From our lecture today we learned a lot about online retailing. A new type of buying online in China is using the Chicago based Groupon business model. For instance, if 200 people all agree to buy the same TV, each member of the group would get a discount on the TV whereas if you bought it by yourself you wouldn't get the discount. The problem is that the regulation in China isn't that great so some of these companies are creating deals that do not really exist. For example, a cinema ticket was sold to a lot of people on a groupon type website in China only to find that it wasn't real.
May 2011 Archives
Today we had a lecture in the morning about Chinese Marketing. We learned about how certain e-markets are growing and what is causing them to be successful.
After this trip, a few of us ate at the market. I got some fried chicken and a chicken sandwich today. It shocked me that this meal cost more than any other meal I've gotten at the market, but seemed to have less than all those meals. I think that western influenced meals cost more than the traditional Chinese meals.
We then toured a pharmaceutical company (Tasly Co.) who make traditional Chinese medicine, but by using modern technology. Coming from a Chinese background I have used TCM before and I think that it seems to work just as well or better than American OTC drugs. I think Tasly's new product of using modern technology to make Chinese medicine will be successful with anyone who has tried Chinese medicine before, but those who haven't tried it may be skeptical.
I find it pretty interesting that depending on culture, we depend on or shun medicine. In some cultures it is a sign of weakness to take medication, while in others it is often simply suggested to take what you can get. Culture also depicts how the medicine is made. In Western medicine, we seem to have a lot of synthetic and non-natural drugs that are meant to cure anything that might come at us. In Eastern medicine everything is naturally derived from plants, roots, juices, etc. I just figure whatever works will work, natural or synthetic... although natural remedies are probably better for you. I also think that people should only take the medication if they need it, otherwise they should just tough it out through it and let their immune systems get stronger.
Here are a couple of shots of the day:
The Market that many of us shop in daily
Group shot in Tasly Co.
Our tour guide
A night shot of the view from the roof
Today we had the opportunity to hear from Professor Zheng Qi about the online retail environment in China. Along with an overview of online retailing, we were also introduced to some of the major online companies in China including 360Buy. I really enjoyed this lecture because I like to shop online back in the United States. This common interest made it easy for me to relate to what the professor was speaking about and kept me engaged during the lecture.
Throughout the lecture I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast my online shopping habits with consumers in China. Surprisingly, I found that many similarities exist between me and Chinese consumers. For example, when shopping online, we purchase a lot of the same types of goods including: clothing, textiles, and daily necessities.
Our instructor noted that the internet is a relatively new to China, but that online retailing is a booming industry. I think it will be interesting to see the impact that advancements in China's internet will have on the online shopping environment over the next few years.
I thought the tour today of Tasly Corp was really cool. It was great to see how they have successfully been able to modernize a traditional Chinese school of medicine and integrate it into modern society. The modern TCM's have successfully incorporated ancient medicinal practices while backing the medicines with scientific foundations. This has allowed them to gain approval from regulatory agencies abroad and expand their market base. The tour was very informative about their process and the companies goals of expansion. The tradition aspect appears to be highly important in Chinese culture and I think its one of the key attributes that MNC's fail to follow correctly when expanding their operations into China. Additionally, the tour highlighted the need for continual innovation and the need to protect intellectual property. With amble competitors it has been crucial for Tasly to make large R&D expenditures to continually improve their drugs and obtain new patents. I would have liked to see what their break down of R&D expenditures was and specifically what new products they are developing for their pipeline. The tour was definitely very enjoyable and their buildings were very beautiful.
It seems like the e-business in China is booming like crazy. Todays lecture with professor Zheng Qi gave us some in depth information about China's booming online markets. It's fantastic to see that China isn't just all cheap knock offs and poorly produced Mcdonalds toys. The online market here can actually be quote honest and even better than the US online market.
Let me give you two examples. The notion of online stores that sell just about anything in the US is dominated by two large websites, Ebay and Amazon. The interesting thing about both is that neither of them boast a 100% satisfaction and quality guarantee. There are so many scams on Ebay and Amazon works a little better because it's not an auction site, but still does not boast the 100% guarantee. In class we learned about China's 360buy.com online site which actually boasts it's 100% quality and satisfaction. Now tell me which American site offers that?
I hope that gives a bit of a spin on the cheaply made Chinese products. To top it off, 360buy offers highly competitive prices. Many times they are 1/4 the price of other websites. How's that for customer satisfaction? Cheaper prices, high quality products AND customer satisfaction!
Time for some funny faces!
BLEHHHHHH!! (Ok this one was a joke..)
Today we went to Tasly Pharmaceutical. It was interesting to see the contrasts and similarities between a Chinese based company versus an American. One thing that stood out to me was that Tasly is able to market their drugs in Korea without doing all of the testing required for many other countries. I also wonder if it is the norm for MNC's to only follow the standards of the countries that they are Incorporated in and not follow the highest standards everywhere. Moving on. On the way back to the hotel, I noticed that we passed by what looked like an elementary school. There were many parents outside waiting for their children. I am not sure if the city provides transportation to and from school, but it seemed as though most of the kids were going to walk home with their parents. I also noticed many younger kids walking around in matching jump suits together. If those are the uniforms that schools provide, I would have felt awesome going to school here! They are much cooler than the boring polo and dress pants combo that is the standard in the United States. That is all for today!
We have discussed the face of Chinese culture in many lectures, and today I found that Tasly Company had a very distinct face. In my opinion the company's face represented sophistication yet professionalism. The conference rooms were lined with cushioned seats, a microphone for each person to use when speaking, and flat screen televisions for any presentations that may be conducted. The layout of the exhibition building was extravagant with an image wall for the Tasly Company. This demonstrated to me the high pride they take in their company, and how they feel it compares to others. The image wall consists of their mission, and is set against a blue wall to represent the universe. Tasly is making a statement with that that they aren't marketing to just China, but are taking over the universe. Another side of the sophistication face that Tasly has I noted when visiting the star avenue. The company has a long street with people's footprints and names in gold print of those making big contributions to the establishment of Tasly, sort of similar to the Hollywood star handprints. Tasly definitely has a stand out face and wants to be noticed.
During our time in Tianjin, I have spent the majority of my eating adventures in the near by market. It it right outside our hotel room and they have everything you would ever come to expect when it comes to chinese food. The best part about the whole deal is that it is all dirt cheap. Were talking around 7-8 yuan a MEAL. Which translates into about $1.30 US maybe? And that is if you are really hungry. If you are just looking for something to tie you over for awhile, you can go in and spend less than 3 yuan easily. And all of the food there is ridiculously good also. I try and think about what I can get for that back in the US and all I can think is maybe something off the dollar menu from Mcdonalds or a couple candy bars at a gas station if you're lucky. But that is just the start of it. All the vendors in there are very nice and will help you out with anything you need. They also will remember you day to day and hook you up with a little more each time you go to them. And it is actually pretty easy to order even though I speak zero chinese.. you just have to point to what you would like and give the hand gesture for how much you want. Everyone is always smiling and happy to get your business. This is for sure going to be one of the things I miss most when I have to head back home.
On Friday we had a great lecture by Professor Wang Jianyou on HR and management within companies in China. I learned that there is a great deal of difficulty in measuring employee's feelings about the workplace as there are little to no privacy rules in China. This lack of privacy makes employee surveys hard to conduct if not impossible. Often the individual employees satisfaction with their job is not known and if so, nothing much is usually done to change this situation.
Another unique concept that we learned about is that of a "Work Unit." These work units are designed by a corporation. They provide everything for the workers who are undertaking a certain project. It is structured similar to a military base or university campus, where everything that is needed to live is provided by the company (almost like a small city).
The most interesting fact that I learned was that even through all of the interaction between western companies and Chinese companies, the most difficult challenge for a multi-national corporation's (MNC) management is understanding the cultural characteristics of China. With over 2000 years of rich Chinese history and customs it is incredibly difficult for managers to understand how to manage their workers in the proper context. I see this trend continuing and those managers who take extra time and effort to understand the context of the Chinese culture will probably be very successful in business.
Yesterday we got to hear from Professor Liu Jianhua about marketing in China. Throughout the lecture we learned about the importance of culture when doing business in China, and more specifically, the value of guanxi. According to Professor Jianhua, guanxi is much more than a friendship or a relationship. It is a deep connection that exists between two people that symbolizes a lifelong bond. This bond allows you to call on someone in a time of need and ask for a favor. In return, you must do a favor for that person at a later point in time. Guanxi can be seen as a never ending cycle of favors between two people.
Professor Jianhua explained that this term is oftentimes misunderstood by individuals from western cultures and that its importance is frequently overlooked in business settings. His statement took me back to our discussion about individualism versus collectivism last week. I think that the individualistic nature of our society is what makes it challenging to understand a collectivist term like guanxi. In America, we are always focused on "I" instead of the "group". This poses a challenge for anyone attempting to enter the Chinese market. I think that in order to be successful, a company must understand guanxi and know how to obtain and maintain it.
After our field trip to the porcelian houses I made my way up to the Carefour which is a supermarket on floor 1 and a Kmart style shopping on floor 2. In China, there is a much larger sales team. Each aisle has at least one person waiting to help you. This helps the Chinese because it gets almost everyone work but it also inhibits them from useful ways to increase profits such as making more automatic processes or any way that makes them more efficient. In the end, the labor in China will be underpaid but there will be more Chinese working.
During yesterdays lecture, Professor Liu Jianhua discussed the implications of doing business in the Chinese market. Many topics were interesting, as I am Chinese and do not know many of the topics discussed. Although I know China is a collectivist culture, establishing relationships is very easy. The path to friendship seems very family oriented, going from being a stranger, being familiar with one another, become friends, being a sworn brother, and then joining the group family. This contrasts how people develop relationships in the US, although I see it as being a stranger, getting familiar with one other, and then becoming friends. After this step, it is cut off, as you are not sworn brothers, and do not become part of his/her group family.
Another topic discussed during lecture is the purchasing power of China vs. USA. Although the Chinese make much less in salary vs. the USA, purchasing power in China is very strong. This discussion led us to the SHE market in China, which was very apparent when we took a journey to Parksons mall. This mall included very many luxuries, and US name brands as well. If you tried to compare prices vs. US prices, some are similar, but some items are way to expensive compared to the US. One big difference I saw was how 2 out of the 9 floors only catered to men, while 7 of the 9 floors were strictly feminine products. This shows how China has already catered to the SHE market somewhat. I believe this is similar to the SHE market in the US, as there is only a corner of the store for products that men can choose to purchase.
Last night 8 of us when to Parkson Plaza, one of the larger shopping centers around here, and to the adjacent streets lined with stores. The one comparison I could draw to would be Michigan Avenue in Chicago, there were hundreds of stores that lined the streets; and the merchandise was name brand and definitely luxury goods. Particularly, the Plaza contained several high end name brand stores and was selling very expensive watches, jewelry and purses. That morning we had just had a lecture on Chinese market dynamics and we could really see several of them at work here. First the demand for luxury gifts was ever present in the sheer quantity of luxury stores and the goods in them. Second this nature of a SHE market was very apparent, when 7 of the 9 levels in the Plaza were dedicated to female shoppers. Lastly, the concept of discounts as a way to increase value was seen in the abundance of sales for purchasing more than one item. The shopping center and surrounding streets were very crowded and definitely attracted a wide variety of ages. Yet the most prevalent would be the younger crowd, the high school and college age kids. The shopping environment they have created is definitely very energetic and fun, and the keep the stores filled with modern brands and well recognized names. If total luxury spending is a function of purchasing power population and desire, than its clear that China has surpassed the US based on the inputs of population and desire.
Today, I noticed one constant between the US and China while being out and about in the city of Tianjin. That constant is children. We were walking through the market behind the hotel today, trying to find dinner, and there was a child about 2 or 3 years old who noticed me walking down the street. The kid then stares me down the whole time I'm in the market. The kid's mom tried to get me to hold him (or her; not sure), but the kid freaked out a little bit. Right after that, the kid waved hello and continued to stare me down. By this time, a whole crowd of people gathered around me and the kid, noticing how amazed the kid looked when he/she saw me. The mother finally left, but right before she and the kid were out of sight, the kid turned, waved, and said "BYE, BYE!!!" I will admit, that was one of the cutest kid moments in China, so far.
Throughout the whole trip, I've noticed how kids seem to behave the same way kids do in the US: they run around, yell, scream at anything remotely exciting and giggle at anything they find amusing. They seem like they have no worries in the world, just like kids in the US. They play just like US kids, wonder off just like US kids, and get as much attention from adults as US kids. I'm glad that no matter where you are in the world, kids will be kids. :)
Yesterday night the students took us to a traditional Chinese Barbeque. The food was great, but the conversations that we had were even better! Throughout dinner, we talked a lot about what people's goals were after graduating college. I found out that the students and I had many similar aspirations including the desire to pursue further education. One of the students mentioned that she would like to continue her education in the United States. When I asked the other students if they would like to do the same, they shook their heads and said no. The explanation they gave really surprised me. They said they wouldn't study in America because it is dangerous and scary. When I asked the students why they thought the U.S. was unsafe they replied with things like "you can buy a gun there" and "there are school shootings". I was shocked to hear that crime and violence were the main things the Chinese students associated with America because I have always felt safe living there. Their comments made me wonder if other countries view the United States as a scary place to live and how it impacts their decisions to come to our country.
We had our class in marketing today. We learned how in China, things are very group based. We also learned that people are very concerned about their 'face' or their representation of class/wealth. If your peers have something, you must also have that thing. It is interesting, here in China people seem to strive to be similar people, but in America people strive to be very independent and different from one another.
Later in the day we went to the porcelain/china house. Here everything was made of collected porcelain/china. The owner of the house started collecting it when they were 9. It amazes me how much was collected. While we were on the second house of the tour, a storm kicked up and actually blew the doors open with a strong gust of wind two times in the short time we were there. The weather was severe enough for us to call the tour off and head back to the hotel.
On the way back, I observed people seeming very rushed and scared of the strong winds and rain. However, I realized that it was mostly the rain that got people to act so hurried, as when I went out later in the day and it started to rain, there was similar behavior even though the winds weren't strong. In Minnesota we tend to welcome rain, in fact I remember running around playfully when I was a child enjoying the falling water and puddles. I wasn't able to ask anyone why they were so frightened, but I suppose they must have their reasons.
