish. 

Later the internet went out and the front desk was called.  They sent someone up immediately to fix it.  Too bad we spoke different languages because the guy couldn't talk to me and couldn't read too much of the English computer.  However, I've noticed over here that you can navigate a computer pretty easily no matter what language it is in because all the systems have the same basic structure.  After the hotel guy gave up, Curtis, one of the students in the class, came in and fixed everything.  Thanks Curtis! 

KTV

Wow, Kevin and I went with some Chinese students to the KTV today. For those of you who aren't in the know-how around here, KTV is Chinese Karoke. We had an great time singing Backstreet Boys, Celine Deion, Michael Jackson and Christina Aguliera. Karoke in China is nothing like Karoke in the U.S. Over here, instead of being in a large room with everyone listening, you rent out a private room with a few friends and sing all night, its similar, but at the same time very different.

            Something that is pleasantly surprising is how easy it is to interact with the Chinese students, they are all very friendly and almost all of them speak impressive English. Any akwardness or social differences that I had imagined do not exist. We can play sports, attend class, or just talk with one another, it is all very natural.

Another day in Tianjin

I'm a bit behind because I have been sick but on Tuesday morning we had a lecture by Professor Runhui Lin. It was on E-business in China and was very interesting.We learned how many Chinese are using the internet and what they're using it for. As the rate of the Chinese using the internet is increasing, this indicates a lot of business opportunities. A lot of money is to be made because there are 1.13 billion people here in China. After lecture we ate dumplings for lunch. They're so delicious! Then it was nap time for me. During my nap I woke up to very loud noises. Finally I realized it was fireworks that were being lit off very close to my hotel. The Chinese love their fireworks. They lite them off whenever there is a celebration. Such as; moving into a new apartment, getting a new job, or for a birthday.

When I woke up from my nap, Sarah and I wanted to go play sports with the rest of the students, as well as some Chinese students. We walked to the business school, searched around, and could not find anyone. Turns out they were playing at a different spot on campus and the campus is huge! There was no way we would have ever found them.

For dinner we ate at the Korean Restaurant again. Everyone loves this place! We then went with Tracy, a Chinese student, to an Americanized Cafe. It was on the other side of campus so it was a far walk. There were several students doing homework and hanging out just like we would do in America. Sarah and Kevin found a guitar and were in heaven! They played and sang for awhile, we would all join in when we knew the song. I also got an iced vanilla latte which was similar to what I get back home. We all enjoyed the cafe and I'm sure we'll go back soon.

Barbecue

 

Today was an interesting day.  This was the first day that we did not have class in the morning.  We started out by driving an hour and a half outside of Tianjin to another city where we would see two different businesses.  The first was Pocari Sweat, which is an Ion supply drink.  The other one was a noodle factory that produced instant noodles.  The interesting thing about the noodle factory was that they were all machines and no humans in the production of the noodles.  The only thing that humans did was oversee the packaging of the products.  I knew that this is how plants operate but I have never seen it in real life. 

 

The best part of the day for me is when we went to dinner with our Chinese friends.  There was four of us guys and six girls who brought us to a market where we ate a big barbeque dinner.  We chose different meats and vegetables and then they cooked them on the grill and served them to us.  It was nice to be able to sit down with them and eat a meal while learning about their culture and learning more about them and life in China.  The food was really good and we ate basically every part of a chicken, vegetables and traditional sausage.  It was really nice to see a different market and be able to relax and enjoy the food and good company.  I am looking forward to meet with them again and hopefully we will enjoy it just as much!

Tianjin - Day 9

Today we visited TEDA, and man was I blown away by the scale of the plans for the development of Tianjin.  This really shows the major difference between the typical free market economy seen in most of the world, and the government directed economy here in China.  In the U.S., reworking an entire city into an economic hub of the country would be completely up to the private sector to do (well, for the most part).  Their plans for the city are absolutely enormous, and the outlook for this area is very long-run (it's not even going to be finished for another 10 years!).  This definitely shows some of the advantages of having a planned economy.

Fireworks

Well apparently the Chinese love their fireworks. Today at about 1:30 in the afternoon we were treated to a random three-minute firework show courtesy of some Chinese citizen. Eric and I were just sitting in the room waiting until we had to go to the lobby when an extremely loud bang went off just outside our hotel. When I say extremely loud I mean extremely loud. We managed to get the tail end of it on video, I think Eric is going to post it on the internet.

 

We met a few more students today, I played ping-pong and basketball with them. Afterwards, they took us to see their dorm rooms and in so many words, it was different. The fit a lot more people into a lot smaller spaces than what is typically seen in an American dorm room. It is a lot easier to appreciate the dorm rooms we had it college after seeing the Chinese dormitories. 

Hot pot

Tonight we went to a hot pot restaurant.  This place has a burner built into each table.  You order your food and they bring out a giant pot of steaming broth along with all of the raw meat and vegetables.  Then, you can drop all of the things into the boiling broth to cook and when you think they are done, you grab the food and put it on your plate to eat.  This was another really weird experience for me.  I've never boiled chicken or any meat really and I feel like my head is full of warnings to not eat raw meat.  How the heck are you supposed to know when it is done?  But, we keep running into these situations where raw meat is consumed (sometimes on accident) and everyone seems to still be alive and kicking.  Once I got over this little challenge, the food was fantastic.  So very spicy and of course a good mixture of noodles and vegetables.  Are there a lot of places in America where you can cook your own food?

Dinner BBQ

Today a few if the guys and I went out for a meal with a few of the Chinese girls and let me tell you it was very fun.  Quite a few differences between going out here, and going out in America.  First of all the girls were our hosts and therefor insisted to buy the food.  We did not like this and fought quite hard to avoid it.  They eventually snuck away and basically tricked us and they paid.  We got our revenge by paying for the cab home.  The conversation was very nice and Chinese women think tall guys are good looking.  That is cool, makes me and Trent win automatically.  We got to walk all around this crazy market with them, and dang it was expansive and quite fun.  I nearly got ran over again a few times.  That is becoming quite a habit, but I think it will be okay.  It was a great meal with good friends and delicious food.  I love eating all the normal Chinese food here.  It is quite a bit different but also quite amazing.

Fireworks

There were two things that really stuck out to me today.  First were fireworks and the other thing was the Chinese students dorm rooms.  The fireworks were crazy because we were sitting in our room in the middle of the day with our window open, and all of the sudden we hear an extremely loud bang.  It almost sounded like a gun shot and me and Sam both looked at each other and then the bangs kept coming.  We looked out the window and could see fireworks just coming over the top of the buildings.  These loud noises made it seem like the city was under attack.  We have never heard anything like this before and it was interesting to see it happening in the middle of the day in such a large city.  This seemed so illegal to us and I could never see this happening in the United States.  Some of the other people were concerned and nobody with a window could tell what was happening outside. 

 

The other thing that was interesting was the Chinese students dorm rooms.  They were different than I expected them to be.  Each student shared a room with three other guys, and they were smaller rooms than we had our freshman year.  It just seemed that they were very crowded and it would be a difficult change for someone like me who is used to my own space to be somewhere different.   It also seemed like all the roommates were good friends and they always did things together.  This was different than my personal experience in dorms so it was interesting to see that can handle living in small spaces with eachother.

BBQ Chinese Style

Today was another great day filled with lots of information and food. We spent the majority of the day touring business's such as Pocari Sweat (China's version of Gatorade) and Master Kong, the most popular instant noodle business in all of Asia. But by far the best part of the day was being invited by my Chinese student to attend a real traditional Chinese BBQ.

My Chinese student and her roommates invited me and some of the other group members to what they call a traditional Chinese BBQ. All of us not really know what to expect, got into a cab with the other students. Upon arrival, the first thing that struck me was the incredible smell of seared flesh over hot coals and the smoke from it billowing out of the gates and filling the grounds in which the barbecue was held. This place reminded me somewhat of the fair grounds back home with booths selling all kinds of different food and even some small shops that sold other miscellaneous things. We arrived at the booth at which we were going to purchase our meal from and were greeted by numerous amounts of raw meats and vegetables skewered on wooden sticks. We then took a large tray and starting picking what we wanted and tossing it in. Most of the meat was hard to tell exactly what it was but thankfully we had our Chinese students there to inform us. We chose some things such as chicken, chicken gizzards, chicken skin, vegetable balls, potatoes, rice patties, and much more. We then sat down as we waited for the vendors to grill our food. In addition to grilling, every item is brushed with an excellent spicy sauce that makes Chinese BBQ really unique. The food tasted as good as it smelled and we had a great time talking with all of the students.

Tomorrow is particularly exciting for me as I will fly down to the city of Chengdu and visit a good friend of mine for the weekend. Everyone tells me that Chengdu is known for its food and how spicy it is, and since I have yet to try anything that I consider extremely spicy I look forward to the challenge. 

May 26th, Tianjin

We did not have the classes the whole day.  Instead, we went to visit couple local businesses: Tianjin Otsuka Beverage and Master Kong. 

Otsuka Beverage Co.Ltd are group companies, engaging in erray of businesses including pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, chemicals. We watched the company introduction vedio, listened to company presentation and tasted their products.  Surprisingly and gladly, the manager who answered our various questions is from the same city as I am... We also got couple of complimentary bottles water and they turned out to be really good. 

Master Kong, as "Ramen"in America, is dried and precooked instant noodle fused with oil, packed with a package of flavoring. College students, the "economic indicator", are always very fond of Master Kong because it is fast and convenient. Based on my past years of college dorm experience, nevertheless, it brought us more chances of consuming unhealthy and junk food since it is high in carbonhydrate, and low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. From business perspective, I am happy to have chance observating the production line of Master Kong, but I would personally rather only try it once in a while or not all for the health's sake.   

TEDA, Pocari Sweat & Master Kong

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The three places we traveled to were very informative.  We left earlier this morning and hopped on the bus for a good hour ride to the TEDA area.  TEDA stands for Technological Development Area, and is Northern China's finest state-sponsored development area.  They have big (and I mean huge) plans for the port of Tianjin.  I am guessing by the time all of our careers have taken off, Tianjin will be one of the most powerful cities in China.  The plans include a massive city overhaul with new skyscrapers and business specific districts.  It will be interesting to see how this pans out within the next few years.

The next place we went to was the Otsuka Pharmaceutical factory that produces the drink 'Pocari Sweat.'  This Gatorade-like drink is actually healthier for an athlete, as it does not have sugar and has a good composition of ions to replenish the athlete.  The taste was very good as well.  I really enjoyed the two complimentary bottles.  I even enjoyed more how Dr. Li was when it came to drinking Pocari Sweat! It was funny to see how he drank them like their was no tomorrow.

The next place we went to was the Tingyi Factory.  They produce a variety of products but this factory produced their most popular product: Master Kong Instant Noodles.  Apparently, these noodles are tremendously popular throughout China, and just recently began to market to the middle east.  I hope I am able to try them before we leave Tianjin.  I don't usually like the American based noodle 'Ramen,' but I have a feeling these will blow those noodles out of the water.  Overall, a very good day with a nice bus ride back to catch up on some rest.

Wednesday- Tianjin

Today was an interesting day. We got to see two companies - Ostuka Beverage and Master Kong. Both of these companies were really big companies.  We went to Ostuka first. Ostuka Beverages mainly focuses on the production of nutritional drinks, functional drinks, tea drinks, etc. During the presentation of the company, we were given two bottles of Pocari Sweat. This drink is made up of ion. It has a lemonade flavor. It is advised to drink this drink to cure fever, it helps us keep active and also cures hang over. The drink was delicious. Everyone liked it. Dr LI enjoyed it the most. In fifteen minutes, he had three bottles gone.. another fifteen minutes two more gone.. he kept drinking another one on our way to the restaurant. We all kept teasing him about his new addiction. He really seemed to enjoy the drink. After this company, we went to this super fancy restaurant. The food was delicious. The guys kept troubling me and teasing me the entire time. It was a fun time. My stomach was stuffed even before the meal ended. After the restaurant we went to MasterKong company. This was a very interesting tour. The set up of the company was really beautiful. It was air conditioned. The tour guide knew english, making it easier for all of us. She took us to the tour of the workshop. We saw how noodles were made, flattened, and packaged. It was a cool sight. Especially the flattening and the packaging one. There were really few workers there.. and the ones who were there seemed to be monitoring the machines rather than doing anything. The comapny was very well decorated and that impressed me the most. After the company, we all cme back. It was a long ride. Now I think we are going to get sushi in our favorite Korean Restaurant and come back home.. maybe go to the bars later.. Omg! I am in love with China :)

Tuesday - Tianjin

Today was a very very exhausting day for me. We had a lecture in class. the lecture was fun. It was really amazing to see the Chinese perspective about e-business. I was amazed to see how "taobao", a very famous e- trade business in China actually did better than Internation Ebay. After the fun lecture, we all went to eat dumplings and I think thats all it all started. I was so dizzy that I could not see anything. I think I was very dehydrated. It was then I realized that I drink very less water for the weather in Tianjin. It is very important to keep ourselves hydrated here otherwise falling sick is very easy. I slept for the entire day. Later at night we went to get some Korean food. We then went to the cafe. There were so many Chinese students who came in there. It was a lot of fun to be able to hang out with them. Chinese cafe is a little different than the U.S,A cafe. Although, the contents in it look similar, the milkshake and latte we get there is very think and like water. However, I did enjoy the set up of the cafe. It was beautiful inside. We then came home. Had a very quiet evening today.. I think everyone needed sleep !!

Cup

As the Chinese lady quickly dips a cotton ball into a small vat of alcohol, I can feel my excitement building.  I have read about this and cannot wait to have it done to me.  I have gone off on my own again, in search of a true Chinese cultural experience.  I know that there is a language barrier, although I do not find it to be too disadvantageous.  I can get around it using cell phones, gestures and my broken Chinese.  The lady grabs a small jar, and I feel the heat from the cotton ball close to my shoulder as she quickly dips the flaming ball into the cup and sticks it to my skin.  I will say that this could be a feeling akin to an Octopus grabbing onto your back and engaging his tentacle suckers.  There ended up being around 12 cups in total.  The lady could tell I had back and heart issues so she concentrated the jars around my shoulders and upper back.  I was then left to my own devices in a small room on a bed, and told to sleep.  I could not sleep, the area was to strange.  She later came to remove the cups and wow, I feel like a new man.  The theory is that the darker the bruises they leave the more sickness you have in you and needless to say my bruises are all nearly black.  Western and traditional medicine agree on this point, I have issues.

Tianjin - Day 8

Today we had some sports time with some of the Chinese students.  I definitely enjoyed my time playing badminton with them, and came away with a few useful observations.  First, it seems like the Chinese students aren't quite as competitive as we are, they especially seem to put less focus on winning.  It seems more like they focus on driving themselves to be the best they can.  Also, it seems like everyone in this country is really good at ping pong for some reason.  Even Dr. Li, who looked a little rusty, seemed like he was really good.  I'm definitely going back for some badminton tomorrow, I  think practicing against the Chinese students could help me improve my skill and I could have a lot of fun with it.

Another Day in Chiner

Class this morning was taught by another professor here at the University and it's been interesting to notice everyone doing there best to pay attention and participate - we should do a little more of that at home.

The groggy mornings full of class are no different from back home since I'm used to being out until bar close - but the rest of our days are so jam packed that some mornings are a little worse than others. Charlee and Allie and I ventured out yesterday morning to find coffee to go to class with as an attempt to be a little more alert so that we could take in more of the lectures that we came here for in the first place. It became pretty apparent that they really just don't drink coffee here - Charlee was almost positive that she could see the people at what we thought was a cafe (it was more like a tea house) look up how to make our drinks on the internet. The drinks just weren't the same. We're gonna try and do as the Chinese do and drink tea in the morning - Dr. Li confirmed to us that black tea and green tea have caffeine so I guess we'll give it a whirl. 

P.S. Dr. Li - I think some of Allie's posts are under my name since I have been using her computer so much - but I think you'll be able to figure out which are hers and which are mine.


Day 8- Tianjin

Today was so much fun.  After class we had the recreation room booked where you can play badminton and ping pong.  I feel like I am getting the hang of badminton and am excited to play it more when I get home.  Some of us also went to play basketball, which was fun, but also very hot.  Afterwards, we were able to tour a dormitory, and that was fun because we got to see how they were set up.  

For dinner we went to a Korean restaurant that is right by our hotel.  It was one of my favorite meals so far, and only cost about $8.00.  It will be so strange getting used to the prices once we get back home.  The meal I had tonight probably would have been at least $40 per person had we been in the U.S.  A couple of us also decided to split a bottle of wine, but, after we ordered it, realized that it was not regular wine, it was 80 proof.  (We decided to drink it anyways, haha).  We also split some sushi, and tried octopus.  I've learned that you really don't know if you will like something until you try it, so I have been trying to be as open-minded as possible.

After dinner we met with some of the Chinese students that we met in class.  They took us to a cafe' where we met some of their friends.  I had a lot of fun talking with two of the girls, Andi and Melinda.  It was so fun answering all of their questions about the U.S. and UMD.  I loved how we found so many things in common.  They know movies, TV shows, and music from the U.S., so it was fun talking about that.  It was also nice talking about school and just what our ideas were for when we graduated.  Today was so much fun, I feel like I truly made 2 new friends.  I am very excited for the weekend when I will see them again!

Wr Tianjin Day 5

Quickly losing track of the days in Tianjin but having a blast doing it. Today we had a class on the Chinese financial markets and investing. Finance is not my area of focus so it was fairly new to me but at the same time interesting. I can tell that the Chinese professors have a lot of experience with finance and business in China which makes it that much more interesting to hear. After class we went to tour a couple businesses in Tianjin.

 First was the Dynasty winery. I have never been to a winery or have seen exactly how wine is made or packaged until now. Watching these processes was like watching an episode of "how its made" with all the processing machines and so forth. Later in the tour we had a chance to taste the wine and the brandy that was made there.

The second business was a dairy factory that specialized in milk and yogurt. Fun fact about china is that they rarely drink anything cold which has been really hard for me, especially milk which, if you drink hot puts you to sleep in 5 minutes. Again, it was cool seeing all the different ways to make milk or yogurt.

The end of the night we congregated back to Ali baba's for some good old quality time. Do work....

Tech Class & Sports Day

Today has been my favorite so far in Tianjin.  First, class was super interesting.  This e-commerce discussion and technology lecture was right up my alley.  This is the stuff I love to learn about, and the statistics Professor Lin gave were mind boggling.  It was interesting to know how the internet penetration in the US is a staggering 72.5% where as China is only as 22.6%.  But the thing is, the population is so much greater here in China. The largest telecomm business - China Mobile - has a user base of nearly half a billion; more than the entire population of the United States.  There is much potential in this country, and I think people have begun to realize this.  What was also interesting was learning about the different types of websites that have boomed here.  Baidu, Taobao, and AliBaba (and there third party payment site of Zhifubao) are organizations in which western businesses can use as a stepping stone into founding a company in China.

After class, we walked to the business school to play some ping pong and badminton. That was really fun and it was interesting to see their types of playing style and rules.  Such as for ping pong in the US, I've only played to a score of 21, but here they play to 11.  We then walked down to the basketball courts and played a huge game.  I became friends with a student named Tracey and he should me his awesome SLR camera - a Canon EOS 450D.  I was in love.  I took about 130 pictures for him of the game and he was happy.  We then walked over to the dorms to check them out.  Wow, definitely some big differences there.  The courtyard was littered with bikes.  Easily hundreds of them.  It's hard not to notice the clothes hanging outside the windows to dry.  When then went into stairway to walk up to the 6th floor.  We asked Tracey, Martin and Jay Goku about the rules with girls and guys in the dorms, and we found out that if a guy was caught over in a girl's dorm, he will get kicked out of school.  That is a very big difference from the US, where rules like that are almost nonexistent.  So when actually in the room, there are two beds against each wall, with each section of the floor consisting of 3 separate rooms.  There was a common area with a TV and a bathroom.   Overall the bedrooms seemed cramped for space compared to the US dorm where we have around the same amount of room (if not more) for just two people.  Also, I should note that basketball posters where everywhere. We then left and found a map of the campus.  I had no idea how big Nankai University was until today.

