Busy Break

Happy Wednesday everyone. Hope everyone had a fun filled fall break. Mine was spent doing house chores with my family. My parents came down and helped around the house with painting and yard work. This weekend we were able to put up a pull up bar (so I can start working out in the back yard), a bat house, and my mom did A LOT of painting on the inside.

This Thursday my wife and I share our 3 year marriage anniversary. We’ve been together 10 years and I can’t imagine a greater person to be with. We balance each other very well and I think that’s what is most important. Find someone who makes you a better you. With the new house we’ve been limiting our purchases. I got her pair of shoes but I also decided to make her a birdhouse using items we found around the new home. If you know Jordan, she loves birdhouses. So this was a big win.

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After the long fall break it was back to school work. Just recently found out I received a not so stellar grade on a project I had been working on so I’ll  be meeting with my professor this up coming week. Just another lesson learned. Grades aren’t handed out they are earned and I always take full responsibility of any outcome, whether it be good or bad.

Trying to stay positive and proactive, I’ve set up a couple study groups with people in my class and friends needing to study for non school related activities. I’m hoping that this is a step in the right direction. I think that it’s important to adapt and find what works best for you. Maybe this is what I need in order to increase my passion for my education. If it’s not, then once again I need to be smart enough to adapt my technique and find what works best for me.

If you have any pointers or maybe you too want a study buddy, leave a comment and I look forward to posting another update next week.

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Rescue Family

Happy Wednesday everyone. As usually a fun packed and busy week ahead of me with school work and house chores. Glad to report the newly purchased house is slowly taking shape and developing well. Once we get closer to the end result I’ll be sure to share some pictures with everyone so you can see how far we’ve come. Currently I am still trying to catch up with some school work, the move and the loss of internet for about a week to a large den out of any momentum previously gained.

On a lighter note, you’ll be happy to hear that the Pulido’s family rescued another dog. If you didn’t already know, our first dog (Scarlet) was a rescue dog that we obtained from the animal shelter in 2007. When we moved to our new house last week, there was a dog that had been living under the house. She was in desperate need of love, care, and medical attention. We decided we would wait about a week and see if she took off, or if anyone claimed her, before we took her to the vet. Yesterday marked the week and we took her for a check up.

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The vet said she was healthy and after a few medications to fix a skin rash, she should be able to come inside and be around other dogs. If you don’t know much about the Pulido’s, you should at least know we are animals lovers. Feels good to take care of a dog in need. After rescuing Scarlet we realized how lucky we were and have come to realize that sometimes the animal you rescued, actually is the one rescuing you. We look forward to the future at our new house, with our new family member.

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I’m Back

Hey everyone. If you follow me regularly you’ll notice I haven’t been posting the past couple of weeks. You will notice the Study Abroad Program posted their blogs in my absence. We didn’t want to overload our readers so this gave me a break from writing and allowed me to edit and post ECO COB material. Now that I’m back, I’ll give you a brief update on my past week and how school has been going thus far.

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This past weekend (4th of July), I spent three days in New Bern on the river and was lucky enough to bring my dog to the hotel. My wife and I take vacations from time to time and our biggest gripe is having to leave our dog behind. This Fourth was extra special because she could join us.

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After a long weekend, and watching the sun go down followed by fireworks on the water; it’s time to get back to school and finish my second summer session. You’ll be glad to hear I did receive a B on my last class and so far this summer it looks promising I’ll receive an A. I could very well use this A to balance out my GPA and take some stress off my plate. I’ve been doing well prioritizing, spending less time at the gym and focusing more on school. It not my ideal day but I am definitely less stressed and completing assignments well before their due date.

I look forward to those comments and continue to follow us on social media. #ECUCOB

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Live your Life

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Written By

Andre Harness Jr.

