When arriving in China I thought to myself, how did I end up here? Growing up I never really had the chance to travel abroad to far distant places, but I always wanted to go somewhere far and distant. China was always at the top of my list because the history and geography of the country was so different and vast. I wanted to take myself somewhere that I thought would be alien and completely new to me but to my surprise when I finally arrived in China and got to experience the country I was more surprised by the similarities than the differences.

It took me a few days to realize that I was thousands of miles away from home which made me nervous but also very excited because I was finally going to experience the wonders that China has to offer. The Beijing Jiatong University was part of the trip I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by. I had imagined a smaller university like you would find in the United States but instead we were greeted by a school that had a life of its own. Students would go out and run and play together whether its basketball or badminton, the courts were always full. As the night progressed you would find students dancing wherever they could, even in complete darkness. It was places like these that surprised me because as we explored China more, it became clear that the people were much livelier and more social here. The lectures were actually very interesting, it gave us insight as to how China has progressed in the past and how it plans to prosper in the future. I was impressed by the level of passion some of these professors had for the subjects they taught and the depth of their knowledge and experience. During our company visits we also learned more about China and its plans to move to the future, we heard many fascinating presentations by companies like China Railway and KPMG Beijing.

Beijing was like most other large cities. It had traffic jams, chaotic drivers, lots of people, and plenty of ways to get around but the main factor that sets Beijing apart from other large cities I’ve visited is how the city feels small even though it’s home to 21.54 million people which is more than double the population of New York City. Wherever you went in Beijing it never felt overwhelming and daunting, each area of Beijing is its own micro community with local shops and restaurants which are all in walking distance. When you compare it to a city like Houston, there are suburbs but if you tried to walk to your destination in Houston, you’d be in trouble. Beijing public transport made it so easy to just walk and take a subway to wherever you needed to go. Even in Shanghai, the packed high rises and dense urban areas are completely different than the small roads of Beijing. Being in Beijing made me feel at ease because although Beijing is gigantic, it gives the illusion that it’s small and more like a community.

On our first cultural visit in China we visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was my absolute favorite visit because the amount of history that had occurred there was just unfathomable to me. It had survived through all these years since its construction during the Ming Dynasty in the year 1406 to the destructive period of the Cultural Revolution under the early Peoples Republic of China. After the visit to the Square and Forbidden City we then went to see a portion of the Great Wall. Just seeing the size of the wall and how far it went into the distance was just astounding and I could not imagine the amount of time and planning went into constructing the wall over centuries. The historical significance of the places we ended up visiting throughout our trip really made an impact on me since the history of our own country is much shorter when compared to that of China’s. Here everything seemed to be older, Dynasties and events lasted centuries rather than decades and each historical site had seen at least hundreds of years of different people and rulers. Even Shanghai which is seen as a much younger city dates back before even the Americas were discovered.

There is so much to talk about when looking back at our trip to China. I wish I had time to see all that it had to offer but with our time it was impossible to experience it all. My biggest regret on this trip is not knowing enough mandarin to make more connections with people and experience more of the culture fully. I’m grateful for the opportunity that the Mays Business School offered with this study abroad program since China was always one of the top countries I’ve always wanted to visit but the idea of planning a trip to China seemed like a challenge. I’ll miss China, the people were friendly, the food was great and the knowledge I gained from class lectures and company visits will help me when learning more about China. In the future I hope to return to China since there are still so many places and experiences that I have yet to explore.

Categories: 2019 Trip

Going into this trip, I was very excited to try new foods and get more insight into the culture and its impact in every aspect of everyday life especially from the business side of things. I had been to Hong Kong a couple of years ago, but I still didn’t know what to expect or how different Beijing and Shanghai would truly be.

 

The food was especially highly anticipated and surely did not disappoint. Having menus in all Chinese characters with little to no English translations definitely gave me the push to work on being open to trying new things. In my time abroad, I loved going to the street markets and picking out something I’ve never had before which included ordering grilled squid on a stick. Seeing all sorts of different delicacies made me see Chinese food as more than what we commonly see in America.