After dinner, I decided it was time to do my laundry. Washing machines don't seem to be very common around here, so we have to wash all of our clothing by hand. While washing, I told my room-mate "Washing your own clothes seems to be very humbling... especially your socks and underwear." After asking around about how people washed their clothes, it seems that the general way is to either wash it yourself or pay a modest fee to have someone else do it. Doing the math, it would end up being something upwards of 200 Yuan, or $30 to do my two weeks of clothes, so I instead opted to wash it myself for all of $2 for detergent. After spending at least an hour washing my clothes, I certainly appreciate being able to use a washing machine at home. We are very fortunate to have something that can save us so much time and labor.
Here are a few pictures from the porcelain house:
Good luck pot, if you drop money from the top floor and it lands in the pot you are said to get good luck
Here's us trying our luck at the top, sorry for the blurry picture, the lighting conditions weren't too good and I didn't want to use flash
Picture of the outside wall and the roof
Group picture inside the second house, before we had to leave
Today China and Vincent have taught me a humbling experience.
China and its marvelous food from street vendors, non-drinkable tap water and small set-up shops have taught me that I am really not invincible. I recall talking to Bailey and Courtney about how "resilient" the human body is when it comes to physical abuse. Well, China has put that statement to the test. I have been eating things from the most iffiest looking vendors and even some delights such as frog, cow stomach and coagulated blood, and my hunger will take me almost as far as trying dog. Right now I have had pretty bad diarrhea for about a day or two now and it's pretty much my own fault, as you can tell.... But it's all for the experience and love of the culture! I feel much better now and won't go into anymore details about my bowels.
Vincent (and China) have also taught me that washing clothes is TIME CONSUMING! Because we didn't want to pay about 3rmb per article of clothing, Vincent and I washed our clothes by hand with the hotel soap for a while and hung them to dry in our room (we later bought laundry detergent). Today Vincent made a remark "I feel like it's very humbling having to hand-wash your own shit... Especially your own socks and underwear". Yea, it's hard and a bit of a drag.
These have helped me realize that washing machines and clean water are really a luxury. So now when you all think about "luxury gifts" from our lecture today and whish to give me a luxury gift, give me laundry detergent or a bottle of water.
Much appreciated! :D
Alcohol symbolizes a completely different thing between American and Chinese cultures. In China alcohol is seen as a tool of communication while doing business. It also signifies respect and friendship. To not accept an alcoholic beverage is viewed as not wanting to maintain the relationship with a Chinese person. This seems odd to me, because in some cases people find it morally wrong to drink. I wonder if the fact that alcohol symbolizes friendship, which Chinese people strive to achieve, pressures people into drinking even if they would prefer not to. This idea reminds me of peer pressure in America, because you want to be like your friends and fit in with the group; this often leads some people into drinking and doing drugs when that isn't in their nature. A comment from a Chinese student was made to Courtney that if Courtney wanted her to drink then she would. I found this comment so strange. I thought the Chinese student just wanted to fit in with the group, but I hadn't realized that alcohol signified a friendship. The in-group in China is very special and the student had already called us her friends so I suppose to her that if we had offered her an alcoholic beverage it would be rude to not accept. Alcohol in America isn't a symbol of friendship, but more so a source of entertainment and a way to social with others. I wouldn't find it offensive for a friend to not accept a drink from me; we would still maintain our relationship.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder; while observing and learning about Chinese culture I have come to find that beauty seems to be based on the group. As stated in lecture, "they have therefore I must have". I mainly observe the female sense of fashion and find them to be very conservative and well put together. They often wear tights, dresses, and high heels. In America we tend to want to be unique and not wear the same clothing as others, but in China where you want to be part of a group that uniqueness isn't as much an issue. Americans will choose to not wear a specific outfit just to avoid wearing the same thing as others, and having someone show up to a party wearing the same dress as you is fashion suicide. I have found beauty to not only be what you wear, but also how you look. Being slim is popular not only in America, but also in China. The Chinese female students have made comments about being on diets and not wanting to eat French fries to avoid gaining weight. I look at these beautiful, skinny girls and wonder how on Earth they think they have to worry about their weight, but I suppose if the group is thin then that's what they aspire to be. Having pale skin is also beautiful in China. Many women use umbrellas, pieces of paper, hats, visors, you name it to avoid the sun. Stores even sell skin whitening lotion. Americans would rather be tan, which makes many women feel more beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but also correlates to culture.
Well we're a week into our stay in the wonderful city of Tianjin. Our student host have been most gracious. I laugh at Jewel because everytime we cross the street she tries to stay between me and the cars. Which I know if i was driving i wouldn't be to scared of her, since she is only 5 foot tall and all of 100 pounds. Protecting little ol' me at 6'2" 280. But this is the way in China they want to make sure their guest are well taken care of and no harm is done to them.
On some side note I finally having some stomach issues it only took about two weeks but oh well. What doesn't kill me will just make me stronger. I think I got it at the BBQ we went to last night. But it tasted so good. So, I'll deal with it. Two fingers and I'm out for the day.
There is one thing I really wish the US would adopt from Chinese culture. I noticed this on the bus on the way to our BBQ with some of the Nankai students. There seems to be a common courtesy towards others, especially elders that you would naturally give up your seat to someone of older age status. How is it that something done naturally and logically isn't adopted universally? I think I can relate this to the lecture today when professor Liu Jianhua talked about group mentality. I think it's embedded in Chinese culture that they are all a collective group and even if they are not family or sworn brothers (sisters too?) that they are all Chinese and should work together. Also a lot of emphasis is placed on age and authority. I can see there is definitely a power distance even between people of different ages.
The point of this remark is to emphasize the importance of collectivism. I've seen many people in Duluth just sit around on their seat, even take two seats while there are people in probably their late 50's or older standing. I wish the US had a more collectivism view in its culture.
This sight also made me evaluate myself in how I go about my Chinese heritage. I always knew about this gesture, but it made me aware and I gladly gave up my seat on the way back to a lady older than I.
Today is my day to relax. Problem is, I found out that I am down to one pair of almost everything for clothing (except for socks... don't know why). So on this day of relaxation, I decided that it would be a good idea to do my laundry... by hand... in the hotel room... yay. In order to do that, though, I needed laundry detergent. So, I decided that it would be a good time to head for the Carrefour for the third time during this trip. Now, being one minority among many non-minorities; you'd think that someone like me would get more stares while walking down the streets of China. However, the exact opposite happened. Everyone minded their own business and went on their own separate ways, other than the occasional honk or two due to my ability to cross the street at the wrong time. It was nice.
Who knew DQ was in China? Who also knew that MQ was in China? Now, who knew that MQ could possibly be the rip-off of DQ in China (PS: not actually sure MQ is China's DQ; just assumed that after I saw the sign)? There's one thing that I've noticed in China throughout this whole trip, and that's off brands in China that are almost exact copies of American Brands. A couple of the Chinese students decided to take us to Tianjin's shopping district to check out some things. Throughout the trip, however, I noticed the numerous brands that the reminded me of America, but for all the wrong reasons. Left and right: off brand Reebok, Adidas, Rolex, Pizza Hut, the upside-down Nike 'swoop' that I've seen too many times, etc. Now, you'd think that somebody would be looking for a lawsuit, but it seems that certain laws that we find throughout America may not carry over to China. Our group was talking a few days ago about how some agreements that American businesses make with the Chinese may not be valued the same way due to values that the Chinese hold that are different from the US. So something like a trademark or copyright may not hold the same weight in China that it does in the US. So even though it slightly bugs me that there are so many brands here that are copies of brands in the US, I'll get over it.
Today I learned how big this campus really is. Being that it was the weekend and everyone was anxious to do something, so one of the first things that a large portion of the group chose to do was play basketball. May have been a bad idea because of how hot it was, but it was worth it. As I tried to catch up to the rest of the group, I got to see a lot of the campus that I didn't even know existed. It was great to see all of the students out and about. I got to also see some of the many activities that many of the students took part of: gymnastics, football (soccer), and of course, basketball. The dorms were huge and filled with bikes to the point where it was hard to get to any of the doors. It seemed like a lot more people stayed on campus than at UMD. If I understood correctly, Nankai University provides housing to all of its students. That could be why I saw so many students still around campus. Overall, the campus is huge and has many people.
Today, I discovered what a "squatter" was. Now when you gotta go, you gotta go, and I had to go. Sadly, the only nearby toilet was a squatter. Unlike the American's "porcelain goddess", a squatter in not something you can sit on. A squatter is a hole in the ground. No joke. There's a hole (in the ground) and you squat over it (you can fill in the blanks yourself). In America, toilet seats are all over the place; but in China, Squatters are in the main public restrooms. They are not comfortable and you can't flush them (no lie). In conclusion; if I never use a squatter again in my life, never would be too soon.
Cows. So many cows. Today we went to a dairy farm. I thought it was pretty fascinating. Unlike milk in the US, it can be packaged in bags or pouches to allow it to last longer. I also found out that it's not common for China to produce skim milk. It was weird to me, but as long as it's milk, it should be good. It has this slight taste of cheese, which is kind of weird also, but makes sense since cheese is a milk product. This brings me to my next point; there is an apparent lack of cheese in China. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but I felt like something was missing in most meals. That just so happened to be cheese. Don't know why they don't have it, but I do know that I miss it with most of my meals. :(
Porcelain house was pretty cool today. Unfortunately our time there was cut short by bad weather. It was interesting though to see how the people here reacted to the rain. I saw many people with trash bags over their heads and umbrellas, but for the most part, it seemed like people were still going about their business. It was almost as if they knew the rain would not last for very long. Anyways, today is more of a relax at the hotel sort of day. It is cool outside, but the weather isn't perfect. I can hear plenty of people outside the hotel room window though, along with the never-ending sounds of car horns. The more that I observe, the more I realize that it seems like people over here do not use horns out of anger as we do in America. I mean obviously there are times that you can tell an angry honk occurred, but most of the time it seems like more of a warning of changing lanes. I am not sure if this is true, but that is how it seems to me. That is all for now! We will see if anything else happens today!
We are on our first whole day in Tianjin and it's amazing! We finally got to meet some of the students from Nankai University the night before. They are some of the nicest people ever. Some people may even be surprised to find out that they aren't that much different from us. We quickly felt welcome into their classroom as everyone began to interact with each other. Americans who are reading this post; if you didn't know, they like movies, music and other hobbies, hang out with friends, and just like most American students, some don't always love going to class. They also are REEAAALLLLLY good at ping pong... or at least Daniel is REEAAALLLLLLY good at ping pong. It was "good times"!
Today we are heading to Tianjin. What's different from our previous forms of transportation is that we are taking the train. Now in America, that isn't seen as a main source of transportation like it was back in the day. In China, everyone seems to use it to get from city to city. With the congested roadways as well as the many driving rules in place for drivers trying to commute daily, the train seems to be the perfect way for the Chinese people to get around. It was nice to see the countryside from a different perspective than on the road.
Today was more of a relaxation day for me. I met with a Chinese student today (Martin) who helped me order some things on one of the many Chinese online stores.
Online shopping seems to be growing in China even more than in the US. However, I feel that this is more of a generational change than a cultural change because e-marketing is growing everywhere.
For dinner, we met with more Chinese students who brought us to go eat Chinese BBQ. To get to the 'restaurant' which was more of a gigantic Food Street, we took a bus. I have never seen or been on a bus as crowded as I've seen in China. While in Duluth, we might have all seats taken and a few people standing... the bus we took to get to our destination was completely packed. All seats were taken, and those where were standing were packed shoulder to shoulder.
Chinese BBQ was delicious. In Western culture we associate BBQ with grilling, but Chinese BBQ is a bit different because everything in skewered. The process starts with the cook preparing all of the skewers for customers to choose. The customer will put the skewers that they want cooked in a basket, then give it to the cook who will grill it over a trough of charcoal, then serve it to your table. It tasted fantastic.
I unfortunately forgot my camera while going out today, so no pictures again.
Today, we went shopping. Shopping in China seems to be very different than the US.
We started the day at the "China Market". To me, this felt like a tourist trap. While interesting, I think of myself as a very practical person. I generally don't buy something unless I feel it has a practical use. At this market, there were tons of knick-knacks: sculptures, jewelry, paintings, scrolls, novelty gifts, etc. All of these represented Chinese culture; however I already own a lot of these things at home.
Next, we went to another market. This was heavily Western influenced. It was as big as a mall, but it was outdoors (think of a strip mall, or a giant outlet mall). Here, everything has a set price as opponsed to the typical bartering system. The prices were also comparable to US prices.
This was different than the US because a few business had a shop location about every 1 block, instead of having one or two stores in the whole 'mall'. There were also smaller businesses that only had one store in the whole market.
The 'food court' was more like a 'food street', and most of the food you could buy were 'on the go' foods such as kebabs, sandwich like things, and stuffed bread (like curry puffs if you've had one).
Edit: I actually have better pictures than I thought I did, so here are a few:
A store owner with his dog
A mother showing getting a cute picture of her daughter
One of the very first things I noticed about China culture is that they defiantly do not use any western style eating utensils for their meals. I was well aware that I would run across chopsticks while I was over here but thought that I would maybe have the choice of what I wanted to use for each meal. Found out very quickly that was not going to be the case. I have used these sticks in the past but more so for playing with my food when I was younger or for anything but actually eating the American-style Chinese food. Looking back I wish I would have spent a little more time honing this art because I was completely lost the first few times over here. My hands would literally be sore after the first few meals and would sometimes cramp up during the meal. But it is either: A. Learn and adjust to the sticks, B. Starve or C. Try and ask for a fork and risk looking like an idiot. While I cant say I have mastered the techniques yet, my skills have definitely improved enough where I can eat a full meal without spilling all over myself or make a fool of myself completely. But I suppose it is still early enough in the trip where I can find other ways to do that.
Yesterday was quite the adventure. Mike, Josh, and I tried to find a laundry mat and were having a tough time. Many people seem to wash their own clothes around here which took me by quite a surprise. I'm not sure if its because of its a lack or resources or just the way the culture works. In the end I found a laundry service that was willing to do 3 loads of laundry for me for $10 a piece. Im guessing their going to wash them by hand though. After someone mentioned that their might be a laundry mat on campus so I might be out a couple hundred yuan.
After Mike and I went to TGIF to get some lunch. They used as many American words as possible and I sort of felt like I was in America. One thing I couldn't help but notice was that this was the first time I found ice in my glass. It was quite a treat. I wasn't use to having all that American food in me weighing me down so I had to lay down after lunch.
Surprisingly the cost of products from well established stores are roughly the same as in the US. Li-Ning seems to be one of the most popular sports brands here (probably comparable to adiddas and nike in the US). The strangest thing I found was that although Nike and Adiddas (also apple) products are made in China, they are still the same price or more in China. I'm pretty sure this has something to do with the American brand name and logo pasted onto the products. Fascinating how supply and demand works. By creating a demand for American "quality" products, you can jack up the prices of products you created in your own country. Examples would be Li-Ning vs Nike shoes. Li-Ning prices are more or less reasonable while Nike is just way out the roof.
