The first day we got into Tianjin I spotted a Mcdonalds and knew that I had to try it. A few of us from the group walked down there to check it out. It was pretty similar for the most part, but the menu had a few weird items that I had never seen before. Everything was in Chinese so one of the workers gave me a menu and told me to point. I decided to try out a Chinese big mac. This may have been one of my worst decisions of the trip because I liked it so much and the walk to Mcdonalds was super convenient especially at night when we were getting back from the bar. I started going to Mcdonalds more and more and even when we left Tianjin I still managed to find other Mcdonalds locations which meant more big macs. I am a little bit embarrassed but also proud to say that over the course of a month I ate 17 Chinese big macs and went to Mcdonalds around 20 times. I have maybe had 5 big macs in my life back in the states. This is something that I will look back at in the future and wonder what I was thinking.
Recently in 1st Week in Tianjin Category
Traffic in China is so much different than what I am used to back home in America. I have learned that there are traffic laws but from what I have seen they are not enforced very well at all. You honestly cross the road at your own risk over here. I have been watching how he locals cross the street and it is seriously crazy! Even if the crosswalk light is red they will walk out into the street and stand in the middle of the intersection in between moving traffic. Personally, I like to wait for the green light but even then there are still cars that you have to watch out for. I have never heard so much honking in my life. If you are out on the streets it's not possible to go 10 seconds without hearing someone honk. I am not sure if drivers over here are super impatient or what the deal is. I have also noticed that people hardly use turn signals especially if they are just switching lanes. I think it would be extremely hard for me to drive in China. People here are such aggressive drivers I wouldn't have a chance and would probably end up in an accident.
Today we went to the business school at Nankai University for our orientation. We got to meet the Chinese students that we would be studying with during our time at Nankai. At first I thought that the students would be very quiet and shy, I was definitely wrong. The girl that sat next to me told me that her American name was Sue. She was extremely friendly and spoke pretty good English. I was surprised at how well we were able to relate and understand each other. We talked about the many differences between Americans and Chinese. She told me that Chinese people are very obedient and that she thinks Americans aren't which is definitely true to some extent. Another major difference was that the Chinese have a much more collectivist culture and Americans seem to be more independent. I found that the most similar thing between the Chinese and Americans is that we are both very friendly.
After an interesting lecture on Human Resource Management we decided to go play some more badminton. I was starting to pick it up and played a lot better this time. Besides playing badminton here in China I haven't had a lot of experience with the sport except for when I was in high school. The first time we played badminton it was just our group and the whole gym was open. I watched some Chinese students play doubles for about 20 minutes and then was invited to play. The girl that I was playing with was very impressive. We definitely dominated the other team until a different male Chinese student subbed in with our opponents. I thought that I was pretty good at badminton until he continuously spiked it in my face. I could tell that he has had a lot of experience with the sport and even though my partner and I were losing I still had an awesome time. After a while I got extremely tired and decided to head back to the hotel after the storm passed.
Today was Tom's birthday so I knew we were going to have a lot of fun tonight. We all decided that Helens is the place to be for the occasion. I was amazed at how different Helens was compared to restaurants/bars back in America. We got along really well with the Chinese people at the bar. They were very friendly and showed us a lot of attention. Many of them spoke a little English so communication was not too difficult. One thing that really surprised me was the amount of American music that was being played. I really liked a lot of the songs and recognized almost all of them. After spending a few hours at the bar I started to get really hot and felt sick. I told everyone that I had to head back to the hotel and was very upset that I could not come with them to the club, especially because it was Tom's birthday. Once I got some fresh air I felt a lot better, but still decided to head back to the hotel and get a good night's sleep.