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Life is an adventure that you have to live, stop thinking about it and live it. I know what you are thinking, China? How much fun could one have in China? Isn’t it a communist country? Don’t they hate Americans? I think I’ll pass; Europe would be a better time. Let’s start with killing that stereotype. The Chinese have an amazing culture and have been more open and inviting to us then one could ever have dreamed. We have been, simply put, celebrities. China rolled out the red carpet and accepted us with open arms and in turn all seventeen of us dropped our guard from day one and dove into the culture headfirst. We have had to learn to eat with chopsticks which at first was a challenge, but one that we all concurred and honestly now it’s harder for us to eat with a fork. But what about the language barrier? Dr. Chen supplied us with a tour guide named, Cindy. Who has been an angel. honestly, she has made our China experience priceless. Anytime that we have wanted to catch a cab anywhere day or night she has made it happen and made sure that we were being safe every step of the way. Anytime that we have been out and needed to order food or if we are at the market buying things she has been there as our communication crutch; Cindy has simply been amazing. But I don’t know anybody going with me? Being thrown into a foreign country has bonded us like you could never imagine. We are from all over the country and all walks of life and we have all come together to be a family. We dropped our guards, we’ve had disagreements, we’ve loved hard, and in return we’ve formed friendships that will last a lifetime. We will always have China.

China has been, well words can’t even explain. We have been blessed to have Dr. Chen with us who is from China. He and his staff put together the most amazing life changing experience that one could ever dream of. Home is over 15,000 miles away and he has made it feel like we never left. The hotels that we have stayed in have felt like palaces and every step of the way he has gone above and beyond to make sure that every student has not just felt comfortable but welcomed. Being homesick has been out of the question. He has not just made us try new foods but he has taken us on once in life time company visits. We have had the opportunity to go to Lenovo and be the first student group to get to tour their testing facilities and their corporate campus. In addition we got to visit companies that helped us understand exactly how the Chinese live. Everything from how much it cost to live in China to how much it cost to start and operate a company. The relationships that we were able to form with Vice Presidents and owners of companies will go along way as we enter the work world and was a priceless experience that we will forever be grateful for.

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We have also been fortunate to have Dr. Grubb’s youthful flavor added to our trip. He has been like a father to us, always there when things haven’t gone smoothly. Everything has its ups and downs and although we have been up for over 95% of the trip; when things have dipped south he was there to smooth them out, lend a Band-Aid, a hug, and a timely joke to keep us focused on the amazing experience that was in front of us. To say that we have been blessed doesn’t do our situation justice. ECU supplying us with both Dr. Chen and Dr. Chang was the perfect pairing and one can only be thankful that they took the time away from there families to take us on this adventure across the world. If you were thinking about studying abroad hopefully this helps you decide to go. It is truly a life changing experience.

Live your adventure.

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The Hidden Treasures of China

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Written By

Ben Krisay

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

BK1I want to start off by mentioning how amazing this experience has been for me. I am sure the same goes for the rest of my friends on this trip. I knew that this trip could be a once in a lifetime experience, and provide the opportunity to understand a wonderful culture. Coming into the trip I was not completely sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and understanding the people are in China. Now I would like to summarize the day, and highlight some of my favorite parts about the day.

We started our day by going to a business called North Star Company, which is a state operated real estate company, and is also publicly traded. They build apartments, malls, and even personal homes; which are extremely rare in China. Although they have built homes for single families, there are new policies in place that forbid this. The corporation even had a part in constructing the China Convention Center, which was the media hub for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as the center for all fencing events. After visiting the convention center, we walked over to the two main Olympic buildings: the Birds’ Nest and the Water Cube.

After visiting with North Star Company we went to lunch at an area called 798; I will explain what 798 is further into my blog post. When we first arrived at the 798, we all went to a food court in the area to find lunch on our own. Spicy food is not widely popular in Beijing and the northern part of China. Since I usually eat spicy food in the states, I was on a hunt for some HOT food. I went with my friend Tyler, and Dr. Chen to look for some of the hottest food I could get. We stumbled upon an entire area of the food court that had spicy food.