Along with the fantastic shopping and wandering around, culturally, I didn't see too much of a difference in outdoor shopping from say California to Tianjin until we got to the outdoor eating place. It was pretty awesome to be able to eat thing off a stick and chill around. The only thing remotely close to that market is the state fair in Minnesota which only happens once a year.
Last night the students took us to get some BBQ downtown which got me a little excited because I love BBQ or at least what I thought it was. They first took us on the city bus which was jam packed with people (it didn't help we were bringing 15 people as well) and the drivers here are not quite as smooth when taking corners or with their starts and stops which was tough on the balance. But it was a good experience and it was relatively cheap to use (only 2 yuan). Once we got to the BBQ though it was awesome. You get to hand pick all of your meats and veggies, all come on a stick, and then put them in a basket to be grilled up. They even slop some seasoning and dry rub down on everything while they are cooking which reminds me a lot of what we do back in the US. Then you just get to sit back and relax and they bring everything out to you. You don't even have to pay until your are all done and ready to leave. Everything we tried was super good and really inexpensive. Brian and I split a basket which filled us both up and it only cost us about 15 yuan a person. I think I'm falling in love with all this Chinese food...
The weekend was really low key. I saw some of the impovershed parts of Tianjin. The houses looked like they were made of a mixture of mud and wood. Their roofs looked like they were made of tin sheets. The ceiling was probably only nine or ten feet high and the total square footage was around 100-200 sq feet. I noticed them as I was taking a cab over the overpass. A 30 minute cab ride costs almost $10.
Morning everyone, its almost time to head to class to begin week 2 in Tianjin. Class almost seems like routine now, which is odd for me as I almost never went to any lectures last year. I am hoping that today will be more interactive and that we can ask more questions. The topics have certainly been very interesting but lecture is rather drawn out. One important contrast I have noticed between UMD students and Nankai students, is that Nankai students do not skip class. I have asked a few of the students here if they ever miss class, and unless they are very very sick, the answer has always been no. At UMD I believe a lot of students skip class for really any reason. Teachers attempt to combat this by making part of your grade participation, which I think is pretty dumb. I have also gotten the impression here that students do not skip class, not because the material is too difficult, but rather as a sign of respect to the professor and classmates. Furthermore, I am trying to see whether the Chinese concept of time (the anecdote that 9:00 could mean 8:50 to 9:10) applies at the university. Maybe it is also a sign of respect to be on time, but I have not been able to see whether students frequently show up late or not. Even at UMD, I still believe it is very disrespectful to be late. All in all, my impression is that students here for the most part take their education more serious than students at UMD. However, I believe that this years group of students on this trip represent UMD very well and that together we have a wide variety of talents and are a very bright group. Personally, I love to compete at school and would love to see how I stack up over here :)
Friday night we went to a foreign bar called Hellens. It was cool to see so many different foreign people all in one place. I met a guy from the Ukraine named Dima. The night before we played a game a foosball and he took me to school. The drinks were very reasonable around $3 U.S. but that is very expensive for China. We can get drinks at most places for $1.50 U.S.
Good morning from Tianjin. The main event for yesterday was an Asian style barbecue, which was all about portions of food on a stick, a shish-ka-bob (correct me) style of eating. There were many types of food on a stick, including scallops, Chinese Sausage, BBQ pork and chicken, and many other varieties of food that I had to try for myself. The most interesting piece I tried to eat was chicken neck. For me, it was tough to eat since the meat and bones were not every spread out, leaving a lot of meat behind. At home, my parents told me to try to eat chicken foot, which I have still never tried, since I do not know how to slurp the meat off the appendages. I know Dr. Li would be a little mad at me for not knowing how to eat it, but I am trying my best to eat as much as possible.
In my family, we eat later then usual compared to the American culture, as their main rule is not to eat after 7pm, or a time around there. This has led to my roommate, Tim, asking me why I can't eat so much breakfast in the USA, as it is emphasized on eating early to start up your metabolism. Maybe this is why I have a little fat on me? Haha. I hope I can try to eat either around the clock, or time my meals so I can eat a good breakfast in China.
During our stay at the barbecue, I noticed now that us as students are trying to be very hospitable, either trying to pay for the transportation costs for the students of Nankai that join us for dinner, and trying to pay for them for the food that they have eaten. It is very noticeable how many of us as foreign students are trying to adhere to the Chinese culture. In my view, I feel like this is a good change, as I try to pay for meals and transportation costs in the United States. I hope everyone can bring this kind of hospitality and improve our "Minnesota Nice" when we leave China to go back to the United States. By saying that, I realize time is going very fast, and I do not want to leave the beautiful scenery and culture of China. I give my best thanks to all the Chinese students and tour guides that have helped us get around in the country of China.
Now, it is time to prepare for a day of lecture with the students of Nankai University.
Today some of the Chinese students took us to a Chinese BBQ. First off, we decided to ride the bus there which was incredibly packed, so different from the DTA in Minnesota. You definitely see a large number of buses running throughout the city all day, and people are packed in there like sardines. When we got off the bus we were outside of the sprawling market where maybe a hundred different vendors were selling a large variety of foods. There were little tables around most of the shops where people could sit and eat and socialize. The market was very crowded and loud and it took a little time to find enough seating for all of us. Once we did, we went to a particular vendor where we picked out skewers of a mix of foods and then sat down while the cooked them and brought them to us. Definitely had some great food and tried some things I didnt like. While eating though I couldn't help but notice that the US lacks anything to resemble these markets...maybe state fairs or carnivals, but nothing to this extent. Many people here rely on these markets to eat and eat cheaply, as well as to come socialize. In the US if you eat out, you are more likely to have someone wait on you and then bring you food...so you are never really interacting with strangers. Perhaps this is while Chinese networks and personal friendships extend much wider than in the US. That could also be from the drastic increase in population density here as well. Overall i thoroughly enjoyed the Chinese BBQ and love the market atmosphere that is so prevalent here.
Well, today I went back to the shopping center with Danny, Courtney, and Bailey. Every store that I went into, there was a salesperson following me literally the entire time. I don't know if that is normal with the culture here, but I almost felt like I was getting intruded upon. I did find some really cool clothes for my family and a couple pairs of sunglasses. After my afternoon powernap, the students took us out for Chinese bbq. It was DELICIOUS. It seriously reminded me of eating at the state fair..but much better/healthier. I cannot get over how good the food is here, especially the corn (I am weird like that). I ate enough food for two people and it cost me literally 4 USD. I would have spent at least 20 on all of the food I ate at a fair back in the states. It was also interesting how they served it too. Everything was grilled up to order and brought to us. Then we were given the bill after finishing the meal. I was not expecting it to be like a restaurant, but that was pretty neat. The bus ride to and from was interesting too. On the way there, it was super packed, but when we came back, the bus that we got on was empty. Apparently it is extremely difficult to get a cab in Tianjin on a Sunday night, and even more difficult to get one on a Saturday night, as Bailey, Courtney, Danny, Josh, and myself found out. That is all for today though. Class again tomorrow and then to the Tianjin museum! One week left before Shanghai!
Simply put, the market outside the hotel is amazing! So many varieties of delicious food and you can eat for under $1. I've been eating most of my meals in Tianjin there and have tried something new every time. In the back of the market, where they have all of the butchers, you see some pretty weird stuff...definitely a contrast to the US they use the meat of the entire animal here. I saw that they were selling the face of a cow....i prefer to stick with noodles and dumplings. I have also somewhat learned how to ask what I want and see how much it costs...the vendors usually laugh at my accent or my poor pronunciations but I am learning a little bit of Chinese. For anyone in the group that has not ate at the market, its a definite must.
AHHHH! Getting cab rides in Tianjin has been so stressful so far, due to the way they drive. Apparently the white lines that separate the lanes in China are completely ignored and traffic signals, crosswalks and posted signs are mere guidelines. This has created some stressful but really fun cab rides. Every time you come to a crowded intersection, your nervous you are going to hit someone and then when you stop a foot short you can finally exhale. I think the cab drivers notice how nervous you are and I often catch them laughing at us. So far we have always gotten where we are going safely though and very cheaply.
Blake and I finally were able to get to the gym yesterday and one thing I have noticed in China is very few people lift weights. This is very different from the US where there are gyms on every block and people are always there lifting. This of course has to do with a contrast in how the cultures idealize body image. In the US it is still very popular to have big muscles where in China the emphasis is purely on being lean. I asked the some our Chinese friends here if they ever ate at DQ and they all said no because it has too much calories...so even very skinny people here watch what they eat and everyone appears to be on a diet. Where being overweight in the US is somewhat acceptable, definitely common, the opposite is prevalent in China.
Today we had the opportunity to go shopping with a few of the Chinese students from Nankai University. We started our shopping excursion at an Ancient street in Tianjin. After arriving, everyone split up into small groups and chose a time and place to meet when we were finished. When it came time to leave the shopping center, a few of our group members were missing in action. Almost instantly, Martin offered to stay and wait for the students who hadn't arrived yet and insisted that we move on to our next shopping destination. I think that Martin's actions are a perfect example of how kind and generous the Chinese culture is. It seems like someone is always going out of their way to make sure our group is both safe and happy. I hope that the generosity that we've been shown here is something that I can bring back with me to the states!
After a fun day of shopping, we started thinking about plans for the evening. One of the Chinese students invited our group to attend a jazz concert at a local coffee shop she works at. I had never been to a jazz concert before, so I was really excited to see what it was all about. The musicians were absolutely fantastic and the few of us who went had a blast! If anyone has a chance, check out Tami Jones Andrews on facebook -- she's amazing! I had such a great time with Bailey, Danny, Tim and Josh tonight and I hope we can find other concerts to attend while were here in Tianjin!
Public displays of affection are very apparent in America, and can become quite extreme to the point that it makes others uncomfortable. I have been in China for over a week now, and have yet to experience any signs of uncomfortable displays of affection. In fact, the only displays I witness are holding hands or linking arms. I don't even tend to witness people in relationships demonstrating those acts, rather it's more common to see girls holding hands or linking arms. At first I found this odd, but one of the Chinese students told me that it was a normal occurrence. Girls holding hands don't mean they are in a relationship, but that they are friends.
The Chinese use more indirect communication and often meet a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend through the match making process. I figure this may be why they don't kiss in public, like you see many Americans doing, because they aren't as direct. Americans, if they find someone attractive, may just go right up to the person and strike a conversation, but in China that isn't common. One student said that by using the "Chinese Face book" they can find out if someone finds them attractive. The Chinese Face book has the option to check who is viewing your profile so apparently if someone keeps looking at your page that suggests they are trying to flirt with you. The different forms of communication between Americans and Chinese explains how a couple one country can be at ease with kissing in public, whereas in the other that act is shown more privately.
I love Jazz. Enough said.
Not a big shopping fan but I did go shopping today. We started at the Old Tianjin Shopping Street, which reminded me of a tourist trap back in the states they had all the little trinkets to bring home for gifts to people back at the states. I bought my niece Kennedy a little thing that that has her name spelled in Chinese for her.
This is the guy that made it.
On our second stop of our shopping adventure today. We went to what I would call a mall. But it's not covered you basically walk up and down streets. The place we went to probably was bigger then the Mall of America in size but it seemed like it only had to about 12 or so stores that would just repeat themselves as you walked though the place. We stopped and ate in the food court had lamb kabobs and just for old times sake a shwarma that a middle eastern guy was selling.
By the end of this trip I'll be ready for summer, since the it was hovering around 90 degrees today. Probably going to have throw the winter jacket in the boat when I go fish Lake Superior when I get back.
Well, Paul and I went for quite the hike today. There is so much construction here it is unbelievable. Apparently just 10 years ago, Tianjin looked nothing like what it does today. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will look like 10 years from now. I love trying all of the food that the market has to offer. I buy fruit from the same guy, and my main meals from the same girl. She calls me "Tofu". But I also get something new to try every time I eat. I am yet to be let down and I highly doubt that I will ever be. I am loving it here and I can't believe that we will be leaving in a little over a week. But I guess all good things must come to an end. Oh well, I guess we will just have to make the most of it while we still can!
Monday - 5/23
We began the day in Beijing and came across many cool cultural practices at the Temple of Heaven. In the courtyard at the temple we found many people dancing in a large group to the music that was playing. We also experienced a similar event at the Summer Palace last week when a large group of people got together to sing with a small band at the top of a hill. It was interesting to see that people enjoy to sing and dance together in groups, I'm assuming this is due to the collective nature of the culture.
Later on Monday we traveled to Tianjin via high-speed train which topped off at about 330 kph (205 mph). We were welcomed by Nankai University students for dinner Monday night. I met Huangzhong at dinner and learned a lot about what he wants to do in the future. I learned that many Chinese students desire to travel to the US for their graduate programs and then return to China and find good jobs within the government. When I asked, "Why don't you want to find work in the U.S. after graduation?" I was told that they want to return to China to help take care of their parents. Family is very important to the Chinese people and deeply rooted in the culture.
Tuesday - 5/24
Today we had our first lecture given by Professor Lin Runhui which covered E-Business in China. China has about 300 million internet users which is about 23 percent of the population. There are great opportunities for expansion of Chinese netizens in the near future as the country rapidly gets online. We also learned that almost 40 percent of internet users in China access the web via mobile devices. Many rural areas have limited resources for computers to be hardwired into a network, and thus the popularity of mobile devices is increasing quickly. Today we also had the opportunity to play basketball with many of the Chinese students. The style of team sports is much different in China. When playing basketball it is rare to see passes near the basket and more often one player drives the lane and shoots themselves. Martin explained that this is due to the fact that many Chinese are not very efficient in teamwork. It was interesting to see this in practice as we learned an ancient Chinese proverb that describes this cultural difference in teamwork. The proverb states, "One man is a dragon, but three men are a worm".
Wednesday - 5/25
Wednesday included a lecture by Professor Zhao Wei as well as a visit to SPD Bank in Tianjin. The lecture by Professor Zhao Wei included information on leadership in business in China. I learned that leaders may only be effective in the right situation and the right followers. Due to the collective nature of the Chinese people and the fact that individuals are respected for their membership within a group, it is important that the right person be placed in leadership positions in order to be effective. Respect for authority is a very important virtue to the population as well.
