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.
Recently in In Tianjin 1st Week Category
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. :(
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 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
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...