BK2There were many types of food in this dish, and I will list a few. I had the pleasure of trying: lotus root, cow lung, 3 different types of tofu, bamboo shoots, frog legs, and duck blood. I know what you are thinking, that I am crazy for trying some of the foods like cow lung. The way that I look at it is, if I do not like it, I do not have to eat any more, but I will never know if I like it if I do not try. Surprisingly the cow long was very similar to calamari, and maybe I would not have liked it as much if it was not spicy. I know that some people on the trip were not as adventurous as me when it came to trying new foods. I hope that you take the same approach, and find out if something is good by tasting it, not by judging the looks of what is on your plate.

BK3After lunch, Tyler and I split up from Dr. Chen, and started to explore 798. Once we started exploring I started to understand what kind of place 798 was. This area was originally mostly manufacturing factories, but when the factories went out of business, this area turned into a local art scene. As we explored the area started to see street art everywhere, such as the graffiti, and sculpture in my pictures. I have always been fascinated with complex, and well put together graffiti, so this place was perfect for me.

There were plenty of local shops, presumably run by local artists. Walking into shops you could see art made by local artists, and there were even pieces that were not for sale. We walked into a shop that sold Ocarinas, which are flute like instruments made from clay, and used glaze that turn to glass when fired in a furnace. They had all kind of sizes and shapes that you could choose from. The guy working at the shop played a little tune on one of the Ocarinas. Tyler ended up buying one after this, I would have too if I had the extra Yuan to get one.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the small amount of 798 that I did see. I wish that I would have more time here, and had not spent so much time eating. If you get to take a trip to Beijing I would highly recommend that you visit 798, especially if you are interested in art.

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In summary, todays trip to 798 was a memorable one for me. I got to see some local artists representation of what art is for them. I think that art can be in many forms, and even the way that you live your life can be an art form. I am starting to realize that seeing the world can be an art in itself. Not every person takes the chance to leave the comfort of his or her home. This can be especially challenging in a country, where the majority speaks a completely different language. I have learned that stepping out of your comfort zone can provide incredible opportunities. There are hidden treasures in every country, but sometimes you have to go out and look for them. I can say that I have seen at least a small amount of the hidden treasures that China has to offer. I believe traveling is the perfect way to experience things you had no idea about, and may even offer opportunities that will change your life.

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Bucket List

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Written By

Chelsea Boles

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

When I first found out that the COB study abroad trip was going to China, I knew that I had to visit the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall has been on my bucket list, and many of my classmates shared the same view. This was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and we couldn’t be more excited.

After waking up in the morning, I could not believe that today was the day everyone had been looking forward to. We had to all get up very early and make sure we had plenty of food and water in our system before making the forty-minute drive to the Great Wall. As we were getting closer, the mountains started to look bigger and bigger. We could see parts of the Great Wall peaking over the hills. Everyone started getting very exited, knowing what was about to happen and what we were all going to accomplish today. We all started to strategize on the bus about which side of the Great Wall we wanted to climb and with whom we wanted to climb. The driver then parked the bus, and as we got off, we walked to where we could take a group picture before climbing the wall. Later, after climbing the stairs and trekking parts of the wall, we could take an after picture to see how worn we looked.

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We split up into groups of at least three or more and picked which side of the wall we wanted to start. The side my group picked was the side that had better views and fewer tourists. We started climbing the wall and did not stop. When we were not climbing up the stairs, we were walking up pathways at forty-five degree angles. I did not realize the wall was going to be so challenging to climb. The steps were uneven and at some points we had to either run at an incline or hang onto the railing and pull ourselves up. We helped motivate each other whenever a person in our group was struggling. Some of the group members could not go any further and had to stop from exhaustion; while other group members went on to the peak.