The banking system in China operates in a much different environment than the United States. Unlike the U.S., China's banks are allowed to set their own interest rates for borrowing, creating fierce competition which some would consider unfair. In addition, because giving gifts and providing hospitality is a cornerstone of the Chinese culture, this too exists in the banking industry. In the United States a business is frowned upon for providing gifts to customers in many circumstances as this can be used as a method of bribery. In China however, it is customary to give gifts and they are not used as bribes. This difference in cultures is noteworthy and must be taken into account when doing business between the U.S. and China. What is acceptable and customary in one culture may get you into some serious trouble in the other. Being aware of the differences in the business environments of each culture is necessary to be successful.
Thursday - 5/26
I have begun to observe the high context culture that exists in the Chinese culture. Today we learned about relationships and how the Chinese people interact with each other. There are three rules that help people navigate proper interactions, these include: the rules of needs, the rules of relations and the rules of law. The further one gets from the rules of needs thus less meaningful the bond becomes. For instance, interactions with family are conducted under the rule of needs and are much more important than the rules of law. If a brother needs something their siblings will help them for no reason other than that they are family. This may also explain the observation that many drivers do not appear to follow any kind of rules while driving. Many cars will turn around in the middle of busy streets or continue to move through an intersection after the light has turned red. Pedestrians will often walk across the road when they do not have the right-of-way and cars will swerve around them as they pass through the intersection. I would assume that this lack of attention to the law has something to do with the fact that the rules of law are the furthest removed from the individual, coming after family and friends (the rules of needs and the rules of relationships).
A very interesting phenomenon that I learned about yesterday is the fact that many private Chinese firms are led through a form of paternalistic leadership. Many of these corporations have a man as the president and a woman as the CEO or other another title of similar status. This is done to symbolically show the company is being run by the father and the mother. I found this very fascinating as it mimics the importance of the family in business. In paternalistic leadership the company's president (or father) is responsible for the company's success as a father would be for the family. The workers listen to and respect the authority of the father as the children would in a household. In China there are also distinct differences between managers and leaders. A manager's job is to make decisions, minimize risks, take credit for achievements and wants results. However, a leader is more focused on facilitating decisions, taking risks, breaking rules, giving credit to others and wants achievements.
Today, after a great night at Helen's Bar, I soon wake up. I then meet up with Josh to explore the area. During our discussion while walking around on the sidewalks, we start talking about what we would do if we have children on our futures. I gained a little perspective of how he grew up, and gave him in return of how I grew up as well. This led us to seek how children behave in the streets of Tianjin.
Down the street from our hotel, we witness a child entertaining himself. What was amusing to Josh and I was how you can be entertained with the simplest objects possible; we witnessed a child playing with a Dixie cup, a rock, seeing him jump up and down the stairs, and hiding in the crevice were his whole body could fit inside.
I then ask Josh of what he would do to entertain himself as a kid, and I believe his parents were similar in the entertainment aspect, letting a child be free. Josh explained to me that parents in the USA are not as outgoing with their children, more of an introvert kind of way (if that makes sense). The many kids here are always yelling, running around, and having a goodtime with us as foreigners. I feel like this wouldn't be the same in the US, as children would hide behind their parents legs.
I wish I took a photo to capture the child's moment, hope he is still there when I head out.
After the first week of lectures I have noticed a distinction between how professors lecture in the US versus how they do in China. The Chinese professors have so far been very repetitive and take very circuitous routes to say their primary point. I am unsure whether this is a cultural issue (Chinese appear to beat around the bush and not make direct statements) or whether the professor just wants to make sure we understand. This style is definitely not for me, but I have no doubt that it would be an effective teaching method for many students. The material has been very interesting though and I have begun to get a better understanding of how business operates in China and the challenges foreign companies face in expanding their operations here.
It's pretty fantastic to learn about the HR practices in China. To be completely honest, it's almost the complete opposite in some respects. Professor Wang Jianyou informed me that there are essentially no privacy laws, which leads to the next point of performance management and assessment. Here in China, performance evaluations are essentially counter productive. If a worker wishes to submit a negative performance evaluation, they basically can't. The lack of privacy makes it impossible for a subordinate submit a negative evaluation of their superior without their superior being able to find out. Sounds a bit backwards.
China's employee retention is also a bit different. After visiting Taiding recycling company, and talking to professor Wang, I found out it's pretty common in China to have high turnover. Professor Wang explained that because of the new generation, it's actually quite common. The employee satisfaction and retention programs used are pretty much the same as in the US (ie salary increase, training, mba funding) but are not necessarily as effective.
Another point to be noted is their labor unions. Interestingly, labor unions here work for the communist party. In practice labor unions are supposed to represent the people, but in this case their actually representing the government? That is also a bit backwards in a sense.
That's all for now :)
Last night we went to Helen's. That was so much fun! It was basically the foreign hang out. I met some guys from Scotland, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and even more. The people here are so friendly! I truly enjoyed it. Today we are going to explore the city and find some cool places to shop! I am pretty excited to what this place has to offer other than the one strip of shops that we have been on. Will update later!
The lecture today was about Human Resources, which I could relate to a lot of topics, since I have taken Human Resource Management course prior to this lecture. We learned about the human resource practices and how expatriates work in China. I found it very interesting that foreigners working in other countries try to forget their ways of their own culture and adapt to the Chinese style of human resource management.
I have also learned that the conditions of work in China aren't quite the way that you may think of from the United States. We learned about how turnover is quite popular in Chinese businesses, as the working conditions and the amount of money earned may dissatisfy employees, leading them to physical and physiological trauma. It has definitely made me realize how the U.S. has more opportunities to work and keep turnover lower by implementing practices that keep employees moral up.
After the lecture, we got the opportunity to play some sports with some of the students, although I could not handle the heat. The competitive culture is very different, as the students play for fun, and not to win. I was having fun with this style, but I still have the urge to try and break their ankles, but my brain had to adjust otherwise. I believe it is about being able to have fun, and improve your state of mind around others playing around you. Although this style is more fun and relaxed, I want to see the students full potential while playing sports, instead of not playing defense or not "trying" at less then 100%. Now it is time to hang out with the foreigners at Helen's Bar. Hope to listen to some interesting stories and learn more about the Chinese culture through their words, while learning about themselves as individuals and seeing how far they have come from to adjust and embrace the Chinese culture. Danny Yip, out.
Today was pretty lax. We only had one class about HR, then we had free time for the rest of the day.
We learned about HR practices and how expatriates work in China. I found it interesting that expatriates generally forgo the ways of their native country and generally adopt the Chinese ways with a small twist to fit their management style. I suppose it is easier to change the manager than it is to change all the workers.
We also learned that working conditions in China aren't nearly as pampered as the US. It makes me respect the opportunities that are given to us as US citizens.
Culture once again shocked me as we spent the majority of the day playing sports. Today I spent two hours playing basketball, then another two hours playing ping--pong and badminton. While in the US we strive to compete to be better, even during practice, it is very different here. For the Chinese culture, it is more about having fun doing what you're doing. It isn't really about winning, as it is about self-improvement and having fun while doing so.
I think that if we adopted this in the US it would be much more peaceful and friendly.
Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures today, sorry =(.
Well I have couple lectures under my belt now with the other Chinese Professors here in Tianjin. I have wonder way we don't see more innovation or invention from the Chinese people. And what I have discovered is the mangament style doesn't allow employees really to make suggestions. In a Chinese company mangament makes a decision and everybody is to follow it whether it is right or wrong. "what the boss says go's" is the what happens here. If an employee has suggestion to make a process better they won't share their idea with managment like we do in the states.
Today we had the privilege to hear from Professor Wang Jianyou about the importance of Human Resource Management in China. I have to admit, I was a little nervous when I saw the topic of his lecture. HR was not one of my favorite courses back at UMD, so I was worried that I wouldn't be very interested in what he was speaking about. I am glad to say that this was not the case! I really enjoyed learning about the importance of HR in an international context and the class discussion that we had in the middle of the lecture. I thought that Alex would be the one asking all the questions because HR is his major, but surprisingly, I was able to join in on the conversation and get some interesting questions answered as well! One of the most interesting things we learned from our discussion is how Chinese companies accommodate their female employees after they have children. I could not believe that women are given six months off of work to care for their newborn! In the United States this is unheard of, with women only receiving six weeks off under the same circumstances. I think that the amount of time allowed off of work for new mothers shows the importance children in Chinese culture and the amount of care that goes into raising them. This is yet another thing that I've learned about the cultural differences between the United States and China.
With each day that passes, I'm learning more and more about Chinese culture and the daily life of those who live here. I am also becoming more aware of the similarities and differences that exist between our cultures. One thing that I have found to be very different here than in the United States is peoples driving demeanor. I personally never use my horn while driving my car, but in China it seems to be all the rage. It seems that where ever we travel, the beeping noise follows. Understanding the purpose of honking has been a quite a struggle for me. Sometimes drivers honk at cars and pedestrians, but on other occasions they seem to be beeping at nothing! I have found the driving to be humorous in some situations and overwhelming in others. I know one thing for sure; there is no way I would ever hop on the roads over here!
I have always found myself to be an independent person, and figured that it just was a part of my personality and how I was raised. I came to find that Americans seem way more independent then the Chinese, at least from childhood through college years. While visiting with a Chinese student she asked me if I had a job. I replied that I work during the school year and have a full time job in the summer time. I asked if she had a job, and she said that she doesn't she relies on her parents a lot. She said that I was very independent to work and pay for school on my own.
I just assumed that Chinese students worked while in school just as most Americans, because the college tuition is very expensive. I later realized that the Chinese students attend school in the summer time and on weekends so there is little time to work. The Chinese also use the work unit concept in which they basically have all accommodations necessary right where they go to school, it isn't necessary to have to go outside for necessities. In this sense it doesn't seem that Chinese need to work, because their parents support them to go to school and the school offers all the necessities needed. Chinese culture also has a law for having only one child so parents are probably more able to support the child, even while in school, compared to in America where families consist of many children.
What a day so far! We learned a lot about the working conditions, benefits, and HR in general in today's lecture. Played a lot of ping pong and badminton also. The main adventure for today was going to the guitar shop. It was fun to go in there and be able to play what they had to offer. I love how music can connect people. Maybe I will go back there some time and try to jam with a random person. That would be so cool! I am finding myself walking along with the crowds of people here less cautiously..I don't know if that is necessarily a good thing though haha. It could be bad when I get back home to Duluth and walk in front of a car expecting it to stop and honk at me, but it is quite possible that I will get run over. That was kind of random, but pedestrians and people on bikes kind of just do what they want over here. It is one of the many things that I have learned thus far. We will see what tonight brings. I am hungry now, so I better go by my 65 cent dinner! I love this place!
One thing that has been very clear since the first day in china is that the streets and highways do not follow the same set of rules for driving as we do in America. Really the only similarity we have is driving on the right side and green means go and red means stop (not always the case though). Drivers here are extremely aggressive and will literally use every inch of road they have or pull U-turns on 4 lane freeways. The traffic lines are more guidelines rather than lanes because cars will drive right down the center of them if it means they will pass other cars. Also walking on the street can be a serious adventure if you're not paying close attention because cars will come within a few feet of you and just honk at you. And don't even get me started on the 24/7 honking...
Today we had a morning lecture that talked about the similarities and differences of leadership in China and the U.S. In China there is a big separation between the leader and the subordinates. If you are the leader you have the final say and no one challenges you. In the U.S. there is more working with the leader and the leader can be challenged.
Later on, we took a field trip to the Haihe Dairy where we saw where milk was processed in China. There isn't much milk I've noticed especially cold milk. They package milk in small sealed plastic bags. This keeps the milk longer since its for individual use. The marketing was very unique for the milk. The pictures they used to convey milk didn't make any sense to me but probably related to a Chinese fairytale or something.
After the dairy we headed to a local Tianjin bank. They had many different floors and rooms for VIP customers. The more money you have the higher up you are and the more VIP features you get access to. The diamond VIP was the highest one.
Today was a long day on the bus. We headed to the Winery first. This was my first winery and it was really nice. In fact, it was a castle. The tour took us through many rooms and hallways that showed how the wine was made and where it would be consumed. At the end we got to taste the Champagne, Wine, and Brandy that they made. I learned how to taste the wine and see its quality. I also was taught by the tour guide that if champagne stays bubbly for over 20 minutes that its high quality.
After that we headed to lunch. This had to be one of my favorite restaurants on the trip. It had some interesting things on the menu. I tried eel, cow stomach, and blood. They also had some green been meatballs and goose that was very delicious.
Today we had a lecture on HR. We learned about working units, which are housing for people who workin a chinese company almost like a military base that provides food, shelter, and living items. Ive enjoyed getting to meet the Chinese students. After lunch I played some ping pong then went to get some saave for the scratch under my eye.
Back to the topic of high context and low context cultures. The lecture about how China is more of a group effort vs America and it's "me" or "I" culture is very shocking.
Today Vince, Danny, Blake, Josh, Bailey and I went to a hip hop party at Fresh Mind Studio. The culture here is so different. It's facinating at how this whole high/low context culture works. In America, it is really the "me" and "I" mentality. In American hip hop, it's pretty prevalent where one person can completely take the spot and own it. In China, hip hop is more of a communal thing where everyone is included regardless of their style of dance. It was just confusing because back at home, some of the dances I saw are more or less frowned upon. But here they embrace the fun and joy of peace love and unity.
Aside from the hip hop party, it was very interesting to visit the recycling company. From what I gathered, their HR practices here are pretty much the same. Their workers have 8 hour days with 1 hour lunch breaks and a short 15 minute breaks at their own pace. They also have a form of workmans comp and insurance benefits. As to how much they get paid and benefits (stock options, retirement, 401k etc) I didn't really get a clear answer. For the company though, I wonder how to keep their employee satisfaction up seeing as a little under half of their employees are contracted every week for different processes. I know I've seen some interesting morning exercises where the entire staff gets together and does a sort of cheer and group movement. But I wonder if they have other things such as ping pong tables or nice break rooms.
Now for some cool pictures
Alright, peace love and unity!
The most notable contrast between Chinese and US Banks would have to be the way they compete for customers. We were fortunate to one of the branch offices of SPD bank in Tianjin, where we were allowed to visit the VIP customer rooms. The services they offer would be comparable to the private wealth management services in the US, but the ancillary services they offer clients are definitely unmatched in the US. The VIP rooms were very lavished and clients were served wine and food. One of the managers there also told us that it would be common to win clients by buying them gifts and offering exceptional services beyond the scope of financial products. In the US, these gifts of course would be considered bribes and under the SEC highly illegal. Yet the lack of corporate governance in China allows banks to compete for customers in this realm. I do not believe it is a bad thing to compete for customers in this way, especially when these efforts to provide superior services to VIP clients produces a better banking experience for the customers. Additionally, it appears that Chinese banks attempt to compete on an image basis by flexing their corporate excess. Having lavish buildings and decorated entry ways symbolizes the strength of the bank and perhaps the quality of its name.
