Michael Wischmeyer

China Mays Visit 2018

June 14, 2018


Final China Reflection


I am grateful that China has offered me many different opportunities to learn about their people and culture during my time here. As I continue to adjust to my life here in Shanghai I am encountering several challenges that I still have yet to overcome. One of them being the language barrier. Luckily, I have befriended several people that have helped me along the way with not only the language barrier but also general advice about living in Shanghai. For example, my coworkers were generous enough to show me popular places to visit like the aquarium.

I am thankful that I had the courage to stay in China after the A&M group left. Admittedly, it was quite a spontaneous decision since the original program I had applied for didn’t let me know that I got an offer until after everyone left. I stayed in Beijing for the rest of the week spending time with my childhood friend who grew up in Beijing so I was able to experience local places. One of the local places was the arts district where we witnessed several artists painting on the walls.

That Sunday I traveled to one of the three Beijing train stations and hopped on board to Shanghai. After exiting the train station, I took a 30-minute ride to my Airbnb. The next day I started interning as an analyst for a company called Olam. This company operates from seed to shelf delivering commodities to customers world wide.

After living in China for approximately 5 weeks, I have learned that the key to living a successful and happy life here as a tourist is to be open to change and be flexible. Not many people have the opportunity to visit China, so I have been diligent about taking every opportunity that comes my way. For example, the first weekend in Shanghai I was meeting a friend in the city center. I had to take the metro to get there so I was a bit nervous. I got even more anxious after I found out I went the complete opposite direction but after I sorted it all out it became a breeze. I cannot wait to experience what these next weeks have in store for me and I am very excited to learn more about China.

Categories: 2018 Trip

It feels like I was just in China yesterday, but it has already been a long three week since arriving back home. The jet lag returning took me a good five days to fully recover, however I was no very jetlagged on the flight to China. One thing I was excited to return home to was a nice soft bed, rather than the hard ones in China. Once finally arriving home, many of my close friends and family members asked to see pictures and to hear about my China experience.

Beijing overall was a learning experience to say the least. Not many people spoke English so the language barrier was strong, however using translation apps helped a little with communication. I personally believe the most fun, yet challenging thing I did in Beijing was attempting to order food. The process was really a team effort with the group of people I was with, along with the people taking the order. The ordering process involved a lot of translation apps, picture taking, finger pointing and hand gestures.

During one of the weekends in China we took the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai. I have always wanted to see/ride on a bullet train just to really experience and see how fast it actually goes. The ride was quick with only a few stops and there was different scenery almost every time I looked out the window. I like to compare Shanghai to Time Square in New York, however I would have to say Shanghai was definitely much cleaner and appeared to be more modern. There was almost every high-end retail store you could think of, as well as many USA food chains spread around. Many people actually spoke English, and I also met someone that was from Houston at a museum we all visited. I really wish we had spent more than 2 days in Shanghai, there was so much more to see and do there, but the limited time prevented that from happening.

The best part about this trip was being able to experience a new culture along with others that have never experienced it before either. We were all in the same boat and coming across similar challenges that we were able to work together in order to overcome them. For example, the food ordering process and dealing with taxi drivers. Another big thing that was great to go through together was bargaining with some store workers and making sure each other did not get ripped off in price or quality of a product being purchased.

This study abroad trip was a really fun learning experience for me. I learned more about Chinese business through the lectures at the college by the Chinese professors, from the companies we visited and also learned quite a bit just from the interaction with the locals there. China is definitely a place I would like to revisit in the future and go explore some other cities and see what they are all about and have to offer.

Categories: 2018 Trip

It is hard to believe that we were in China just three weeks ago! After returning home to the United States, I immediately treated myself with my favorite american food because the food in China is so different than the food here in the U.S.! I honestly didn’t think the jet lag was that bad going to or coming home from China! Once I returned home and was reunited with my family they were all so interested in my time abroad! They also enjoyed some of the unique gifts I brought home for them.

One of my favorite parts of our trip was our weekend trip to Shanghai. I do wish that we would have gotten to spend more time there because there were many things that we did not get to see in our short time that we were there. The train ride to Shanghai is always something that I have wanted to do because of how advanced their whole transportation system is! Shanghai is much more modern than Beijing and it did feel much more like the U.S. than Beijing did. Many more people speak English in Shanghai as well.

