June 13, 2011
Even though I landed from Beijing, unpacked, and finished my laundry in the same night I am still mentally unpacking from my trip. Being home from Beijing for over two weeks has still left me thinking about this unforgettable experience. Every day an image or thought pops into my mind and I have another wow(that happened) moment. I am often asked, what was my favorite experience throughout the trip, and its easy to say something like “hiking the great wall”, or “exploring the forbidden city” because they were pretty remarkable. But I think the best experience of the whole trip was being able to explore uncharted territories and let the moments unfold how they should. I began to throw plans out of the window and see where the day or night would take me. Hopping on the subway and exploring parts of Beijing I otherwise would not have gone lead me to one remarkable experience. I took a trip to the the Drum Tower in northern Beijing. I was walking down the street and someone who looked familiar caught my eye. I took a second glance and noticed it was a family friend of mine named Charles, and his girlfriend. I didn’t know he was in Beijing and the encounter left both of us speachless after bumping into each other. I still can not believe the odds of running into someone that I have know for years, half way around the world, on the same side of a busy street in downtown Beijing. I could have believed it more if I were in a tourist area but here! Incredible.
It’s priceless moments like that, that stick with you forever.
A key ingredient to any culture is the food that they eat. On one of our last days we were shown how to make sweet and sour chicken, and dumplings. One thing I enjoy doing is cooking different types of food. For me cooking is both relaxing and enjoying. So when I learned we would be making dumplings and sweet and sour chicken I was pretty thrilled (and hungry).
Prep work for the sweet and sour was cutting the chicken, pineapple, and peppers into small pieces.
Soak the pineapple in salt and water while you dip, and roll your chicken.
Enjoy over some rice!
Next were the dumplings.
We filled the dumplings with beef, onions, salt, eggs, and sashimi oil.
put about a teaspoon of the filling into the dumpling and squeeze the edges (kind of like making a perogie).
Boil them until they rise to the top and they are ready to eat!..
Sometimes you cook the food, but other times the food cooks you…
May 31, 2011
So it has been a while…
This weekend I had my first overnight train experience. We had to take a 12 hour train ride to Xi’an to see the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Huaqing Palace.
The Beijing Railroad Station is HUGE!
We fit 14 people into the sleeper car…
They even came around with a food/drink cart. (Like Hogwarts)
There was construction everywhere in Xi’an! Something interesting is that they use bamboo for scaffolding.
Then we arrived at the Terra Cotta Warriors. The whole thing was impressive and I can not believe all of these were hand made over 2,000 years ago.
After we ate a traditional dish eaten in Xi’an which was Chinese pancakes and beef. I thought it was tasty but our group had mixed feelings about it.
After lunch we went to the huaqing palace. This is a hot spring location, and was used by the emperor during the winter. I am starting to think it was not such a bad idea being an emperor. The Summer Palace as my summer home, Huaqing palace as my winter home, and the Forbidden City as my normal home…
After we ate at a Chinese Dumpling place which was delicious!!
And then…everyone back on the train. (I got very little sleep even though I had my own bed.)
When we arrived back at home our next stop was to visit a Chinese school. It was cool to hang out with the kids and talk to them, and all of them spoke english so that was nice as well. I sat in on a math class, and helped a few kids out with there home work. Good thing it was just algebra!!
Something a 4th grade boy I met wrote to his parents. I This is one of those priceless letters you save when you have kids.
The school had a lot of similarities and a lot of differences.
Kids were allowed to be on their phones in class, or could be reading a book or sleeping. It was more like if you want to succeed you will listen and do your work. If you don’t want to succeed we aren’t going to make you.
They had lockers, but they used magnetic bracelets to open them, versus a padlock.
In general it just seemed like they had more freedom, I thought going in the school was going to be strict, but it was very lenient.
Their business class operated a coffee shop, which I thought was a pretty cool idea. It taught the kids accounting, business, and communication skills.
I apologize for not blogging as much as I would like but between the busy schedule and a SUPER slow internet it makes it pretty difficult. I only get internet here from 6am till about 8am and then it just gets jammed up….
There are two faces to Beijing. There is the modern, center city that we are used to in the United States. And then there is a more dilapidated, poor area. What is strange is that a poor area can be right next to a very vibrant area. There can be for instance, an upscale hotel or restaurant and then not even a half a block away a very poor urban neighborhood.
Since I am interested in getting the full experience I have been exploring the other side of Beijing in my free time.
So what have I found?
Delicious inexpensive food, peace, happiness, and wonderful people.