One of the most shocking sights in China has been the rate at which they are constructing new buildings. Today driving around Tianjin I saw several new apartment developments being built in which they were building 12 or more complexes at the same time. You definitely would not see this rate of construction in the States, nor would we complete them so quickly. This rapid development really underlies the incredible growth that China has been experiencing, as well as the rapid expansion of their Middle class. The apartments that I saw being constructed appeared to be for the middle class and are beginning to resemble modern apartments from Western culture. Clearly there must be substantial job growth in the cities to sustain the demand for these apartments, and I would suspect that we are seeing an inflow of rural citizens to the urban suburbs.
Today we went to a electronic recycling plant and it turned out to be really interesting actually. It's where old tvs, computers and other things with hazardous material go to get taken apart properly and have the parts reused. I found this tour to be extra interesting because this business is sort of like the one that my family is in back home. My dad opened an auto salvage over 30 years ago and they do the same thing but with cars. Insurance companies sell busted up cars to them, then they take all of the good parts out of them and resell them as used parts and the rest of the car is sold as scrap metal. So this tour kind of hit home for me because I have been around this type of industry my entire life.
Earlier today we were out to lunch with the students and I was wearing my green North Stars hat when I was told by Martin that I should take it off. Obviously I was confused about it and he told me that a green hat symbolizes that my wife/girlfriend is cheating on me and I thought that was pretty funny (I would be a little more worried if I actually had one). That just goes to show that even small things over here that we find completely normal back home can mean something completely different to someone else. I don't think I will be wearing a hat the rest of the time over here though.
Today we went and played a little pick up game of basketball with the students at the university and they were actually pretty good. I might have been taller than everyone by a good 3-4 inches but that didn't translate to me playing well at all. One thing a noticed was that one team was winning every time ( you play 4v4, first one to five baskets and the winner stays) so when it was our turn I asked one of them how many they have won in a row at that point and he just shook his head and said " no no we don't keep score just play for fun". I thought that was strange but kind of cool. After someone would make a tough shot or "break someones ankles", they wouldn't showoff or even show emotion when everyone started cheering. You would never see something like that in the NBA or the US for that matter which I also thought was kind of interesting. But it was kind of nice and relaxing to play some sports for once with no pressure or anything but just to have some fun playing around.
While at lunch today it was interesting to notice the different foods served which were quite out of my comfort zone. We were served eel, blood, stomach, squid, and other foods. I like the challenge of trying new things but couldn't handle the texture of the food or the thought of what I would potentially be putting in my mouth. When I heard the soup with the blood and stomach was a delicacy in China I couldn't believe it. I have grown up trying what I thought was new and exciting entrees, but this meal really threw me for a loop. I also was struggling to use chop sticks at this meal, because the dishes were slippery. The waitress came and brought me a fork. This was a kind gesture, but it made me feel embarrassed. I want to fit into the culture and adapt to their ways so to me struggling is okay, because I don't expect to be perfect. I just didn't like my struggle to be pointed out, and assume I should go to my usual setting. In a country so different from what I grew up with it's hard to be similar when so many differences/obstacles exist.
Today we had no classes, but we went on two tours; one of a winery and another of an electronics recycling plant.
The winery was pretty interesting to me, I hadn't learned much about making wine other than that grapes are used. It was cool to learn about the process, and the history behind the company. The company, Dynasty, was a joint venture with France. Dynasty was the second wine company in China, and has since become very popular. They became successful enough to create a castle in their name close to their plant, almost like a museum for their history.
The recycling plant was a bit more interesting to me. We learned that China actually manages 90% of the world's electronic goods recycling. While China might be behind in some things like manufacturing or recycling, it's interesting that they actually buy the 'waste' from other countries to be able to handle its recycling and sell the raw materials back. While we were walking around the lot, it was pretty interesting to see electronic goods from the 90s getting disassembled for recycling. There were even first generation flat screen TVs, which seem thick now.
Later at night, a few of us went to a hip-hop party hosted by the same bboys that Alex and I sessioned with earlier in the week. The party was not how I had expected it to be, in fact... it was better than I thought it would be. Hip-Hop has evolved very differently in China due to its contextual culture.
While in the US it is likely that everyone wants to represent themselves and show how they are better than everyone else, while saying their style is the way to go... it is very different than here. In China, it seems that everyone is just in it to have a good time, while supporting everyone around them. At the party, there was a lot of studio styled dance. This would be frowned upon by the people I learned from, however I think that it's great that it is growing and that more people are involved in doing what they love.
Here are some highlight pictures:
Group Pic in the castle
The banking system in China is much stricter then in the United States. The government controls many aspects of the system which doesn't allow banks to offer as many functions as individual United States banks. They focus on differentiating customers who invest more money in the bank. They offer VIP rooms and services for those high investing customers, while others just use the main services on the first floor. While entering a VIP room the clerks automatically stand up showing a very professional appeal and demonstrate that the customer is important. They are given comfortable seating, refreshments, television to watch, newspapers, and other accommodations. This is quite different than in America where we focus on equality and treating everyone the same so as to avoid unfairness. I don't think Americans would react to this type of system as the Chinese do, because Americans would be bitter about not getting the special treatment.
Today we headed towards the Summer Palace, home of the infamous "Dragon Lady". We then got to take a look at where the Olympic games were held. We ended our day at Tianamen Square. On our way to each location, I noticed something that I've been noticing throughout the time here: Chinese driving. Everytime I look out the window of our tour bus, I see at least one car cutting off another car, followed by numerous honking and bell ringing from bikes. Now from that description, you'd think there'd be car crashes left and right. However, not once have I seen any sign of even a minor car accident since I've been here. Dr. Li let me know that the driver's tests taken in China are more vigorous than those taken in the U.S., so you really need to know what you're doing to drive in China.
Second day of classes was a bit rough. Everyone seemed to be pretty tired and burnt out today. It's nice to be able to go from class to class and see fresh faces as well as old ones. It is interesting to me to meet new people each day.
For lunch, most of us went out for Hot Pot at a restaurant between the hotel and campus. This is the first time I had seen a soup pot that was divided down the middle to split up normal broth from spicy broth. The hot pot was delicious; almost as good as I've had at home. I think that everyone who was having it for the first time thought it was very interesting and would love to have it again.
After lunch, we went to a Dairy farm. Here we learned about the manufacturing process of collecting and packing milk in China. Having never learned about this process in the US, I took a lot of new information away from this. I knew that milk had to be pasteurized to make it safe to drink, but I didn't know how many things milk could be turned into on spot at the faculty.
After the factory, we headed over to the SPD bank. This is probably where I experienced the most culturally different experience of the day. SPD Bank takes a lot of effort to let their customers know that they are being treated differently in each rank. There are several different VIP rooms and levels. In the US, there doesn't seem to be a difference between customers, at least nothing noticeable. Here at SPD, they dedicated a room in the back of the first floor to Business VIP members, the whole second floor to VIP personal members, and a room specifically for bank to bank business on the 5th floor.
After the tour, Alex and I wandered around in the alley market place by our hotel. I find it amazing how many different vendors can share a space. On top of that, I am still being caught off guard by how inexpensive everything is for you, as well as how honest they are with money, they seem to always give correct change even if you over pay by a few Yuan.
Here are a few highlight pictures:
Eating Hot Pot
The VIP room for independent customers
Todays blog will be about leadership.
Today we had the privilege of getting a lecture from professor Zhao Wei about leadership and the differences between the high and low context culture takes on what makes a good leader. There was a nice long list of differences between western and non-western. One of the prevailing factors that stuck out was the way in which people get recognized in the business setting and others.
In the US, it seems like people sell themselves. That's how we've been taught, to get recognized, you must sell yourself. In Chinese culture, the way you get recognized is through the efforts of others. In many ways, it's actually the way in which Brian and I have interacted. Brian is a bit modest about his 4.0 GPA, but I keep on promoting is. I think this is the fashion in which Professor Wei was talking about other recognizing your accomplishments. Brian has imbued the Chinese way.
This also leads what Professor Wei was talking about, about face. In many ways, by not promoting or recognizing your peers, friends or co-workers accomplishments, they lose face because. I feel like it's sort of expected of others to recognize the accomplishments of others.
This falls into my final point. Leaders in China seem to be recognized by their peers as fit and suitable for the job. They're essentially recognized enough by their peers, friends and so forth enough to obtain certain leadership qualities. This doesn't mean they have to be the CEO of a company (as shown in the example of Ren Zhengfei and Huawei company)
First off, I have to say that I hate sitting on busses for extended periods of time! But what a day it was! The joint venture between France and China at the Dynasty Brewery was absolutely amazing. When people think of wine, they generally associate it with France/Europe in general. But the wine that we sampled today was definitely some of the best that I have ever had. The champagne wasn't too shabby either. It was definitely interesting seeing the whole process, and how quickly the company has grown over the last 30 years. I also found it interesting how on people over here bike on the highway. Driving in general is almost a competition here. People can make 5 lanes out of 3, drive on the sidewalks, and park in the craziest places. But anyway, that is all for now. Going to walk the streets tonight and find some food! Oh yeah, this morning I went and looked even further into the market and they sell pets! Turtles, fish, birds, etc. There was even a dog groomer! I was beyond pumped to have discovered it!
Sorry about the delay in the post, but I want to talk about collectivism vs. individualism. As the night started in Tianjin, Alexander, Vince, Blake, Bailey, and myself headed towards the dance studio where we were invited. It was filled with beer, dancing, etc. I will finish this blog once I have time, but I have to give big props to Bailey for showing what the STANKY LEG is. Doing work in China!
After the night was over, I joined Alex and Vince's conversation, talking about how their friends may not accept the culture here due to differences in style. I know the USA is individualistic, but how they talked about their friends makes me feel like they will never enjoy the simple things in life, such as enjoying others that are different from you. Although this is what I am seeing everywhere here in Tianjin, teamwork and accepting others is the best thing you can do for yourselves, and others as well.
Temple of Heaven:
Throughout our tour of the Temple of Heaven my eyes were opened to the importance of symbolism in Chinese culture. I learned that shapes, colors, numbers, and animals have specific meanings to the Chinese people and that the use of these things is very special. I learned that a square represents earth, a circle and the color blue represents heaven, and the color yellow represents the emperor. I noticed these colors and shapes not only throughout the Temple of Heaven, but also in several of the places that we have traveled to in Beijing. Now that I'm aware of the meaning I am now behind each of these shapes and colors I feel like I have a better understanding of their importance within the Chinese culture.
I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about starting our first day of class in Tianjin. I was nervous about understanding the professors and about being able to relate to the topics they were speaking about. However, after the first lecture all my previous concerns disappeared. Not only was I able to understand professor Lin perfectly, I was also interested in what he spoke about! I have learned about E-Commerce in many of my classes at UMD and found it interesting to see the Chinese viewpoint on the topic. I hope that the rest of the lectures that we attend are as informative and appealing as his was!
So I end up writing the best story of my life, but tried uploading an image, and failed... Here is take number two...
Relationship building. I have never experienced a very strong bond with many people in my life. I now take friendship for granted, and want to keep in contact with everyone I see for now on... (re-edit my Facebook friends list? lol) The first story I wanted to talk about was how Dr. Li was talking about keeping relationships with everyone you meet. I first see this as our group member Mike immediately hit it off with one of the Chinese students. This girl is very pretty, and I am glad I was able to see this relationship build very quickly. Right away, they both end up talking about US currency compared to Chinese currency. Although in the past I have been a terrible story teller, I got to snipe some pictures of both of them while they were in deep discussion.
Related to relationship building, we see an American speaking. When we was done laying down his Mandarin skills with this girl, I decide to try and spark some conversation. This man, Spencer, has been in an immersion program for nearly a year, started in August and is leaving in the end of July. While talking, he gave us some very great stories, which I will have to try and tell you fellow readers instead of trying to type it. Beware of my storytelling skills... The discussion was so good, as he kept talking to us about the Asian culture, some differences, and the lady life. This reminded me of Mike, and how he hit off with his Asian lady friend. Spencer starts talking to us about how the Girls in China are more of the INSTANTANEOUS love, as they want to marry you in the first day of meeting you. I thought this was very crazy, as I see the American culture more of as the process of dating, relationship building, etc.
I felt this was awesome of how a foreigner such as ourselves was immersed in Chinese culture like this, as he said himself that he was excited to see what has changed in America during his year long tour in China. I was so glad to meet him. Samuel from Kansas City, thanks for the unbelievable stories! Hope to hear from him soon, as I had to give my "business" card to him.
Well, today we went to the Hai He Dairy Plant and to SPD Bank. That was very interesting..especially finding out that the milk here only lasts for about three days. On the way back to the hotel we drove through the campus at the University. I have never seen so much security at a University. Also, the living conditions of the students don't exactly look perfect by Western standards, but hey, we are in China. I can't believe that I am still finding new things everywhere I go. It is incredible, and seeing all of the construction around campus, the ridiculous amounts of traffic and students, and the outside of some of the dorms was crazy!
The students that we are studying with are so helpful and nice. The one student named Daniel took us out yesterday afternoon and found some awesome ping pong paddles for us. After that he took us to go play some basketball. There had to be at least two hundred students playing bball. They let us join in a game right away and we soon had our butts handed to us.
We then went to our student hosts dorm to wash our hands and clean up a little before we went and played some ping pong and badminton. I can't believe their dorms. There would be no way in the states that we would live like that. They shared a room that held four people and had a community area that about 20 students shared. I still find it hard to believe for them to have hot water they have to go down stairs and fill a thermos up.
Today was the first day of classes. The class rooms are pretty much the same as what we have back at UMD. Typical class rooms with either long tables and chairs, or desks. The rooms have projectors, and the rooms are about the same size as our smaller classrooms. I'm sure that the university also has large lecture halls. We took a course in E-business and another course in culture today.
It was interesting to learn about how massive the population is in China, and how little of it is actually reached by the internet (26% of the 1.2billion citizens are reached by the internet). Once all of China can actually access the internet, it will be even better for business than it already is. The culture class was taught by our very own Dahui Li. This was really interesting because we got to ask about our views about Chinese culture and either have them corrected, or confirmed. We also got to learn why things are the way they are. I think that the biggest difference in American to Chinese culture is that Chinese culture is more about context, where as American culture is very literal and straight to the point.