Dinner was very good as well.  We ate at the Korean Barbecue and tried a bunch of different raw fish and meat.  I inadvertently put a lot of wasabi on my sushi role and that cleared my sinus's right up.  After dinner, we went out again with a big group of Chinese students and walked across campus, down a nice walkway next to a terrible smelling water canal, and across a busy street to a nice cafe.  I got a iced mocha to try it out and to see how well it compares to the ones made in America.  I was kind of impressed, but just ended up wanting one from Starbucks or Caribou afterwords.  I've got to give props to Sarah and Kevin for being awesome musicians.  That was the perfect end to an amazing day.  The two of them playing the guitar and all of us singing along was definitely a good time.  It's only been a week in Tianjin and I can't wait to see what else is in store.

Day 7- Tianjin

Yesterday we went to the Dynasty winery, which was a lot of fun.  We were able to sample a red wine and some brandy.  We found out that the wine we drank cost about 5,000 yuan, and I have never had that expensive of wine (over $700!).  I had never had brandy before and I think that it is definitely an acquired taste.

That night we went back to Alli Baba's, which was fun because nearly everyone in our group decided to go.  I love how well all of us get along, and it is fun that we can all hang out and go to bars and restaurants together and not have to have the group split up.  I played foose-ball with Allie against some guys from Saudi Arabia.  One of the things that I love about going to this bar is the fact that you have the potential of meeting people from all over the world.  


Socks...

Today we went in search of socks at our favorite store Carrefore, the Chinese version of Walmart.  You see I brought a nice selection of white sport socks for the trip but here, I have yet to see a sport sock on a Chinese person in the street.  All the women wear these thin flesh colored things that end at the ankle.  As the days grow hotter and hotter, and my feet start to burn up in my shoes, I understand the importance of the thin sock.  So, onto Carrefore we went. 

Upon arrival, I found that the socks in question are actually nylons that end at the ankle.  Seems weird to me but I will give it a shot...5 for less than a buck is a good deal.  Also, we noticed that cloths for larger people are gone altogether.  In the American Walmart there are a wide variety of cloths with many selections for larger people but not so much here.  In general, the Chinese are much more petite. 

I tried the socks and they seem to do the trick on keeping my feet a little less toasty.  I'll try to use the socks when I get back home too but probably won't use them to the extent that the Chinese do.    

Chiner Sports and activities day

Today we had a lecture about the business called alibabus online business.  It was funny how this business is simular to that of Ebay but it is actually performing better in China than Ebay is because it is free to use with only a small transaction fee for people selling to other businesses.  After class we went out for dumplings again which were amazing as always.  The food is very different from american food which is something I like alot.  We went and played badminton with some Chinese students along with ping pong. After playing inside we went outside and played basketball on the courts on campus which was fun because a couple of the students were on the business schools basketball team which would compete with other schools around the area.  We were also able to view the dormitories for the boys rooms which was very eye opening because it smelled and was very run down.  The rooms were very small and 4 boys lived to a room.  Boys were not allowed into the woman's dormitories and if they were found in there they would be kicked out of school. 
For supper we had some amazing korean food that was very filling and it was interesting watching them prepare the food on coals in front of us.  We had sushi and pork, beef, and chicken.  All this food was only 50 uwan a person which is around 7 bucks a person.  For this price it was one of the best meals I have ever had.  One of the sushi's that I liked alot was octopus.  Later on some of the chinese students met up with us and took us out to a cafe for some coffee and mingling,  I noticed that the cafe was very similar to that of ones in America and there were many students there for studying and drinking coffee.  This was a good day for socializing with the chinese students and learning how their days are set up on campus.

Chiner Winery Day

Yesterday we did alot of interesting things.  The lecture was rather long and complicated to learn but it was worthwhile.  After lunch we went to Dynasty winery and learned all about how they make their red wines and brandy.  It was a very fancy place on the inside and there was a castle near the headquarters that they were in the process of completing.  The cellar was amazing where they kept all the wine for aging, the stone work was very ornate and looked similar to that of an american winery.  After this we went to a dairy factory where they made yogurt and milk products.  It was interesting how they are almost more clean with their dairy cows than americans are because they give each cow individual stalls to be in and they wash  the cows a couple times a day which is much more than in america. These two tours were very educational and you could see similarities and differences from that of american companies.  Also an interesting fact that I learned was that Asians are mostly lactose-intolerant and so they do not consume nearly as much dairy products as americans.  Last night we went to Ali Babas after playing some badminton with some friends and we ordered a few hookahs that were amazing tasting.  I feel as though China would be a place I would love to visit again or stay here for a longer period to learn more about the lifestyle of people here.

Another Day Filled With Great Food & Information

Today was filled with good information and great food. Class today was very informational and contained a lot of useful information about today's e-commerce in China. We got to learn about the success of China's Alibaba and Taobao. I thought it was fascinating how these sites (such as Taobao) were similar to American sites such as eBay and were able to adapt and change accordingly and be successful enough to all but drive out eBay from China. Alibaba did something that no other site really accomplished by bringing other business's together (especially small business's) and utilizing China's enormous market.

We later ate Dinner at an amazing Korean restaurant right next to our hotel. We got to pick all kinds of raw meat from a menu and then have it cooked right in front of us. The meal was great and the atmosphere was very nice. The restaurant seemed very high class and would easily cost at minimum $100 in the US.

No class tomorrow but lots of activities planned to keep us busy. I am really enjoying the laid back days in Tianjin.

Dynasty Wine Tour

We started off the day with a lecture on Finance and particularly, portfolio management. I graduated with a degree in Finance so the entire lecture was all review for me. It was interesting to learn that the Chinese students learn exactly what the American students do. It was also cool to see how a Chinese professor teaches. I didn't really see any differences in teaching styles between an American and Chinese professor. After lecture we went to the Korean Restaurant again, right next to the hotel. This place is absolutely amazing! They love us Americans because we spend a lot of money, we came back to eat the next day, and there were two blonds at the table. They gave us a lot of complimentary food and thank god Sabrina was there to speak to them, order for us, and tell us what everything was.

Next we were off to tour the Dynasty Winery. It was a bit outside of Tianjin, where a lot of other factories were located. When we pulled up there was a huge castle and then we saw the Dynasty sign. Once inside we saw the whole layout of the Dynasty complex, they even had a resort for people to stay at! We got to see how the wine was made and got to try a $735 bottle of red wine. We then toured where they store all the Brandy and also got to try some of that. Dynasty is a major wine producer in China so it was very cool to get to see how/where they made their wine.It was my first wine tour and I'm sure it won't be my last!


Another Relaxing Day in Tianjin

Today was another laid back day in Tianjin, something I have absolutely no complaints about. Though, it does make it difficult writing a decent blog post. Class was a little difficult to pay attention to since another professor was lecturing on finance, but it was bearable. After class some of us ate lunch at an interesting place called hot pot. You get to pick what kind of meat and vegetables you want in your pot. Later, you are served with a boiling pot with all of the ingredients you chose. It was very difficult getting the noodles out with just chopsticks but after a demonstration by one of the servers it turned out to be not so bad. The soup was amazing but also very messy. Since most of us are not proficient chopstick users, the noodles many times splashed broth whenever they hit the bowl.

We also toured a very prestigous wine company and a popular dairy processing plant. Tomorrow also seems to be promising as we get to play some  sports with the students

another day in Tianjin

Today was the first day that I rode a bike in China. Very fun, I wish that I had one of my own that I could take all around the city. I love the atmosphere and the feeling of this place. We left the Alibaba bar at about 12:45 last night and on our quest to find a taxi we stopped and waited while Ben ordered five skewers of fresh octopus and vegetables for about two bucks. I think that this type of scene will be one of the things that I will miss the most about China simply because something like that just does not happen where we are from.

 

Something else that is very interesting is the pictures that we are accumulating of all the road signs here. Since a majority of us cannot read Chinese we are able to come up with some very creative interpretations. I am looking forward to compiling all of these pictures together at the end of the trip.

One glass?!

I think we all thought our tour of the winery was going to be a lot different - I think we thought they would show us more hands on and that we would sit around a table tasting many different kinds of wine...Not so.

Charlee and I solved the problem by going back to the market to buy more wine and crackers and cheese and fruit and some veggies to enjoy for dinner. It took us all awhile to corral a group to go out but we were successful - my cab full of people got dropped off in the wrong alley but I was with Ben and Sam so I felt safer than I would have with a few girls - we've been good about splitting up all of the girls to get in cabs with guys. 

I think those of us who went out again last night can say we had another successful night at the bar - lots of laughing around some hookahs and another spotting of more Americans. Now it's time for another day of class!

Monday, May 24th

Every single day in this study trip is fun and enjoyable.  This morning we took finance class.  Though knowledge for me is relatively new given my undergraduate major is not related to that at all, I had a good time listening to the lecture. I love to constantly improve myself and widen my eyes.  

Unlike the Peking Opera yesterday, group had a hard time following due to the language and culture barriers, the visit of Dynasty winery and milk production facility interested everybody quite a bit.  At dinner time, Allie, Ben and me went to "hot noodle pot" place as many people highly recommended.   We talked a lot and got to know each other deeper.  We had a great time hanging out together.   At the end of dinner, there is a couple invited us to Karaoke.  We were excited at the idea but still reserved to go sice we did not know them that well.  In the evening, we went to play badminton. The security guy is really nice and opens the multifunctional hall for our small group to play for the last 30 minutes.  Many students in our group are really good at that, especially guys.  I like it very much and will practice more,

Monday - Tianjin

Today was a great day. We woke up early and went to class. In class we got a lecture from Professor York about technical analysis in China. It was a great lecture. I learnt a lot about the way Shangai stock exchange and the Schenchen stock exchange works. This particularly interested me cause my major is finance. However, after we got done with class, we went to et in this classy Korean restaurant. The restaurant gave us a bunch of complementary stuff. We ordered sushis. We ate a big meal. After paying for the stuff we realized that we had only spent about $2 per person. That was crazy. Cause in Duluth we would have to spend at least $50 for a meal like that. i am definately going back there again. We then went to the Dynasty to check out how wine and brandy was made I was surprised that we only got to try one glass of wine and one  glass of brandy. I think everyone was hoping to get a lot more drinks. Anyway that was fun tho. We went to the dairy factory too. By the time we got out of there , we all were very exhausted. Later at night we went to Alli Baba's again. It was a lot of fun. We all got to know each other a lot better. Kevin and I figured out a club that we could go to. So, we will probably go there in a few days. I am so excited to be in China. I love every minute of it :)

Sunday- Tianjin!

I do not even remember what day is it that we are in China. Anyway the Sunday in China was really good. As usual we got up early and went to class. In Class I sat by Nancy and Sindy. they both are so wonderful and friendly. They were super talkative and I loved that. We have decided to go shopping soon. We exchanged email addresses and skype names. I cant wait to hang out with them. After we got done with class we went to the opera show. I had to say it was a quite different experience. Having had to sit thru a show for 2 hours without knowing the language is hard. Although i loved the costumes and their acting, I still could not get the story. So, I did not enjoy it and well I fell asleep in the show. However, when Sabrina told me the story later.. I had fun listening to her! :) We also went o play games with the Chinese students. We played badminton and ping pong. They are super good at what they play. I want to e able to go there again. At night, an interesting ting happened. Since I had not got dinner, I asked Kevin and Erin to come and get dinner with me. We entered a random restaurant and sat there. Everything in there was chinese. There was no soul that knew english. It was a struggle but somehow all of us manage to get in there, order, eat, and pay and get out of the restaurant. What I really loved about this place was that even though they had an opportunity to cheat on us, they did not. They told us the exact price and did not lean towards getting more money. I was amazed by that. However, it was a good day. I fell asleep at 10 pm and had a first good night sleep in over 10 days. :)

Classes and tours and badminton

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Today was the first day of real class with a Chinese professor.  It was interesting but for me it was just a review because I study finance at UMD. I did like the professor, he covered a lot of the main areas of finance and he seemed to know the material very well.  After class we went to an interesting soup restaurant.  This place was very cheap like the others, but it was different.  This was the first time that I chose stuff by picture not knowing anything what it was.  It turned out to be very good and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  We then went to two tours, one to a winery and the other to a milk production facility.  It was interesting to see both of them, but I wish that it would have been possible to have an English speaking tour guide.  This was the only negative part of the tours.  I feel like we would have learned a lot more with someone who could tell us everything about the operations about the facilities.

 

One of the more interesting parts of the day was when we went to play badminton towards the end of the evening.  We got there and it was closed, but the security guard opened it up for us to play for ½ hour. After we got done playing we were walking out and we heard a Chinese student say UMD from the screen above him.  We all turned around and said that we were the students.  The reason why this was interesting is the way that it seemed he would do anything for us to be friends. He was very friendly and went way out of his way to help us secure a badminton playing area this week.  His dad worked at the university and we had very good English.  We talked for a while and he finally found a way to reserve a spot for us, but I am not sure how it will work out once the time comes. 

 

We went to Ali Babsas again and it was fun just like last time.  We talked a lot and played some games to learn more about each other.  It was very interesting and now I am looking forward to another day in China!

So I bought a bike

Well I believe that this was an unavoidable action, as every day I watched literally hundreds of bikes zipping around as I walked.  I notice that I walk alot in China.  Well now I do not have to.  I was at the Carefore and well there was a bike for sale at the price of 139 RMB, Around 23 US Dollars, Hell yes I will buy that bike my good sir I said to the Chinaman at the counter.  Before I knew it i was the proud new owner of the most amazing and bomb bicycle ever created.  I am now that person that is zipping around the streets, careless in my regard for the lives of the many pedestrians that come across my path.  My bell sounds crazily ring...ring...ring... everyone moves and I pedal on...  Yes the bike was an amazing Idea.  I believe I have a new saying.... T I S ... THIS IS CHINA.  It is amazing and I love it.  Peace and love to all my homies.

Chinese Bathrooms

Yes, a whole post devoted to Chinese bathrooms (from a Lady's perspective of course.)

Because I know that many of you reading these blogs are from back home, I thought I'd fill you all in on the restrooms on this side of the world.  Our hotel bathrooms in our rooms are the norm with the exception that the door to the toilet area doubles as the shower door, quite efficient.  However, public bathrooms are a whole different thing.  For example, if you are lucky enough to enter a restroom with toilet paper, ONE roll is usually outside all of the stalls...I guess the Chinese are pretty good at planning ahead.  Another strange thing is that you always need to step up a stair to enter a stall.  This must be due to the different plumbing.  Believe me, you only almost break your ankle once while leaving the stall to remember the stair.  Now let's get to the good part, toilet seats are quite rare.  But, there is a nice big porcelain hole to aim for.  When you are done, you flush and run like hell to avoid getting your ankles splashed. 

So there it is, the ladies on the trip are all now quite skilled at using the Asian toilets.

Peking Opera

So today was the second day of class. I learned a lot of new facts about the Chinese culture. It's all starting to make sense now. For instance; they don't like want to get tan. That is why they wear these huge visors and why they wear jeans and long sleeved shirts when it's so hot out. Dr. Li also said they use lotion to make themselves stay "white." After the lecture we went to lunch at McDonalds. We wanted to see how different the food was from America. It wasn't that different, although I thought the fries tasted a little different.

We then went to the Peking Opera. I was so tired that I got a coffee at the Opera and hoped I would be able to stay awake. The Opera started out very strange to me. I've never been to an Opera before so I had nothing to compare it to. There were the performers dressed up in very colorful outfits. They were doing dances and different acts on stage. Finally everyone started clapping when this person walked out. This must have been the Opera singer. She started singing and it was very different than what we would expect from an Opera in America. I didn't understand one bit of the show so Sabrina had to explain it after we left. I also kept dozing off during the performance. I was so tired that I just couldn't stay awake! It was still very interesting to see a Chinese Opera.

Wine

Today we toured Dynasty Winery Ltd, the wine experts in China.  It was an incredible experience to walk the grounds where 54 million bottles were produced in 2007 alone.  We were able to taste test a $735 bottle of wine and a very nice bottle of brandy.  The large bins where the wine ferments are truly immense, it was crazy to see how they worked there magic.  It was interesting to see the entire process that goes into the making, bottling, and then packaging of the wine.  I still cannot believe that we visited one of the largest wine producers in China.  I was a bit disappointed that we could not sample more of the wines though, because, in America a place like that would have an awesome set up with cheese and crackers to sell more.  I guess it just goes to show ya that the American's just love to drink whereas; the Chinese are always work, work, and work.

WR Tianjin day.....?

Today was our 2nd day in Tianjin and our second day of class. Dr. Li continued his lecture on different cultures and misconceptions between the U.S. and China. I was a lot of fun discussing the differences in styles and attitudes with the Chinese students. Again some of the Chinese students volunteered to come and accompany us in our class. I feel the best part of this is getting to know these Chinese students and socializing. I am having so much fun learning about the culture and the differences.

                For instance here is a list of things that surprised me about China:

1.       They have English translations on every building.

2.       Everyone is very nice and generous.

3.       The massive size of Beijing.

4.       The craziest drivers in the world.

5.       Consider Americans as interesting and love getting their picture with us.

6.       Chinese people know way more about our country than we do about theirs.

And the list goes on so more later.

To end the night a few of us went to the business school to play ping pong and badminton with some Chinese students. They were all very good and happy to let us play. I must say though that Trent and I were pretty good and ran the court for a while. I look forward to getting to know the Chinese students through sports and other activities their interested in.

Tianjin - Day 7

I feel like I messed up my numbering of days here, but who cares.  Anywho, today was rather unremarkable compared to most other days.  The winery tour was quite nice, but what struck me as strangest about the tour was how remarkably similar it was to most other wineries in other places.  Not that I've ever been to a winery before, but it seems like they use many comparable techniques to other places in the world (six sigma anyone?).  This may be in part due to the fact that it was a joint venture with a french wine producer, but I can't be certain.  Regardless, it was definitely a nice winery, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Brandy (which I don't normally like).

Peking Opera

Thank you so much everyone for not cancelling that show yesterday - you were all really good sports about being so tired and having to sit through a show that nobody (except for Sabrina) understood. 

I was really excited for the opera because I used to live with a Soprano who performed in operas all year round - but I was used to seeing European operas which are performed in Italian, French, and German - with the occasional English opera. I really wanted to see how this Peking Opera compared.

It was interesting that the emphasis was placed on the music (as well as the performers) but in the opera that I am used to the music more or less accompanies the performance of the singers as opposed to having an equal emphasis. I was surprised to see people clapping during the performers' arias where I'm used to holding the applaus until the piece is over, when the performer will give a very slight indication that they are through with the aria.

It was also really fun to hear the kind of vocal interpretation that is appreciated in the Chinese opera - the Mandarin literate audience really enjoyed it. I'm just really glad that we all took this  opportunity to experience an artform that we might have never been able to witness in its truest form.

Thanks again everyone!

crossing the street

this is something that i feel is fundamental about how to behave in China.  Simply walking across the street can be recounted as a game of the most dangerous sort.  Firstly, the traffic signals are in existence in plenty but whether or not the Chinese drivers choose to follow them is basically a crap shoot.  So for the last few days I have found myself in the middle of a crazy busy street, cars and buses zipping by at high rates of speed on either side of my person with little to no regard for my safety.  The trick is to wait for an opening, hesitate and you could be mauled by a mini van the size of a go cart, or possibly a mercedes sl420.  It is basically a life and death type of encounter.  Then there are the bikes.  They take up both sides of the road and are worse than the cars, most of them are motorized after one fashion or another and well they will run you over quite as readily as a regular vehicle will.  This is a multiple time per day type of event, walking across the street.  I think it is great sport.

