Recently in In Tianjin 2nd Week Category

Last day in Tianjin

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I think the best word to describe our last day in Tianjin is "bittersweet". I was really excited to move on to Shanghai, but sad to leave Tianjin and all the memories we had made there. As I was packing up my things, I felt much more sadness than happiness. The Haunting Hotel had become our home away from home and I was going to miss it... warm milk and all.

Saying goodbye to the Chinese students was by far the hardest part about leaving. I never thought that in two weeks you could grow so attached to people, but boy was I wrong. These students became our close friends and the time we spent with them is something that I will always cherish.

Although our final farewells were filled with tears, I left Tianjin with a smile. For I know that I have made new friends and new memories that will last a lifetime and there is no sorrow in that!



Movies with Meaning

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On the train ride to Shuzhuo we watched the movie Mulan. I had only seen the movie once prior to this and couldn't believe how much more the movie meant to me the second time around. It's like watching a movie about 9/11, it will usually impact Americans more, because it took part in the United States and affected the whole country. Mulan I found to capture the Chinese culture very well from what I have learned so far.

When the family was asked to fight in the war for the emperor, the father, who was clearly injured, hobbled his way to help serve. Mulan jumped in the way saying he shouldn't go, and her father replied that she had just dishonored him. Mulan sets out to get her father's honor back and represent her ancestors faithfully. Once she captures the sword and medal from the emperor, Mulan brings it back to her father saying it was a gift to her father and China. This demonstrated the culture of China, because Mulan was sacrificing her life for the greater whole of China. The superiority of men over women was also dominant in the movie as Mulan wasn't supposed to speak out of turn or be part of the army.

In Tianjin I saw the movie Kong Fu Panda. This movie demonstrated the strong traditional lifestyle of China. Some animals were trying to defeat Kong Fu with technology, and the panda sets out to keep Kong Fu alive in China.

These movies wouldn't have quite the same impact on me had I not spent so much time in China getting to understand the culture, and becoming friends with the students. While watching Mulan it was amazing seeing the emperor's palace and knowing that I had personally seen the great structure. Movies such as those mentioned become more of a story then an entertainment activity when you can find relationships between the plot and history. Also on the train Dr. Li told us a Chinese proverb that the first bird is the first to get killed. At first I didn't quite get the meaning behind it, but then I remembered that Chinese people are humble and never boost about their talents. While playing competitive sports they won't cheer in excitement to make an opponent feel bad even if they win. It's the person that goes out first to show off that gets killed. I found that to be an interesting proverb and one that many Americans should keep in mind.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

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In the last three days We have done a lot of Traveling around China. Tuesday night we headed south via train. First time I have ever been on a train longer than an hour. It took us a little over 13 hours to go from Tianjin to Suzhou. We did some site seeing and took a 2 hour bus ride to Hangzhou.

What a difference north and south China are in weather. It rained twice the three weeks we were in the north end of China and now it has rained more today then all the rest of our stay. Need to shop for an umbrella for the rest of the trip.

Final Lecture

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Our final lecture at Nankai University was on the Chinese company, Huawei. According to our professor, this company is the number one telecommunication equipment supplier in China and ranks number two in the world. The majority of the company's sales come from international markets and they have over 95,000 employees worldwide. We learned that of these employees, 46% work in the company's research and development department. This high of a percentage is very impressive and is not something you see in many American companies. By devoting large amounts of resources to research and development teams Huawei is gaining a competitive edge in the industry and experiencing great success in international markets.

Currently, the company holds 44% of the market share in the Middle East and Africa and is also the dominant leader in the Asia Pacific region. Surprisingly, this is not the case in the American telecommunications market where Huawei holds less than 1% of total sales. Despite the circumstances, Huawei is continuing its attempts to enter the U.S. market. If Huawei can overcome the hurdles of lawsuits and government regulations in the United States they have a great chance to become a driving force in America's telecommunication equipment industry.

Last day in Tianjin

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Yesterday, we spent the first half of the day giving a presentation to our Chinese students and professors. My group compared and contrast shopping between the two cultrues. We in America will go to big retailers and look for sale prices. As in China they tend to get thier goods from small shoppers were haggling for the best price possible is the norm. I kinda like the haggling portion of shopping over here, since sometimes you can get up to half off of certian goods.

After we had lunch it was time for us to back our bags and head towards Suzhou. I would still like to thank our Chinese hosts as they were the best a person could have to show how genuine and real people are in China. I have never seen such an emotional outpouring as we loaded our bus to head to the train station. It is something that you would not see in America after knowing a person for only two weeks. I just hope one day that they will visit us in Minnesota and we can show them the same and give them a little bit of our "MInnesota Nice". As I feel that we have made friends for life here in China.I will miss them and trying to still in touch with them as much as possible.

It is really unfortunate that we can't stay longer, but it's okay because our time here has been great. I think I can speak for everyone when I say we've all learned a lot in our two weeks here in Tianjin. I would like to thank all of the Chinese students for helping us out while we were here. Showing us around, helping us shop, and just welcoming us was a wonderful gift on its own. I will miss everyone in Tianjin, and I regret not talking as much as I should have, I need to get over being the shy guy that I am.

To get to Shanghai we rode a train for something like 14 hours. We got to experience the push n' shove of traveling again. It seems to be the only time where people aren't terribly courteous to you in China... when people need to get somewhere people will try to push their way into line, probably because they aren't part of your group.