After classes, a few of us went to a local dance studio to practice/watch some breakdancing. Alex and I took part in the practice, while Bailey, Courtney, and Danny came to watch. This was truly amazing to me. The fact that we can come across the world and meet up with nearly complete strangers across a language barrier, but still be welcomed to share space and time with them to exchange dance is truly beautiful. While I can't say that this is purely an influence of Chinese culture, as it also has to do with the Hip-Hop culture, it is truly moving to know that people can be so welcoming. I will definitely be heading back to the studio to practice with these new friends.
After practice, Alex and I went to eat at a hotpot restaurant. We got to try frog. To me, I thought it had more of the texture of a boiled chicken, but with the taste of fish. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't my favorite. During the dinner, there was a guitarist/singer who came in to sing to the restaurant, as well as ask people if they had any requests. This hasn't ever happened before, so it was very intriguing to me.
Here are a few pictures from the day:
Group picture in the Nankai University Business School lobby
Classroom picture from our first class
Picture just outside of the studio we visited
Eating some frog
Day 2-Great Wall, Handcrafts, Financial District, Tianemen Square
Today Lina and the bus took us to the Great Wall. It was so old and you could tell that it has a lot of history. Afterward we headed to the factory where they made all kinds of ceramics that were handpainted. After we ate we passed the financial district of beijing where we saw all the banks like wallstreet. After that we made our way to Tianemen Square where I saw what I think were soldiers of the army dressed in nice suits marching. One thing I noticed was that there were a lot of hairstyles in China. It shouldn't of surprised me but all I had was the stereotypes of China. For some reason when I saw a young Chinese person in America with a unique style I thought that they developed that once they came to America.
Day 3- Summer Palace, Olympics
We went to the Summer Palace today. It was extremely beautiful there. We happened to be there when there was singing ceremony going on. It was amazing how good the music sounded. The males and the females each had there own part and when they sang. It was like walking through a 400 person choir but instead of people sitting on a stage they were all scattered around standing or sitting on rocks or in the grass. A big snack that I see people eating are ears of corn. They did look pretty good.
After we went to the olympics stadiums where I've really wanted to go since the beijing olympics in 2008. The water cube and birds nest are architecture unlike anything in the world. One thing I noticed about Chinese people is the amount of clothing they wear. It has been in the 80's almost everyday but I still see most Chinese wearing pants and jackets.
Day 4-Temple of Heaven, High Speed Train, Welcome Dinner
Today we we spent the morning at the temple of heaven. There were many older Chinese there getting in there morning exercises which included a toy like a hacky sack, a ring toss game where they threw rings on eachothers head, sword practice, couples dancing, and dancing where one guy did the moves and everyone else followed.
On our way to the train station I saw one of those exercise parks that I have seen all over China. Lina said they were for elderly people. There is all kinds of pieces of equipment. One is an elliptical looking machine.
Day 5-1st day of classes
It was nice when we got to class because we got a welcome gift which had a shirt and binder and a pen and other things in it. We learned about the internet in China and how much it is growing every day. China already has more users than the U.S. and it is still growing. I learned that China's rural areas make up more than half of the popuation. They still get the internet but it comes from the mobile phones. I played a couple games of basketball after the afternoon class but I had an injury so had to sit out. At least I got to catch up on my blogs. I wish I could have grown up in China so I could understand the collective of peoples ambitions, inspirations, and reason. At lunch I asked Dr. Li who are the Chinese roll models growing up and he said it is the American celebrities. I noticed at the Chinese mens dorm room there were pictures of basketball players on the wall.
Today was the first day of class. Fantastic. Although my motives were definitely set on learning from the lectures, there was one thing that was burning in my head... When am I going to practice with the Tianjin breakdancers. Ok, this might sound a bit selfish and not related to the whole business and economics in China deal, but hear me out.
One thing I learned from lecture today, especially from an HR perspective, is to take into consideration the extreme polar differences in culture. After realizing what Jun Hua was saying in Bcomm about high context and low context cultures, I knew I had to seriously mingle with local people, the new generation of Chinese. I figure the students are great resources and I've learned a lot from them, but how could I not learn more from someone I can sweat, struggle, work with and share one prevalent thing in common with?
The Tianjin bboys are some of the coolest cats, yes I said cats, in the world. I had a 25 minute conversation solely on lifestyles of these guys and how they interpret the hip hop culture (which is shared throughout the entire world. Legitimate hip hop and non legitimate hip hop). We talked about China's cultural differences from the world and how that affected how they interpreted this culture. It was absolutely astounding. Their take on this self expressive culture is so new to them that they are still looking up "rules" and knowledge about it. Learning how to battle (compete), cypher (sharing knowledge), practicing and musicality.
How can I not learn from their experiences and stories about how they strive to create something so new to the Chinese culture? From an HR perspective, learning about how Chinese people interpret such a self expressive and low context culture such as hip hop has been a breath of fresh air. I hope at some point everyone can have such an experience in their field of study.
Tianjin rocks. I love it way better here than Beijing.
I went and had dinner in the market tonight and ran into Sherri. She helped me out, but before I saw her I bought a random fruit. The girl I bought it from seemed very honest! I was ready to give her 4 yuan and she only took 2. I like food vendors a lot better than regular "rolex" vendors. The only thing is that none of them speak English, but I like the challenge. By the way..for those of you who haven't tried the street food, I got enough food to fill me up for 4 yuan, or about 62 cents american. Incredible!
I noticed a sign while walking in Beijing that still sticks out in my mind. The sign stated, "One Dream, One World". I thought right away that this summed up a distinct difference between American and Chinese society. In America we are individualistic and the Chinese are more collectivists. Americans all have individual dreams and work to achieve it. Other people are just stepping stones for Americans to reach their dreams, whereas the Chinese culture focuses on being in a group and working to achieve a group goal. As stated in the culture lecture, "Chinese are more we focused and Americans are I focused". There is only one world, but in this one world exists many cultures in which one dream would be hard to come by.
The temple was not only a beautiful building consisting of hand painted drawings; it was also designed to represent how important heaven is to the Chinese people. The temple had three levels of roofs in different colors. The bottom green roof represented the people of China, the second level was yellow to represent honor to the emperor, and the final top level was blue to represent heaven. To walk to the temple you would start at the southern lower end so heaven was higher and closer to the sky. As you walked up you were getting closer to heaven in a sense. The layering of the temple interested me, because all the people of China were included in one level; there were no classes as in America where we base class on income. The Chinese also felt the emperor was superior to them to place him above themselves. In America we don't honor and respect the president as the Chinese people who build great temples and bow down in his honor.
Well, today was fun! Met more students and attended two lectures. The first one was very interesting. I never knew about the Chinese version of google, ebay, etc. Also, I found it interesting that the instructor stopped to ask questions only after he was done giving the lecture; something that is different in America. Lunch was also nice. It was fun to be able to mingle with the students and also to mix with the locals rather than be together as a group. Oh yeah, at breakfast this morning, people would just come and sit next to us who we didn't even know. It was pretty cool! I love not having to deal with people trying to sell me everything. I can shop at my own leisure. Also, I walked through one of the street markets after the first lecture we had and the food looked SO GOOD! I am definitely going to eat some of it, if not all. Did I mention lunch only cost about $2.5 US? This place is amazing!
After making our way to Tianjin, the first thing I noticed is the street vendors. What happened to being harassed by people selling Rolex watches? I have yet to be approached by someone selling cute little toys or fake sun glasses. Seems like the culture here may be a little different and less touristy here in Tianjin. I hope I don't actually bite these words later.
The only hellos I've been greeted by here are the ones from the students. This is a nice change. They're great company and it's definitely interesting talking to them and learning about what they do. I researched Nankai University and it's in the top 20 Universities in China. No wonder our habits and daily practices might be different. When I asked Evelyn what they do for fun and if they party, she said they usually stay in the room or dorm and study. Maybe on the weekends they go out for a bit to a bar, but rarely to a club. Dang it. Daniel on the other hand said he likes to go out and have a good time. He told me he doesn't get amazing grades and probably a few D's, but he enjoys his life very much. Nice, he sounds just like me.
No pictures for this blog, but definitely check out my Picasa photo album. I'm slowly uploading the pictures thus far at about 1 picture every 10 minutes.... Slowly but surely wins the race!
First of all, I want to give all my thanks to Lina, our very nice and pretty tour guide. She has led us throughout our whole tour in Beijing, guiding us through many of the beautiful locations in Beijing. To make it even better, Paul was kind enough to allow the entire group to sign a farewell card to Lina, although I cannot say it was enough. As we departed from Beijing, she was so kind enough to send us off with a gift; a keychain with pandas stacked on one another. I feel that this keychain symbolized the friendship and gratefulness that she has provided not to myself, but to our entire group as a family. We all give our best wishes and thanks not only to Lida, but to her soon to be child. I hope the child will be as nice, pretty, gracious, and friendly. Spread the Minnesota Nice.
Soon after we leave, we are taken by our new tour-guide, Lisa (correct me). After our departure from our hotel in Beijing, we visit the Temple of Heaven. The location has very much meaning, as the main point I learned was that by praising the God, that you will have a very great harvest. Within the location of the temple, there were many elderly people, doing Tai Chi, playing hoop toss, and some sort of footbag activities. I had the feeling that if you were there at the location, it would bring you a long life.
Now for the visit to Tianjin. New people, new places, new friendships. We first meet our newfound friends at a restaurant, which I forget the name of. We are then seated, and I meet this fellow, which I already forgot his name (shame on me). As soon as we start talking, NBA was the first thing that we had in common. What made me so happy inside was when he was wearing a shirt, "BEAT THE HEAT", with the Boston Celtics emblem, which is our favorite NBA teams. Oh my, he plays basketball, and compares himself to Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls, quick to the basket. Now, I am a little worried about how good he will be when I interact with him and the other students when they have the weekend off; time to get in the zen before I possibly get my ankles broken on the court. But what is said will have to be proven on the court. What a great conversation, along with the big interaction with some of the students we will be able to meeting tomorrow when it will be our first day of classes.
The day started out packing our bags for the big move to TJ but, first we did some sightseeing before we left Beijing. We had to say good bye to our tour guide of the last couple of days Lina, since she was not feeling well. She was so nice that she even gave us a departing gift. Which I thought was very nice of her, Thanks to Paul for bringing thank you cards so we could show her that we appreciated the work she did for taking care of us and showing us a good time while in Beijing. After a trip to the Temple Heaven and some lunch we boarded a high speed train to TJ. We cruised at nice leisurely pace of 330 kph or I believe 210 mph on our way.
We arrived and got settled into our hotel and meet Sam who did this trip a couple of years ago and no is teaching English here in China because enjoyed his trip so much. We meet our Chinese counterparts from the Nanking University at Golden Hans restaurant. I hit off with one of the students and within five minutes she gave me the most humbling experience in my life. I'm probably going to butcher her name here but I'll give it a shot. Zua Yu Lu asked me to give her an American name so it would be easier for us to call her. This experience was truly one I will never forget since; I do not know if she will use the rest of her. I take it liking name your child. I guess I should be honored that she asked me to do this. I came up with the name Jewel for here since the first part of her name is pronounced with a J and kind reminds me of the beginning of Jewel. She is going to give my Chinese name later on in the trip.
I hope everyone in Minnesota is safe and sound after the severe weather that has taken place there. Time for bed and another exciting day tomorrow as we start our classes.
The temple of heaven was the only stop today. It was very interesting to see the cultural difference here. At the temple of heaven, there are several areas with different groups of adults taking part in exercise with each other. Four of the unique things we saw, among other things, were: 'hackey sack', hoop tossing, tai chi, group dance.
It is very interesting to me how adults get together outside to partake in different exercise activities. I suppose it makes a lot of sense how Chinese adults tend to keep in such good shape! Being encouraged to exercise outside with a place that is provided, in a welcoming environment with people around the same age group is a great way to stay fit, both mentally and physically.
The architecture was also interesting. In China, the square represents Earth, and the circle represents Heaven. This is used throughout the temple having circular buildings within square courtyards. In the final section of the area there is a large square courtyard, with a three circular platforms leading to a small circular disk on top. This is representing heaven within Earth.
After the temple, we took a train to Tianjin. Here we took some time to settle into the hotel, then had a dinner with a few students from Nankai University, a large university located a few blocks from our hotel.
Josh playing the hoop toss game with a local
A kid and his mom
Gate in the Temple of Heaven
Group shot at the end of the Temple of Heaven
A bicyclist in Tianjin
A city shot of Tianjin
Well know I know why it is difficult to blog things later; I can't remember it... But here it goes.
Great wall, porcelain factory, tiananmen square.
First of all, I could not believe what the Great wall of China had in store for us. One thing I noticed further along the day on the Wall was how wedding photos are taken before the actual wedding itself. (correct me Dr. Li) I was glad Alex and I ran into this as everyone ran further along the path, as I was able to witness this cultural difference. Although I am not familiar with getting married or have attended a wedding in my life that I can remember, I now want to understand why the American culture despises this (superstition?). But whatever I say, here is a picture that I took as the couple were together.
After the big Wall, the group headed to Tienanmen Square. I was fortunate enough to join Vince and Alex before we went to the location as a group. We are able to see all the flags raised in the morning, along with the massive amounts of people that were there during our visit. I will attach a photo once I get my USB drivers for my phone to transfer the photos.
The porcelain factory; very talented artists. The art of making porcelain items just amazes me. Each one is handcrafted, one by one, into a piece of art with many man-hours behind the piece. Every single piece has a story, whether you try to guess what the state of mind the artist needs to finely create the masterpiece, but how the entire process of even making this art is possible. As the group has experienced, we learned that the artists have at least 3 years of experience in doing the type of work they do, but some may have captured how tedious it can be. I am not the best at story telling, but I will show the pieces of art that have been created and looked at during our stay at the porcelain factory.
After a tough day of walking probably the most distance in my life, I cannot complain. This trip is going way too fast for me. Time to interact with the students from the university in the morning.
It was kind of depressing leaving Beijing. I feel like I could have stayed there the whole time and seen so many more things. It also means that our trip is that much closer to being over already. But I am excited to get to Tianjin and kind of settle in. We met some of the students tonight at dinner and they are EXTREMELY nice and courteous. They even stuck around with us after the meal and brought us to get things from the local grocery store and walked us back to our hotel. I was really impressed with how good their English was and it makes me think about how I know next to nothing about their language. I think this is the start of a pretty good friendship between us all for the next few weeks and hopefully after we return to the states.
The afternoon of our third day in Beijing included visits to the Beijing Olympic Park and the Pearl Market. At the Olympic Park we saw the Bird's Nest which held 91,000 people during the 2008 olympics opening ceremony. It has since been scaled back to 80,000 seats but still stands as a very impressive stadium. The impressive design, size and nature of the stadium makes a statement about the pride and national spirit that China built into the structures when they hosted their first olympic games in 2008. I believe this was a great opportunity for them to display to the world that they too can be host to the greatest athletic competition in the world, and in 1st class fashion.