Day 6- Tianjin

Even though today was Sunday, we had class.  If this were to happen back home, that would be bad, but here, I was really excited!  The day before had been so much fun that I think a lot of us were happy to be able to go to school and see our new classmates again.

After class, I went to McDonalds for the first time since being in China, and it was so nice to eat something familiar.  I thought the food might taste different but it actually was really good!  Also, I thought it is fun to see the differences on the menu here compared to back home.

Later in the day we went to the Opera, which was interesting.  I, for one, did not enjoy it, but was happy to learn afterwards that I had figured out that one of the characters was a cat, like I had guessed.  

After the show we had some free time, which is fun, because we did not have much time on our own in Beijing.  Sam and I went shopping at Carrefour (a french international chain store), which is similar to Wal-Mart.  While in line we were talking about cheese, milk, and various other things that we wondered if the store had.  Sam then pointed out that for all we know someone could be listening to our conversation and know the answer to all of our questions.  Sure enough, the girl in front of us turned around and said she had heard everything we said.  It was pretty funny, we learned that there is milk but no cheese, and that there may be more people here that know English than we realize.  

Later in the night we went to the Nankai Business School to play ping-pong and badminton.  It was really fun watching all of the Chinese students play.  I played badminton for the first time and realized that serving the birdie is harder than it looks.  I think we will be going back there to play badminton and ping pong quite often. :)

Second day of class

Another day in Tianjin, and with more free time comes a few more challenges. I am still very excited to be here, but most of the glamorous aspects of Beijing are gone. We are free to do whatever we want for a decent amount of the day and are now responsible for almost all of our meals (excluding hotel breakfast). Before arriving in Tianjin, our typical meal routine involved us walking into a fancy restaurant, sitting down, and watching our tables fill up with more food than we could eat. Now, we still have the opportunity to enjoy all of the amazing food this city has to offer, but none of us know how or what to order. I don't want it to sound like complaining, because I have absolutely no reason to complain, but its just a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. Today was a little discouraging; I overpaid for an apple in the market outside our hotel, got yelled at in the Carrefour for trying to walk out of the wrong door, and am just getting frustrated with how difficult it is to communicate simple things or read basic signs. I knew this would be challenging, but thinking about something and experiencing it are two different things, and that reality has begun to sink in. However, getting discouraged about it is not going to help, so I am just going to have to keep trying and keep making mistakes until things start to click. I did at least hold my own against the Chinese students in ping pong earlier tonight, and actually ended up winning a few games. I am very anxious and excited to play more.

First taste of "American Food" in China

Today I got to taste some of the more popular fast food items that inhabit China. The most popular companies that are also in the US seem to be McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Subway. Today I tried McDonalds and KFC neither of both really impressed me but it was still interesting to see the different menu items.

I've actually tried McDonalds on two different occasions while I have been here. On the first trip I ordered a Big Mac and on the second trip I grabbed a double cheeseburger both tagged with some fries. Big Mac tasted like a Big Mac and the double cheeseburger tasted like a double cheeseburger, though the Big Mac was put together much better here. The menu at Mcdonalds seemed fairly similar as well, save for the lack of a dollar menu and the addition of some more authentic Chinese dishes such as chicken pieces in special sauce. So overall my experience with the iconic fast food chain that represents our country so well has been less than stellar.

So after eating McDonalds for lunch some of us figured why not knock out all the fast food chains in Tianjin and eat at KFC. As a group of 5 we decided to order a bucket of 10 pieces of chicken with sides figuring that it would be more than enough to feed us (as it would back in the states). After a little confusion while placing our order we headed upstairs to eat, only to find out that the chicken pieces we received were much smaller than we anticipated, and the sides consisted of a small piece of corn and two small pieces of bread. After devouring our small portions and divvying up the scarce sides we decided to order some more food but this time in sandwich form. KFC also tasted very similar to that in the United States but like McDonalds had some different menu items such as what I can only describe as a chicken crunch wrap supreme.

I once again enjoyed class today, and the opera...well I would rather not go into it but today was more relaxed than the others and that is something I think we all needed.

Sunday Ping Pong

Today was the second day of class, and it is a Sunday!  We got to the class today and there were a few less Chinese students, but my friend was there so that was nice.  We continued are talk about the cultural differences and I learned that it is very difficult for Chinese people to communicate with others from different parts of the country.  It was really interesting because it is something that I don't understand at all.  I try to understand it but I think the only way for me to understand why this is like that is to learn the language.  The other thing that was interesting was that women use umbrellas to stay lighter. I already knew this going into today but this was the first time we talked about it as one group. 

 

Ping pong and badminton is what we played after dinner.  A small group of us went back to the university to play in the business school.  I thought that this was really interesting because it was inside the school and I tried to imagine what it would be like if LSBE had this in our school.  I was impressed by the amount of people who were playing in there.  There seemed to be an equal number of males and females who seemed to be very good.  I played some ping pong and badminton and it was a good way to spend a Sunday evening.  After being in Tianjin for a few days now I feel like this is what I imagined China to be.  It is decently clean, but there is still a good amount of mess.  The people have been very helpful and kind, and they always try to help even if they don't know any English. I am excited for tomorrow to see the teaching style of a different professor and also go on one of our first field trips!

Tianjin, Day 3 - China & America

I would have never guessed at all the similarities, let alone the differences as well, between China and America.  I found out an interesting fact today in class; Chinese students have the hardest time in school during middle school.  They literally study all day and only get 6-7 hours of sleep.  The amount of competitiveness between students is very high and it is necessary in order to get into a college.  Once in, school becomes a lot easier and it enables them to become more independent.

I tried both McDonald's and KFC today.  For the most part, it tastes exactly the same.  I would have to say that for both restaurants the food seemed better prepared and even looked nicer. After dinner, we went to the Business School to play some ping pong and badminton.  I was impressed at how good Sam was when playing against one of the best kids there at ping pong. We played for a few hours and it went by fast.  I definitely plan on going back many times before the end of the two week stay in Tianjin.  I am also finally getting used to all the people walking around, all the cars that will basically run you over (not to mention driving on the sidewalk to find a parking spot), and the amount of honking people seem to do. Yet it seems like it has no effect at all since everybody does it.  I am certain tomorrow will have even more fun and interesting things to experience.

Day 6 China

Today we had class at 9:30 A.M. again.  This class we were expected to sit with new students for learning purposes.  I choose to sit by a very friendly girl which I later found out was 21 years old.  She told me an interesting fact about the Chinese when they say their age they add a year on to what they really are in age, so when born the babies are 1 year old right away instead of say 2 months.  This student was very good at English and had a electronic dictionary translator that she would use constantly to figure out different English translations.  She told me how where her home town is, is one of the places that we will be visiting later on in the trip which is very beautiful.  These students have put extra effort in so far to learn about the Americans which is something that I should be doing to learn more about the Chinese.  To do this I think keeping in contact with these students will be a great thing for me. 
After classes and lunch we went to our first Chinese opera which was very hard to understand and figure out what was going on. The singing was very different from that of American singing and was almost too loud at times, but I think if I would be able to understand them when talking it would have been a lot more interesting.  The costumes that these performers used were very ornate and colorful which made the show more enjoyable.
Tonight we went to the University to play badminton and ping pong with the Chinese students and others from the trip.  This was a great time to see what they do in their free time.  These students are very good at both badminton and ping pong.  I noticed that these students do not get very upset when they lose and are not poor sports when being beat.  Kevin and I were very good at badminton and we actually beat 2 out of 3 Chinese teams we played against in this sport.  It was a lot of fun interacting with these students in a fun setting like sporting activities.  Overall this was yet another fun day with many things going on but more free time than other days.

Day 5 China

Yesterday was a very interesting day.  There was a lot of new things that we did for the first time, well I guess this happens every day! Having class with the Chinese students helped with the design of the lecture because communicating with these students who are near our age helps to paint a picture that would be hard to do without them.  Right away I noticed that these students were very quiet and somewhat shy around us.  They were very polite and complimented us on our looks which took me by surprise.  I was paired up with two students from China and they had a lot of interest in NBA basketball which I thought was amazing since they do not have access to as much programming for it as us.  As the lecture went on I noticed that these students were very similar to me and that many of the stereotypes we have for the Chinese are false just like the ones they have for us.  Also I was able to learn that these students know much more about America than we know about them which puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to the business aspect of interaction between the two countries. Overall this was a great start to our lecture classes in China because they were information packed and easy to learn a lot about cultural aspects.  After a great class one of the students came back to our room and we discussed different matters about culture and social life.  It was good to interact with these students outside the classroom setting also.

Tianjin - Day 6 in China

Today was a less busy day than most others, but it was very fun regardless.  The highlight of the day was definitely the Korean barbecue that some of us went to for dinner.  We ordered many things, among them was sushi, lamb, beef, and some spicy chicken.  But this restaurant, being a Korean barbecue, brought the meat out raw, and had the chefs cook it on your table while you watched.  They had some sort of dipping sauce, i'm not quite sure what it was, but mixed with some of the lamb it was absolutely incredible.  Everything else was delightful as well, and I did get to try my first piece of sushi ever (it was great).  And then, after the meal, they even brought us some coupons for a discount if we go back for lunch. I have a feeling i'll be eating there again very soon.

Real World Tianjin Day 2

Today was our fifth day in China and our first real day in Tianjin and it was great. Today we started class at the Naikai Universities business school. The school is a couple blocks away from our hotel which makes it very easy to commute back and forth. We received our agenda and we told to sit next to a Chinese student. All of the Chinese students were very excited to meet us and where asking us to come sit next to them, kind of like getting picked for gym class. I was fortunate to get a very nice girl by the name Jue. Both Jue and myself were so interested in learning about the cultures and traditions of the others home country. Dr. Li held a great lecture that allowed us to get to know each other and their countries. I am so shocked at the differences between China and America, I would have never imagined China to be the way it is and it shows you really have to experience it first hand. Everybody I have met has been so nice and thoughtful, and interesting.  Lecture lasted for about two hours then it was time to go get lunch. We decided to split the group into two because there were a lot of people including the Chinese students. Myself, Ben and Dipti went to a dumpling place with 6 other Chinese students. This was probably one of my favorite meals so far in China. Not only where the dumplings amazing but the company was great, I loved talking to all the students and can already see friendly relationships starting. At lunch I met Nancy, Cindy and Martin which were their American names.

After lunch we went to the old part of Tianjin and a small market where I bought a painting with my Chinese name in it, which is pronounced "Da Kai Wen." After the market Trent and myself invited Martin to come back to our hotel. Martin is a 17 year old who is a sophomore in college in China, where it is very competitive to get in to college. For the hour we had, we talked about China and the U.S. and why there are so many differences between the two countries, we also talked about sports and hobbies. I could see myself moving to China or at least traveling back and forth for business.

After dinner and running through the market we all went to Ali Baba's, an international bar. Similar to a bar in the states but with people from all over the world. This was very cool seeing and meeting people from halfway around the world while in china. At one point we met a group of guys from Texas A&M. Very Fun.......

First Day of Class

We woke up this morning and ate breakfast at the hotel. It was quite a change from the hotel breakfast in Beijing, as it was much, much smaller, but it was still good. We then headed to Nankai University for our first day of classes. The building was built in 2005 so it is fairly new just like our business school. Although they have about 4,000 students so it's a lot bigger than LSBE. We got to the classroom and they had bags with our names on them with the itinerary and class slides inside. It was nice to have structure and to see what we were going to be learning about. They had us all sit by a Chinese student that we would talk to throughout the lecture. My girl's American name was Lucy. She spoke pretty good English but I still had to help her out with a few things by describing them to her. They also had little hand held electronic dictionaries so they could look up words if they got confused. It was very fun to learn new things about the Chinese culture and also to compare it to the American culture. We're so different yet so similar at the same time.

After class ended we went to eat with some of the Chinese students. We went to a place called the Chinese Burger. The burgers were very, very different than the American hamburger. It was like a fry bread for the bun and then some sort of pulled pork for the meat with onions in it. It was good but not anything like a nice, juicy hamburger. After lunch we went to take a quick nap before heading to Ancient Street. This was just like a market with stores lined up on each side of the street. I bought some very cool things, as I love to shop! After Ancient Street we ate dinner at a little local place. We ate dumplings and there were five different kinds, either fried or steamed. They were absolutely amazing and I can't wait until we get to learn how to make dumplings with our Chinese students.

After dinner we had to run to Carrefour to pick up some wine before we headed out to Ali Baba's, a bar for international students. We took a cab there, which was only 12 Yuan, which is about $2 in America. We could not believe how cheap it was! Once we got into Ali Baba's it was nice to look at a drink menu and see regular American cocktails! We also smoked hookah, having a grape and then an apple flavor. We ended up meeting some students from Texas and chatted with them for awhile. We're all planning on meeting up with them sometime soon. After the bar we went home as it was bed time since we had class Sunday morning. It was a very fun day in Tianjin and it will only keep getting better!

First day of class

The first day of class was interesting and I got a chance to meet my new Chinese friend.  She is very nice and we talked about different culture and the similarities and differences between us.  It was the first time I have had school on a Saturday also! 

 

After school we went to a Chinese hamburger place to eat lunch.  The food was really good, different than what I expected to be.  It was really cheap, only $2 for the food and a coke.  We then went to a market on the other side of town with all kinds of shops.  This is where I bought my first pair of chopsticks.  When we got back it was already time for dinner.  This dinner was excellent, we went to a dumplings place and they brought out 10 different plates of dumplings.  It was a lot of food and this was also very cheap.  It was interesting to see the restaurant and how the cleaning standards are different between the countries.  For example they brushed previous peoples mess on the floor and the dishes were dirty before we even used them.

 

After dinner we took a taxi to Ali Babas bar, which was very fun.  We had a great time talking and I also spent some time with a few people from Portugal who were studying at the same university.  The day was overall a great day and I saw more of what China really is.

Second day in Tianjin

Today was absolutely amazing.  Every single day is also completely unreal and never fails to surprise me.  Yesterday, we visited the Ancient city where many shops and many places of worship were located.  The worship "houses" where extremely interesting to me.  The people are just so decent, thoughtful, and nice.  As I was observing the behaviors of the common people I saw a child ring the large gong three times, then continued to go back to his father, take money and then give it as an offering.  For some reason this one small child impressed me so much with his respectful demeanor.  The peacefulness of the Chinese people amazes me beyond belief, they are always thinking of the others that are with and helping them or letting them go first.  Chivalry is obviously not dead in China.

First day of Tianjin class

Yesterday was the first day of class at Nankai University.  I was paired up with two Chinese students:  Jew Sin Yee and Jang Shuo.  They first gave me their American names (which they made up two minutes before) and then their Chinese names.  I started to refer to them as their American names and they explained that as I was in China, I should probably call them by their Chinese names.  I agreed and went to work memorizing their names.  They also gave me a Chinese name and Fey Man Da is what I will be called. 

After the meet and greet we started with some lectures.  They were mainly focused on the differences between our cultures and then we had a chance to discuss our differences.  We were also shown the proper way to accept a business card from an Asian person, as accepting a business card is very important.  I flashed back to the first night of our trip.  Sabrina, my Chinese roommate, wanted to exchange business cards with me as we are both MBA students with full time jobs.  Let's see how I did...

The first step is to accept the business card with both hands.  Once you receive it, you should spend a few moments reading the business card and asking questions regarding the name, position, organization, etc.  One side is written in Chinese and the other is written in English.  It is not proper to just take the card and pack it away.  If you do not follow these steps, it may be considered a sign of disrespect. 

When I received the card from Sabrina, I said thank you and quickly stashed it away (Wrong!).  When I got back from class I made sure to take out her card and review it.  I doubt I'll make that mistake again. 

First Day Class

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Yesterday morning we had the first class with Nankai students.  They told me that they are volunteers for this program, who are either very good at English comparing with peers or are interested in studying abroad in near future.   When students started to introduce themselves to each other, it was very obvious that American students are more natural, comfortable and open. On the other hand, Chinese students were a little constrained.  It serves to show that the education and culture between Western and Eastern countries are quite opposite.  

Surprisingly to see how well these students have already getting along after a short while talking with each other.  There are a lot of cute elements, such as Nancy wants me to connect her with Ben when I asked her where she wants to sit....  Dipti got a Chinese name "Meilikeai", which means pretty and cute in Chinese. J

I felt bad I left early for the day and couldn't help out more, because my husband came visit me. I have heard a lot of nice stories about international bar and ping pong playing.   I am very interested and plan to do either of them tonight.  I wonder, who among us is a good ping pong player.  I am now extending challenges to all. J

Hookahs? Yes Please.

We've been so busy seeing everything and getting to know everyone that I keep forgetting to blog. Our first day of class went really well - I got to know Martin, who showed us to the dumpling place for dinner last night. Martin's English is great - his mom is an English teacher here in Tianjin. He wrote out my name for my in characters and had me try to copy it and he said I my marks were very beautiful. 

Yesterday's highlight was definitely Ali Baba's where we got to sit around a few hookahs and enjoy each other's company and laughter for awhile. Charlie and I ran into our new friend Apollo - random - and we met other people from Texas and then I was chatting for awhile with some nice guys from the Congo.  It was another late night and early morning - all of this excitement might start catching up to me...

First Day of Class

Tianjin is a great city! Today we started our class and got to meet all of the Chinese students. I was a little nervous but as soon as I met the student I was paired with any uneasy feelings went away. I was very impressed by how well she spoke English and was even more impressed that her English handwriting was better than mine. I am looking forward to getting to know all of these students more over the next couple of weeks.

 

One thing that was very interesting during today's lecture was when Dr. Li talked about the differences in communication between cultures. The Chinese students that we were paired with informed us that they rarely use the word "no" in a conversation. To them, it is very rude and disrespectful. Instead of using no in a disagreement with someone, is it customary to say something like; I think your idea is good but... and then to voice their opinion. I think that these next few weeks will go by very fast.

 

A few of us stopped at McDonald's after going to the bar last night. A Big Mac and Fries was about $2, it tasted exactly the same, I did notice that there were less onions.

First Day of Class in Tianjin

First day of class was incredible, I learned more about Chinese culture in one day then all my previous knowledge put together. I met a lot of great people and learned a whole new meaning to the word "Friendly". I also learned my Chinese name, how to pronounce it, and how to spell it in Chinese. I am really looking forward to the second day of class taught by Dr. Li and getting to know the students even better.

We also took a trip to a place called the ancient cultural street where there were many different vendors and other Chinese shops. The atomsphere there was felt very genuine and made me really feel like I was in China. I am really looking forward to the opera show after class tomorrow as I think we will all get a good taste of a different kind of Chinese culture.

day 2 in Tianjin.

Today was a great day. The great start to the day was my alarm clock dying on us and we almost slept through the class. It was Dr Li who called us and woke us up for class. We were ready in 10 minutes. The entire class clapped for us when we entered. It was a hilarious experience. During my class, I met a few Chinese Student. I first introduced myself to Pass. Pass is a great guy. He is really outspoken. I was surprised to see how well I could understand his english. He was really helpful and wanted to show me around Tianjin. He gave a new Chinese name, "Melikaaai" This word means pretty and lovely. I was flattered. we talked about a lot of differences and similarities in Chinese culture and my culture. He also taught me some good Chinese words. For lunch, we went to eat dumplings. I met Nancy, Cindy and Christina. They were really friendly people. They really liked me and wanted to hang out. We have decided to go out shopping some time soon. The dumpling was really delicious. Although my stomach kind of got upset after eating them, I still don regret it. We also went to the Tianjin museum and Ancient Street. I got my Chinese name written down in a beautiful way. I have to say Chinese people are very talented and creative. Well later at night we went to the international bar. It was a fun experience to be able to bond more with my friends. I am really looking forward to my days in Tianjin and Nankai University.