 

One of the biggest challenges we faced was the language barrier especially when it came to ordering food. It was really interesting to see how our group was able to rise up to the challenge and tackle the issue. A resourceful idea we came up with was to take pictures of the menu with Chinese characters when ordering food in order to communicate. I loved seeing was the locals’ apprehensive expression transform into a smile when they saw an effort to bridge the language barrier and returned the favor.

 

During our lectures at Beijing Jiaotong University, professors spoke to us about the economic, political, and cultural aspects that influence how business is done in China. One topic we learned about in our lectures that stuck out to me was the different cultural aspects which further illuminated why people act the way they do in certain situations. For example, during the lecture on Chinese culture, I was able to find interesting connections to my Filipino heritage which taught me how transcending these values are and how they have affected the way I was raised and the way I think today. The business visits were also very informative because they showed the direct application of what we were learning in lecture. It also shed light on their perspective of the U.S. trade war and other historical or current events.

 

I loved spending time in both Shanghai and Beijing because we were able to see the cultural pride Beijing holds in its rich history, but also see the blend of modern and Western influence in Shanghai. Being able to compare and contrast experiences in both cities helped me see the beauty of both. In visiting the Great Wall of China and Forbidden City, I was amazed at seeing how they constructed these architectural feats with the technology at the time and how that continues on today in the Shanghai Tower as it stands at the 2nd tallest building in the world.

 

Overall, I’m very grateful for the new perspective China has given me. It gave me more confidence to lean into discomfort and try new things. Although it was a place I never thought I would get to experience firsthand, it is also one I’m very happy I didn’t miss out on.

Categories: 2019 Trip, Uncategorized

The China study abroad trip was definitely a trip to remember. Prior to our departure, I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous but also excited to see where the trip would take me. I was most excited about the food and the architecture and the history of their buildings.  I have traveled to many parts of the world, but nothing as unique as China.

 

Once we arrived in Beijing the first thing I noticed was the mix of modern and traditional buildings populating the city. I learned that though they live in the modern world, the people of Beijing still stick to their traditional ways. Because of that, there was a huge language barrier especially when ordering food. However, that was the beauty of the whole travel experience, trying to find a middle ground of communicating. Every street block by our hotel was filled with food. Though it was difficult to figure out what was on the menu, it was interesting what kinds of food we discovered throughout the trip.

 

The lectures at Beijing Jiaotong University were very informative about the Chinese culture, politics, and economics. It was more than I ever thought I’d learn about China. I learned that there are many misconceptions about China from the western countries and vice versa. Having classes at the university was overall a unique experience. The university was covered in trees and gardens, which made lunch breaks relaxing and enjoyable.

 

Our weekend trip to Shanghai was my overall favorite part. The city had more of a modern feel with their tall buildings and high rises. In fact, my friends and I decided to go up the second tallest skyrise in the world. It was amazing to see all the buildings light up along the river at sunset from that view.  The culture in Shanghai was more western than Beijing, which gave a little taste of home.

 

The food I would say was the best part about going to China. I tried Peking Duck for the first time and it definitely did not disappoint. The street food was definitely the most adventurous I’ve gotten. Ever had fried crab or grilled squid on a stick?  The food overall was very rich in flavor and was nothing like what I perceived as “Chinese food”.

 

Overall, the China study abroad trip was a memorable trip. I never thought I’d see the Great Wall of China or go on top of the second tallest skyrise or eat seafood on a stick. I learned a lot about the Chinese culture that I never knew about before. It’s one to hear about someone else’s experience, but it’s completely different experiencing it first hand. I’ve met many wonderful people throughout the trip and I’m glad to have gone. I would definitely go back and visit other cities and provinces in China in the future.

 

Categories: 2019 Trip

Deciding to go on a study abroad to China was a decision that I was very hesitant to make. I knew that I wanted to go because it was going to put me outside of my comfort zone but that was also just as scary to me. Looking back, I am so grateful that I made the decision to go on this trip. It helped to broaden my perspective in probably every aspect of my life. I gained new friends, found new food that I liked, visited extremely beautiful places and found a country that I would one hundred percent go back and visit.

