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.
July 2012 Archives
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.
Today a few of us from the group decided that it would be a nice day to go check out the waterpark. When we got to the bus stop we were a little confused but fortunately a local was there to tell us which bus to take to get to the waterpark. When we arrived I was expecting to see a bunch of waterslides and a pool. The first thing I saw was a rollercoaster and immediately we all knew we needed to try it out. The rollercoaster was super intense and crazy at first. Towards the middle of the ride there was a bump in the track that hurt all of us guys in a pretty bad way. We were all hurting when we got off the ride and decided to walk it off and explore the park. The park was made up of a bunch of different lakes/ponds and many islands. There were some very beautiful sites and we wanted to rent a paddleboat so we could go further but it was too expensive. The waterpark was very beautiful and a lot different than I expected. After a couple hours we had seen enough and decided to head back to the hotel.
Today was a very exciting but also sad day. It is our last day in China so we all knew that we had to go hard and make it count. A couple kids from the group and I walked around Shanghai for the last time and tried to decide on something that would top the night off. Everyone from the group decided that it would be a good idea to go to the Sky Club. A few kids form the group had already been there and told us that it was 100 yuan for all you could drink. We had already taken the subway to a different club with Joe so we had a little experience when it came down to us traveling by ourselves. The club was a lot nicer than I had expected and was pretty similar to other clubs we had been to in Tianjin. The bar was constantly full but I think we all had our fair share of free drinks. Like other clubs, Sky club had some pretty incredible dancers and played mostly American music. We stayed out extremely late and realized it was time to head back, after a Mcdonalds run of course. We then headed back to the hotel dreading the morning to come. I was nowhere near ready to leave China. I had the greatest time I have ever had in my life and met some amazing people.
Today was a rather depressing day, our last day in Tianjin. Zach was kind enough to buy one last dinner at the Korean restaurant for the entire group. We met up at the restaurant with the group and the Chinese students that we had been studying with. I was a little skeptical at first because the last time I ate at this restaurant I got pretty sick and had to leave dinner early. Everything turned out this time and we had a wonderful dinner. Towards the end of dinner we exchanged our gifts with the Chinese students and said our goodbyes. Many of the Chinese students had never tried the candy I brought from the U.S. It was funny to watch them react after trying the candy. I definitely was not looking forward to leaving Tianjin. We were there long enough to finally start knowing our way around the city and some of the people who lived there. I had a wonderful time in Tianjin and really hope that I am able to make it back to the city sometime in the future.
For the class we had to read a book about china. I decided to read China in the 21st century by Jeffery Wasserstrom. The books starts out by giving you some history of China. It first talks about Confucianism, which is based off a philosopher Confucius. Over the years Confucius has been seen as a saint or god-like figure. Confucianism did actually go away after the Communist Party came to power. In the 21st century Confucianism is actually becoming more popular again. In the Beijing Olympics an announcer actually read off one of Confucius quotes. After this event, they called for harmonious social relations around the world. They are started to build Confucius Institutes in schools as well. The book also talks about the different dynasties and how they ruled. It also discusses the differences between the dynasties. It then explains the Opium War and how that war affected all of China. It explains how Britain secured rights for "treaty ports". It then goes in detail about the Boxer Rebellion and how that affected their relationship with other countries and what the Boxers were and why they rebelled. So the first have of the book talks about the history and the second half of the book talks more about the future and goals of China. The second half of the book focuses on China being a threat to the United States as a superpower. He compares the stages that the United States went through to become a superpower and where China is in comparison to the United States. I think that this book was extremely informative and helped me understand the history and current conditions of China more. The book was rather short but a very interesting read. I would suggest if anyone has any interest in reading more about China and their status compared to other countries they should definitely read this book!