Last day in Beijing, first day in Tianjin

The last day in Beijing was beautiful. The weather outside was gorgeous. We ate our last continental breakfast and checked out of the hotel. We then made our way to the Temple of Heaven. The temple of Heaven was a place where the emperors offered their prayers and sacrifices. the temple was beautiful. There were a lot of people there dancing in their cultural dress and doing morning exercises. It was a different experience. we also took the high speed train to Tianjin. The highest speed that the train went to was about 340 km/hr. It was really amazing to see how the numbers started with a 0 and went up to 340 in minutes and came down to 0 again. The things that we saw outside the window was just flying off. Tianjin was a very different place from Beijing. The style of houses and structure of roads were different. Even though beijing is more populated, Tianjin looked like it ad a lot more people. We were all really tired when we got to the hotel. We were invited to a reception. The restaurant the dinner was in was very different. It had a buffe with many varieties of food. there were about 10 to 15 rooms where people could sit and have their separate party. The meal included 20 different courses which was brought to us. The food was delicious. "Faan Howcher". After the night, we were all really tired and ready to go to sleep. We hang out for a little bit till about midnight and went to bed. I am really excited to meet my new Chinese friends and enjoy my two weeks in Tianjin.

Day 5- Tianjin

Today was a lot of fun!  We had our first day of class, which went by very fast and was a lot different than I thought it would be.  I met Shawn, who is planning on going to Boston next year for graduate school.  Dr. Li designed the class time today as us getting to know the Chinese students, which was a lot of fun.  We learned that there are some differences between the cultures but that most perceptions are not true.  It was fun learning about the American singers that they knew, and all of the cities they know about in the U.S., where-as we knew basically no Chinese pop stars and just a few cities.  I am so excited for tomorrow to see all of them again!

After class we went out to lunch for "Chinese Hamburgers", which were really good! basically bread and pork.  For dinner one of the students took us to a restaurant that specializes in dumplings.  He ordered 150 dumplings for 13 of us!! We were overwhelmed with all of the plates but it was fun trying all of the different kinds of dumplings.  We ended up only having about 20 left over!  I am hoping that we will go back there.

Tonight we went to a famous bar that is called "Alli Babba", which is where foreigners go.  it was fun because the whole place is decorated with flags from a lot of countries.  We met people from Spain, Germany, Denmark, Yemen, Texas and Georgia.  It was fun playing foose-ball with the new people we met!  I am so happy that we are getting settled in in Tianjin, I think at first we were all thinking "I miss Beijing", but now that we have met so many new people we are realizing all of the fun that we will have here!

Tianjin - First Day of Class

I had a great time today.  Walking around Tianjin today had a much better feel to it than yesterday.  I initially felt negative towards Tianjin because of how much dirtier it was compared to Beijing, but I've learned that the Olympics was a huge incentive for them to clean up the streets and modernize a lot of the city.  I had an amazing time in class today chatting and getting to know my Chinese student.  She was so cool and surprisingly very good at english.  There was no way I would have been able to communicate in Chinese.  I learned a lot about their culture and the differences between America and China. 

Lunch and dinner were incredible; easily the best meals I've had so far because they have been the most unique.  Thank god for Martin, he is the man! Without him, we would not have been able to order any food, less even get a table or two together for our group.  I hope tomorrow is twice as fun as today was.

The Real World Tianjin

On the fourth day in China it was time to leave Beijing. We had one last chance to fill ourselves with the continental breakfast then it was off to see the Temple of Heaven and then on to Tianjin. The Temple of Heaven was a place where the emperor of China would go twice a year to pay his respects. The land area of this place was twice as big as the Forbidden City but was mostly filled up with trees and walkways. Again I was amazed at how much architectural attention was placed on the buildings and bridges of this monument. Many of these places we visited where set up in the way that they are symmetrical and in a long strip, much like in Washington D.C. It consistently amazes me how the Chinese people are so traditional and have meanings for everything, such a sense of belonging.

After that we visited another market before hopping the train to Tianjin. This was a quick trip and was a lot like the market the day before. When we arrived at the train station I couldn't believe how big it actually was; about the size of an airport. All 18 of us made a mad dash to the bullet train trying to lug our 50 pound suit cases through the crowd. This train was a serious machine, the distance between Beijing and Tianjin is 70 miles which took us 20 minutes. Never have I ever gone 70 miles in 20 mins. Tianjin is the 5th biggest city in China with 11million people.  The city its self is a little different from Beijing in the way that it is not as clean or wealthy, but still very interesting. After unloading our luggage and resting for a while we went to dinner to meet some of our professors. Everyone there was very nice and it made me a little more excited to start class. Again after filling our stomachs we walked back to the hotel checking out the sites and getting used to the city. We ended the night with a few beverages getting to further know each other on the roof of our hotel for tomorrow we start school.

Umm Katana Sword ANYONE?

Right, so here we are right after the best lunch ever, and wouldnt you know it they have swords in China.  WOW so anyone that actually knows me knows that I love weapons of all kinds.  I am facinated by them and love them.  So here we are just tooling around the little area that sells things and pow a frigging sword shop.  Well long story short I am now the proud owner of a 4 foot long Katana sword that is simply the coolest thing in the universe.  I love it.  Wow.

The Best Lunch Ever

Today was our first full day in the city of Tian Jin.  We had the oportunity to meet the other students in the program...ie: the Chinese students and all I have to say is that I love China.  I got the lucky stroke to be paired up with two quite attractive young ladies from china.  We sat in class and I learned a lot about culture and language.  This kind of thing is the future for the business programs of the world.  I love it so much.  Now to get to the lunch Part.  Wow... almost everyone ended up eating at the Chinese burger place but Kevin and I had the chance to go to the dumpling house with 5 other people 4 of whom were beautiful China Ladies.  Boom Snap Ben is simply in heaven.   This was the coolest meal I have ever had... The conversation was amazing, the food was the best I have ever eaten dumplin's are the best... thats is they are the best.  I made mine very spicy by dipping it in the vinegar sauce and adding a whole lot of chillies to make it really good.  The company was the best, the scenery was amazing and all in all it was literally the best meal I have ever eaten.  I love it here more than my limited lexicon will allow me to fully articulate here.  I cannot believe I am in CHINA.  I LOVE IT.  

Tianjin - Day 5

Today was our first full day in Tianjin, and our first day meeting the Chinese students.   There is a lot I learned about China and the Chinese during this time today, so i'll just focus on one specific part that I thought was cool.  The student that I talked to today, whom I eventually gave the name Jay Gokou (based on some of his interests) was strikingly similar to many of the people I know in the U.S.  He likes American action movies, Dragonball (a japanese cartoon), and working out.  Honestly these are a lot of the same interests that Alex has, so I found it a little scary.  He also plays World of Warcraft, which is a wildly popular game in the U.S., and apparently, all across the world.  It just goes to show you that no matter what country you live in, people tend to have many of the same interests.

Leaving Beijing :(

I woke up and was sad that we were leaving Beijing. It was such a beautiful city and we had so much fun while we were there. I experienced things I will probably never get the chance to experience ever again in my life. It was bittersweet but time to move on to the next city. Going to the railway station was quite an experience as well. I've never been on a train and once we pulled up, it looked just like an airport. The place was huge! We got inside and it was so crowded and we were all so hot and tired. I ended up taking a little nap while we were waiting for our train to board. Once we settle in on the train I could not believe how fast we got going! Everything is in kilometers so it's kind of hard to convert it but I know we were going very fast. We got to Tianjin in what seemed like 20 minutes and we traveled I think like 70 miles. We got to the hotel and got all checked in. Was quite sad that we would no longer all be on the same floor and that we were all scattered throughout the hotel.

We went to dinner at Golden Hans and it was very fun. High school students were in a room across the hall from us celebrating because they had just graduated. It was neat to see how they interacted with each other and how they would celebrate such a huge accomplishment. The dinner itself was also a new experience as they brought everything to the table on huge knives and would cut it right in front of you on a plate. After dinner we went shopping at Carrefour and let me tell you, that was quite the experience! Sarah and I were two blonde girls walking around what was like a Wal-Mart to us, and not knowing what anything was because we couldn't read anything. We were there for probably over two hours and had a lot of fun going up the escalator with our cart. We started rolling backwards because we were wearing our cheap flip-flops. I think everyone got a kick out of our humor while we were struggling to make it up the escalator. It also took some time for us to find an adapter for our outlets. We sat there for about 20 minutes trying to figure out if the strip of outlets would work so I could plug my computer in when I got back home since it was dead. Needless to say, we got the wrong adapters and still can't plug a lot of our stuff in. Oh well....looks like we'll have to take another trip back to Carrefour, back up the escalators, and find an adapter that will work!

Beijing - Day 4/Travel to Tianjin

Yesterday was a day of travel and a new city to explore.  Carefour (sp?)  was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting experiences so far this trip.  The comparison to Walmart is interesting, but I don't feel it's quite accurate.  It seemed that there were a few other self contained stores inside the larger store, and the grocery store on the 1st floor was pretty huge.  Also, I found out the hard way that people here don't buy things in bulk like we do in America.  I attempted to buy a case of Snow (Beer) and they were pointing at the box and holding up 1 finger, which I think means that we are supposed to buy them individually instead of in bulk packaging.  Also, they wouldn't let us buy fruit because it has to packaged first.  It was interesting, to say the least.  

Last Beijing, First Tianjin

Today was our last time in Beijing.  We first went to the Temple of Heaven.  This was cool to see but we were all tired from all the sightseeing previous days, and the crazy party the night before.  After a little shopping and lunch, we took the high speed train to Tianjin.  This was the best part of the day for me.  It was really interesting to see the differences in train travel from Europe.  All the stations I have been to have been in old, historical buildings.  The station here looked brand new looking more like an airport terminal.  We also had to go through security which was also very weird to me, since I have never seen that in a train station before.  The biggest difference was that there were gates and a waiting area for the trains.  They check your ticket before you get on the train and you can't walk around freely to other platforms.  I thought that they would be more like every other train I have been on and they check your ticket when you are on the train, and you can roam around freely.  It felt more like an airport than a train station, and I think that I wouldn't like it if I had to travel by it frequently.  

China Day 4

Yesterday we went to the temple of heaven and got to see where sacrifices were performed on animals for the gods.  It was interesting to see the layouts inside the different buildings and get an idea how they did the offerings to the gods.  While we were walking around there were a lot of people playing various games on the path including a game that looked like a badminton bird but was more like a hacky sack game where you keep the bird in the air with your feet or body.  The game was played with multiple people and we actually got a few to play with. After the temple we went to lunch and had a great meal which was our last with Lisa.  After this we went to a electronic and baggage mall which i spent time haggling with the people there and talking to them. I did not buy anything here but I watched others from the group do it and helped them with their purchases.  A lot of the electronics would have been amazing deals if they were real ipods watches and other electronics but they were fake and of cheaper quality so I did not feel comfortable buying them. After this we went on the bullet train which I thought was amazing. It looked so aerodynamic and fast from the outside.  When we were leaving the city we were going almost 80 mph which quickly got up to 210mph or 340 kph which was extremely fast.  The ride in this train was so smooth and quiet.  When we passed other bullet trains going the opposite direction at this speed if you blinked you would miss the train but feel the train sway.  It took us 25 minutes to go 71 miles in the train and this was not even at the top speed for the entire time.  This was an amazing experience.  From there we got off the train and I noticed people with signs trying to sell stuff to people coming off the train which I asked what they were selling and it turned out to be sexual enhancement pills which are illegal in China.  I thought this to be weird that people would do this even though illegal but it made sense with the number of people coming off the trains.

Train out of Beijing and Tianjin

We left Beijing via high speed train today and traveled about 115 miles in approximately 25 minutes. The walk from the first gate at the train station might have taken longer than the ride itself. I miss Beijing already, but at the same time I am excited to see what Tianjin has to offer.  It will be nice to have some free time to be able to explore instead of having to rush to our next destination like we have been doing the last few days. I also believe that we are now on our own for most of our meals, which will give me an opportunity to sample a lot of the local cuisine, something I have been excited about since the beginning of the trip. Overall, I am just looking forward to a slower, more relaxed pace and having more time to take everything in.

Bye Lisa.

Oh boy. There is just too much to say about the Great Wall. Sorry I skipped out on the post last night - we opted out of the posts and chose going to check out a local disco instead - which was a great idea. We walked just a few blocks down from the hotel and somehow got into this Avatar themed club - and it was spring break in Cancun all over again. And that's all I have to say.

The highlight from today is the "Walmart" excursion that Charlie and I had after dinner. What's up with those escalators?! We were sliding backwards down in our flip-flops - how do the rest of the ladies do it in high heels? We got a few "chuckles" over being the only blonde girls in this huge store trying to shop for things that we couldn't read. Jeepers. 

P.S. We found out from a new friend named Apollo that if you want to buy fruit here you have to have the guys weigh and bag it because there are too many people in this city to regulate anything and some people just walk into the supermarket to eat. That would've been key to know before we walked in only wanting to grab fruit and walking out with $120 RMB with everying but the fruit that we intially wanted. 

Always learning...

Day 4

Today was, as I predicted, very tiring.  I did make it out of bed, even though my legs were killing me.  We went to the Temple of Heaven after checking out of our hotel in Beijing.  While it was very pretty and had a lot of interesting facts to go along with it, I didn't think it really could be compared to the Summer Palace.  

After the Temple of Heaven we went to a market, which was an interesting experience.  The day before we had done that as well and I didn't buy anything because I am horrible at bargaining.  It stresses me out because I feel bad offering such a low price.  So, I have learned to shop with friends who will help me out, haha, and today I was a successful shopper.  Another part that I don't like about the markets is how people from every direction are yelling at you to buy their stuff and are very pushy.  One girl even wrapped her hands around my arms and dragged me to her stand!  For me, this took a lot of getting used to, see as how I get annoyed even if someone at a regular mall back home asks if they can help me find anything.  

We then took the train to Tianjin, where we will be doing the course requirements part of the trip.  Tianjin is 70 miles away from Beijing, but it only took us 26 minutes to get there, which was really cool.

Something that I am missing here in China is pasta and cheese, which I did not think about until today.  There is no cheese here! The meals have all been amazing, and I think my dad would be happy with all of the protein I am getting, because I am having a variety of meat for breakfast lunch and dinner!  I am excited for tomorrow because we get to go to the University that we will be studying at!

Day 4

 

Today was our last time in Beijing.  We first went to the Temple of Heaven.  This was cool to see but we were all tired from all the sightseeing previous days, and the crazy party the night before.  After a little shopping and lunch, we took the high speed train to Tianjin.  This was the best part of the day for me.  It was really interesting to see the differences in train travel from Europe.  All the stations I have been to have been in old, historical buildings.  The station here looked brand new looking more like an airport terminal.  We also had to go through security which was also very weird to me, since I have never seen that in a train station before.  The biggest difference was that there were gates and a waiting area for the trains.  They check your ticket before you get on the train and you can't walk around freely to other platforms.  I thought that they would be more like every other train I have been on and they check your ticket when you are on the train, and you can roam around freely.  It felt more like an airport than a train station, and I think that I wouldn't like it if I had to travel by it frequently.  

Farewell Beijing, Hello Tianjin

Today was awesome.  I really liked the Temple of Heaven and even better was the market we went to after.  I was able to bargain down a pair of nice headphone for relatively dirt cheap.  Not to mention a nice button up shirt as well.  I had a better time at this market than I did at the other one.  The lay out was much better and it had a less cluttered look and feel to it.  One thing that was quite interesting was meeting two people from Turtle Lake Minnesota.  We chatted with them for a little bit and then parted ways.

The bullet train was something else.  Getting to a top speed of 337ish kmph (roughly 209 mph) was definitely an experience.  I didn't feel like we were traveling that fast, but when looking out the window, and especially going around turns and seeing the trains tilt made the experience all the better.  Now being in Tianjin, I can see huge differences.  The city here isn't nearly as well kept and clean as Beijing was.  One thing I do like about this city is the homey feeling of it all. I don't know what it is, but I have a feeling that I could very well like Tianjin better than Beijing's big and rich feel.  I guess only time will tell.  Oh, I forgot to mention that I tried chicken heart tonight, along with some sort of fish skin/scales.  That was not so good. I can't wait for more unique food!

In Tianjin now

A little bit jet lagged.

 

I got up around 5 in the morning, and lying wide awake in the dark was just purely brutal. No wonder insomnia drives people crazy.

 

The bullet express train took us to Tianjin and the whole group was so excited along the way.  But after we arrived, we ended up being jammed in the bus and subway like a sardine, I started having flashbacks of those distant days when I traveled across China in order to have some real life experience and broaden my horizons.  

 

Despite the transportation-triggered trip down the memory lane, I was quite happy to Nankai university and many cheerful faces. The signage on the street is clear and the promotional material about the world Expo is everywhere. Around 6pm, we started dinner at Gloden Hans, the restaurant I was really fond of years ago.  Somehow, tonight I did not feel like enjoying it very much.  Bummer...

 

It's time to end my rambling and go to bed getting ready for tomorrow's class.

Day 3 Beijing

We woke up early, all very excited to be able to climb the Great Wall. The Great Wall was two hours away from the center of beijing. I would have to admit this day had to be my favorite in Beijing. We took the cable car up till gate 6. I had challenged a few of my friends that I would make it to the top. The climb was hard. It kept getting steeper and steeper with every gate. Some of us got super tired and could not climb any further. But, we kept going on. I was suprized to see that determination in me. I kept teasing the Sam, Kevin and Eric about how being Americans they could not make it. However, I got really tired by the 12th gate and Sam had to carry  my purse all the way up. I made it only till the 14th Gate. But it was a lot of fun. Apparently 14th wasnt the top. The last gate was 23 and there was no way I could go further. So some of us decided to come down. After we came down we slided down. It was a lot of fun. Like I said my favorite part of Beijing. We then went shopping. It was fun to bargain. It is kind of nice to be able to mess with the shopkeepers and test their patience. I bought a few things for really cheap. Later at night, we went to a club near our hotel. Its theme was Avatar. Although at first, it was hard for us to communicate with them since we did not know any Chinese and we did not have Sabrina with us, we finally made it in. It was the coolest experience. The whole club was set as an Avatar film. The Chinese people do love to dance. We danced a lot and bonded well. I made some really good friends. We returned home at 1, all ready to fall asleep and start our next adventure in Beijing. 

First Day in Tianjin

The disco was a complete blast!  It was avatar themed and everyone that worked there was covered from head to toe in makeup and dressed in theme.  The dancing there was also so much fun, I cannot even fathom how people can stay there all night, it got so hot we had to leave by 1 AM.

 

Today was our last day in Beijing and we then continued on our way to Tian Jin, where we took the 5100 train.  After dinner we proceeded to go to the carefree store, which is basically like a Wal-Mart in the states.  It was entirely mesmerizing and I could not look away.  I wanted to try everything but I also wanted to communicate with the people.  I tried but it was unsuccessful.  That was one of the most fun experiences of the day and I even got splashed, in the store, by a fish, which was alive.  That would never happen in the states.  Also, I tried to buy some fruit but when I tried to check out the woman took it all away and said I could not get it.  Apparently we did not know how to purchase such items, and we still don't.  Next time we go we will figure it out.  