In Beijing, I really enjoyed all of the tours that we had planned with our tour guide. She was very knowledgeable about every place we went and she knew all the best places to take us. The Great Wall was by far my favorite spot that we went. It has always been somewhere that I have wanted to go since studying it in depth in one of my classes in the past. That day will defiantly be one that I will remember for the rest of my life! In Beijing there is also a neat area called Houhai, which is basically just an area in the city that has a market that is built around the outside of a lake. A couple of my fellow Aggies and I traveled over there one evening and found a really authentic Italian food restaurant. This area also has a lot of unique shops that are devoted to anything from souvenirs ,to fake designer shoes, to cats!

I didn’t realize how big of a language barrier that there would be in China until we spent a couple of days there. It is a bit unsettling not being able to read anything or talk to anyone/understand anyone. I personally did not have a phone that had an international plan either so getting lost in such a big city was always a bit of a fear of mine!

It was also neat to have our “buddies” with us at Beijing Jiaotong University because they had studied in the past here at TAMU! They were very excited that we were there and went out with us a few times when we were there.

Overall, China was a unique experience that i’m glad I got to have. There were sometimes when I was a bit culture-shocked, but that just gave me a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and customs. I am grateful for all of my memories and the friendships that were made on the trip and look forward to my next adventure!


Categories: 2018 Trip

After arriving back from China and doing a little reflection, I have come to the conclusion that China is a “unique” place to say the least. During our trip we visited four companies, two different cities and saw many of Chinas wonders and great accomplishments. Ill talk briefly about all of these and will start by talking about Beijing.

We stayed in Beijing for most of the trip, as the university we were attending was located there.  Beijing is a city based of politics and traditions. You can see this with the huge architecture all over the city and the vast amount of sites to see. Some of my favorites were the Forbidden City and the Olympic Village. The Forbidden City use to be the home of the Emperor and his family. It had huge walls and many gates, so it took us a while to get to the center where the family use to be located. Each gate had a significant meaning and showed us how much the Chinese believed in symbolism and a meaning in everything they do. This was present in the Olympic Village as well. This was the site of the 2008 Olympics and most of the building are still active today. The Birds Nest an the Water Cube were still illuminating with lights and active with shows and events. It was a home of life for the city where everyone could come together and enjoy a place were all are invited.

Another thing we did in Beijing was visit a few comapnies. We visited the China Railroad Construction Corporation, a public waste center, Digibird, and Turing Robots. All of these companies contributed to China’s economy in one way or another. The CRCC is responsible for building the High Speed Railroad in China. This enabled people to travel across country quickly and affordable. The public waste center was not only discarding trash but they were turning it into usable fertilizer for farming and also changing things like the water and contaminated air so they are usable again. Turing and Digibird were advancing China’s technology greatly by enabling people to work seamlessly with command centers for big corporations and advancing AI technology. 

Finally I want to talk about Shanghai. This is the second city we stayed in and was vastly different than Beijing. Shanghai was more based on commerce and the future. It was one of the most technologically advanced cities I had been to. It had huge skyscrapers and lots of shops. It had a lot of international stores and was more friendly to foreigners. I felt like I was more in New York than a Chinese city. 

In the end China was an interesting experience. I got witness a new culture and understand their ways and thinkings on life. It did differ from ours greatly but it put into perspective on how much we were in common while at the same time being completely different. 

Categories: 2018 Trip

Looking back on the two weeks I spent in China I realize how quickly the time passed. We saw unbelievable sites from the Great Wall to the Buddhist temple in Shanghai; it was truly a trip to remember. The language barrier and the lack of WeChat were obstacles that we had to overcome everyday, but we learned how to navigate our way through China with the help of Google translate.


A few things that I found really fascinating were how all meals were communal, people asked to take photographs of us everywhere we went, and how active the country is. The communal meals were one of my favorite things because we tried a wide range of foods, like donkey, all together as a group. At first when a Chinese person asked us for a picture we were all a little confused and apprehensive, but we learned that a lot of them have never seen foreigners. After learning this it we were all more willing to take pictures with whoever asked. China is a very active country and anyone who goes should pack multiple pairs of tennis shoes. In the two weeks that we were there we walked over 87 miles. I don’t regret a single mile of it, but I do wish I had packed another pair of tennis shoes.


My favorite part of the trip was the weekend in Shanghai. The city was beautiful and the people were incredible. I ate the greatest dumplings I have ever had from this little street side cafeteria. I am still trying to find a place in America that sells them. The views from the bund at night were spectacular. Shanghai is one of my favorite places I have ever traveled to and I cannot wait to go back.