Since I am a growing young man I demand a lot of food. So last night Aamir and I went to a street side food vendor for Kabab. It was delicious! We ate Chicken, beef, or perhaps something else(dog, cat?) Either way they were sooo good. While at this restaurant a little boy was playing on the street and he came over to us with his ping-pong ball and started playing catch. We stayed for a while and played with him, and I am sure the pictures will show a little piece of joy that all of us should never lose.
I wish I could have spoken to him, but he was babbling in Chinese at us!
One thing that I need is me time. I have had a little trouble doing so with all of the things we have been doing. But today we had some downtime so I put a few yuan in my pocket, and put on my running shoes and went for a run. At the end of my run I was walking through a neighborhood and saw two people eating at a restaurant who looked like they spoke english. Luckily they did and I asked them if the food was good. They ordered for me (in chinese) and I sat with them and learned a lot about why they were in Beijing. They both have been here for 4 years and are working for a company that develops apps for the Iphone. They said that one of there free apps made it to the top 10, which is really a big deal. They also gave me some good insights about Beijing, and we chatted for a good 45 minutes. They were really surprised to see me in that area and asked what I was doing, as they see a lot of foreigners there.
I don’t know what it was called, but I had egg, pork, cucumbers, and sauce over rice. It was DELICIOUS! And it only cost 10 yuan($1.50 usd) with the green tea.
So the more I go out exploring the more I am realizing that when you can, meet people! Great things will happen, and you will learn so much. This may be my favorite part about traveling, the people you meet and the stories that you hear about their experiences. In fact they invited me to their companies party where they rented out a hotel with over 100 people going. I would have loved to go but this evening we leave for our overnight train ride to Xi’an.
One thing they did leave me with is that you can not fight, or plan anything in Beijing. Throw any plans out of the window because they will for sure change. And embrace anything that happens to you when your here.
I can not wait to travel to Xi’an tonight!
I’ll hopefully have a lot to say when we return in two days.
May 26, 2011
Yes you read it correctly!
Wednesday I went to our Chinese culture class in the morning and then went to our Business Communications class in the afternoon. I learned a lot communicating with the other Chinese students. The most important being that you should exaggerate your non verbal communication when discussing with people of a different language. Many of the students spoke English well, but others were having a hard time understanding what I was saying. When I knew that they could not understand me, I would write it down on paper. They told me that they could read and write better than they could speak English, so this was very helpful. I also noticed that Chinese males were a lot more timid when conversing. The Chinese students told us that they learned more about how to express their opinions, in a culture that does not do so like the United States. And they also saw how this was important in a business environment when innovation is such a key factor.
Yeah…I can’t read this. Luckily I took notes off of the Powerpoint.
In the lobby of the CUEB Business Building.
This is something that I saw that more colleges in the US could do. Solar power lights! And then… All 23 of us were treated to a Chinese foot massage! Everyone appreciated it after hiking the great wall of China the previous day.
The next few days are going to be very busy for our group. We will be traveling 12 hours overnight by train to Xi’an to see the Tera cotta soldiers. Our train has cabins with 4 beds in each room, so we will be able to get plenty of rest before arriving.
until next time!
May 24, 2011
I have an extremely large bucket list. I am a curious person, so there is so much I want to see, learn, and do. Before even knowing about this China study abroad trip, I never thought I would have the chance to visit the great wall being that
A. It is in China, and I didn’t think I would travel there.
B. The great wall is still far from any city in China.
So after I found out we would be visiting the great wall I was very excited. I think it would be cool to see all 7 wonders of the world, and after yesterday I just checked one more off!
One thing I have learned is that when the chinese build something, when you see it in person it will surpass your expectations with its quality, size, and greatness. The same was proven true yesterday with the great wall. It is huge! And when I was standing on top of this thing, I just thought about all of the effort the Chinese went through to construct it. It was a HIKE to get to the wall, and I couldn’t imagine scaling the side of a mountain with thousands of tons of rock, and then building it by hand.
Since words can hardly describe it, maybe pictures will help, but like everything else I have seen this trip pictures do no justice. You just have to see it!
Happy Wednesday(in China)!
你好’ (ni hao!),
It has been such a busy weekend for our team here in Beijing, China. We visited the summer palace which was Emperor Lians vacation home. It sits on the hillside, in front of a lake outside the city of Beijing. The lake was man made, and it is maintained as an attraction with its serene lakeside walk and garden. The views were amazing, and it was nice to get away from the busyness of center city Beijing.
On Sunday we went to Tiananmen Square and the forbidden city. I had a little knowledge about both, but what was most astonishing was the vastness of each place, and how ornate all of the buildings in the forbidden city were.