Last Day in Beijing, First Day in Tianjin

Last day in Beijing turned out to be a short but enjoyable one. First we took a tour of the Temple of Heaven, ate lunch and hopped on a bullet train to Tianjin. I was really impressed by the massive train station on Beijing, it was bigger than most airports. The train station also turned out to be the worst part of the day as it was very very uncomfortably hot and we had to wait around 45min to just board the train. The train ride was very smooth and short, we traveled at 335km/h making the journey to Tianjin a short 25 minute ride. Arriving in Tianjin was also less than desirable as the train station was incredibly crowded and the bus we took to the hotel was much smaller than the one in Beijing, so we had to store half our luggage in seats on the bus making for a very uncomfortable bus ride to the hotel.

My first impression of Tianjin is a bit mixed at this point. The city seems to be more spacious and spread out compared to Beijing, but at the same time is much more dirty. We finally checked into the hotel and quickly thereafter headed down to a very unique restaurant where we were received by some of the staff of Nankai University. The meal was great, they kept bringing more and more different kinds of food (mostly meat) and even served us beer that came in a long plastic tube.

I look forward to our first day of class tomorrow meeting all of the Chinese students. I've been fighting a bug of some-sort for the past few days that has been making things a bit difficult but have hopes that it will soon pass.


Day 1 Tianjin

Today I had a few technical difficulties.  Upon preparing to leave for the trip, we visited with students that went to China the previous year.  They specifically said that we did not need adapters.  They lied.  To be on the safe side, I went to target before I left the country and picked up a converter, or so I thought.  But, today I realized that what I really needed was something that converts a three prong grounded outlet to a two prong.  I have half a dozen or so of these things in my kitchen drawer but that is not at all helpful to me here.  So, when we went off to the market today I definitely had a goal. 

For me, the electronics markets are much more enjoyable than the clothing markets.  Mainly because in the electronics markets, the sellers don't grab you as much because their case of merchandise lies between.  I spotted a dealer that sold the converter of the cursed three prong cord and struck a deal.  The woman kept trying to tell me it was good quality (as they all try to tell you their products are good quality) but I don't think there is much quality that goes into a couple of pieces of metal and some plastic.  I purchased it for the equivalent of about $3 and was happy.  It works wonderfully!

Next year I will make sure to tell the new students traveling to China what converters to purchase.

Day Numero 3

Day three Beijing = one to remember. After two great days of constant site seeing we finally went to the mecca of all sites, the Great Wall of China. Growing up seeing pictures and movies of the Great Wall I thought I saw everything I needed to see to get a perspective of the wall, but seeing it up close was like I never imagined. The wall stretched across the entire mountain range as far as the eye could see. Parts of the wall were gradual turns and descends while others were treacherous inclines that lasted for about 600 ft, each step different than the other. At one point of the hike, which a couple of us made it a goal to reach the highest point we could see, we came across the steepest stair case I have ever seen. Almost vertical, the stairs seemed to go on forever and each step tore at your leg muscles, but reaching the top was in our minds a victory, or a sign that were out of shape. The view from the walls was amazing and I kept thinking about how this was built and the time and struggle it must have been to build this massive structure. Overall we probably climbed a little over 4 miles of the wall, which felt like 10, in 90 degree weather and the sun relentlessly beating down. Getting down of the wall was another journey. In order to get down off the wall you could either take a chair lift or a bob sled type deal where you slide down this metal course which was about a mile long. I took the bob sled and used my breaks zero times which made the Chinese workers very angry, yelling at me to slow down at every corner.

After the Great Wall we went to a market where we could practice our barter and buy knock off goods for very cheap. This was a lot of fun and loved talking and bartering with some of the workers whose whole goal was to get you to buy their good. Multiple times I was called "crazy" because I was asking for such a low price. In the end I spent very little money for a lot of stuff which I may or may not have needed but had a great time talking and conversing with the Chinese people.  

Next was dinner which again was amazing like every other meal I have had in china. All the food I have had has been so different and new and there's been a lot! One thin that I have found out is that the Chinese people can eat. The meals we have consist of about 6 courses with all types of traditional Chinese food and by the end of the meal I am stuffed.

After filling our stomach it was time to go out on the town in Beijing. A group of ten of us decided to go to a disco which is similar to a U.S. nightclub except with a theme and the craziest electronic light show ever. The disco was close to our hotel so we walked without knowing exactly what it was going to be like. When we entered the disco everything was decked out in an Avatar theme. Even the people who were working were completely body painted and looked exactly like an Avatar. I think I can say it was the most insane crazy club ever. Nobody spoke a lick of English but somehow we were able to communicate through dance moves on the floor. Constance fist pumps and head banging were included and I think I can safely say we were celebrities in that night club. Best day today...

 

Day 3 great wall!

Yesterday we visited the Great wall of China for a good portion of the day. It was amazing to see something that was built so long ago still standing and in very good condition considering its age. Me and a group of people decided we would go as far on the wall as we could with the time constraint we had.  The walk/hike was hard but gratifying once we were at the point that we had to stop at.  The view was amazing and we took many pictures, I can not imagine how much work it took to make this wall it was the most impressive thing I have seen to this day.  The hike was great for other reasons also like it was great to work as a team pushing each other to go further even though some areas were so steep that we felt we could not make it.  I think that the Great Wall brought our group together as a whole to be more like a team.  The market which we went to after the great wall was very good for working on my bartering skills because there were so many people yelling trying to sell various things to you.  These people were very agressive and would grab at you to get you to come to their shops if you looked at either them or in their shops.  I learned that the initial prices that they were giving out to people were over ten times the price that they would settle for so giving them a low ball price and not showing too much interest was a very good way of bartering.  Also I noticed that acting like they were wasting your time made them come down in price much faster, overall the best method was walking away and often times they would come running to you settling for the price that you had as a maximum.  Last night was very interesting to see how some of the richer Chinese young adults party at night.  I thought that the bar was amazing with the Avatar theme and that they put a lot of effort into making the place look nice.  It was interesting how Chinese would leave all their beers at a table and walk away for awhile to go dance trusting that the beer would not be stolen by others.  Also it was amazing how a lot of the music played was American music, they would play the songs in English too and most of the Chinese would sing to the music because they knew it even though it was in English.  Overall this was my most memorable day so far on the trip and will be hard to beat!  

Day 3 great wall!

Yesterday we visited the Great wall of China for a good portion of the day. It was amazing to see something that was built so long ago still standing and in very good condition considering its age. Me and a group of people decided we would go as far on the wall as we could with the time constraint we had.  The walk/hike was hard but gratifying once we were at the point that we had to stop at.  The view was amazing and we took many pictures, I can not imagine how much work it took to make this wall it was the most impressive thing I have seen to this day.  The hike was great for other reasons also like it was great to work as a team pushing each other to go further even though some areas were so steep that we felt we could not make it.  I think that the Great Wall brought our group together as a whole to be more like a team.  The market which we went to after the great wall was very good for working on my bartering skills because there were so many people yelling trying to sell various things to you.  These people were very agressive and would grab at you to get you to come to their shops if you looked at either them or in their shops.  I learned that the initial prices that they were giving out to people were over ten times the price that they would settle for so giving them a low ball price and not showing too much interest was a very good way of bartering.  Also I noticed that acting like they were wasting your time made them come down in price much faster, overall the best method was walking away and often times they would come running to you settling for the price that you had as a maximum.  Last night was very interesting to see how some of the richer Chinese young adults party at night.  I thought that the bar was amazing with the Avatar theme and that they put a lot of effort into making the place look nice.  It was interesting how Chinese would leave all their beers at a table and walk away for awhile to go dance trusting that the beer would not be stolen by others.  Also it was amazing how a lot of the music played was American music, they would play the songs in English too and most of the Chinese would sing to the music because they knew it even though it was in English.  Overall this was my most memorable day so far on the trip and will be hard to beat!  

Day 3 Great Wall

Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't express enough how amazing climbing the great wall was. When we were pulling up in the bus we all just stared in astonishment at how big the actual wall was and how you could see it for miles weaving through the mountains. Taking the gondola up to the top was so much fun! I just sat there and looked at the scenery. It was absolutely breathtaking. Once we got to the top we were allowed over two hours to do do whatever we wanted. We chose to climb towards the Chinese characters that were written on the side of the mountain. It was so hot out we all were immediately drenched in sweat, but no one cared, we were on the great wall!!! We made sure to all drink plenty of water and eat our bananas. We would take short breaks in the towers where it was nice and cool and there was a breeze. Once we made it to the point where we could go no more, we stopped for awhile and took it all in. We took so many pictures but the pictures could not capture what we were seeing through our own eyes. The way back down the wall was also challenging. We were all so hot and at some points had to climb up more stairs and go down steep, dangerous stairs. I enjoyed the wall because we were doing something fun while getting a great workout. Taking the luge down the mountain was a blast! We weren't suppose to have our cameras out but I took a short video while I was riding down. I didn't want to leave the great wall as I have no idea when I will ever get the chance to go back. By far it was the most amazing thing I've ever done or ever experienced. Also everyone is bonding so well as we're doing some amazing things together that we will cherish for a lifetime.

Last day in Beijing

Today we went to the great wall... exhausted to say the least.  What an unbelievable sight, I don't think any words or pictures that I took will ever be able to describe the experience I had today.  Walking on the Great Wall of China is something that I have wanted to do my entire life. I cannot believe all of the things I have seen and done over the last few days, and neither can my body. I crashed hard last night and even fell asleep twice trying to write this blog entry. Now that I'm up, I have to say that I am incredibly sad to be leaving Beijing. I know we are traveling to many exciting new places, but I feel like nothing will ever be able to replace this city.            

Last day in Beijing

Another fun Day. 

I went to Great Wall and Yaxiu market place today.  The view from Great Wall is amazingly breathtaking.  It was fun to hang out with a young and dynamic group and energy is contagious.  When Amanda and I finally reached gate 14, the toppest of the all, we were so proud and couldn't wait to take our smiling face picture.  Yaxiu is the place I heard of long ago and never have the chance to visit.  I have almost forgot how fun that would be to haggle price down after living in states for more than 4 years. There are a variety of clothing, shoes and bags inside.  The sellers are actually down to earth nice people, but used to trying all means to talk you into buying stuff.  I really hope the way they negotiate with Americans did not scare my classmates away.  :)

At dinner time, we watched some Chinese Ethnic Minorities dance show.  No doubt, the show was wonderful and I truly missed seeing them.  Around 9:30pm, my friend from graduate school, who works and lives in Beijing now, came visited me.  We were so thrilled to see each other and could not have enough huggings...

Day 2 Beijing

The second day in Beijing was absolutely gorgeous. We started the day by going to the Summer Palace. Summer Palace was a beautiful place. It was a place for the emperors. The view of the place was spectacular. The culture that I could see from looking at the walls and the building type was very amazing. We also took a boat ride in a dragon looking boat. It was awesome. We went to eat lunch at a restaurant near Summer Palace. Suprisingly, this place did not have chopsticks. All of us were dying with eat with chopsticks. None of us wanted to use forks. It was really wierd to see that they did not provide any. Dr Li requested us and got us some. he said that the Iranians took all the chopsticks away :). We went to the birds nest later in the day. Some of us got into doing some physical excercise and strength tests. It was fun time. The water cube looked really beautiful Later in the day we went to have diner outiside. During our dinner conversation, Dr Li and Sabrina taught us how to say some sentences in Chinese. I learned a few and I keep using it every now and then. Chnese is a fun and a complex language. I do want to learn it. The day was beautiful and I cant wait for more beautiful days in China.

Day 3- Beijing

I am scared to wake up tomorrow because I know it will be impossible to get out of bed.  I don't think I have ever climbed as many stairs as I did today at the Great Wall of China.  I have seen pictures and read about the wall but it does not compare to actually being there and seeing what surrounds it.  The views are incredible.  What was fun about the wall was how they have "modernized" it.  I don't know how long ago they did this, but there is a chair lift to take you up to the wall, to one of the "gates".  In addition to that, you can take a luge all the way down the mountain.  This part was a lot of fun!

Later, we went to a huge restaurant for dinner, where there was a number of dances performed by girls dressed in traditional Chinese clothing.  What is becoming more and more fun about eating here is that I can eat everything with chopsticks.  It already feels so natural, and I think almost everyone here would prefer to use chopsticks as opposed to forks, which is fun.

Tonight a group of us went to a Disco, where the theme was from the movie "Avatar".  It was a lot of fun, and everyone there was very nice to us.  It is nice to see how welcoming people are here.  Before I left to come here, my friend who had studied abroad in Thailand warned of people staring at you.  She was definitely right, seeing as how I stick out like a sore thumb, tall with brown curly hair.  Now that it has been a couple of days, I am definitely more used to it.  

Today was so exhausting yet so much fun.  I am just hoping that my legs will not be too sore tomorrow from climbing the Great Wall!

Last full day in Beijing

Every morning after we get up and have breakfast, we stand outside of our hotel to meet the bus that takes us to another amazing landmark.  However, as we wait, we watch the opposite side of the busy street which is crammed full of busy shops...and Beijing high school students.  The students line up and yell, bend, run, jump, and hop to the order of their phy. ed instructor.  The number of students attending the school must be quite large because as one group rounds the next block to leave, another is ready to take their place.  Beijing doesn't have the space to create an outside gym for some high schools so they take to the streets (they are all quite slim).  At first this idea seems crazy but after to talking to Sabrina and our professor (both Chinese), it seems like quite a normal thing.    

Beijing, Day 3 - The Great Wall and Market

Never, in my whole entire life, have I ever been more exhausted than today.  The Great Wall of China was incredibly massive in sheer length and size.  I remember walking up on top of one of the gates and continuously counting the number of gates in the horizon.  I cannot even comprehend how many hours, men, and power it took to build such a thing.  Now I definitely can see why it took multiple dynasties to build it. 

Afterwords, we traveled to a bargain market, and that was very culturally unique.  I greatly enjoyed walking around and witnessing people and how they bargained for lower prices on various items.  Things ranging from Adidas, Coach, Sony, Armani, etc. could be found and all could be obtained at a very cheap price.  It was funny to see how just a simple 5 minute conversation sparking interest in an item, throwing a ridiculously low price out there, and walking away is all that's needed to buy an item at a good price. I definitely had a great time.  All in all, everything we did today was downright amazing. and the Great Wall of China is something I never thought I would have had the pleasure of experiencing... I love this place!

Day 3

Today is the day that I was looking forward to the most in Beijing. The Great Wall of China has finally been crossed off my list of places I want to visit.  This was something that a picture can never express.  The size and the beauty of the surrounding mountains made this the best part of the trip so far.  I am completely exhausted now after climbing all the steps up and down the hills.  The weather today was very sunny and hot, but it was worth it for the perfect view.

 

Something that I thought was really interesting today was the bus ride from the city to the wall.  I noticed many different signs with cartoon drawings of telling people not to drink and drive, talk on cell phone, and other laws.  The reason I thought they were interesting was because of the picture that was with it.  They all have the same character but they are doing different things in each picture. 

 

The other thing I noticed on the drive over was a truck carrying fourteen other small trucks.  Not only did this seem like not a good idea but it was really dangerous.  It looked like the last few trucks were about to tip over.  This was really weird to me that they would risk that much to deliver a few more trucks.

Great Wall Leads to a Great Day

Today we took a trip to a little place called the Great Wall of China. Never in my life have I seen anything quite like this. This piece of architecture is truly a wonder of the world. Just the journey to the wall was incredible, as we got to see some really awe inspiring landscape as we drove through the mountains. Upon arriving, we hiked up a small part of the mountain where we were bombarded by shop keepers urging us to buy their merchandise, most of it being Great Wall paraphernalia. After the short hike we were able to ride a gondola up the rest of the way to the Great Wall where we saw even more incredible scenery. After jumping off the gondola we were able to explore the wall on our own. I still at this moment have a hard time comprehending that I walked on a piece of history such as this as just the first few steps were breathtaking. With the wall hugging the crests of the mountains, it was quite the hike at times. I've never been so exhausted in my entire life after just reaching the point where we decided to turn back. The wall at times literally seemed to go up at a 90 degree angle, it also didn't help that it was a clear day with temperatures reaching around mid 90's. In total, it took roughly two hours to travel from our meeting spot and back. We were also able to take a luge sled back down the mountain which turned out to be a good time as well. There was so much more that happened today but it would take a lot more than a single blog post to describe it. Today was our last full day in Beijing as we travel to Tianjin tomorrow.     

Beijing - Day 3

Well we of course got to see the great wall today, and as interesting as that was I think that some of the best culture insight we got was at the marketplace today.  The marketplace seemed to consist mainly of tourists, but I found the people that worked in the shops the most interesting.  On multiple occasions I was literally grabbed by my arm and dragged to a booth.  After talking with a bunch of different shop owners, they all seem to take wildly different tactics with sales, of which there seemed to be varying degrees of success.  The bartering system itself is very interesting, and seems to be somewhat based on the emotions of the person you're dealing with.  All in all, I much enjoyed today (and every other day) and would like to drop by another market in another city just to see the similarities.

Great Wall day in Beijing!

Today we visited the Great Wall of China, which was spectacular and absolutely amazing.  It was one of the best workouts ever and the fact that we made it as far as we did, to the no climb zone, was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  After walking all that time we luged down the Great Wall.  I can't even give justice to the Great Wall by taking about it nor can any photograph.  We then proceeded to the public market where we bartered with the shop owners.  It was pretty fun and impressive how the whole process actually works.  The women do such a great job of trying to get the highest price but usually do not succeed with the American people.  It was interesting to me because the first item I bought was a silk dress and the woman originally started out at 840 and then I ended up paying 30 for it!  It was a great experience overall and I am very excited to do it again at all the cities we will be visiting.  Tonight we are going to the disco, more information to come on this experience tomorrow!

China Ladies are AMAZING

Ok, here it is all straight and no BS, the women in china are the most amazing I have ever seen in my entire life.  They are gorgeous.  Today we went to the great wall, my friends and I climbed basically as far up as we could and well there is not a word in the english language to describe how amazing it was to be there and do that.  The wall is extremely steep and difficult to climb.  I carried a large amount of extra water and around 5 peoples lunches in my backpack so I had about 35 lbs. of extra weight in my pack.  It was amazing.  We then went to a really crazy clothing mall where everything was totally fake but also totally awesome.  I got three t's and two button downs for around 85.00 us dollars they are fake but heck they are nice.  Then we went to a dinner show thing with BEAUTIFUL AMAZING GORGEOUS AWESOME China ladies dancing and being sexy as hell.  I got a good luck charm and a little pillow from them, I AM IN LOVE.  Now we are going to the DISCO to dance our pants off.  Good times Charlee.  Have a great day everyone.  Peace.

Blog Numero 2

I think that the second day in Beijing, as of now, is at the top of the list for the best day. Again, the day started out with an amazing breakfast at the hotel trying the assortment of food that they offer.  After getting ready for a busy and exhausting day we made our trek to the summer palace which was basically the Emperors beach house. The only difference between the Emperors summer palace and a Florida beach house is that the Emperors palace included its own man made mountain, lake multiple buildings and a view of the mountains. Being able to go there and see this first hand was amazing and everything we say was new and out of my normal element. One of the highlights at the summer palace was when a man was writing calligraphy on the side walk using both hands at once. At the top of this man made hill was a monastery which was a very sacred place for Chinese people and the view looking out over the lake and the mountains was amazing. After slowly hiking back down trying to catch our breath from the 100+ stairs we climbed to get up, we headed out to lunch. Another amazing lunch with Chinese style chicken, vegetables, rice, and fruit. Before leaving to the Olympic stadium we stopped next door where they collected pearls from the clams that live in the Emperors Lake. Personally I have never witness a clam being opened and the pearls being collected so that was special.