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After awhile of trekking, we finally reached the furthest point of our side of the wall.  It took us a minute to catch our breath from the walk, but afterwards we all looked around to see the once in a lifetime view. The first thought that I had was “Is this real?” I could not believe my eyes. All of our walking and climbing had been worth it. I had always wanted to visit the Great Wall but never knew it would actually happen. We stood there for about ten minutes in awe of everything around us. The group I was with made walking up the Great Wall much more memorable because we had all became much closer over the past three weeks. As we were looking at the majestic scenery, we were all looking at each other with smiles on our faces saying “we made it” and “we did it”. At this point in the trip we became more than classmates we became a family. I can finally say that the Great Wall is checked off of our bucket lists, and we could not be more enthusiastic.

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Eye Opening Experience

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Written By

Alex Mobley-Hollie

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Today we visited the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. It was an amazing experience to say the least. This encounter was one that truly led me to wonder what events led to such a shift from how things were in the past, to what they came to be today in places like these in China. As soon as we walked in, the scene resembled what you might see at a 4th of July celebration in some American neighborhoods on a summer day. We really saw people of all ages, genders, shapes, and sizes entertaining and enjoying themselves by partaking in a number of different recreational activities.

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One activity that especially caught my attention was a game that a lot of the locals, mostly middle aged to elderly, were playing. The game is comparable to Hacky Sack. I’m not sure of the Chinese name for it so my classmates and I elected to refer to it simply as, “Chinese Hacky Sack”. It looked like a lot of fun, everyone was spread apart in a circle and from the looks of it the object of the game was to simply keep the projectile from hitting the ground, as we watched in awe of the tremendous skill level of the people who were playing, Dr. Chen suggested that we join them, initially I was reluctant to do so, just me being shy, but after Dr. Chen’s suggestion was reiterated by the participants, and it was a difficult offer to turn down. Myself along with two or three of my classmates joined the circle and proceeded to cultivate a memory that I won’t soon forget. It took us a few go rounds to get the hang of it, but after we did, it was truly a remarkable experience. This was something not many others will be able to say they took part in during their lifetime. We played for about 20 minutes and after that, it was on to explore the temple.

amh2Lot, our group’s tour guide for Beijing, explained to us that the temple of heaven was a location where a lot of sacrificial ceremonies took place, mainly of oxen, lamb, and a few other animals. These sacrifices were for good harvest on the date of the winter solstice at the point in which the sun is level with the horizon. The animals were sacrificed at the top of a pyramid stage like figure positioned in the middle of an enclosed area in the temple. Once they had been killed, the animals were then split in half and had their organs removed and then were burned in a fireplace made out of Jade. I find the meticulous nature of the processes and the traditions of the ancient Chinese people truly something to marvel at. The same goes for the structure and positioning of the architecture of temples and other monuments. The fact that everything is so artfully crafted, along with the fact that they are accompanied with purpose and reason, brings on feelings of extreme reverence for the Chinese culture for me.

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It really makes me wonder when and why all of the historical monuments we visited and learned about, and even those that we didn’t, lost their cultural significance. With all of the traditions that have remained staples in Chinese culture, why weren’t the ones that seem to have held the most significance in their respective periods able to stand the test of time? I figure that it has a lot to do with all of the constant shifts in power and political standings, with the perpetual change in those aspects being in principle as much a tradition as your actual religious practices. It would be quite difficult to find any sustainability in things as subjective as harvest practices. All in all, I greatly enjoyed my day at the temple, I learned a lot and it led me to think a lot, two of my main incentives for deciding to come on the trip. This experience has been nothing short of eye opening and has greatly influenced a shift in my perception on a lot of things, I hope to continue to build on that trend with the rest of our time left in China.

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Back To Business

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Written By

Jakub Trzasalski

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Before I got on the plane to China, I had set three goals for the trip. I wanted to see the beautiful places that this fascinating country has to offer, to learn about what the business world looks like here, and to set new long-term relationships. After exploring the beauty of Hong Kong and Shanghai, today was a “back-to-business” and networking day. We visited two big companies from two completely different markets. One is a major player in the chemical logistics industry, and the other one is taking over the textile industry. Today’s two company visits proved to us that Shanghai is not only about skyscrapers, but its industrial heart beats as strong as ever.