The Entrance to the Forbidden City
Inside the first courtyard
This trip has begun, or continues to developed many of my friendships. Last night I went to a traditional Mongolian dinner with my two professors and two other students. I learned more about Chinese tradition and culture. Our host Mr. Song talked a lot about Guanxi (pronounced Gwon-chee), or relationships. It was fascinating to learn how much the Chinese value friendship, and do so in such a loving and respectful way. They make you feel like family, and after last nights dinner, if I ever need anything while in Beijing I would be taken care of by Mr. Song’s family like they were my own.
Mr. Song then explained the three things Guanxi can relate to, and that every Chinese should maintain.
- We must maintain a good relationship between ourselves and nature.
- We must maintain a good relationship between ourselves and others.
- We must maintain a good relationship within ourselves by keeping a balance of body, mind, and spirit.
Since these are the principles of Chinese philosophy it also carries over into the business environment. You first become friends and establish a relationship, and then you conduct business. This is the single largest thing that distinguishes China from the rest of the world.
To me this concept has both pros and cons. The most obvious pro being you establish a trusting relationship with your client. Trust is a very important value in the business world, and knowing you can trust whom you are working with, or conducting business with is important. After thinking more on this concept I did however realize that business will indeed move a lot slower. I asked Mr. Song about this and he couldn’t agree more.
We ate in a Mongolian hut called a Yurt.
If a host gives a blue haduh to their guest, it means they value their friendship like they value water. It is a necessity and a blessing to their life.
Baby Lamb…(This is the highlight of Dr. Gutgolds vegetarian lifestyle)
Will, Song, and myself.
This banner was given as a gift from Mr. Song and means.
“A genuine vision is derived from simplicity of life, and a real success is conceived in serenity of mind.”
mmm mmm good!
Watermelon and Dragon fruit for dessert. The meal, and the experience was amazing, and is something I will never forget!
So as you can see, it’s all good in Beijing, China! Until next time…
再見 [再见] (byebye),
May 21, 2011
Ni hao from Beijing!
I have loved every minute spent in Beijing so far. We arrived at the Beijing Capitol Airport and I was surprised at how CLEAN everything was. It is also currently the second largest airport in the world. After a 13 hour flight we ended our long day with a delicious dinner. The main course was Peking Duck, but I would be selling our dinner short stopping there. We had rice, fish, pork, beef, noodles, potatoes, lamb, and all sorts of veggies. When you eat out here everything seems to be family style. They begin coming to your table dropping off heaping plates of food, and then it seems like 30 minutes later they are still arriving with yet another delicious looking dish of something. I was stuffed and everything was delicious, and I do not think I will have a bad meal my entire time! And how much do you think this high-end meal cost? about 10 usd.
To take some weight off, we decided to take a stroll around Beijing, and this is just one of the many sites we saw.
I have been observing everything, this being my first overseas travel experience. I have noticed so much about Chinese culture, but things that first pop into my mind are:
The people here LOVE Americans. Our group went to the Summer palace, and when we would take a break from walking, Chinese people would come up and ask you for a picture, or would want to join in if we were snapping pictures of our own. It would not be uncommon for them to take pictures of us with their own cameras. For the first time I feel like a minority, luckily there is no racism( but if there was I wouldn’t be able to tell)
Along with that, the people are also very friendly.
Fewer Chinese speak english. This I was surprised by. I had the impression, and I feel like we are told in America that there are more English speaking chinese than Americans, or everyone speaks English. But when going around and asking about 10 people where things were at a store, or just trying to give directions to a cab driver…They just look at you with a blank stare. A tip is if you are looking for help to ask someone who is younger, because they are more likely to speak english. Even though they can not understand you a smile, polite gesture, and an attempt at Chinese is surely appreciated. And though many do not speak english, luckily most signs/menus are in english.
The air quality and pollution is bad. I am dying for some crisp fresh air.(Especially after running)
Chinese do not serve cold drinks. Everything is either hot, or room temperature(which seems to always be very warm.)
Hopefully you are good with chopsticks! If you aren’t you will be in a few days, or you will be very very hungry!
Beijing is a pretty easy city to understand, it is like a grid broken up into east,west,north, and south. I feel like it is really hard to get lost. If you do, it may be hard to figure out your way back with street names like “Guangqumennei Dajie”, or “Chaoyangmenwai Beilu”. Fortunately you would be able to hail a cab and get anywhere for about 25 yuan( 4 bucks). If you do get in a cab, make sure you buckle up, they drive like maniacs.