Next, we headed to the Olympic stadium home of the 2008 summer Olympics. Upon arriving we witnessed the sheer size of this massive structure. Being able to go inside and down onto the field, which people are rarely allowed to do, was so much fun. We did the high jump, long jump, pretended to be Usane Bolt and a fitness test to judge our athletic ability. That in its self was one of my favorite moments so far. Right outside the Birds Nest was the Water Cube where Michael Phelps won gold. This building, along with many buildings in china, was so architecturally unique.

On our way heading back from the Birds Nest we convinced Professor Li to drop us off at a market and let us walk around and make our way back to the hotel on foot. This was a culture shock that I enjoyed very much. Being so engulfed in the heart of china seeing how people live, shop, and eat was amazing. A couple of us ventured off to try and find places tucked away in the back alley, which were filled with shops and venders. At one point I stopped at an instrument store and convinced one of the men there to play an old blues song with me, and Im pretty sure we melted some faces.  After arriving at our hotel we went and got dinner then headed back to the hotel for a little Q and A with the group over a couple of beers. Beijing is awesome.

Day 2 Beijing :)

I woke up this morning feeling very tired and sleepy. I knew it was going to be a long day but I was so excited to see the Summer Palace. First, we stopped at the zoo where we got to see the panda's that were used during the 2008 Olympic Games. It was very cool to see a real panda bear, as there is only one in the United States, at the San Diego Zoo. Next off we were headed to the Summer Palace.

Once we arrived at the Summer Palace, I could not believe my eyes. It was like paradise! Everything was so beautiful, it was a gorgeous day out (about 90 degrees), and it sort of reminded me of back home with the boats and the small lake. We walked up to the Palace and could see for miles and miles. Although I took several pictures, a picture could not capture all the beauty that we got to see. Taking the dragon boat out on the man-made lake was also very fun. I love being out on a lake during the summer and enjoying the nice weather, however there were only a few dragon boats and the rest were small paddle boats.

Lunch was delicious as usual. However, we were not given any chopsticks! They must have assumed that since we were Americans we didn't know how to use them. We were later told that many people steal the chopsticks but we were still given them to use and we're all becoming quite good at it. We'll get back home and want to use chopsticks at every meal! Going to the Pearl Store was quite exciting. I could not believe how many pearls there were inside one small clam! I bought a necklace with a white pearl pendent on it which I will cherish forever, as I bought it in China!!!

Touring the Olympic Stadiums was also quite the experience. It's so hard to put everything into words, it's that amazing. Walking up to the Bird's Next, I could not believe my eyes! It was so so so big!!! Once we got inside it was very fun to go on the track and do the long jump, as I used to do it back in middle school. All we kept saying was, "We could fit the entire city of Duluth in this stadium." That is just crazy to think about!!! I could not even imagine being a spectator at the Olympic Games and seeing that entire stadium full. One other thing I'd like to add is how we all feel like celebrity's here. They love the blonde haired girls, so Sarah and I are getting quite used to being stared at. They also like taking pictures of others in the group. It's just funny how everyone thinks we're so awesome, which we are!!! 

Day 2 Bejing

Today in Beijing we had a full day of touring/site seeing.  The first place we stopped at was the Beijing zoo in which we were able to see 8 panda bears which are nearly extinct with only a little more than a thousand of them left in the entire world.  These bears were very lazy and did not move around much, instead they would just sit there stuffing their face with bamboo which I thought to be quite entertaining.  It was amazing seeing all the people at the summer palace.  I think its interesting that everyone from poor to rich come to the palace but they all come for slightly different reasons.  Some of the poorer people are there to find food that is left over by people not finishing their meal, Others come to see the beauty of the scenery and buildings made hundreds of years ago, still others come for the monasteries to pray to Buddha.  I thought it was amazing seeing the man made lake at Summer Palace and thinking that it was made by hand with now powered tools.  It was also amazing to see the great wall way off in the distance on the mountain in the background.  Overall the summer palace was a very interesting place to visit and I was very happy seeing it.  We finally visited the Olympic stadium which was colossal.  It was amazing how big the grounds for the different buildings was not to mention how big the 4 buildings were.  The only building we were able to go into was the  track stadium which was amazing. This stadium was so big and high tech, also it was amazing to go out on the track and participate in different activities that had taken place their.  These facilities are still being used today for many different events including cultural ones.  The Chinese are very proud of their stadium and it was evident from the fact that many of the people going on tours of the place were actually Chinese citizens.  Overall this was a great day and the food was amazing as usual..

Second day in Beijing!

 

On the second day in Beijing we went to see the pandas at the zoo.  We also visited the Tower of Buddhist Incense and traveled to the bird's nest, where the 2008 Olympics were hosted.  Today, at the Buddhist temple we witnessed many interesting things take place.  It was extremely interesting to see the way people interacted, especially between the rich and the poor.  The way of dress between Chinese people and other countries was also very interesting to observe.

 

Apparently we are famous here, because everywhere the girls and I go they want to take our picture.  It is ridiculous, I was seriously pulled aside just at the birds nest and took about 15 pictures with different men and women who where Chinese.  On our adventure into the market place by our hotel we ran across many different traditional stores and shops.  It seemed as if the shops were clustered in groups because we came across about 15 music stores, then 15 trophy shops, then 15 art shops.  After the main market we all ventured to a smaller secluded street where there where many tea shops and different restaurants.  It was eye opening to actually see the way the people live here, because they all basically live in a small room basically a shack and share bathroom and showers.  Overall, the day was by far a great adventure.

Day 2- Beijing

Once again, another amazing day in Beijing.  We visited the Summer Palace, where there is a huge man-made lake and also a man-made mountain/hill from all of the dirt that was dug out to make the lake.  There was a breeze coming off the lake that made the weather perfect.  once we were done at the Summer Palace we went to lunch and it was very hot out without the lake breeze!  Lunch was funny because we had to request that they bring us chopsticks to use because we all love eating with chopsticks, after only 2 days of being here.  

Our next stop, the Bird's Nest, was one of the coolest things I have ever been able experience.  Our group was lucky enough to be able to go down onto the track and do the activities there, such as the long jump.  Knowing that we were standing on the same track where Olympic athletes competed was such an amazing feeling.  

Later in the night, after dinner, a group of us went shopping near the hotel.  It was so much fun (attempting to) bargain with everyone that was trying to sell us stuff.  Some of the shop owners are very smart and very persuasive when it comes to what they want you to buy.  We also realized that most of the shops shut down around 10:30, meaning that the lights in the street also go out.  This was an interesting experience because all of a sudden we were asking ourselves "is this dangerous?".  We ended up sprinting about a block to make it to a busy street with traffic, just to be sure that if someone was following us that nothing would happen.  This was funny because only just a minute or two before this happened we all were saying how safe we felt, haha.

I am having so much fun here in Beijing, I want to take in as much of it as I can.  The mere size of the city is amazing, let alone all of the cool places we have visited.  Everyone here just keeps saying how they don't want to go back home, and I think it's safe to say that we are all so far having an amazing time.
It was another very early morning - I know that I looked as tired as I felt this morning. Jet lag is wearing on us all but there is so much fun to be had that none of us have let it slow us down. The morning started with breakfast and my first taste of chicken's feet - thanks to Sabrina - and it tasted really good - it did, I swear - but it was just too fatty for me.

The Summer Gardens were absolutely incredible. The sights alone were a wonder but I got my first taste of some authentic Chinese music which has brought this trip to a whole new level. We enjoyed some incredible views and hot sun and then grabbed some Yanjing for the Dragon Boat (or the party barge as we like to call it).

After another delicious lunch we headed over to the Olympic grounds where we had the chance to run around on the fields that took so many athletes their entire lives of training to compete on. It was really a once in a lifetime experience. (Or maybe twice - I've been to the Munich Olympic grounds too.)

Even after such an eventful day, I think my highlight was the music store that Dr. Li and I hung out for awhile. I was really close to buying a mandolin that had an amazing price but I decided to go ahead and buy a few things that I would never have the chance to get anywhere but China. I got what Dr. Li told me is a Moon Violin and a Calabash Flute along with some painted shakers. I can't wait to have the chance to sit around in the sun when I get home and master these instruments.

Music, culture, conversation and adventure are what I live for, and today I got it all. 

Just another day in Beijing

Today during dinner we learned a few more Chinese phrases.  However, depending on if you raise, lower, or stay the same with the intonation in your voice, it means different things.  This is incredible to me because it seems to add another level of learning on top of just learning the sounds.  Also, the language far exceeds our 26 letter alphabet so there are much more symbols to recognize as well.  It makes me wonder as to why it developed as it did with the immense complexities.  I believe that learning some key phrases is essential as we try to interact more with the locals and learn the cultural differences.  

2nd Day in Beijing

Wow, what a day.  Again, waking up early was not bad but the hard beds are proving to be difficult to get used to.  At least I am so exhausted by the end of the day that it's hard to notice how firm they are.  The entire vista of the Summer Palace today was stunning.  I can't believe that the whole foundation and the lake were all man made.  And that the whole thing took 4 years to complete back then (as apposed to taking 5 years to complete the Olympic Stadium) just blows my mind.  I will never forget the memory of going into the Bird's Nest and walking around and completing the fitness tests they have setup.  And I also won't forget Ben yelling at how fast his reaction time was and everyone staring down at us.

Of course every meal today was beyond amazing.  After dinner, I went out with Sabrina, Erin, Sam, and Amanda and walked around the market close by our hotel.  I definitely will hang around Sabrina more because she knows so much! Any question that pops into my head, she will have an answer for; it's incredible. Just two days in China and I am in awe. Let's see what day three has to bring.

Day 2 in Beijing

Another amazing day, the Summer Palace and olympic stadium were incredible, however, the highlight of the day was definitely the lesson I received on haggling from Sabrina. People aren't kidding when they say that haggling is an art, an absolute art. Every time I purchased something I would walk away thinking that I got a hell of a deal when really I'm just another foreigner paying two, three or four... times more than I should have. Nothing in a book or show or classroom can teach me what I learned today in the back alley of a Beijing Market. The people working in those shops can spot someone like me coming from a mile a way. I'm completely dumbfounded, and thats an understatement. 

Day 2

The second day in Beijing was just as exciting as the first day.   The summer palace was just as amazing as the Forbidden City.  The architecture and detail really stuck out with the picturesque background of the mountains and the lake.  It was a lot of walking but definitely worth it.  The temperature today was the hottest I have been all year.  It was great to feel the heat again but it was also a little too much as certain points throughout the day.

 

The highlight of my day was the Olympic stadium.  I have heard so much about it during the Olympics games, it was really cool to see it in person.  What even made it better was the fact that we got to go on the main floor of the stadium and do some of the track and field events such as running and the long jump.

 

The other thing that I am not used to is the amount of food that we have been served during every meal.  They have all been unlimited amounts of food that I overate during all of them.  The food is very good though and it is nice to try different things.  

Day 2: Summer Palace, Bird's Nest and lots of Sun

Today was yet again, another marathon of activities but I loved every moment of it. We started off by traveling to the Summer Palace, a place nestled in the mountains on a beautiful man made lake. We were able to see how the emperor enjoyed his summers in a magnificent palace and also had the opportunity to be ferried across the lake in a dragon shaped boat.

By far the most interesting part of the day was visiting the Birds Nest. The stadium that hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. The stadium itself can hold 90,000 spectators and is absolutely enormous. The architecture is unlike anything I have ever seen, I can't begin to comprehend how much planning was required to undertake a project such as this. If just being able to visit the stadium wasn't enough, we were able to walk around the track on the floor of the stadium. There, we were able to participate in an array of events that tested physical capabilities such as push up, long jump, sit ups, reflexes and more. I can easily see why this stadium received all the hype that it did, as it was well deserved. 

Once again the food was simply amazing. We had the opportunity to try even more kinds of authentic Chinese foods, which in turn has also increased my chopstick proficiency. Today was very bright hot and sunny which doesn't help with the energy level when doing a million things a minute. We travel to the Great Wall tomorrow which is said to be a not so easy task but I look forward to it. Day 2 and it seems like I've already done 2 weeks worth of site seeing, definitely a good thing. 

What the heck did i just eat

So today Chuckles and I made friends.  When I said I was going to go and roam the streets she seemed to show a tiny amount of concern for me, so thats progress.  Well anyway today we did a few fun things.  First we went and saw the summer palace and let me tell you that it was quite a site.  There was a huge man made lake, and we lost Sabrina and Amanda.  We got to see some pearls from the freshwater oysters that live in the man made lake and I bought some stuff.  Then we ate another huge meal (all meals here are huge) and went to the olympic stadium.  I got to do a bunch of cool things there and it was a blast.  Now we are hanging out and drinking a little.  Oh, after the stadium we hada a chance to go and explore alone and that is how this trip needs to be.  It was awesome, I ate chicken from the side of the road that was cooked over a coal fire and a blowdryer.  Peace

Beijing - Day 2

So another eventful day in Beijing, with far too much to potentially write about, but there is a small part of the day that struck me as particularly odd.  When we arrived at the restaurant we were going to eat lunch at, there was a mysterious lack of chopsticks.  Inquiry into this seemed to get us nowhere, so most of us just started using other utensils.  I thought this was quite perplexing considering chopsticks seem to be the main utensil most chinese people use.  Despite this, the restaurant did eventually procure some chopsticks, but i still think it was rather odd.

Blog Numero 1

First blog....along with the rest of the students I met on this trip I can easily say that these first two days were ones I will remember forever. Although the plane trip was long and uncomfortable, arriving in Beijing totally made up for it. I would lie if I said there was no culture shock when we got here. Not being able to communicate with the locals or figure out directions to a convenience store made it very prevalent that this is not America and nothing comes as easy as we are used too. After getting about, 5 out of 36 hours of sleep, we woke up for a busy day visiting Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Our continental breakfast in the hotel was similar to the one you would get in the states, minus the dumplings, duck eggs, root vegetables, liver, tofu soup, chicken with bones, and something that had the consistency of chewing a rubber sheet. When we arrived at Tiananmen Square we were shocked when we saw some 40 thousand people walking around. Seeing this place in pictures or on TV is one thing but up front a personal is another. The scale of this square was massive including the buildings around it. One thing that really caught me by surprise was the fact that the Chinese people were infatuated with us Americans, constantly looking and asking us to take pictures with them. The blond girls especially were targeted for these paparazzi like situations. We then made our way to the Forbidden City were the Emperor as well as his concubines, used to live. As we walked through gateway after gateway entering the city we were explained the history behind every little piece of the buildings. There is so much history associated with this place everywhere you turn you are learning something new and exciting.
Up next was lunch, which was much needed after the walk through the city that seemed to be instead, the forever city. We took rickshaws to a traditional style Chinese house which was a one room, no bathroom house which was tightly surrounded by the identical looking houses. We were bombarded with some of the most delectable foods I have ever had the chance to taste. Carrot wrapped vegetable balls, dumplings in sweet and sour sauce, beef served over fried onions and sticky rice were some of the dishes we received. After lunch we took the rickshaws on a tour of the city and some traditional style housing in Beijing. The tea garden was next. As a group we tried six different types of tea in a traditional style manor. The Chinese lady who was serving us must have also been a salesman because after the testing was finished almost everyone purchases something from the store. At this point I was starting to feel a little tired but the day was far from over. Next we went to an acrobatic show similar to Circus Olay which continued to amaze me as these young kids bent and twisted themselves. Finally the day came to an end with an amazing dinner at the famous Peeking Duck restaurant where we eat another traditional meal but this time with duck. Overall this day was amazing, as we fit a weeks worth of activities into one day, this is gunna be hard to top.

The Rise of China

(I blogged it couple days ago, somehow I wasn't able to post it until now.  I am writing it here.)
The rise of China has become one of the greatest dramas in the 21st century.  China's
extraordinary economic growth is transferring East Asia and will continually influence
the world in the next decades.  If you haven't been to China, or been years since your
last visit, you will be amazed at what's happening and the changes being wrought in this
time-honored country.   I like the fact that the Chinese government is friendlier to
foreigners in general and Americans in particular; like that in China there is no sales
tax, utility gas , gas tax and corporate income taxes are much less.   In virtue of
developments in communications, economic interactions and interdependencies, we are now
part of global economy that cannot be ignored.  However here comes my questions: 
Both India and China are in the process of rapidly rising, India apparently has
language for its prime advantage over China.  That is the reason U.S. is outsourcing
jobs, such as customer service and other customer-contact work to India.  In comparison,
what is the competitive advantage China has over India then?   Second, Many Americans are
afraid of China or reluctant to do business with China because its political regime and
its justice system seem too harsh and arbitrary.  Then as matter of fact, will the
legitimate American businessmen be affected by Chinese government at all?  Maybe we will find out answers in the following weeks in Tianjin. :)

Day 1 Beijing

Today was the first full day we spent in Beijing.  It was amazingly full and fun. I found myself thinking a lot about the Chinese people's job satisfaction.  Ever employee that we met today was happy and cheerful.  Back home, it would seem that if we accomplished the activities we did today, we would run into at least one person having a rough day.  I wonder why that is?  Is it that the Chinese are ridiculously good at providing great customer service?  Or, is it that they are just more at ease than the Westerners?  The other option is of course that I am viewing the day through my special brand of rose colored glasses.  Good thing I have another three and a half weeks to think about these questions.

First Day in Beijing

Today was our first day in Beijing. We work up at 7 : 30 in the morning to go eat the delicious breakfast. Dr Li challenged us to refill at least three times. It was an awesome meal... really tasty! When we got on the bus we went to the Forbidden City. Forbidden City was once a place where only emperors lived. The regular Chinese public could not go in there. The palace had thousands of rooms. each of them were so pretty and creatively decorated. It looked like the emperors lived a very lavish lifestyle. We went to the Imperial Park too. Imperial Park was the place where they use to hang out! It was really pretty. With the beauty of the buildings, we could tell how rich Chinese culture actually is. We then ate lunch with a host family in a place that looked like an Asian Alley. The place's name was called ' hootooh' (i dont know how to spell it). This place is known to be the traditional part of Beijing. We ate delicious meal there. After the tour of the asian alley in a rickshaw, we went to the tea ceremony. In  the tea ceremony, the lady that taught us about different kinds of tea, was very friendly. Chinese have a very different way of drinking tea. Their tea is very delicious. After the tea ceremony, we headed to go see the flying acrobat show. I was amazed to see how talented the Chinese people are. The tricks that they performed n the show was really outstanding. After the show, we got realy hungry. Out tour guide, Lisa too us to  eat in the picking duck restaurant. This restaurant is one of the very attractive spot in China. The picking duck has a history of over 600 years.  We were very stuffed from the restaurant. We headed home after that - all very tired and ready to sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a another wonderful day. I cant wait to start the day and look to see what adventures are waiting for me :)

First Day In Beijing

Today I experienced many things that have never happened to me before.  It started out with the first sights of China and taking the bus to all of the destinations.  Tiananmen square was impressive because of the large size and the massive amount of people.  This was the same with the Forbidden City, as it was so much larger than I have ever imagined.  It was really impressive to see the detail on all of the buildings that seemed to be never-ending. 

 

What really amazed me the most is the amount of people who wanted to take pictures of us Americans.  We got looks all the time and so many of them wanted to be in pictures with us.  It was good to see that they don't have a negative image of us and that they were interested in us in a good way. This is something that I never would have imagined happening. 

 

The food was also very impressive today.  The breakfast seemed more like a lunch to me with all of the different options and the service that we received.  I tried many different things today such as duck, chicken liver, and other various vegetables/foods.  The amount of food that was served was so much, with a very large variety to choose from.

  It was my first time using chop sticks for multiple meals so hopefully I will get better and not drop food before it gets to my plate. 

 

It was a very long day but I experienced so much.  I hope that they continue to be this interesting and we continue to learn new things.  