I found their legal environment intriguing. For example, the Chinese find it offensive to bring a lawyer to business negotiations because they think it represents a lack of trust. China has a long way to go in establishing laws because there are still so many areas that need clarification on what is allowed. I anticipate their legal environment to develop immensely over the next 50 years, as they emerge further as a world leader.


The time I spent in China was one that I will never forget. I will forever cherish the memories made with the group of Aggies that I was with. See you soon China!!

Categories: 2018 Trip

Wow, it has been 3 weeks since we came back from China! Once I recovered from the jetlag (which was actually way worse coming back then it was when we got there), I loved telling my friends and family all about the experiences I had with my fellow Aggies. The Great Wall, the food adventures, and even the times we would get totally lost and later laugh about, all of these experiences came together to create an unforgettable trip that I will tell stories about forever.

One of my favorite parts of our trip was our short visit to Shanghai. First of all, I thought the High Speed Rail trip there was super cool so we started off on a good note. After being in Beijing, I expected the cities to be similar, and I was very surprised to see just how vastly difference the two cities were. Beijing is rich with history and tradition while Shanghai is home to magnificent skyscrapers and overall had a very modern attitude. We talked about how we felt like the people in Shanghai were way more ahead of the times than we were, and we definitely felt underdressed everywhere we went. I also saw a lot of business people in Shanghai which was very different to experience after being in Beijing where a lot of the people would ask to take pictures of us.

Another highlight for me was the Olympic Village in Beijing. I remember cheering on Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Shawn Johnson, and many others that made history at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. It was so surreal to be able to sit in the Nest and see the Cube up close, and I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and beautiful the surrounding park was. We went at night which was incredible because we got to see the park all lit up, and we got treated to a light show inside the nest. I did however get my wallet pick pocketed here, but it still was one of my favorite parts of the trip nonetheless!

There were many more highlights, and I cannot wait to go back one day and be able to revisit some of these places and hopefully explore the places we didn’t get to. I am thankful for an unforgettable 2 weeks, new pals, and the ability to now proficiently use chopsticks. See you again someday China!

Categories: 2018 Trip

I’ve been home for about 3 weeks yet I have never missed China more.  Upon arriving to China I thought everything was super different and was ready to experience a new culture.  However, towards the end of the trip I was so ready to go home, being that it was my first time really abroad.  However, now that I am home I really just wish I could go back.


The weekend trip to Shanghai was one of my favorite parts of the trips.  Shanghai is such a beautiful city and reminds me a lot of NYC.  Shanghai’s history is relative new but it has tons of culture surrounding it.  Because of the opium wars, it has been controlled by many different countries and you can see the European influences throughout the city in the architecture and the language.  In Shanghai many more people knew english.


Speaking of language, the language barrier was probably the hardest thing to deal with on the trip.  I remember being ready to leave a club in Beijing and not a single taxi would take us because we were American and we only knew english.  A lot of the times, even if you got the correct translation, they would still find a way to misinterpret it because of cultural differences.  The best example I can think of is that a lot of times you’d ask for water, and they’d finally understand you wanted water but you had no idea if it was going to be bottled, hot, or just room temperature.


My favorite part of Beijing was probably The Summer Palace.  We visited it on one of the first few days and it was a very shady area.  Upon walking to the very top of a hill/mountain the views over the lake were just amazing and the boat ride across the lake was relaxing.


One thing I was surprised with was the lack of Americans.  I didn’t come across many other Americans on the trip.  Our tour guide told us that tourism changed about 10 years ago.  Poorer families from China began traveling more to cultural sites like Beijing and thus the amount of Chinese travelers has increased making it seem like there are less Americans.


China was really fun.  There were times were I got homesick and even afraid, but that’s okay,  I was 7200 miles away from home in a place that didn’t speak english.  Overall I am really glad I went and got to see the history-filled country of China!


Categories: 2018 Trip

The two weeks my fellow Aggies and I spent in China flew by at an unimaginable pace. As the days passed we became more and more accustomed to daily life within the city of Beijing. Despite a language barrier, we found methods of communication through gestures and translation apps and were able to easier find new destinations to explore and places to eat authentic cuisine.


The weekend getaway to Shanghai was one of the highlights of the trip for me. My initial assumption before arriving was that the city was just another economic hub of China, but I was very surprised at my findings. Shanghai was very similar to Beijing in terms of economy but demonstrated its uniqueness within the variety of cultures and backgrounds within the city. Walking the streets you could see people of many ethnicities and cultures and also restaurants catering to international cuisines.