First, we went to S&W International Chemical Logistics, a professional chemical and dangerous resources logistic service provider. Kevin Yuan, president of the company, said that their mission is to provide the best logistic solutions to satisfy customer’s highest requirements and that accuracy and punctuality are regarded as their biggest concerns. All the vehicles are equipped with GPS and tracking systems, which gives customers the opportunity to check the status of the goods that they have ordered. The primary goal for S&W is to become China’s most reliable chemical logistic group and one of the leading chemical supply chain groups worldwide.

Next, we visited Sunwin Industry – professional designer and manufacturer of high quality home textile products. We were warmly welcomed by the CEO, Shadow Wang, and his management team. The company was started in 2003, and has three business divisions: Sunwin Home, specializing in throws, blankets, decorative cushions and bedding sets; Sunwin Kids, specializing in children’s apparel, children’s bedding, baby blankets, toys, and functional products; and Sunwin Apparel, specializing in bathrobes, pajama sets, sleepwear, and accessories.

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The CEO prepared a short presentation for us during which he explained his vision and his main goals. The presentation quickly turned into an open discussion as Shadow encouraged us to ask him anything we wanted to know.  When asked about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, he said, “The idea must come from the heart. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to come up with a product that will make the life of others and their loved ones much easier. Love and passion is the key to success.”

Within the next four years, Shadow is planning to take his company public on the Chinese Stock Exchange. He pointed out that China is expected to become the world’s largest customer market in 2015, which only shows how important China’s role is in international business.

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After the presentation, Shadow took us to two of his signature stores. They are located in the most expensive shopping mall in Shanghai, right next door to Prada, Luis Vuitton, and Hugo Boss stores. He then invited us to dinner. We were treated with very sophisticated (and delicious!) Chinese dishes. It was a perfect time for us to have a more casual conversation with Shadow and his constituents. Some of us exchanged business cards and promised to keep in touch. Who knows, maybe those relationships will lead to business partnerships or life-long friendships. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so did the lovely dinnertime. At the end there were pictures, gifts, and lots and lots of smiles.

Bǎo zhòng! Take care!

Jakub

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The Heart(s) of China

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Written By

BJ Coggins

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Today could be best defined as experiencing one the heartbeats of China. Our day started with a visit to Tiananmen Square – the heart of the Chinese government, in the Nation’s capital. From the Square we were able to see the Great Hall of the People. The Monument to the People’s Heroes was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggle of the Chinese people in the past century, & Chairman Mao’s Tomb. Our tour guide shared with us a story of his 84 year old grandmother’s only visit to Beijing a few years earlier. Her only desire was to visit the tomb of Chairman Mao, even though she had to wait almost 3 hours to see him for less than 30 seconds. To this day, even after his death in the year 1976, he still has the people’s heart.

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We next visited the Forbidden City – the heart of the Emperor’s rule from 1420 to 1924. The reason it is called the Forbidden City is because it was forbidden for any of the “common” people to ever step foot inside.  Only the Emperor, his family and advisors could enter. His advisors visited every morning to discuss the matters concerning the running of the country. There were countless details and stories that I could relay about this marvel, but one of the ones I found most interesting were two statues of a dragon atop a tall pedestal. The one inside the entrance was to remind the Emperor to go out among the people to be a better ruler and the one outside was to remind him to return to the duties in the palace for his people

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We also visited the Hutong area, which has not been modernized since the 1930’s. In this area we had a group lesson from a 3rd generation Tai Chi Master who studied concurrently with International movie star Jet Li. Through our translator Mr. Lu told us Tai Chi was good for your mind, soul and body (heart).

apic5Also while in the Hutong area we had the honor of being invited to visit the home of a local. This visit really illustrated how a home is the heart of the Chinese family. Although it was small by American standards, it was spacious for a Beijing residence. Its structure has remained unchanged since it was purchased by the father of our host in the 1930’s. Four generations of the family lived in this one home, from great grandfather who originally purchased it, all of his sons and daughters, their children and their children’s children. Because of the value of land in Beijing, his home is worth well over 15 million United States dollars. He told us that he had no interest in selling and wanted it to stay in the family for generations to come. Family truly is the heart of the Chinese culture.