I also learned more techniques of shopping at the Pearl Market today. Before entering the market it is best to have an idea of what you want and how much you are willing to pay for it. I also observed that merchants will attempt to get you to buy whatever it is that they may be selling. Browsing is difficult to do because if you show an interest in a product, which can be as subtle as looking at it, the merchant will attempt to convince you that you need to buy it. You have to be smart about bargaining to a price that is fair as the sticker price on almost every item is way too high.
I am sad to say that we left Beijing today. Kind of sad, but I am somewhat happy to be done with the touring for a while..the walking was getting to be too much! The last thing we did was go to the Temple of Heaven. Seeing all of the people there engaged in physical activity was pretty neat. As a group, we took part in some of the dancing and game playing. Our game of hackie sack got some attention, but it ended up mostly being people laughing at us. All a good time though. I really enjoyed the trees and flowers there, too. It is almost as if when they were planted, they were placed perfect distance from one-another. When we arrived to Tianjin, I noticed that there was just as much, if not more construction than that of Beijing. The only difference I could see was that the labor was a lot more mechanized. I took a walk down to the Shell gas station, walking into a few shops along the way. The people all greeted me with a friendly "hello" and they did not pressure me into buying anything. The people here just seem to be more laid back and easy going, kind of "Minnesota nice". Dinner with the students was something truly special. The food was not as authentic as it was at the previous restaurants, but the atmosphere of the place was fun. We went shopping with the students after, and I talked to one of them about the main differences I noticed between Beijing,Tianjin, and the United States. It was hard to get over the language barrier at first, but as I started to speak slower and use more simple words, things got easier. I am really looking forward to starting up class tomorrow. It should be fun!
Got the first feel for the market place today. We were only there for about an hour but it was overwhelming to say the least. Everyone would be coming up and grabbing you at every shop trying to get you to buy the same knockoff designer things that every other shop has. They also don't even give you a chance to look at what they are selling. If you just stop for a split second to look at something, they will hound you about buying it right away. It is really fun to haggle with the shop keepers though. They will offer some outrageous price to start but most items you can get down to less than half of their first price. I bought some sunglasses for 50 when the starting price was 300. And I still feel I was ripped off. I hoping to get a little more experience when we get to Tianjin and get some good stuff later in the trip.
The Great Wall was unreal. You can't even imagine how big it really is until you're standing on it, facing all of the mountains and hills out on the landscape. Just climbing up a few flights of stairs up there makes me realize how out of shape I really am. There were so many people climbing all over it also, we saw more "foreigners" there than anywhere else so far. It was nice hearing other languages other than Chinese for a change. We also met up with some people that were also from Minnesota that went to the Twin Cites campus and took a group picture. Its small world even on the other side of the world. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to come on this trip and the Wall was everything I thought it would be and then some. This is for sure something I will be remembering for the rest of my life.
Today we visited the Summer Palace, the Olympic Birds Nest and Water Cube, a large market, and watched a Kung-Fu show.
The Summer Palace was shocking because there were way more people here than I've ever really seen grouped in one place. How many? Well, the park estimated that they would have 4400 guests in the area by the end of the day. The most remarkable thing about the summer palace was the group singing that is done. In one of the areas, people group up to sing, and it feels very welcoming and very powerful to be in the middle of it. The Majority of our group was pulled into it to play percussion instruments and to get photos. It is also remarkable to me how many merchants there are at the tourist areas. At the summer Palace there were many merchants walking around shouting "Liang Quai! Liang Quai!" which is telling people that they are offering their wares for two Yuan. It's amazing how much work these people do to get their money.
The Olympic stadiums (Birds Nest and Water Cube) were amazing for their unique architecture and size. The Water Cube even has a water park inside of it. We had to wait for our bus after visiting the stadiums. During this time we convinced our group member, Paul Gearring, to sing for us. It was pretty great, we even gave him a hat and some tips, props to you Paul.
The market was pretty crazy. It was basically a department store just packed full of different merchants. Think of the Mall of America, but maybe twice as densely packed. (It's not as big as the MoA, but think of the spacing between stores and the stuff they stock). The merchants were pretty aggressive in trying to get your attention; some would even go out of their way to try to pull you over to their stand.
The Kung Fu show was pretty cool. I think that a Shaolin Monk's body is the epitome of Physical Fitness. They are capable of breaking metal on their bodies, and even balancing in the tips of swords, spears, and nails.
After the Kung Fu show, a few of us went to get a massage. It was pretty great, but I'll leave it to the other members of my group who went to describe it.
Here are a few highlight pictures of the day:
Water writer saying "ni hao"
Two families also on the dragon boat
Group Pic outside the Birds Nest
Track inside the Birds Nest
Group Pic inside the Water Cube
Artist playing outside the Olympic stadiums
In our four days in Beijing, one of the things i noticed every day was the attention spent on the landscaping and scenery around town. You can hardly travel two blocks without seeing someone working on planting flowers, watering the grass or trimming bushes. The collective efforts of these laborers has truly made Beijing a beautiful city and I am continually impressed by the importance the Chinese place on aesthetics. There appears to be a distinct contrast here from the states, where our cities are ordained with a few meager parks rather than a continuum of trees, flowers and bushes that wind through the streets of Beijing. I have wondered whether this is due to contrasts in social perceptions of aesthetic beauty or rather simply due to the cost of labor. The amount of man hours that are spent keeping the city beautiful would be quite costly in the US. However, one could hardly disagree that the efforts are worth it here, when the positive externalities from such ventures reach millions of individuals each day. Beijing was definitely a uniquely beautiful city from this landscaping to the creative architecture and eclectic blend of old and new cultures.
The Summer Palace was crazy. The main corridor is over 700 meters long, and everything on it is hand painted with intricate detail. I could not believe what I saw. Also, more street vendors-this time trying to sell as soon as we stepped off the bus. The coolest thing I though was the marble boat. The original boat was burned, so what did they do? Made a boat out of marble that cannot be burned. It was quite the sight to see, even though it can't float. Did I mention we sang for a crowd of people? They were having such a good time being together in song, and they played jingle bells for us! It was INCREDIBLE! The Olympic village was awing. The thought that they built the Birds Nest and it has only been used for 3 or 4 events surprised me. You feel like a needle in a haystack when you step inside (very large). The 90,000 plus seats seem to never end. At the Water Cube, I found out that there is a water park. I never knew that. There was a DJ to go along with it. I was amazed, and the people looked like they were having so much fun. I wouldn't have minded a nice dip in the pool. The marketplace again proved to me that you need to know how to bargain. I bought a phone case for 10 Yuan. I talked the lady down from 65. That was quite the mark up, but I think I could have gotten it for 5. You just have to be stubborn. Set your price and stick with it. The kung foo show was cool, too. You could see that those warriors take their practices very seriously. I could not believe the shear strength that they showed. I would be afraid to get into it with one of them. They always kept a serious look, and did not seem to acknowledge the clapping and cheering until the show was over. Something you don't see in America. Time for bed though. We leave for Tianjin tomorrow!
The Great Wall is truly GREAT! I did not realize how steep it actually is. I do not understand how this thing could have possibly been handmade, without any mechanical equipment, but they did it. When we made it to the top, I looked out and saw how beautiful China is. Just 40 minutes away was a city of millions, but we were in nature-nothing but beautiful scenery and fresh air. I really enjoyed seeing the fruit vendors in the village. I really wanted to buy some, but we did not have the opportunity. The porcelain factory was quite the experience. I never realized how much work goes into making even just the simple jewelry box that I bought. I guess I should have known though, because from what I have seen in my two days here, the Chinese are some of, if not the hardest working people in the world. Oh yeah, I found out the hard way that I need to wear sunscreen here, even if I don't feel like it is that hot outside. Tiananmen Square is massive by the way. I love how patriotic the people here are. They gather in the morning to watch the flags go up, and at night to watch them go down. I saw some people sprinting to the middle, just so they could make it in time. That is all for today!
I have to say, this jetlag thing is going to get the best of me. Going off about 3 hours of sleep as I write this. Today was an experience. I can honestly say that I have never had rice for breakfast, along with many other vegetables. It was definitely different than the normal cereal, milk, pancakes, etc. that we Americans are so accustomed to. The Forbidden City is even bigger and more impressive than I imagined it to be. I can't believe that it has over 9,000 rooms-everything being hand painted with incredible detail. The street vendors remind me of the days that I worked as a food vendor at the fair. They will do anything to make a dollar. Some of them even followed us for what seemed like 20 minutes. Persistency pays off, and some of the group members found that out the hard way. We went for a ride and toured a Hutong and saw some of the courtyard style housing. I can't believe that it would cost $5 million US to live in one of those. My house alone has to be at least 3 to 4 times bigger. It is cool how they set it up using fung shue though. The beliefs that they have instilled in them are pretty cool, and they don't change it from generation to generation. From the lunch, I get that the Chinese eat a lot of vegetables. My favorite new veggie is definitely bamboo root. Dinner was another experience. We had something like 12 or 13 courses. These people will not stop bringing you food; apparently because they want to feel like they fed you (did not let you leave unsatisfied). Peking duck was incredible. Well, that is all for today.
In Beijing - Day 3 (pictures to be uploaded once I learn how to do it; I will edit this post along with day TWO of Beijing, stay tuned)
Opening off the day, the first stop was to the Summer Palace, which is a gorgeous location. The many people in this location set the atmosphere, as I believe it was very comforting and touching at the same time. The finest part for me was the music scene, as many people have gathered around to sing Chinese songs, seeming to bring everyone's emotions out as everyone is determined to have a great time. As a hint of the music was heard, I spot Dr. Li run up the steps past the many people sitting on the sides, looking very excited and emotional, these words still cannot capture what I saw in his face.
Picture of old man conducting the foreigners while singing Jingle Bells.
Along with the experience, the American group members were literally dragged up to the main stage to perform with mass amount of people that were there to sing and watch. They were offered instruments to play the beat, such as some bells, tambourines, and cymbals. The last song I experience before we had to leave was "Jingle Bells". Everyone instantly danced and sang along, while the paparazzi took photos of our group, feel as we have gained a little bit of superstar power in a place dominated by the Chinese culture.
After all of our adventures, Alex, Blake, Vince, Mike, and myself went to a massage parlor, the first time I ever had one. Although I would like to write a story about this event, Alex probably has a better story. The story that I have though is Blake and I were called cuties, although Blake has the better looking nose then I do, which I am jealous of.
Although this was maybe the last time I'll ever visit this location, I believe the main thing I learned about this event is to bring out your best emotions while partaking in events such as these. I want to bring some of this culture back to my primary home, the U.S., and share the experience that the group and I have gained while being in this beautiful city. Now it is time for our next stop, Tianjin.
Today after all was said and done after a full day of seeing the summer palace, shopping and a kungfu show, Vince, Danny, Blake, Mike and I went to get a massage.
The first thing that happened when we got there was laughter. Not from us, but from the masseuses. I had no idea what was going on. As they kept on talking, I started to realize what they were talking about by concentrating super hard on making use of what Chinese I knew. Fantastic, they were talking about how CUTE Danny and Blake were and how awesome Mike was. Later on I started having a huge conversation with them about how Mike could probably beat all of us in a drinking match and also coincidentally, how he had 2 babies in his stomach. Later on to be corrected by Mike as 3 babies, to which the masseuses all laughed their heads off. They proceeded to talk about small, teach us some Chinese and laugh at applaud Vince every time he spoke Chinese as they massaged our war torn legs from the Great Wall and eventually finishing off with our backs.
This has been a fantastic experience. Props to Mike, Vince, Danny and Blake for holding it down with the ladies.
And now a couple picture highlights.
Tricky disguise. Could of fooled me!
Some patriotic Chinese singing with the Heart to Heart Chorus
Ushpi and Emma in the Summer Palace
An Olympic piss!
While walking through the Emperor's Summer Palace, I noticed the impressive amount of craftsmanship that was put into the pavilions, bridges, and buildings. Each structure was carefully made and adorned with intricate hand drawn designs. The amount of time and effort that went into making each of these buildings is extraordinary and I think it says a lot about Chinese work ethic and their dedication. With each day that passes, I am continually taken aback by the remarkable structures that are created here in China. I love how every building is functional and beautiful at the same time.
The time we spent singing with the Chinese people at the Summer Palace was my favorite part of the trip thus far. While standing on the stage, I felt as if I was a part of the Chinese culture. I was really moved by the experience and it almost brought tears to my eyes!
Today is our last day in Beijing. Seen lots things around the city and climb or saw a lot of attractions. One of the things I have noticed in the city is the all of the construction that is going on but no heavy equiptment. While driving to the different sites I have seen a hole getting dug by about 12 people and it looks like they have doing it for awhile or, yesterday watching a group a workers pull up patio stones. All they have for tools are a shovel and a wheel barrow. I just think to my self where is the Bobcat or excavator to do these tasks? I think the government gives the people these jobs kind of like busy work. Just to keep people employed.
On a side note, with all the talk we hear about air pollution in the states. Yesterday was the only day I had notice smog in Beijing.
After visiting the Great Wall, I now understand why it one of the great wonders of the world. The wall is beautifully designed with striking views wherever you turn. At certain points along our hike I truly felt as if I was on top of the world. I loved the way the wall weaved through the mountains and valleys. Its structure reminded me of the Chinese dragon that Lina has mentioned on multiple occasions throughout our trip. According to Lina, the dragon symbolizes power, strength, and good luck -- which was exactly what we needed to make it up the second section of the Wall! This challenging section was a great bonding experience for our group. We hiked the final segment together encouraging one another along the way. When we finally made it to the top we were all exhausted, but felt like "true heroes".
Our second day in Beijing started with The Great Wall and wrapped up with the Disco. At The Great Wall I was amazed to see just how treacherous of task it must have been to build it. The Great Wall changes elevations rapidly and has so many bricks and steps it is dizzying. The craftsmanship was very impressive and helped me to understand the ancient building techniques that the Chinese people still use in some other structures today. It is interesting that a culture was able to accomplish the feat of creating the wall so long ago with no modern technology to aid them in construction. Similar to Egyptian Pyramids, the wall was also constructed with nothing but human and animal power. I feel that just attempting such a project says a lot about the culture and their willingness to work hard together in order to protect themselves from their enemies. The wall has many guard towers and appeared to be almost impossible to cross if staffed with soldiers in the era in which it was used to physically protect the country.