First Day in Beijing

What a day, Beijing is amazing. The overwhelmed feeling that I'm experiencing might be from getting only five hours of sleep since we left Minneapolis but its more likely from to everything that I saw today. The migrant workers outside the window of the hotel, Tianammen Square, The Forbidden City, the rickshaw tour through traditional neighborhoods, the Tea House, an insane Chinese Acrobat show or possibly the Peking duck.  I don't even know at this point. What I do know is that I'm full, and I've been full since breakfast. It is entirely possible that I ate more food today than I have ever eaten in my life. Everything was delicious, and there was more than enough to go around. Honestly, I'm speechless. I cannot believe what I did today. Even if I spent a few years in this city I still wouldn't be able to comprehend what goes on here. I need to sleep. I also bought a Rolex for five dollars.

Day 1- Beijing

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For our first day in Beijing, we packed a lot of site seeing into 12 hours.  It was amazing to see how big all the buildings were.  The Parliament building was huge, as was Tienanmen Square.  This was the first place where rural chinese people also site seeing would ask us to be in pictures with them.  It was fun to see how happy they were to see us Americans, and they were all extremely polite and gracious whenever we would stop to pose in a picture with them.  

Our next stop was the Forbidden City, and I had no idea how big of a place it was.  It seemed as if it went on forever, and it was amazing to hear how little use some of the huge buildings actually got.  Another interesting fact that we learned from Lisa was that it is unlucky to use even numbers.  The number 9 is seen as a lucky number, as is 5.  I thought it was really cool that we got to go to the top of that hill after we were done walking through the Forbidden City so that we could see it from a birds eye view.  The panoramic views were amazing.

Having lunch provided by us in a traditional Chinese home was really fun.  This was the first time that I felt like I could actually eat a whole meal with chopsticks, so that was exciting.  Riding in the rickshaws was fun, I can't believe there are not crashes and traffic jams with those more often.  

Going to the Tea House was so much fun, getting to try all the teas and seeing the right way to make the tea made it way more fun than just going in there to shop.  Afterwards, we went to the acrobatic show, which was amazing.  I can't believe all of the "stunts" that they can do! By the end of the day we were all exhausted, and then had a huge meal, including Peking Duck.

I can't believe that we did all of this in just one day! I am so glad that I made the decision to go on this trip, I am so excited for this next month. I love China!

Day 1 Beijing :)

So we started off the day with breakfast at our hotel. I was expecting a small continental breakfast and to my surprise it was a huge buffet of authentic Chinese food. Needless to say it was one of many amazing meals we had today. Next, we got on the coach bus and headed to Tiananmen Square. The first thing we saw was the huge National Performing Arts Center, where the opera is held. The building was just incredible and when we got to Tiananmen Square I could not believe all of the people! We were told to hold our belongings closely as there are so many people and pickpocketing is a problem.

What I was most intrigued about was the Forbidden City. As we walked through it, Lisa (our tour guide) gave us a lot of history about the  Forbidden City and about the significance of it in the Chinese culture. I can't believe all I have learned and the buildings and architecture was something I had never seen before. There were so many people everywhere while we were there, it just really showed the importance of the Chinese to the Chinese population.

We were all starving for lunch and got exactly what we needed, a great traditional Chinese meal at a Chinese home. It was very interesting to see what the traditional Chinese home looked like and to see how/what they ate. Also, riding the rick-shaw's around the lake was awesome and I'm glad we got to experience those crazy drivers driving us around.

The Tea House was very fun and it was amazing to see how much the Chinese love their tea. We got to try all the different kinds, I believe it was 5, and it was also fun to learn what each different tea can do for your body. The Acrobat Show made me speechless. I can't even comprehend how crazy some of those people were! Next we went to Peking Duck, a fancy restaurant, with delicious food. Everyone was so exhausted from the long day but it was fun to experience eating duck for the first time. This was only our first day and we did so many things! I'm learning more already than I could have imagined and I can't wait to keep learning more as the days go on.

First day in Bejing

Today was our first day in China and it was amazing.  We did alot of traveling and got to see many important parts of the city along with some fun and interesting areas.  We visited Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City in the morning which were both amazing.  The cultural heritage was very historical and we learned alot about the historical significance of different buildings such as the different areas of the palace in the forbidden city.  The meal in a families home was very eye opening to how small the living space is, also the meal was amazing.  I feel like I learned alot about the culture of China because of the tours and interacting for the first time with the Chinese.  We also went to an acrobatic show today which was so amazing how skillful they were with their balance.  I have never seen the strength and talent these "kids" had when doing these stunts/tricks.  Overall this day was amazing and the meals were very filling and good.  I tried as many foods as possible and enjoyed almost every one of them.  Great day overall!

First day in Bejing

Today was our first day in China and it was amazing.  We did alot of traveling and got to see many important parts of the city along with some fun and interesting areas.  We visited Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City in the morning which were both amazing.  The cultural heritage was very historical and we learned alot about the historical significance of different buildings such as the different areas of the palace in the forbidden city.  The meal in a families home was very eye opening to how small the living space is, also the meal was amazing.  I feel like I learned alot about the culture of China because of the tours and interacting for the first time with the Chinese.  We also went to an acrobatic show today which was so amazing how skillful they were with their balance.  I have never seen the strength and talent these "kids" had when doing these stunts/tricks.  Overall this day was amazing and the meals were very filling and good.  I tried as many foods as possible and enjoyed almost every one of them.  Great day overall!

First Day in Beijing

Chiha Day 1

Today we saw the forbidden city, and Tiannamen square.  These were both very large and extremely historic.  I got to take many good pictures.  There was alot of walking.  I have decided that I am in love with Chinese women as I think that I fell in love about 10 times today.  After we were done with these two activities we went on a rickshaw tour through the old city and had a traditional meal inside someones actual home.  I sort of felt like I was an intruder, but the food was amazing.  Back to the women, the language barrier is huge and might be hard to overcome i think that it could happen though.  After that we went to a traditional tea house and tasted various tea's.  I got called handsome by the tea lady.  Next we went to a acrobatics show and ate peking duck.  Both of which were amazing and grand.

First Day in China

After suffering almost 24 straight hours of traveling to make it to China, I can safely say that it was already worth it after spending just one day here. I've done more things in this one day then I have in the past 4 months. Traveling to the Forbidden City, riding in a rickshaw, eating in a Chinese family's home and trying tea in a tea house were just some of the amazing things I got to experience during my first day here.

The Forbidden City blew me away by its shear size. During the tour we kept traveling through gate after gate, the city seemed to be endless. The tour provided a lot of rich history about China and the City.

Though all of the site seeing was more interesting and mind blowing then I could have imagined, by far the best part of the day was tasting all of the authentic Chinese food. The hotel we are currently staying in serves an exquisite breakfast buffet every morning that provides many different foods. One of the most special experiences I have had in a long times was sitting down in a real Chinese family's house and eating a meal that they provided, it was incredibly good but at the same time a humbling experience.

Still feeling the jet lag, I am hoping tomorrow can be an even more great experience visiting the summer palace and trying even more great food. 

Bejing China 5/19/2010

Today was our first day in China and it was amazing.  We did alot of traveling and got to see many important parts of the city along with some fun and interesting areas.  We visited Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City in the morning which were both amazing.  The cultural heritage was very historical and we learned alot about the historical significance of different buildings such as the different areas of the palace in the forbidden city.  The meal in a families home was very eye opening to how small the living space is, also the meal was amazing.  I feel like I learned alot about the culture of China because of the tours and interacting for the first time with the Chinese.  We also went to an acrobatic show today which was so amazing how skillful they were with their balance.  I have never seen the strength and talent these "kids" had when doing these stunts/tricks.  Overall this day was amazing and the meals were very filling and good.  I tried as many foods as possible and enjoyed almost every one of them.  Great day overall!

First Day In Beijing

Our first day in our China experience was perfect. Of everything that we got to do today, from breakfast, the summer gardens, the Peking Duck, the acrobat show and more, the main events from my first day in China that will stick out in my mind forever are the lunch at the family home that we ate and the rick-shaw ride that we had through part of the city - and let's not forget the celebrity experience of being a rare blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl in Eastern Asia.

Everywhere we went today there were other Asian tourists that flattered us by pulling us out of the group for pictures and letting us know how cool they thought we looked. After the excitement at Tianamin Square and the Forbidden City we got to hop on rickshaws for a ride through part of the city to our first stop at lunch which was hosted by some locals who served us out of their very own home.

There was not one thing that was put in front of us that I didn't try and I enjoyed all of it - especially the fish balls and the dumplings. After lunch we hopped back on the rickshaws and enjoyed a longer ride around town to a shopping district full of stores and bars that we can't wait to check out tomorrow night.

We were all successful in our adventures with food today, though I think most of us are thinking twice about the amount of food that we'll eat throughout the day from now on...

For tonight it's beers and enjoyment so that we can rest up for the zoo and other adventures waiting for us tomorrow. It's been real.  


Beijing - Day 1

Wow, so much to right about.  Since the moment we arrived, I have absolutely been in culture shock.  I think the biggest thing that i've noticed so far, especially in the forbidden city, is that every little detail means something.

To elaborate on this,  In the forbidden city, even details as small as little statues on top of a structure could show their importance, or perhaps the distinguishing features on the lion statues that show that the males hold the power, and the females the children.  Or better yet, the use of color in the different temples depending on what element is represented (yellow in the forbidden city).  The attention to detail of everything here is absolutely astounding, and isn't nearly matched by any of our architecture in the states.

First Day in Beijing

Today was quite an experience.  I thought waking up jet lagged was going to be worse than it actually turned out to be.  The breakfast was amazing, and using chopsticks for the first time was... well, different to say the least.  But it's safe to say after a whole day I've gotten to be pretty decent at finally picking food up without it dropping on the table first.

First and foremost in my mind is that I could not believe how gigantic the Forbidden City was.  I was fascinated at how intricate the designs were on each of the buildings (or offices) were.  One of the funniest things that happened today while at the Forbidden City had to have been when it just started to begin to rain, and all of the Chinese people let out a loud scream and ran for cover.

Both lunch and dinner were amazing; easily the best food I've had in months. It was really cool being hauled around by a Chinese rickshaw and seeing various streets and alley ways that we otherwise would not have seen if it weren't for this type of transportation.  With all the sightseeing we did on the first day, I am excited to see what tomorrow brings at the Summer Palace.

Three Questions

1) What impact does the West have over how business is conducted in China? What are the differences and similarities in how the financial statements of a company are analyzed (China and United States)?

2) The history of China is nearly 2000+ years old. How does this rich cultural history affect China's behavior to different issues seen in the modern time?

3) What do the general people think about the One Child Policy in China?

When the western side of the world meets the eastern side of the world- things are different. It is very important for the business executives to adapt to the eastern side of the world. The book 'Business Guide to China: 15 Fallacies of Investing' in china by Frankie Chan, talks about the 15 things that the management executives should look at in order to be successful in doing business in China. The book covers topics like matrix management, cultural barriers, labor costs, competition and other management techniques that the foreign businessmen should consider before conducting business in China.

China is a big country with about 13 billion people. The foreign investors see a lot of opportunities in doing business in China. There is a general misunderstanding among the foreign investors that when they enter the market they will effortlessly squeeze in the mass market and beat the local competition in no time. This is not true. The foreign investors need to have a specific and clear objective in order to enter the market. The foreign investor's positioning strategy in the market should be very strong for the the first few years as these years are very critical in order to survive in the long run. The rule of thumb would be to squeeze in the mass market and attian a firm toe hold among some top local brands before they plot  more specific medium term starters in order to first beat the other foreign in investors in the  Chinese market. A solid presence in the mas smarket in the early years will give power to the company and products and help them earn the deserved share of market as early as possible. this will help improve their competitiveness in the market year by year and free them from possible pressures of interferences from headquarters and weakening financial position.  The author also tells us about how competition is very fierce in the Chinese economy and it is very important for a foreign investor to be clear about who their competitors are. The Chinese people see a transparent borderline between the local companies and the foreign investors. Although, they are always aware about the possible threats that could come from the other side of the border, they have more head on competition with the local companies in China.

One of the most interesting fact that I learned from this book is that Chinese people not well trained to evaluate and control financial risks, a far as credit control is concerned. Chinese way of accounting receivables must be its absence of any concept of bad debts or doubtful debts. Therefore, we will never find an item called "bad debt provision" in their financial reports, as required by the state. Also, foreign investors should pay attention to the level of account receivables and intensive financial analysis should be conducted from the management whenever the business is reviewed, other than its performance on sales achievement and profitability.

Frankie Chan recognizes language as the biggest barrier while conducting business in China. The fact that people do not understand English and keep interpreters while conducting business meetings can get difficult at times. The foreign investors also should keep an in house interpreter in order to overcome part of the problem. However, the foreign investors need to be open minded and be willing to learn an d adapt to the new culture  and cultivate mutual understanding between two partners. There are few other barriers that foreign investors can come across.  For instance, as opposed to the western cultures where we have many supervisors, Chinese workers are used to taking orders from only one boss. It is also difficult to receive feedback from the Chinese subordinates as they tend to be shy and keep to themselves. They choose their words very carefully when they talk about their opinions.

Overall, the author has done a good job in discussing the points that needs to be taken in consideration in order to be successful in conducting business in china. He has laid out what problems the foreign investors could face in their business venture which could have negative effects on their business. However, with the problems they could face, the author has also explained carefully examined solutions needed to overcome those problems being faced while conducting business in China

Syllabus: Updated with contact info

My Questions

1.  I want to learn how the students in China cope with the different stresses that are brought upon them during their secondary education.  I want to see how much differently Chinese students deal with things that I would consider stressful and also with things I consider normal.

2.  I am very interested in the diet of the students and the Chinese people in general, I love to cook and eat and I cannot wait to experience a different cultures cuisine.  I also want to know how come a little tiny Chinese man can eat many more hot dogs much faster than a very large American Redneck.

3.  In Beijing, many people have gotten rich in the recent past, I want to explore and find out how the Chinese economy is effected by the western influences it has access to.  Things like the internet and mass production.

My China Book

China's Environment and the Challenge of Sustainable Development

Kristen A. Day

 

                The book that I chose to read for a China was rather dry and focused mostly on the way that China has been developed in the past and the way that it is going for the future.  This is an issue that can claim a spot that is close to many of our hearts.  With the recent green technology revolution the pressure on the world's leading countries is enormous to get clean and stay that way.

                The book I read focused on how the Chinese point of view has allowed their country to become one of the most industrialized in the world.  The view that the State is the only thing that needs to prosper and be preserved has contributed a lot to China's economic and industrial past. 

                China has a poorly run environmental protection governmental arm, relying mostly on the regional and local officers to enforce the protection policies.  These are usually underpaid or not paid at all and this causes the factory owners and politicians to build whatever they want, with no regard to the environment. 

                This directly causes other problems, many of which are worse than the pollution.  China has a severe shortage of rural drinking water due in a large part to the pollution caused by its lack of environmental protection.  The people are taking a notice and are demanding a change.

                Major change has began to take place where gross grievances have been discovered.  For example in 2003 47 farmers in Jiaxing, in Zhejiang Province were awarded around one million dollars for the Chinese Governments destruction of their fisheries due to factory run off.  If more things like this happen in China, then hopefully the Government can adopt a more forward policy on the environment.

                This book made me realize that there are many of the same issues in China that the U.S. has.  Their people just want simple laws in place to protect the environment, where many traditional Chinese still make their living.  Nearly 60% of China's 1.3 billion people live in rural areas of the country.  The rural areas are the ones that need to be protected the most. 

                China has shown that it wants to work on these problems.  There are many pro green projects in the country that will greatly reduce the emissions of heavy industry.  With more reliable and better policies in place China will soon be on a level with the rest of the worlds developed countries as far as pollution control goes.

Three Questions

Do the Chinese people follow the "typical" stereotype?

 

What are the proper customs?

 

What do the students do there that we don't do here?

International Brand Management of Chinese Companies by Sandra Bell is an extensive collection of numerous case studies on the Chinese household appliances and the consumer electronics industry.  Bell goes on to distinguish these industries that are entering the United States and Western European Markets. 

 

Obviously, China is on the very forefront of development and global integration and will continue booming in many economic achievements.  Today, China has the fastest growing economy and will continue to dominate in the world market if they can continue to integrate "Chinese players in their value chains and global operations". 

 

Bell's study mainly focuses on the new concept of "branding " and "marketing" which have been recent transitions to China's economy.  In addition to the acclamation of branding and marketing, China has also ventured out to conquer the global market and plans to grow into a whole new class of becoming the new international branding elite. 

 

All in all, this book provides a lot of useful information, and demonstrates just how tough it is to expand into a new business environment such as China and become the main ringleader.  The main idea behind the study is basically the customs and traditions that need to be adapted for China to become fully successful in the global market of branding.

Three Questions

1) What impact does the West have over how business is conducted in China? What are the differences and similarities?

2) The history of China is nearly 2000+ years old. How does this rich cultural history affect China's behavior to different issues seen in the modern time?

3) What do the general people think about the One Child Policy in China?

3 Questions to learn

How China Grows

Three Questions

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1.  One thing that I am very interested in is advertising.  I am a marketing major, and am curious to see how companies change their advertising when in foreign markets.

2.  Another thing I would like to learn more about is how Chinese students view Americans.  I am excited to meet new people and learn about their culture, and want to learn more about what their perceptions are of us.

3.  Also, I would like to learn more about the governments role in businesses, and how much their politics effect the operations of companies.  

Three Questions

1.  Being that China is one of the oldest civilizations (if not the oldest) currently, how has this shaped and influenced their culture today?

2.  What are some common Chinese traditions that differ from western traditions?

3.  What's the biggest difference we'll notice while in China compared to our everyday normal American lives?

Book Summary: Chinese Etiquette & Ethics in Business

Chinese Etiquette & Ethics in Business is a book written by Boye De Mente concerning the morals and values that shape the Chinese business personality.  The book did a really nice job of giving background on the Chinese culture and looking back at the history of China and how it shaped where it is at today.  The parts of the book that I found most interesting were about Chinese family life, the way foreigners are viewed, and how involved the government is with businesses.  There were also some interesting facts relating to Chinese cuisine and the concept of the yin and the yang.

            It is an official policy in China for each Chinese married couple to only have one child.  However, some couples deliberately have a second child, which happens mainly when their firstborn was a girl.  If this happens, they are required to pay a fine of 1000 yuan each year for five years.  This is a very expensive amount of money for most Chinese families.  If couples do follow the one child rule, they receive various benefits, which range from pay raises and education to private garden plots.  I learned for the first time about China's "black children", which refers to the children whose births are not registered.  This results in the children officially "not existing".  They are ineligible to attend school, get a job, or join the military.  There are over one million "children without identities" in China.

            In relation to learning about Chinese family life, I learned about the college entrance examinations that are held each year in July.  The entrance examination lasts three days and is referred to as "Black July".  It is not uncommon for teachers to stop covering regular class material six months prior to when the exams take place, allowing students enough time to study for the upcoming tests.  Not surprisingly, parents put a tremendous amount of pressure on their kids to study and prepare as much as they can for the entrance exams.  I was surprised to learn that 75% of students actually fail the exam, and subsequently are not allowed to enter any college. 

            Traditionally, the Chinese image of foreigners was that they were "barbarians"; which to them meant that foreigners were simply not as civilized or as advanced as they were.  Today, foreigners are not viewed as "barbarians".  However, don't be surprised if you find yourself being stared at while on the train or walking down the street, because some Chinese have never had a chance to see a foreigner up close. 