Before going on the trip I was most worried about two things, the culture shock that was going to happen and the food. There is definitely a culture shock when you first get to Beijing because of the language barrier. I honestly don’t know that I ever fully got used to it but you definitely find ways to work around it. After awhile I think we finally got used to it and we’re just able to enjoy the culture for how great it is. I was also worried about the food just because I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like and if I was going to like eating it all the time. I was so wrong because I quickly found that I loved all the food. Much of it is so much different than food we can get in the US and so much better that I imagined. The flavors in all the food that we had was just insane and the amount of food that we would get at every restaurants was surprising. So to sum that up, I loved the food way more than I thought I was.

My favorite part of the whole trip was getting to experience the culture of China. You can go to cities in the US and see skyscrapers and beautiful sky lines. Don’t get me wrong I loved Shanghai so much and without a doubt would go back but getting to experience the culture in Beijing is something that I wouldn’t trade. Their culture and architecture is unlike anything that I had experienced before and it was such a beautiful thing to witness. The temples that we visited were stunning and the forbidden city was a sight that I would recommend everyone to go see. I would definitely go back China just to go and see these places again. I also can’t forget about the Great Wall, to be able visit a historical landmark that we’ve all learned about and that has played such an important part in history was incredible.

I didn’t expect to enjoy the company visits as much as I did. I loved that they were all about different topics, so we got to learn about what it was like to do business in China but from various industries. Hanenergy was hands down my favorite company visit, it was interesting to learn about solar energy from a company who is pushing the boundaries of what that means. It was exciting to visit their company and I know that they will continue to do great things regarding solar panel technology and the environment.

There are so many reasons to go on this trip and this was just a few of mine but the list would go on and on. I had high expectations of it and the actual trip was better than I could’ve even imagined. I will definitely be going back to China in the future.

-Phoebe Pina

Categories: 2019 Trip, Uncategorized

The study abroad trip to China was a fantastic experience that offered a rich insight into China’s culture. Upon my reentrance into the United States and the time adjustment, I began to feel extremely lucky to be a part of such a unique traveling experience. This was my second time in Asia; however, my trip to Israel was completely unlike my visit to China in every way imaginable. There is truly no place like it. If I could sum it up in a blanket statement, China is probably the most “Unamerican-like” culture in the world- in the best way imaginable.

 

Although most people would say the Chinese people are very friendly, I didn’t necessarily get that impression. That’s not to say they were unfriendly by any means; I just did not notice a big difference between China and any other culture I’ve experienced. I can point to one instance in which we were attempting to getting off the subway, the people blocked us off as they were entering and forced us to be late to a planned activity. On the positive side, every professor was very kind and one even brought us fruit on the first day. I thought that was very nice.

 

My favorite part of the vacation was Shanghai. Albeit there is much more history in Beijing, Shanghai’s architectural advancements made the city very interesting to explore. There was great dining, shopping, and attractions to keep the group interested. I remember going to the wholesale pearl distributor and talking to the kind women up there, with one even offering me an ice beverage. It was amazing to see all of the big skyscrapers overlooking the bund, coupled with the electric vibe the city consistently radiates.

 

The most difficult part of the study abroad was the language barrier. I honestly had no idea it was going to be that drastic. It was very difficult to communicate in Beijing. I remember I spent an hour trying to convey to the cleaning woman to change my bed sheets. Although it was difficult, that will be a funny memory to reminisce on. Most of the popular translation applications have a long way to go in terms of functionality. There is definitely a market need for a more efficient method of cross cultural communication.

 

Lastly, I noticed the Chinese people are a proud group. Every professor spoke of their culture with confidence and pride. It was refreshing to see that level of nationalism so prevalent. They do have a lot to be proud of; however, as they have made rapid technological advancement specifically in the manufacturing sector, invigorating their economy and propelling it to United States heights.

Categories: 2019 Trip, Uncategorized

Studying abroad in China was an amazing experience. I really didn’t know what to expect prior to this trip, as I knew China and its culture would be unlike anything I had experienced before. Being able to immerse myself into the environment while learning about some extremely interesting and informative topics has been a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What I was most apprehensive about that later pleasantly surprised me was the food. I had heard that it wasn’t like American Chinese food, but I wasn’t sure what else to expect. I found that the food was amazing, and completely unique in terms of taste, selection, and dining environments. I got to try a number of different foods I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. The language barrier was most present when ordering food at restaurants, but almost all of the people we came across were more than willing to help us. We even found help from another customer at a different table one night. Dining culture in China emphasizes community, and I feel we were able to find ours and also be included in theirs.