The bar we headed out to in Beijing on Saturday night was an interesting look into the night life culture in China. I was most amazed that the majority of the music being played was western music and in english. The bar atmosphere appeared to be similar to the United States for the most part, the only small difference was how people dance to the same songs but in different ways than many Americans.
One thing I noticed not only at the Great Wall, but also from the Forbidden City was the handicraft of the Chinese people. To have built such a great structure by hand is something amazing. I couldn't imagine the amount of time and effort put into the approximately 3,500 mile wall. This was also apparent at the Forbidden City with the hand painted buildings and delicate design structured around special meanings to honor the emperor; for instance, the design of the floor to be uneven so people had to bow their heads. These great structures definitely had thought and time taken into the making, and made me appreciate Chinese people for their devotion. I doubt many Americans would be able to put that much time and effort into something, because we tend to be a more lazy society. We like to rely on technology to do most of our work. Granted the structures were built many years ago, but the Chinese people still take time into putting together crafts such as vases and pictures from scratch.
I noticed a ton of cultural differences while at Summers Palace. One in particular that really moved me was the acceptance of our group while listening to the band and people gathered around singing on the hill. In America, I don't usually get the impression that people are as welcoming or accepting of people outside of their own race, nationality, etc. It was great to see everyone so excited to have us up on the stage, and I felt like a celebrity having people taking pictures from every which direction. They even went out of their way to incorporate Jingle Bells so we knew a song they were playing. These acts gave me the biggest smile, and made me wonder why America can't be more like this and open to new ideas, people, practices, etc.
I also noted how no one wore wedding rings. This I found to be the case, because a Chinese wedding isn't like the traditional American wedding with the exchange of rings and vows. Rather it's a ceremony dedicated to honoring three things: heaven, earth and parents.
On the first day in Beijing we rode the bus to The Forbidden City. The first thing that stood out was the difference in how people move about the city. People on foot often do not wait for the lights but just cross when there is room. Cars drive close together and slip through spaces that do not seem large enough for them to fit through. In addition, it does not appear that vehicles merging have to yield, rather they drive into the lane and the cars behind them are responsible for braking or switching lanes. The roads are shared by cars, bikes and people on foot in an amazingly efficient manner for how congested these areas can become. Although the traveling customs differ from the U.S. it appears that everyone understands these unwritten rules and avoid accidents. For a city that is many times larger than New York in population I was quite surprised to see only one slight fender bender. Spacial boundaries, whether between two cars or two people, are much closer than in the United States. This was evident in our visit to The Forbidden City when some persistent local merchants would grab your arm to keep you in conversation when you attempt to walk away without making a purchase.
Here you can see how cars, bikes and people on foot are often in very close proximity.
Word of the day: Exhausted
You know when you were a little kid, and you were at school learning about the Great Wall and you thought to yourself, 'That's so cool... too bad I'll never be able to see it'; then one day in the 'distant future', you're walking on top of the first tower of the Great Wall? Well, I know how that feels now. Our second day in Beijing was just as awesome as the first. With our trip to Great Wall and to a small copper potery shop (which the name I can't remember for the life of me. However, by the end of the day I was too tired to go out with the rest of the group that night.
What I found interesting, however, wasn't the Great Wall; It was outside of our hotel. I noticed that across the street were a couple of people yelling in front of a store. First thing I thought was 'riot'. Then I started to pay a little more attention and noticed that they were actually chanting and moving in unison. Dr. Li told me later that it was an HR practice that helped boost employee moral by exercising and cheering. I hope I can point out more diffences from China culture compared to American culture!
Today was the most fun and productive day I've had in a while. Having waking up early, Danny, Alex, and I went to walk to Tiananmen Square in the morning. The amount of people there in the morning was surprising, and the walk there was an adventure.
Climbing up the Great wall was really fun. Especially climbing on top of the watch towers, and sprinting a few of the sections. Surprisingly, I was bursting with energy and just wanted to run, and even now at 3:30 AM I kind of want to go running still.
Visiting the small pottery factory was very interesting. The amount of labor and precision that goes in to some of China's crafts still amazes me.
After dinner, a few of us went out for the night, but that's a story for another time.
Here are a few highlight pictures of the day:
Ol' Mike taking a bit of a breather
Brian hanging out with a kid we met on the wall
A little girl taking a photo of her mom
An officer on duty, with a nice sun in the background
Danny in front of the monument and screens
Sun setting behind the opera house
Wrapping up the day of touring
This is the first time I've been to China without family supervision, and it's a complete blast. It is absolutely wonderful to come to China with a group of people I didn't even know a week ago. We've only spent two days together so far, but we're getting to know each other really quickly.
This being the first time that I've actually been allowed to wander around pretty much on my own has been a great experience. The amount of freedom in China just feels so much more present than it does in the US. While it may seem like there are more rules over here, we are also but one if billions of people.
The Forbidden City was breathtaking. While each courtyard was seemingly the same, the amount of work that must have been put into it is unfathomable. It was great to come back to see it again while being able to appreciate how much blood, sweat, and tears went into building the city.
Here are a few of my favorite pics from Day 01:
Beijing Tailong Plaza Hotel, where we stayed while in Beijing
A couple of kids with panda hats just within the entrance to the Forbidden City
Taking it all in
Lina giving us some history
Stairway to ???
Outside the Peking Duck restaurant
Sorry if it's too many photos, I just couldn't narrow it down further.
Second full day in Beijing. Definitely a full day packed with spending 2 hours finding Tiananmen Square in the morning, climbing (literally climbing) the Great Wall, long bus rides, national hand crafts and of course gettin; jiggy.
Today has to be the most physically intense day.... ever. After climbing the Great Wall, a massage was definitely needed, but instead we had to see what the night life in Beijing was like. After much deliberation of where or what to do, we headed down the block to a near by disco? Confusion, frustration, hype, fun, socially awkward and of course boundary crossing were all mixed together to create one freaking awesome recipe for AWESOMENESS.
Here are some of my highlight pictures of the day! Enjoy! (there really were too many.. I should probably start uploading to Picasa)
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Early morning calligraphy
Om nom nom nom :)
Epic to the max!
Emma and Ushpi on the Great Wall
Wedding on the Great Wall?? Wow.
This is actually my favorite of the day.
And of course, the best looking UMD Business and Economics in China group.
After a very long and exhausting flight. I finally touched down in Beijing. I can now say I have circle navigated the world. First thing the following mourning was to go to see the Forbidden City. Wow what a sprawling complex it was. It is truly good to be the king or in this case the emperor. Then had a wonderful lunch at a traditional Chinese house. Where the host, keep bringing me more beer, which I really enjoyed. On day two the group went to the great wall. I made it all the way to the top without have a heart attack which was a bonus. On the way back we made a stop where craftsman made copper vases the looked just like a porcelain vase and finished it off with a trip to Tiananmen Square.
And for Alex how about them puppies...
Beijing as the first stop keeps me wanting for more for the trip. After arrival, our first stop was to the Forbidden City, which is an experience I will not forget. Seeing the massive amounts of people in one place amazed me, as I only thought of New York City compare this experience with. Also, learning about the traditional Chinese lifestyle and culture was very informational and influential, as I was learning how Chinese households are able to keep up with their everyday lives. The food, lastly, but not least, was very delicious, even though that doesn't even sum up how good the food is.
During this trip, I learned that some members of the group carried SLR cameras, which I have been looking at for a very long time. Seeing that they are taking pretty pictures in Beijing just keeps me jealous for the whole trip. But here are some photos that I think are best to sum up the first day of Beijing in picture form.
Day 2 in Beijing began at the Great Wall, which was a two hour bus ride from the city. Besides almost getting sick on the bus ride (should have dropped some dramamine), the scenery was beautiful. As you leave the city the roads wind through dense trees and beautiful fields. Progressively the land rises and you wind through the base of the mountain to the beginning of the Great Wall. Once there we took a ski-lift up the wall and began our climb. I was really surprised to see how young and how old some of the people were climbing the wall. It wasn't any easy challenge, with the uneven and decaying steps. It was definitely worth the labor and the views were truly incredible. It was so peaceful at the top of the wall looking out at the city. After this incredible workout, we got to toboggan down the hill! Definitely a blast, and at the bottom of the hill we got to go round 2 bartering with the locals. Personally I felt i did much better this time and got some cool gifts for back home. Amazing day :)
China so far has lived up to everything I thought to expect and even more. After getting through the jet lag and waking up way too early, the first day has been really exciting and adventurous. The Forbidden City was WAY bigger than I ever thought it would be and I have really come to respect all the time and effort the Chinese seem to put into every type of building and landscape to make everything so unique. I've also found out that vendors don't mess around when it come to trying to sell you something. I was followed a good 5 minutes by one guy trying to sell me a "Rolex". Glad to say I stayed strong and didn't give in. Eating in someones home was a highlight as well and was extremely tasty. Today should be another good day as were going to the Great Wall which I'm very excited for. Yeahh China!
The Forbidden City was very big and old. It was unlike any other thing I have ever seen. In a larger area you could just about fit a major league baseball field. There were so many steps and rooms to walk through.
The tea house was a good way to relax and get a little energy after all of the sight seeing. They all tasted and smelled excellent.
Other things I really enjoyed were the carriage bike ride through the city and the big meals. The differences between China and the U.S. are so big. The city is setup in a way that makes walking the best way to move around. The streets were packed full of traffic. It was a friday so I guess traffic is much worse than weekdays. All and all it was something I'll never forget
I have truly enjoyed every moment that we've spent in China thus far! Some of my favorites include: hiking up the hill in the Forbidden City, learning about traditional Chinese life, eating delicious food, and witnessing a Chinese biker exclaim his love for Bailey.
I am so amazed by everything around me. If the rest of the trip is anything like yesterday, I don't think I'll ever want to leave!
One word (not a real word, but still want to use it): AMAZERING!!!
I am amazed at how much I have learned in just one day in Beijing!!! Even though I had my ups (seeing the Forbidden City, visiting the residential area, and eating duck) and downs (getting hustled by street vendors and having two cameras die from over doing it), I overall had a great time yesterday.
From the time we left the the Beijing Airport, I could tell how hard many of the residents of Beijing work to make this place look and run the way it does. At first, it seemed so chaotic with the way people moved/drove from place to place; but then I noticed how detailed everything was: the clean streets, the carefully cut shrubery and flowers along the highway, the amount of road workers on the streets cleaning up throughout the day. As we walked through the streets, I could see it throught the way so many employees tried their best to get people to buy their products. I even have to give credit to the guy who got me to buy a bunch of stuff; he workrd his butt off to get me to buy that stuff.
The city has the coolest mix of old culture with new technology. In one direction, you'd see the oldest part of the Forbidden Temple, and in the other a busy street full of cars, people, and possibly a KFC.
There's so much more I could comment on, but I still have 24 days in China to absorb. All you need to know is that this trip is going to be one of the most fantastic experiences of my life.
I had an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the hard work and talent put into the design of the palace. I was definitely impressed by the imperial garden and was in awe at the sight and beauty. It was also interesting to learn why the rocks were a part of the garden, because they represented women and their beauty. Everything in the Forbidden City was placed for a specific meaning or purpose and this I found so fascinating. I never would have guessed they would make the floor uneven so when women with high heels walked they would have to bow their heads which showed respect and honor to the emperor.
I was impressed with the hard work put into our homemade meal. Everything was delicious and you could tell there was lots of time put into the preparation to give us a taste of homemade Chinese food. I actually have liked every food I have tried so far, except for the Tofu soup.
Oh and the bike rides were quite amusing, and entertaining. The drivers seemed to love lugging us around and it was comical to see some of them try to get the bike moving.
Forgot to mention: I got peed on by the pee pee boy at the tea house! Not just anyone can say that.
This has definitely been the most fun I've had in China and will probably be topped. Some highlights include almost getting run into by bicyclists during the rickshaw ride, watching this poor guy lug Mike in the back of his, eating THREE Peking ducks, visiting the Forbidden City and of course, the 30 star toilet professor Dahui pointed out.
I'm definitely trying to get as much mileage out of my camera during this trip. If anyone is interested in taking a look at the pictures, I've put some of my favorites in this blog post and also will be periodically posting them onto Facebook.
Hope everyone is enjoying this trip as much as I am!
Boy sleeping with Pikachu pillow
Vince being EPIC
I brought my childhood bear along with my girlfriend's to experience China
Courtney getting some years of fortune
Blake getting harassed by a haggler
1. Gain an understanding of Chinese culture.
2. Learn about Chinese management philosophy.
3. Learn what it is like to be a college student in China - what are the similarities and differences to being a student in the United States?
1. Develop and Improve Mandarin Chinese
2. Learn Accounting practices used in China and compare those with the United States GAAP
3. Learn about the cultural aspects of China
The three things that I want to learn while in China are 1) how much development as an overall economy they have had relative to their population growth, 2) cultural differences between the United States and China, and 3) the main differences between our economy and theirs.
- How does Chinese culture differ from American culture?
- How are the interactions between people in China different than those of people in the United States?
- How do MIS practices differ between China and the U.S.?
#1) What do adults around our age do in their free time? Work, leisure activities, etc?
#2) How do college/university students seek careers after graduation? (Continue parents tradition? Ask professors? etc.)
#3) How to consumers in China spend their money? (amt. of trips, products/services bought, etc)
Side note: My parents told me bringing crispy bills without the fold over the face will give you maximum exchange rate, while exchanging old US bills will make you receive less then the exchange rate. THOUGHTS?
ex. bringing a crispy $100 will give you 649 yuan, while a old dirty bill will give you 630. (based on a 6.49:1 exchange rate)
While in China, I would like to learn more about the younger generation's culture. I would like to learn about what people around our age do for their free time.
I would also like to learn about the culture of business, do the students around our age look for internships and work during school or do they look for it after school?
It also interests me how people handle money. What is important to spend money on in China as opposed to how we spend in the US?
1. Understand the customs and everyday manners used in China
2. Learn more about the entertainment of China and how the increase in middleclass has changed how younger people use their free time.
3. A better understanding of the chinese stock market and how beneficial it is to invest in China.
1. I would like to find and see for myself some of the differences in how the Chinese and US do business day to day.
2. I want to see if I can find in any differences in the way the Chinese use finance in everyday business activity.
3. I want to take in the whole Chinese culture and try as many new and different things as I can while in the country.
While in China I want to take in the Chinese cultural and how they live day to day. I also want to learn about their telecommunication systems and the affects of having certain potions of the World Wide Web blocked. I also want to eat some amazing food.
- Gain a better understanding of the differences in how IT is leveraged to benefit businesses in China
- Learn about the Chinese economy and the direction businesses are moving in,
especially in the context of the world economy
- Increase my knowledge of the Chinese culture and customs