            There is a lot to learn when it comes to business in China, which is very exciting.  When reading about the organizational structure, I found out that there are two separate administrative bodies, one on the business side and one on the political side.  The political representative is known as the party secretary in the organization, and actually has as much power as the president of the organization.  I also learned that businessmen, as well as government bureaucrats, are subject to certain rankings.  Referred to as "grades", there are 18 grades on the business side, 18 being the lowest ranking and 1 being the highest.  For the government officials, there is a 24-grade scale.  I thought it was funny to learn that you could tell the rank of someone by the chair they were using.  The lowest ranked person would have a wooden chair at their desk, while the highest ranked people would use a leather swivel chair. 

            I also learned about the importance of Chinese cuisine.  Food is so important that you will often hear "have you eaten?" instead of "how are you?"  One of the best ways a foreign businessman can effectively express appreciation and knowledge of the Chinese culture is through understanding of Chinese food.  When it comes to eating rice, it was surprising for me to learn that it is typically served at the end of a meal.  There is also proper etiquette when it comes to using chopsticks.  You are not supposed to lay your chopsticks across the top of the bowl, and it is also considered rude to leave them sticking in a bowl.  This applies more so to eating in a Chinese home, as opposed to a restaurant. 

           One of the things that I found to be important to the Chinese is the concept of the yin and the yang.  Essentially, the concept gives a long-range view of things, and allows for people to accept the good with the bad.  This is a theory that still holds true today.  With that said, I though this book was filled with interesting information, however, it was written in 1989, which makes it quite dated.  I would be interested in learning about any changes made to the information that I learned about, and if anything is completely different from how things were when the book was written.  

3 Things to Learn in China

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1.  My first question is a purely cultural question.  I would like to know some underlying causes for why the Chinese people and Culture is so fundamentally different from our own.  And this is more than in the traditional sense that both nations have different histories.  I would like to know how individual Chinese values differ from our own.  Things like Collectivistic vs. Individualistic values are exactly what I mean.

2.  My second question I would like answered during this trip, is more of an Economic/Business question.  I want to know how Businesses work in China, compared to how they work in most of the rest of the world.  The effect of Communism in China is having a very unique effect on how businesses operate, and the differences in Chinese supply chains, resource management, etc... are all things I would like to learn about.

3.  Lastly,  being a MIS major (and generally interested in technology), I would like to know what China is doing to bring itself a little more up-to-date.  By this, I mean I would like to know how China is developing technology, what they are doing to encourage the expansion of the technology industry within the country.

Three Questions

What level of influence does the West have on Chinese business and culture?

 

To what extent does the censorship policy affect the daily life of Chinese citizens?

 

How do the Chinese feel about the United States of America and American values?

Book Summary: China and Globalization

China and Globalization: By Doug Guthrie

This book dissects the history of China beginning on October 1, 1949 when Mao Zedong established a communist nation by weaving together political ideology, economic production and social control. The book goes into great detail and covers the various social, economic and political transformations that have occurred over the past six decades and explains the profound ways in which these reforms have shaped the development of China. According to Guthrie, one of the main reasons for China's ascent towards becoming a world power is because of the gradual reforms that have been taking place. He argues that a slow transition from a command to market economy, rather than a rapid transformation, has allowed the Chinese to create a solid foundation for future growth.

Some of the economic changes that have occurred involve the implementation of an export-oriented costal development strategy and the emergence of Special Economic Zones. These costal areas have helped to attract huge amounts of foreign investment though a combination of tax incentives and appealing geographic locations.

The social changes that have occurred in China over the last six decades have been enormous. Under Mao's rule, people were told where they would work, what specific job they would perform, and how much they would get paid. Now, as private enterprise has begun to emerge, Chinese citizens are learning to adopt western management practices and business strategies. These new business models have become more prevalent not because of a change in ideology per se, but because the Chinese have recognized that the best way to attract foreign investment  (from western nations specifically) is to present themselves as an ideal suitor by learning to adopt western practices.

The demand for, and amount of education in China has also been dramatically increasing. Before the reforms took place, education was not of great importance. What was important was where you worked and what job you performed. The role you had dictated your wage, where you lived, and the benefits you received for you and your family, jobs were also guaranteed for life. Education mattered very little, and many uneducated people who were good at their jobs lived comfortably in China for a long period of time. Now, after the reforms have occurred, the guaranteed jobs many people had were lost, and private enterprise has created a competition favoring education over factory skills. At no fault of their own, many Chinese citizens have had to experience this shock with little or no safety net.

To sum up the book, the author believes that China has had a "quiet rise to power" and that the country is taking baby steps towards becoming a capitalist nation. His views of the reforms that have taken place clash with many contemporary economists by stating that gradual change from a command to market economy, rather than a complete and swift transformation, is the key to remaining economically viable. He claims that capitalism in not instinctive, and that certain cultures, such as the Chinese, will have greater success by implementing a private economy slowly rather than all at once.

 

 

Things I Wish to Learn While in China

1. China has been one of the most popular countries to expand business, but also has some restrictive laws concerning foreign investors. I would like to know how foreign business's deal with the laws of the government and in which ways they had to adapt to them.

2. Since my major is primarily concerned with technology, I would like to know how China adapts to its exponential growth. I would also like to know if they use it similar to the West, or if they adapt the technology to fit their cultural needs.

3. I am very interested on how Chinese students differ from us. I would like to know what differences (if any) the Chinese universities have from the one here in the West. I'm also curious to know what kind of degrees the universities in China offer.

Book Summary

Branding in China:  the media platforms reaching 1.3 billion consumers

Written by the China Knowledge Press

 

In the late 70s to early 80s, advertising in China slowly started to increase.  Before that time, although it was never official banned, advertising tended to blend into the background.  There were three main factors that contributed to the advertising explosion:  The first factor was a shift in ideology.  Instead of viewing advertising as a western evil present only in a capitalistic market, the Chinese began to embrace the idea that advertising could increase sales.  The second factor was a shift in the economic system.  Before the early 80s, the majority of the buying for the country was centralized.  Once people were able to make purchases individually, new product demands increased.  The final factor was a shift in focus from China being a heavy industry producer to one of producing consumer products. 

 

Over the last 30 years, advertising in China has developed as producers seek the benefits in advertising to 1.3 billion consumers.  However, advertisers wishing to push their products in the country do face challenges from prohibited messages and restrictions.  For example, advertisements with the following are prohibited:  activities that are contrary to Chinese social and cultural beliefs, superlatives such as "highest level", "best", or "number one", and use of the national flags, emblems, or government entities.  These and other restrictions must be considered when advertisers embark on an ad campaign.  Sometimes, even if advertisers follow all of the Chinese restrictions, some western advertisers find themselves forced to pull advertisements and make a formal apology because the ads disgraced the Chinese people's strong cultural values.

 

Reaching 1.3 billion customers is seen mainly thru advertising in outdoor, print, television, and Internet mediums.  However one size does not fit all with advertising campaigns.  People in urban settings have different purchasing abilities than people in rural settings.  In addition, the most effective medias differ from one city to the next and some bigger cities have adapted more western preferences than others.  All of these factors and more contribute to the challenging advertising opportunities available in China.  But, with such a large consumer base, those that do have successful advertising campaigns can make millions.

 

 

 

The Coming China Wars

The Coming China Wars is a great book written by Peter Navarro. The book starts out with various situations that people have found themselves in.  They range from losing money in your bank account to your father almost dying because the prescription medicine lipitor is filled with fake ingredients.  It really puts you in the position and makes you feel helpless as a person.  The book is then broken down into 11 different chapters, which each focus on different environmental and social concerns.  They give a great summary of the different events and make it easy to follow, so someone who has limited knowledge can understand it clearly.  

One of the most interesting chapters to me was about piracy and counterfeit.  Before I read this book, I knew that counterfeit goods were a problem, but I thought they were only for consumer goods such as clothes, sunglasses, movies, etc.  The most disturbing thing to me is to find out that prescription medicine counterfeiting is a problem.  Thinking that you will be fine only to find out that the medicine you bought was fake and actually hurts you only more is the reality for a lot of the people who order their drugs from the internet.  

Each chapter is broken down into different sections and there are many quotes from different publications.  These quotes help to clarify many points and are very interesting to read the sources of them.  The contents of this book range from the need for coal (and the harmful side effects), the need for oil, the counterfeiting, the war on drugs, issues with water, and issues within the country.  It is a very good book for a basic understanding, but it fails to go into depth in any of the sections. 

This book is a summary of the major issues within China and it's goal is to show us that it is capable of being a "dangerous situation."  It comes to the conclusion that "If all the major stakeholders in the coming China wars come to understand the high stakes involved, appropriate steps can be taken, all of which are difficult."

Book Report China and the New World Order

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China and the New World Order

                This book by George Zhibin Gu was a very interesting book because it gave a lot of information about how China has changed from the old world to the new world.  This change has helped to open China to the world and benefits everyone that they interact with.  Before the switch to bureaucracy China was so shut off that the citizens within China had fees they had to pay to visit other cities. 

                China has begun its industrial development and has benefited greatly from these new businesses in China.  According to this book many foreign organizations have set up factories and new businesses in China which has come with great success.  These new businesses have helped bring more money into the country of China and have given people more jobs to work in.  European businesses have been one of the biggest success stories.  Some of the businesses that have been brought over from Europe are; Nokia, Nestle, Bayer, Volkswagen, Philips, and Siemens.  These companies are making massive profits in China because employment is so cheap compared to many other countries.

                George Gu talked about how this country only shortly ago had very little manufacturing to being in the present one of the biggest powerhouses in the world.  In 2005 China produced 80 million television sets, 300 million mobile handsets, and 70 million air-conditioning units.  Nearly 60% of the exports from China came from foreign-funded businesses which is a massive amount.  Recently China has thought about raising the value of the Yuan which could be a great for China and other countries but it could also have some drawbacks.  China could become a more competitive country than it was in the past.  This increase in the Yuan value may also have advantages for other countries with businesses inside of it.  With this new economy in China it has become the world's largest consumer of mobile phones with over 400 million users in the country.

                The book talked about how China would be one of the best places to invest money in for the next 10 years.  It was discussed that with this growing economy and such large population they are having very rapid development.  The consumer products and service sectors are believed to be the areas with the largest growth potential in the near future for China because citizens are increasing their demand for consumer goods and services.  The book discussed that because there are still drawbacks with the government and many things that limit what citizens can and cannot do, they are pushing for changes to be made.  Peoples rights are coming out as an important issue that the country needs to change and the citizens are fighting to have their voices heard.

                China and the New World Order was overall a great book.  This book taught me about the many transformations that China has taken in the past few decades and how it will be the new powerhouse once the issues with the government are changed.  It is amazing what advances have been made so far and I think it will be interesting seeing how the country is doing now after this book was written.

Three important questions to answer

Currently, I am pursuing my MBA.  Because the program offered at UMD is more comprehensive without a core focus, my interests are broad.  After reading Branding in China, I find it interesting that even with the government restrictions, advertising in China is quite amazing.  How do government restrictions influence the creation and content of advertisements?

 

East Asian culture is one very different from our own.  The Chinese have values that are different from Western nations.  Recently, however, the Chinese have begun to take on more Western based values as they find their own voice in the world market.  What does an Asian culture look like and what values have changed with the globalization of markets?

 

The locations and treasures that we will be exploring are some of the most famous and awe inspiring in the world.  From the Great Wall of China to the Forbidden City, many of these treasures were created by Chinese dynasties that span across decades.  What are the effects on a culture historically dominated by dynasties?

Book Summary - The New Silk Road

The New Silk Road: Secrets of Business Success in China Today, is a well organized and carefully planned out book written by John Stuttard.  Essentially the "tell all" for experience in China, this book mainly focuses on foreign companies looking to establish a foothold within the Chinese economy. It provides excellent facts and explains what to look out for (assuming the person reading it is an entrepreneur or already in top management).  Using various techniques such as knowing how the Chinese culture deals with agreement/confrontation to setting up proper team management, the book assembles a step by step process in order to create a solid business strategy in China.

The first half of the book goes into great detail about the history of People's Republic of China.  Mostly in the last 30 years or so, foreign capital has poured into the economy and with the help of modern technology, the PRC has really transformed and boomed again. Up until reading this book I had no idea that prior to 1981, China was closed off to outsiders. I found this hard to comprehend because of the tremendous growth we've all taken note of.  It was also very interesting to read that China gave western civilizations both pasta and mandarin oranges!

The book's name originates from the structure of the book as a whole.  Each chapter consists of a 'business secret' with the aid of numerous interviews in which these secrets are defined.  The chapter I found the most interesting was about leading change through partnership.  This chapter described the ideas of Dr. Randolph Tzu-Yu Yeh, Chairman of Lucent Technologies China Co, and his extreme emphasis on localization.  He believed in getting the local Chinese population involved as much as possible. 

The Chinese word 'guanxi' plays a huge part in the Chinese culture and is oftentimes the first word a foreigner learns.  This word means connections or relationships.  It basically is process by which each side seeks to establish who the other is, who the other knows, and whether they are able to deliver what they promise. Apparently this is one of the biggest secrets and it should be realized that the Chinese are intensively preoccupied with building relationships; it's said to almost be a consuming aspect of Chinese life.

All in all, the author has incredible experience in China and the executives he interviews are definitely the kind of people worth listening to. The book provides a detailed overview of the business aspect in China with the collective perspective of Fortune 500 company executives. Given the easy readability, I would recommend any business student to pick up this book and give it flip through.

Business Guide to China Book Summary

Business Guide to China: 15 Fallacies of Investing in China, is a book written by Frankie Chan. Frankie works with Fortune 500 companies wishing to expand into China. This book acts mainly as a guideline to executive managers wishing to take that first step into the Chinese business environment. Being as such, this book provides an immense amount of facts about operating costs, labor costs, management strategies and tactics for surviving the first few years of operation in China.

One of the most interesting fallacies I discovered while reading this book is the fact that the Chinese workforce actually embrace Western management skills eagerly. With their country being that fastest growing economy in the world, Chinese workers are eagerly wishing to learn more about the management styles of the West that make it so successful. But at the same time the author warns that not every modern management tool excels. For example, he explains that many projects throughout their duration go seemingly flawless. But soon after the project is implemented things start to go wrong, miss communications and budgeting problems arise. All things that would have been taken care of during the project planning phase in any other company in the West.

One of the biggest factors to consider while expanding into the east, are cultural barriers. Chinese workers are used to having only one boss they take orders from, so adapting to Western managing strategies such as matrix management, is often difficult. It is also very difficult for a manager to receive feedback from Chinese subordinates as they tend to be very shy and keep to themselves. If asked for their opinion they choose their words very carefully.

This book provides a lot of useful information, and demonstrates just how tough it is to expand into a new business environment such as China. I have learned that there is more of an advantage of taking your business to China than cheap labor costs, but I have also learned of some of the difficulties that can sink the strongest of companies within a matter of months.



Three Important things to Learn

  1. I would first like to know about the derivatives market in China. A teacher showed us an article saying that futures or forward contracts were starting up in other countries, and I believe China was one of them. So my question is that since we have seen a lot of trouble here in the US with derivatives, is there anything that China is doing to make sure these same problems don't occur in their market?
  2. I lived in the same corridor with Europeans and two Chinese students when I was in Sweden. The Chinese students where difficult to get to know. I believe that the reason for this was mainly cultural differences. They were very friendly but they would almost always stay very close to the other Chinese students. So my question is how Chinese students live and act in their own culture and environment? I would also like to know if any of the people have "American" names. One of my corridor mates from Sweden introduced himself in his "American" name and we never learned his real name. I would like to know if this is common.
  3. My last question is what are the main stereotypes of the USA from the Chinese perspectives? It would be interesting to hear this from a Chinese perspective, especially one who has never been to the USA before.

Three things to learn about while on the China trip

The first question I have that I would like to learn more about deals with my psychology minor. I learned from one of my friends that went on this trip two years ago one big difference with people in China compared to Americans is that the do not have personal bubbles. It is okay for men who are friends to hold hands or put their arm around them while walking down the streets. I would like to know why these two countries differ so much on the ideas of what is socially/culturally acceptable.

Because I am a marketing major I would like to learn how advertising is restricted by laws from the government if at all. The reason why I am curious is because I know that China is a communist country and in the past decade or so the government has become much more open to citizens freedom allowing them to do many more things they were previously not able to do.

My final question has to do with retailing. How do companies in China find retailers to distribute their product with a restrictive government? Does the company find retailers or do they come to the business? Is there maybe a difference from the United States? Does it influence price competition? There are many questions I have but discovering the underlying effects that restrictive country has on businesses is very interesting to me.

3 Things to Learn on Our Trip

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The first topic that I am interested to learn about has to do with the Chinese stock market. Many of my classes this semester have dealt with financial markets and I would like to know more about the procedures and system of markets in China.

The next question I have comes from the perception of women in business that I've had growing up. My mom has been a Chief Financial Officer for almost 19 years so the image of successful female executives has been prominent in my life thus far. It took a lot of schooling for me to realize that her position as a female CFO is actually a rarity and I would like to know if there are many female executives in China.

So I have a mother who is a CFO, a step-father who is a Radiology Technician, a father who has worked for Best Buy for 20 years, and a step-mother who works for a law firm and a flower shop. My third question is about what other people do - I am interested to know what types of jobs are common for people over there.

Book Summary: China Shakes the World

 China Shakes the World:

A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future - and the Challenge for America

 

In China Shakes the World, James Kynge provides a history and explanation of the Chinese economy and its impacts felt around the world. Kynge started writing the book sometime in 2004 and it was published in 2006. The book is filled with experiences and conversations that took place from around 1982 when Kynge was studying at the Shandong University until the time that he finished writing. His travels tying in the impact of the Chinese economic progression include regions of Germany, Italy, China, and even the United States Midwest.

 

The book begins in Dortmund, Germany where the Thyssen Krupp steel mill once employed nearly ten thousand people and had since been shut down. At one point it was one of Germany's largest steel mills that went under due to dramatically reduced steel prices around the world and heavy taxation as a result of the drag on overall economic activity. A Chinese steel company out of Jinfeng bought the mill at auction prices and systematically dismantled it, shipped it, and reassembled the plant in a small town along the lower Yangtze River. Not only did the Chinese company of Shagang receive every last bolt at scrap prices, they also bought the blueprints and the technological insight that it was missing. This crucial element is what has enabled the Chinese to make gains in industries that have had a serious lack of the proper manufacturing technology to compete with nations worldwide.

 

This transfer of knowledge is happening across many different industries. In one part of Kynge's book he speaks of his travels to Italy where jewelry manufacturing and the artisan industry overall is dying out from the competition brought about by China's ability to slash prices. Europe itself is battling to remain in the textile trade as China gains a steadily increasing market share. Japan is even mentioned at one point concerning the Hongda that the Chinese were manufacturing with the point to compete with Japan's Honda. The list goes on and on until the problem of closing factorings gets brought to a region much closer to home: the American Midwest.  

 

The issue that Americans are facing with the offshore manufacturing of everything from shoes to computer parts is that Middle America is losing out. Offshoring is extremely profitable for those at the very top of the chain. The directors of huge organizations have an easy time cutting costs through moving operations into countries with cheaper labor, though the burden is placed in middle class communities who rely on the local factories as a way of life. As the already rich are getting exponentially richer, the middle class is shrinking at the same rate that lower income America is growing. Manufacturing in China in particular is profitable due to the lack of regulations mandated by the Chinese government. There are no safety regulations for the workers, there are no taxes owed on emissions that contribute to the tremendous amount of pollution, and workers in China are being paid similarly to those who lived and worked in the era of the Industrial Revolution.

 

Aside from the issue of Middle America losing more jobs every year due to this outsourcing, many people also have an issue with the ethics of doing so. There are very places among the developed world that would allow their people and environment to live under such conditions. Many people have themselves asking whether or not profiting from the lack of regulations is right.

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