I had been excited the entire time to see all of the cultural landmarks and history that China had to offer. Our tour guides were all very knowledgeable and eager to answer any and all questions. China is a country full of rich history and a promising future. Getting to see everything from the Forbidden City and the Jade Buddha Temple to Wangfujing and Shanghai Tower was surreal and gave me more perspective on the history of the world we live in.

The lectures that we attended at Beijing Jiaotong University were extremely rewarding. I have always been interested in Chinese business and culture, and not only were we provided informative material on a number of interesting topics, but we were given enough foundation to continue researching and learning on our own in the future. It was an honor to be able to learn from the extremely knowledgeable professors at the university.

My favorite part of the trip was our weekend in Shanghai. Getting to spend free days in such a beautiful, modern city that reminded me of home in some ways, and was completely different in others, was unforgettable. We were able to go to the top of Shanghai Tower — watching the sunset from the top of the second tallest building in the world was a priceless experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

China was more than I could have asked for, and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to go on this trip. I was able to learn so much, academically and culturally, meet some amazing people, and experience a place I may not have otherwise. I am excited to go back in the future and further explore China.

Categories: 2019 Trip

Before I graduated from college I wanted to experience a culture shock. In order to accomplish that I decided to pick China as my study abroad experience. In those 2 weeks I learned a lot about how the Chinese operate and their culture.

Initially I had assumptions of how China was going to be and how the people there did things. I expected everything to be extremely technological, as if you were living in a futuristic city and I thought that people would be mean to tourists because if you don’t even attempt to learn mandarin why do you dare to visit a country that mostly only speaks that language? And to my surprise those two assumptions were wrong. Beijing did have a lot of cameras and security in every corner, but it was not exactly a cutting-edge technological city, for it was mostly a historical site. Shanghai had more technology but it was not something crazy, or at least not yet. The people were always trying their best to understand what we meant even when they did not know any English. We would take pictures of the menu and point at things or we would use google translate but the internet would not always work and the translation was not accurate. In Beijing, mostly younger people knew English while in Shanghai it was more common for people to speak it because it is a business district.

The corporate visits gave me an understanding on how the Chinese take seriously every business they engage into and how they do everything to excel at it. Call it KPMG, clean energy, the railroad system or investments and securities, they want to make sure they are getting results fast and accurately. Once I understood that, I was able to see why they tended to go above and beyond with the service provided and why they will try their best to understand English; because they want to give you a good first impression so they can create a good reputation. That is why some places were restricted to foreigners, because the language was a barrier to giving the best service possible and the Chinese did not want to be associated with bad service.

Something else that was shocking to me was how much people respected and kept their culture and its roots alive. Whenever they would talk about it they would refer to 1000 or 2000 years ago which is crazy! The United States is 241 years old while their country is over thousands of years old. It was the little things that they did that helped to keep the culture alive, like eating in a communal style, highly respecting their political leader, keeping alive their historical sites and visiting them frequently, and even pairing hot beverages with their meals.

It was great visiting all the historical sites in Beijing and Shanghai. I got to learn more about how china used to be, about the power that the leader used to have and the deep respect that the Chinese have towards those in power. The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, The Great Wall of China, The Jade Buddha Temple and Yu Garden, they all showcased a different aspect of what the chinse culture consisted about and what were the cements on which that city was created. For Beijing we had a tour guide but not for the whole time, it was helpful but it was not as insightful as the tour guide in Shanghai. He made the cultural visit more engaging and super interesting and it was good to truly understand what was the meaning behind the statues or why the gardens were built in a certain way and what that meant. I expected China to be very rich in culture due to its old age, but I didn’t know how interesting its culture would be.