Something that I found very fascinating during my time in China was a lack of privatization within business. Many companies such as CRCC were majority owned by the government. Furthermore, land within China can not be privately owned rather the government owning all land and extending land use grants to developers and others. This is a major difference than in the United States where people are allowed to privately purchase and own their land outright.


Pollution was a shocking surprise. Coming into China I knew pollution was a problem within the country but once I arrived it was nothing like I imagined. The smog that somedays blanketed the city made it difficult to see more than a few hundred feet in front of one. In addition to visibility, after a few days breathing and respiratory issues became apparent with many in our group. The visit made me very appreciative of air quality within the United States.


Overall, my time in China has given me a deeper appreciation for the Chinese culture and its people. I hope to one day visit again and explore more of China.

Categories: 2018 Trip

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I choose to study abroad in China. However, I was ready to experience the culture as authentically as I could. As soon as we arrived in China I knew that it was going to be a lot different from the United States. The first thing I noticed was how clean and orderly everything is. This wasn’t too surprising because when learning about China’s history we were told that their culture and government value authority and order. The city is ruled by order with a large police presence as well as many cameras throughout the city. We learned in class that authority is an important value for many people and it can be seen as very rude to disagree with an elder or someone in a higher position than you. This was surprising because most Americans are taught that it is ok to disagree and have a different opinion as long as you do it respectfully. Another culture shock was the language barrier. Several people had warned me that English was very rarely spoken in China, but I didn’t realize the extent until I got here. I have traveled to several different places so I didn’t think the language would be an issue. However, English is not spoken by the majority of people, which makes it difficult to order food and get around. Many people are willing to help despite this barrier and they do their best to try and communicate with us. The people here are kind and helpful and have welcomed us kindly into their country. The culture and history of China is vibrant and unique. It was very interesting to visit and learn about the history and significance of china’s main attractions. The Great Wall is absolutely breathtaking and it was a dream come true to be able to visit a place surrounded in history. I am excited to continue to learn about China and the long history that it has. 
Overall my experience in China so far has been very memorable. I have learned a great deal about China and have had the privilege of meeting people that call this place their Home. I am excited to see what the rest of my time here has in store and I can’t wait to continue to explore the city of Beijing!

Categories: 2018 Trip

“Welcome to Beijing!” As our small group of excited, yet somewhat anxious Aggies arrived in the early morning to the capital of the Middle Kingdom after a 14-hour flight, we were warmly greeted by our local guide, Amber. The initial ride to the hotel made an indelible impression in me, since the breath-taking beauty of the city surpassed my pre-departure concerns with any major commercial population. The complex, industrial infrastructure coupled with the historic, artistic architecture made for an eye-catching tour of the city. Additionally, Amber thoroughly talked about some of the relevant cultural differences among both of our nations, from punctuality in the workplace to relationships among friends.

My assumption was that this distant land would be completely different from everything that I have been raised with and knew about. Little did I knew, this journey would entail some similar aspects to my Hispanic heritage; the flavor-rich cuisine, a strong family-oriented society, traditional customs rooted in spiritual beliefs, a very collectivist culture of respect, hard-working people, and yes—even the hectic, accident-prone traffic. Furthermore, my affinity for hot drinks is clearly shared by the Chinese, who traditionally drink hot soybean milk for breakfast and hot tea in the afternoon.

Our first two days included visits to the main historical landmarks of the city—Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, among others. This experience allowed me to learn about their importance, along with the composition of the current political environment. What I appreciated was the flexibility in our program to explore the surroundings after our structured schedule, since that encouraged our group to immerse ourselves in the culture by participating with the local community beyond the scope of our study-abroad. Even Amber was surprised when she found out that our first meal was an abnormally spicy one.

After our cultural visits, we attended lectures at Beijing Jiaotong University, where we also met with former exchange students that attended Texas A&M for one semester. That furthered the discussion of cultural differences and engaged us in critical thinking after our academic dialogue. Thus far, I have truly enjoyed getting to learn about this incredible country and will continue to make the most of out this journey with an open mind. The people of China are unlike any I have met before, with many valuable qualities I hope to emulate. This makes me truly grateful to have been selected for this enriching opportunity, having the ability to not only develop myself, but be able to share in that development with fellow Aggies and our kind Chinese friends.

Categories: 2018 Trip