Our money has so much purchasing power. I don’t think I have spent over 100 yuan.(15 bucks)
Any street, at any time of the day is safe to walk down.
It seems like half of Beijing, is outdated by about 25 years, but the other half is very very modern. There is also always construction happening.
The Chinese, and especially our host school Capitol University of Business and Economics (CUEB) have been extremely excellent hosts.
And now check out some more pictures. I will also be uploading them to my flickr account, where a link can be found on the right hand side of this page.
Soccer anyone? We opted to buy a new ball at Walmart…
Steve and I took our first run today and ran to Chaoyang park.
We agreed that the buildings in the background look like they belong in Dubai.
Our first Breakfast (Soup, Rice, eggs, frut, yogurt, cold cuts, and these doughy, less sweet tasting cinnamon rolls.
Constructing, what me and Steve thought will be some type of mall.
Kung Fu Chicken fastfood
My next post will be about Tiananmen Square, and the Summer Palace.
May 17, 2011
I think it would be interesting see what people take with them on long trips. I have been preparing for the trip this past week gathering all of my necessities, and non necessities. But today I put it all together…The result, my room looks like a bomb has gone off.
You can learn a lot from packing for a big trip. I put a good amount of thought into preparing for this one, and as I had all of my “to be packed” items laid out I realized everything I absolutely need and want is going with me.
To make the actual packing part easier (because no one likes packing) I made a list. I first listed things that needed to go with me.
Obviously health, safety, and getting into the country are the most important things. How will enjoy my trip if I am sick, or worse unable to go! So I took the plan for the worst, hope for the best approach.
My needs are:
Passport, money, License, antibiotics, cellphone(Taking a very small flip phone, I will only be using this in an emergency), toiletries, shoes, clothes, Emergency contact numbers.
Then I had to list other items. All though they are not major necessities, to make the most out of this experience, I would want them with me. Lets call this group, comforts. I don’t really need them but they will be a trip enhancer.
Running Shoes, Camera, Computer, Books, travel snacks, Ipod, and a backpack.
If you ever travel to Asia or anywhere internationally for that matter, here are a few things I suggest taking.
Books! For this trip my two text books, and others for the plane ride.
A voltage converter, $18 for a good one with High/Low settings. There plugs do NOT look like ours.
Running shoes! Ok NOT a necessity by any means, but I will be exploring a lot of the city with a long run. And since I can’t take a bike…
Tylenol, Advil, Benedryl (for headaches/allergies).
And if you will be traveling somewhere with unsafe drinking water, a general antibiotic is good to have on hand.
Even if I don’t need it, I do NOT want part of my trip ruined by something I could have prevented.
And of course your Passport!
Now that I have everything ready to go seeing the things that I need, and distinguishing them from wants, it’s amazing that I can fit everything into two pieces of checked luggage. I don’t really need to take everything I am taking but seeing everything laid out makes me pretty fortunate for what I do have.
In a way I suppose I packed for this trip, but I also think it was more than that. It put things into perspective for me, and it also made me appreciate everything I have, and of course the opportunity that awaits me!
Beijing here I come!
Today I will begin my official countdown, with only 4 days until I depart for China. I am going with a group of 22 students, and 2 professors. I will introduce most of them at a later date!
I guess it would be important to highlight the reasons why I am participating in this study abroad opportunity. Well… I have always wanted to study abroad, but with my school/work schedule I didn’t really feel compelled to spend an entire semester abroad. However, this opportunity popped into my life, and it was to difficult to pass up!
Two weeks, two three credit courses, a trip to China, and it only costs $2500. My initial reaction. YES.
The title of the program is called “Communicating Business Globally”. This means we will be studying International Business (IB 303) and Organizational Communication (CAS 352).
I have been learning online through angel about both subjects, and will soon be able to apply my knowledge on our trip to China.
What I hope to learn:
More about Chinese culture and the way business is conducted.
Ways of communicating with people through language barriers, and respecting their customs.
How well I adapt in a foreign country.
How well all of my fellow students adapt in a foreign country.
Seeing how I fit in as a global citizen.
Since this is my first international experience I am obviously excited about the road that lies ahead. Who I will meet, the friendships I will form, and personal experiences I gain are just a few more plusses.
The Chinese Embassy( where we got our Visas)
I recently went to the Chinese Embassy to pick up the groups VISAs and snapped a few pictures of NYC. It will be interesting to compare the two cities. NYC Being are largest city ( 8 million) and Beijing (22 million).
Time Square, NYC
I Wonder if there will be horse and buggies in Beijing?
If you have ever been to Beijing, what were your experiences?
If you haven’t what do you expect to find their?