The train ride was something else. Each compartment was pretty small, there were four half twin beds, bunk style and a tiny space in the middle for leg/bag room. All of us seemed to have way too much baggage for the compartment; we filled the storage space above the door, had a few bags in the leg area, and even had some bags on our beds. I'm sure this isn't normal for most travelers, but we are staying here in China for close to a month and needed to pack accordingly.

I think it's pretty different to use trains as a main function of transport from city to city. In America we do have trains, but they seem to mostly be used to transport raw materials or other goods. I've only rode a train once to go to another city, and that was for a field trip. I'm surprised that they aren't being used more often considering the rising cost of gas (road trips) and plane tickets.

Pictures from the day:
Gift exchange
Saying goodbye
Going to the train station

Monday Cultural Post

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Today I won't talk about Huawei... Actually I want to talk about what I have learned from the perspective of an American born Chinese (and Japanese).

It's strangely amazing to walk the streets here and no one looks at me like I'm some sort of novelty. I'm basically treated and looked at like I'm nobody! Which is AMAZING! That might sound strange, happy to be treated like one of the masses, but honestly I enjoy it. Back in the states, I walk around and people will look at me and sometimes they will stare at me in stores or something like I'm going to rob them... Well here in China, I'm treated as though I have an as equal likeliness of robbing anyone!!

Anyone reading this might be kind of weirded out, and even though you get stares in China, you still won't understand it. Here you may get stared at as a novelty or out of curiosity in the willingness to get to know you. That's not the case in the states. This is not meant to be a remark about race or heritage, but just something I've noted. No one stares at me when I hang out in a group of people with the same race as I. When I visited the Nankai cafeteria with two students, I walked in and NO ONE looked up! Having them ignore me was strangely a form of acceptance to me.

Sun Shang Xiang

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In lecture today I got on the topic of symbolism in China with a Chinese student. She was showing me her earrings and told me the meaning behind them was good luck and the color red represented China. I admire pieces of apparel that have specific meaning to the tradition of China, because it demonstrates their pride in history. It was stated in our lecture about Chinese culture that the Chinese use history to understand the present, because a lot can be learned from the past. Americans however look at history as a means to estimate future happenings. She went on to talk about a very dynamic woman in China called Sun Shang Xiang. She told me that she wasn't like most women of China, that's why she's so famous. I wanted to learn more about this powerful woman so I can understand more about the history surrounding China; which is important since tradition plays a big role in their culture.

According to cultural China: she stuck out during the Three Kingdoms era because of her tomboy appearance. She gathered this image by taking martial arts training and using weapons which was odd for the time. I can see how this woman became so famous, because boys have always been thought to be superior in Chinese culture so a woman taking on the manly trait of martial arts and using weapons was unique. This historical piece of information could have placed the idea that men aren't as superior to women, because a woman such as Sun Shang Xiang can participate in the same activities. If the image of superiority between males and females had been acknowledged in the past the currently high ratio of males to females may not exist. Every day here is a learning experience and I love being able to connect lectures to different conversations with Chinese students; it makes me appreciate the way things are here.

The Tianjin Zoo

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When we had a break from class last Friday, Bailey and I decided to visit the Tianjin Zoo. We had read about the Zoo in our tourism guide and it seemed like it would be a really fun experience for animal lovers such as ourselves. According to the guide, the Tianjin Zoo is one of the top seven Zoos in China. It is home to over 3,000 animals and 200 different species. The book also mentioned that the Zoo holds many rare species of national first and second class protected animals, Giant Pandas, Red Pandas, African Lions, and a Polar Bear. After reading this summary, Bailey and I were extremely excited and couldn't wait to see what the Zoo had to offer.

Unfortunately, our experience at the Zoo did not measure up to our expectations. We weren't able to find many of the animals listed in the guide and we were displeased with the conditions that some of them were living in. These poor conditions were most apparent in the area that housed the hippos. When walking into the building, we saw two tanks of water that were extremely small and dirty. Each of these tiny tanks held two giant hippos struggling to share the space. From only a few brief moments in the building, you could tell that these animals were unhappy and uncomfortable. Although it was fun to see animals like the hippos, I wish that they would have been better taken care of.

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Online Shopping

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Many lectures have discussed the recent trend in China to do online shopping. The Chinese students say they frequently use this method, because it is cheaper and easier than going to the store. Today people are able to access the internet via mobile phones so the online shopping process is even easier than ever before. In lecture by Professor Lin Runhui, it was stated that upon getting online 25% of people in China do online shopping.

Last night I was able to take part in the group buying method of shopping online. Some Chinese students wanted to take us to a club called Scarlet. We had heard this place was expensive, even by American terms, compared to other clubs/bars. One of the Chinese students said she got a discount by ordering a table online for us. Originally it would cost 400 RMB to go to the club and purchase a table, by purchasing online however it only cost 69 RMB. I was absolutely stunned at the price difference. In lecture we saw the different prices for washing machines. I would normally assume a washing machine is an item that would vary greatly across web pages, because of the frequency of buying household appliances. What I couldn't believe was that an entertainment activity would offer such a discount. The only downside to ordering online is that you aren't guaranteed a table for the specific night you purchase it. You must call the manager or go to the club and see if tables are still open then use your receipt number to confirm your purchase. If tables aren't available for the specific night you want then you are allowed a window of about a month to use the purchase for another night. The only online buying for entertainment purposes I have used in America was purchasing Twin's tickets. I was charged a fee for using the online method instead of buying tickets at the game. I found the different methods of transactions interesting and would like to explore websites in America that may implement the same extreme discounts that the sites in China allow.

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