Finally, food. It was the most exciting part of the whole trip. I got to taste authentic Chinese food, from a real kung pao chicken, to vegetables that I had never heard of, to duck and hot pot. I got to eat on a communal style where everyone spins the table and shares the food to ordering a place on my own and challenging myself to use chopsticks only to finish the meal. It was weird getting used to the concept that for them breakfast is not a thing nor sweets. Their morning food is salty and is similar to the lunch food. I also got to cook my own food in front of my eyes and to experience what is like to not only enjoy the food but the company of the ones who share it with you. Finally, I tried some street food including: dumplings, pork on a stick and squid on a stick. In retrospective it all looked stranger than what it tasted and I’m glad I was open to try new food even of looked like something I had never tried before.

Growing up in Mexico I did not realize how different it my life would be once I moved to the States. Once there I could not help but compare the life, culture, people, economy, politics and even the architecture. While in China I found myself doing the same thing. Comparing the U.S. to China and even Mexico to China. I realized that China and Mexico had more similarities than I could have ever thought and it was great being able to experience that first hand. These comparisons made me realize that we are all more connected than what we think and that even when you are on the other side of the world there will always be something to remind you of home.

Categories: 2019 Trip

If anyone is living in Texas, I assume everyone has heard about a phrase, “everything is bigger in Texas.” However, this study abroad has changed a lot of my perceptions. Before I have landed in China, I have imagined everything bigger in sizes, as I have learned China is the biggest country in land mass, population, and world economy. Nevertheless, more than my expectation, all was beyond grand in China. The Great wall was so long that I was not able to see the end from the horizon. The Forbidden city was magnificent that I had to climb up the mountain located next to the palace to see the whole palace from the top. Every tall palace, towers, and big rivers caught my eyes all the time during cultural visits.

Not only history, but China has also succeeded in many fields worldwide and we were able to learn more deeply by visiting some companies located in China. CRCC is currently leading mainly in railway constructions both in China and internationally by conducting high-speed railway system. Hanenergy keeps investigating to make the world green for future generations via using reusable energy such as solar power and wind power. I was able to find many solar panels attached outside of the local houses, and wind power generators across the fields of China. All of these amazed me how China is so advanced the technologies and localized so well that everyone seemed to have no problem with using technology in daily lives.

We have visited two cities in China, Beijing, and Shanghai. Both were a busy city with lots of people. Every morning, it was not hard to find people riding bicycles or motor vehicles to go to school or work. These two cities have a well-organized metro system and buses, so it was not hard to go anywhere inside the city even you do not own a car. People in China were passionate, hard-working, and leaders in both inside and outside of the community.

Since I was an international student from a foreign country, I thought I have set my viewpoint wide enough to see and communicate with the world. However, I was wrong. After I have experienced in China, I have learned there are so many parts of the world that I do not know yet. I was putting China into the frame based on what I have learned from outside of China, but the frame is broken after this trip. China is a country with a strong economy, people motivating themselves for more improvements, and a long and fascinating history. I am so glad that I have chosen China for my study abroad program this summer which I have learned more deeply in one another foreign country and also inspiring me for the further steps for the future.

Categories: 2019 Trip

INITIAL IMPRESSION

It has always been a dream of mine to visit China, but I never would’ve thought that my first time coming here would be through a study abroad at Mays Business School. Growing up in Taiwan, China was always just a huge country across the strait where my grandfathers came from and a common topic that I learned about in school and seen in media. There’s always been a picture painted in my mind of what China would be like, but I never really thought much of it. My parents always told me it was important to be fluent in both English and Mandarin because there was a strong likelihood that I would end up in China for my job in the future. I wanted a little preparation by taking this particular class – so here I am in Beijing, the capital of China.

The first three days were filled with a lot of different activities including touring common locations (The Forbidden City & Great Wall), going on company visits (KPMG & Hanergy), and listening to lectures from BJTU professors. These three days were also filled a lot of observation about my surroundings and the culture.

Our first stop was the Forbidden City and it was packed with tourist groups. I lived in the city my whole life and I’ve never seen so many people so densely packed together. It truly highlight a Chinese idiom: 人山人海 [people mountain people sea]. It was interesting to note that most of the tourists were surprisingly not foreigners, but rather citizens from other provinces. Forbidden City was definitely overwhelming with the amount of people trying to walk across it, but I still couldn’t believe that I was there. The trend of being so densely packed was a continuing trend throughout our trip.

