Music in China does not seem to be as big of part of everyday life as it is back in the U.S. Sure there is a rich long history of music and dancing but there is a lot of time in the day where it seems they prefer silence or just the news or every day noises. Back home I listen to music almost all day. All most every time I got in a cab the driver was listening to talk radio. Out on the streets near attractions like the ferris wheel in Tianjin you would year American pop music the mix was funny and strange to me they mainly listened to Eminem and Taylor Swift.
From Beijing to Shanghai we covered approximately 800 miles, and not once did I see an area that was truly rural. Everything on the east coast of China seems to be developed. The population here is astonishing. The small cities are comparable to our larger ones. Look in any direction and there is no sign of the development slowing down. There are numerous skyscrapers going up every day back home If a large building is going up everyone knows about it.
There have not been many days were I have been able to see the sun or feel its rays. The sky cloudy or sunny looks the same every day. It will clear out for a while after a rain fall. After about a week in China I noticed that my breathing was getting worse. The air here is not as good as back in the United States. With all the manufacturing and the huge population I am really starting to understand the importance of better emission standards.
The Dogs in China seem to have a different attitude than the ones back in the United States. I have not heard a single dogs bark, not one. None of them are on a leash they just roam around their owners, it's weird. When you go to purchase a dog you should bring some water with you to make sure the dog is not dyed colors. The sales men will actually dye the dogs color to make them more appealing.
The Chinese society as a whole does not put as much emphasis on working out as we do back in the States. They don't have too because they are in better shape than most Americans, which can be attributed to their healthier diets. That being said the gyms we visited were run down; none of the equipment was new. My favorite was the gyms located outside, these gyms looked like playgrounds but they were gyms. My favorite piece of equipment was the treadmill; I'll do my best to describe it, shaped like a treadmill but on the base or platform were you run it was just metal tube close together that spun in circles. I had never seen anything like it.
Tough, learning Chinese is real tough. Every time I think I have something down we travel to a new area and meet new people and the language changes. While we were in Tianjin a former student living in China, Sam, meet up with us. We sat inside Helen's and he tried over and over to help correct our pronunciation of the language. It helped but we were still pretty bad. I really enjoy the challenge of learning a new language and now truly believe that you have to spend time in the culture to be able to speak a language fluently.
This was the first train I have ever road on. The ride was incredibly smooth. We would be traveling at speeds up to 160 plus miles per hour and you really didn't notice it. What and efficient way to travel, I wish we had a train like this going from Duluth to the Twin Cities. My favorite train ride was from Tianjin to Wuxi. The night before we had stayed out all night with the Chinese students at KTV singing karaoke and I was dog tired when I got on the train. I had been assigned to a cabin without any of my peers. This worked out great, at first I has trying to catch some rest so I put my head against the window of the train and shut my eyes. I was not able to really fall asleep and when I opened my eyes a couple of friendly Chinese ladies were sitting across from me. We instantly struck conversation; even though we had a language barrier we were able to hold our conversation for several hours. We did this with our limited knowledge of each other's language and many pieces of paper. We talked about everything under the sun, where we lived, what we liked to do, our families, jobs, what we aspired to do, and many other things. The lady that I talked to the longest was a professor at the University of Ninjing. This lady helped me order food on the train and when I tried to pay she had already beat me to it. We sat down together and had lunch, she was incredibly friendly. Everybody in the cart with me was very open to me and showed great hospitality.
Today we visited Ikea it was interesting to visit a business that is also very popular in the United States, but it was basically the same the only difference that I noticed in the products is that they used the space more efficiently. It was neat to see but I would have liked to visit a major furniture company that was based in China to see how they ran their operations compared to a U.S. company.
Tea is to China what coffee is to the United States, except more extreme. During our time in China we have visited many tea houses and shops. The first one we visited was in Beijing it was a lot more than I expected. Every tea seemed to have a different meaning and was used at different times and for different traditions. We were introduced to the proper customs for drinking each tea. My two favorite parts were watching the flower tea unfold from a ball into a beautiful flower, and the pee boy. The pee boy is a ceramic figure that the host poured water on the it shot a steady flow all over the table and sprayed everyone, it was really funny I had never seen that before. After we all had tried each tea they brought us out to the shop. The pottery and ceramic cups were really nice, but really over priced we found out later that we could by these same pieces out in the markets for a fraction of the price.
I really enjoyed reading this guide to customs and culture in China. I feel as though it encompassed all of the important things one would need to know in their travels to China. I started reading this book right before we left on our trip and wish I would've started it earlier because of all of its beneficial tips. The book started by describing the land and the people. It talked about the history of China, the environment, and the growth of the new cities. It also taught me very important facts about values and attitudes in China, which I found to be much different than here in America. This part of the book included morals, Chinese philosophy, the meaning of yin and yang, and even guanxi, which we learned about in our classes.
The book also outlined religion, rituals, and festivals in China. I learned about birthdays and weddings and was able to compare them to the U.S. Of most importance to me, this book taught me about business and communicating. I learned negotiating techniques and was able to use them while over in China in the marketplace which I thought was very cool. I was very interested in this section of the book because it all related directly to my major. They described in great detail China's entry into the World Trade Organization and their transforming business culture. I was able to apply these concepts throughout the trip as we learned about business operations at companies such as Lishen Battery and TEDA Hospital. This book was a great tool for me and helped me gain a better understanding for Chinese culture. This book, along with the firsthand experience I was getting while on the trip, coordinated well together to provide a great benefit for me. I would highly recommend anyone who plans on traveling to China to first read this guide as it will make China an easier place to understand and visit.