May 2010 Archives
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.
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.
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.....
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.....
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!!....
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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,
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.......
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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...
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.
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...
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.