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Lastly I wanted to discuss what is happening in our hearts at this point of the trip. For most of us this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have seen sights and had experiences very few in the world will ever get to see and do. Our hearts will be filled with these memories and all the wonderful people we have met on our trip, both from our school and from China. But our hearts are also longing to return to loved ones and the familiarity of our own homes. Home is where the heart is and our home is in Pirate Country.

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Waking Up in Shanghai

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Written By

Samantha Tibbetts

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Waking up in Shanghai this morning, our smiles and spirits were bigger than ever thanks to what seemed like everyone’s first full night rest. We put on our walking shoes and met in the lobby at 10am. Today we were going to see the old and new Shanghai. It started with a trip to the Jade Buddha Temple. Previous to our arrival, I thought I knew what to expect from researching and looking at pictures of the Jade Buddha. I am happy to admit that my expectations were wrong and greatly surpassed. Pictures do not do this temple justice. The detail around the temple was immaculate. There was something to see around every corner, on every floor tile as well as every ceiling. When you enter this temple, you begin at the Grand Hall, which contains Three Golden Buddhas, front and center. It is accompanied by the Gods of the Twenty Heavens on the east and west sides of the room. As we left this room we searched for the two famous Jade Buddhas. The sitting Buddha could only be seen by purchasing a ticket and pictures were forbidden. The other one, a smaller laying Buddha which represents the death of Buddha, was near the exit of the temple.

The next stop was definitely my favorite of the day. We walked through a bargaining market, up a couple flights of stairs and into a little restaurant where we became witnesses to a very cool traditional tea ceremony. We all sat around one big table and watched as a woman started by showing us “Romeo and Juliet” bloom in hot water. This immediately caught and held my attention because I had no idea that: 1. Tea bloomed flowers in water and 2. There were so many different kinds and so many different meanings. For instance, Black tea is good for reducing your blood pressure. Green tea is filled with antioxidants and it’s great for healthy skin. Drinking tea in China is prepared and consumed as a sign of respect: for family gatherings, to express thanks for elders, and even to apologize. They also showed us these really awesome cups with black dragons on them that changed colors when hot tea was poured into them. I also thought it was really cool how they use tea flowers to decorate their homes. At the end of the ceremony, they showed us a tradition known as “finger tapping” which refers to how men and women are supposed to hold their tea cups. Women are supposed to hold it with the thumb and pointer finger while fanning out the other fingers. Men are supposed to keep all their fingers together. This is done as a sign of respect to the tea master.

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After the ceremony was over we went to another family style lunch. It was one of the best so far. I really like how we don’t have to order anything or even look at a menu. They always just bring out a large variety of food. Next, we had about an hour to shop and bargain through the market. The language barrier makes this very difficult and getting a good deal takes a lot of time, but it was overall a successful shopping day.

Next stop was to a Shanghai Museum with over 7000 years of art and history. There were four floors with everything you could imagine like ancient coins, scripts, pagodas, and jade sculptures. At the exit I stopped at the gift store and found my name written in Chinese characters. My name is made of three characters, the first one meaning “Fortress,” followed by “Chinese,” and finished with “Sexy Lady.” I thought this souvenir was way too cool to pass up.

We finished the day up by going to the “Super Brand Mall” right in the middle of the beautiful Shanghai skyline. I was surprised by how many American stores were in there. It was also a relief and almost half of us bought something at H&M, which I thought was boring but necessary. At this point our feet were killing us and we took the subway back to the hotel. I would say it was a successful yet exhausting day. Most of us ended our day with a trip to the pool and a meal from room service. I was very thankful to be staying in such a comfortable and beautiful hotel room.

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