On one of our free days this weekend I decided that it would be cool to pick out a random place from our tourist guide book and go there. I had read and saw the ancient culture street mentioned a few times and it look like a fun day trip. It is also know to have many shops offering a wide range of items. I decided I that I would venture down there and our group of two grew as we met up with others on the way. Our adventure started with trying to find the right bus and bus stop. Luckily we were able to ask some of the locals for bus information by pointing to the address in our guide book. At first I thought this could be a disaster but either way it would still be a fun trip even if we didn't make it to the ancient culture street. All of us have business cards to our hotel that displays the address and map so if we got lost we would just have to take a taxi back. To my surprise we made it down there after a rather long bus ride. Upon arrival we all were hungry and we decided to get some food. A couple went to KFC and a couple went to Subway. After lunch we were ready to check out this top-ten Tianjin must see tourist site. The architecture was really interesting and deserving of a few pictures. The street was meant to resemble Tianjin's ancient buildings from the Qing Dynasty in 1644-1911. Aside from the beautiful architecture the street offers over a hundred little store and street shops. As we made our way down the street I noticed that for every four shops there seemed to be one novelty sward and knife shop. A few of the shops had stuff worth looking at but many of the shops were tourist items we had all seen before. I enjoyed our jaunt down Ancient Culture Street but it was not as impressive as it is made out to be in tourist books and websites. I was somewhat disappointed. It almost seemed as if it was out of season or maybe we just came too late in the evening. Many of the shops were taken down and the excitement very low for being in the top-ten tourist must see list.
Sunday was a beautiful day in Tianjin. I woke up got some food down the road and on my way back I met up with Alex and Ryan. Alex and Ryan invited some Chinese students to gout out with us to show us the town. They brought us to the water park which was really cool. The water park is a huge area with pings and man made sculptures with water flowing through them. After the water park we walked to the Zoo which was nearby. In the zoo I never to got to see real live animals just sculptures of animals. After the water park we started to head to the Ferris wheel. Once we got to the Ferris wheel we took many pictures under the night sky. This Ferris wheel is the largest Ferris wheel in Asia. The Ferris wheel was all lit up with red and blue lights. As the night got later the Chinese people began to bring out games like amusement park. I did end up winning a small prize from the dart balloon game.
Saturday was the first day we had time to ourselves. It was nice to sleep in a little bit after the long week. I did find time to go to ancient Chinese street. Ancient Chinese street had many very old buildings which contained shops that sold many different items from swords to paintings. At the end of the street there was a huge building which looked to also be very old. It was nice to get out and about to see Tianjin on our own.
This morning the lecture was on Human Resource Management which was very interesting. It talked about many push and pull factors for businesses in China. After the lecture we played sports in the afternoon. This was my second time playing badminton in China and I felt that I was getting a better hang of it. I'm still very bad at serving the birdie. This badminton was a little difference then the first game because the first game we had the whole gym to ourselves but this time we were mixed with a lot of Chinese students. This game seems to be very popular in China. I didn't get to play a lot this day because there was a lot of students today. I did get to play one game and the chinese students were very good!! While we were playing badminton it was the first time it rained in China. I was surprised at how fast the weather changed. It seems like it only took a matter of minutes for the sky to turn completely green. The storm didn't last long but there was a lot of rain and I even saw some lightning! I am so glad that we have had very nice weather in both Tianjin and Beijing I hope the rest of the trip stays like this.
China Day 12 (Tianjin)
Traffic in China is much different than that of America. Either they don't have many traffic laws, or people simply don't care to oblige by such laws. Crossing traffic here kind of resembles the game Frogger. People will move up to lets say the middle of an intersection, wait for a few cars to turn, and then continue onwards if the coast is clear, even if it's still a red light. They say that patience is a virtue for the Chinese, but the traffic seems to tell a different story. I think I've heard a car honk their horn at least every five seconds I walk the streets. There also seems to be a ripple effect with that. If one person honks, the next person will do the same. This can get quite annoying, but it's probably necessary given how many people are in Tianjin. Another thing that I've noticed here in China is that there are at least as many bikes on the road as there are motor vehicles. There are even parking lots for people's bikes at many of the businesses such as the supermarkets and restaurants. The people of China are very hospitable as well. It's pretty comparable to "Minnesota Nice", really. In most parts of the United States, you wouldn't be treated with anywhere near the kindness that the Chinese have extended to us. I've meet people from around the world here as well. They have come from places such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Australia, Korea, UK, Norway, Ukraine, and more. I feel like China is becoming the new "melting pot" of the world. The bars, and the clubbing, here are so much more fun and I honestly feel much more comfortable around complete strangers here than I do in the United States. At Helen's, one of the bars our groups has grown fond of, I meet a few Aussie's that were telling me about a program called TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). It's a two month course that dives you into the basic logistics of the english language and prepares you to teach it across the world. I've always wanted to travel the world so I may look more into this program. Needless to say, China has been an amazing experience and I am so glad (and so lucky) that I am here.