On our way to a different locations, Beijing was not the hustle and bustle city that I thought it would be. It was definitely a huge city, but everything was a little more spread out than what I was expecting. The closest metro station to where we were staying was a 20 minute walk or 7 min bus ride. I definitely didn’t think that traveling across the city on public transportation would take a good chunk of time. Furthermore, along many roads, the trees and roses were all nicely taken care of. This is something that you don’t really see in the States and it’s cool that Beijing was able to incorporate nature within the city.

REFLECTION

I had the time of my life these past two weeks in Beijing and Shanghai. Although the beginning was a little bit rough because of the plane delay, everything else went much more smoothly. I loved going to lectures and learning about the different aspects of China from a scholar standpoint and exploring the city during my free time.  Overall, choosing this study abroad is one of the best decisions I made in my college careers and its hard to reflect on everything that I’ve done, but below is one that is quite memorable to me.

One of the most impressionable lectures that I listened to was about China’s smart cities and intelligent transportation. Professor Zhou went in depth about China’s urbanization and motorization and highlighted smart cities as a way to combat many issues that arise with urbanization. One aspect of smart city that stood out to me was smart services, which includes the ability to do everything with a phone.

It was cool to actually see what we learned in lecture in real life. Within the first few days, I realized the prevalence of mobile usage. Everyone around me was paying through their phone and I was slowly counting paper bills at the register. There was a couple of times when we travelled as a group, the person at the register didn’t want us to pay individually and insisted us to pay by group. At first I thought it was because they were so use to the rapid scanning payments that they didn’t want to do more work, but it is most likely that they probably didn’t have enough change in the register. In addition, when we go to sit down restaurants, the waiter will either take our order on a mobile phone or hand us a tablet for us to choose and order. Other more causal restaurants have QR code that customer can scan, order, and pay all on their phone while sitting in their seat. It was interesting comparing how the States operate and see where we are in this aspect. It was only these past recent years that we started to see more mobile incorporation in services, but definitely not at the level of China’s. All in all, I think this convenient, fast-paced lifestyle broke down a lot of barriers to what people usually think of China – and for sure, they are getting more technologically advanced than what we think.

Categories: 2019 Trip

China will always be an unforgettable memory to me since this was my first study abroad experience. It allowed me to see and experience new things I never imagined doing. This is a trip that allowed me to open up to new people around me, visit multiple companies, see how the city of Beijing and Shanghai worked as well as try new foods, which were very delicious.  These past two weeks may have flown by pretty fast, but they will always have a special place in my heart, with unforgettable memories to cherish for the rest of my life.

A big surprise for me was the variety of food that they had, it wasn’t what I had expected. The image in my head was more of seeing seafood items such as sushi, salmon and crawfish. The first thing that I recall trying that I will never forget is the Peking duck, which may sound disgusting but it’s so delicious. It literally tastes like chicken well for me. Another traditional dish I tried while at China was there dumplings. It shocked me on how you would eat this item. You would start of by biting on the dumpling and then sip the soup that was inside and afterwards you would eat the dumpling which had pork inside. As for street food, I tried lamb on a stick with chili powder, which was very good and a bit more spicy than expected. These are just few of the foods I managed to try among my time in China and will always remember.

As for our lectures, we got a better insight as to how China’s economy worked, there high speed railway projects as well as their culture. Amongst all the lectures we had I really enjoyed getting a better insight as to how the culture of China and United States worked. Along this lecture the professor managed to get a lot of people engaged since she wanted us to see the differences between Unites States and China.  It was very interesting to see how even the time of showering tends to differentiate between cultures. For example Chinese people like showering at night since they feel they’ve had a long day outside, so they want to sleep clean. Where as in the United States they like the idea of showering in the morning, since they believe they are sweating in their sleep and want to start there day fresh. This is just one example of many she provided amongst her lecture.

Overall, this trip was a very special abroad experience for me, and like I previously mentioned a study abroad I will cherish dearly.  I am very grateful to have had the opportunity of going and hope to come to China in the near future. Beijing bringing in the history of it all and Shanghai giving me the modern life experience.  I highly recommend anyone and everyone to visit China if possible, you won’t regret it.

Categories: 2019 Trip