China in Reflection

headshot

 

Written By

Ryan LaMantia

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

I could easily summarize today’s events in a few easy sentences. So I believe I will also include a reflection on my experiences so far while in China. We woke fairly early today, around 6:15am, and we had to have everything checked out of the hotel by 7:15am in order to catch our bus ride to the subway.

train shotThe train station was a bit nicer than the one in Nanjing, however the seats here were a bit smaller and less comfortable. The train ride was approximately four hours, and the trains top speed was 301 kph. As soon as we got to the Beijing train station we met our new tour guide Lot. We then walked a good 10 minutes with our luggage to get to the bus.

We ate at a really interesting looking restaurant, however the service was pretty bad. Our table ordered a chili sauce and the other table was given our sauce so we had to ask for it again. The servers also gave one of our dishes to the other table.

After our meal we headed back to the hotel. The hotel was nice, but not quite as good as the one in Shanghai. We walked around some of the streets behind our hotel were I found some orange juice for a cheap price. The rest of the stores were mainly street vendors.  And now I am here in the hotel room writing this blog. So enough of what I have done today, I will now go on to what I have learned about the culture and my experiences while in China.

market

Hong Kong is a good place for Americans to acclimate to China The people are friendly and most speak conversational English. One of the downsides to Hong Kong is that it is semi crowded and it is very expensive.

Shanghai was the largest city I will most likely ever visit. I believe the population was somewhere around 35 million. The people here were very nice, and were more curious about us as Americans than the people were in Hong Kong. The hotel and transportation here was very nice and efficient. One of the downsides here is the traffic and the limited amount of “personal space” due to the high population.

Nanjing, this city was the perfect size for me. The infrastructure was not built up as high as it was as Shanghai or Hong Kong, but from what I could see there was less land to work with. Nanjing is a college town of sorts and the scenery was very nice. There were 10+ universities from different government branches. The people here were very friendly and seemed to like us, or were at least curious about us. The people I met here were great and I hope to remain in contact with them.

Well I have only been in Beijing for a day, but I am thinking it could be my least favorite of the visited cities. The people seemed less friendly here and the service at the first restaurant was poor. Also the things to do around the hotel here seem very limited. We will most likely have to utilize taxi’s for transportation.

Above and Beyond

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Written By

Adam Aldridge

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

To start out the day we went and visited the Shanghai UPS international hub. During the visit it was interesting to learn that as large as UPS is in America, Government regulations have limited UPS to exporting and importing internationally, allowing for domestic carriers to operate inside China. I found the safety standards in the distribution center to be lacking behind U.S. OSHA standards. They did have several pro safety banners and a good lost time accident record.

Lunch was a very good meal for our last in Shanghai. There was a bun that you filled with beef and green beans to make a sort of Chinese taco. Towards the end of the meal, the restaurant went to McDonalds and presented us with French fries served on a plate. This gesture was very nice and completely unexpected. The meal was capped off with a plate of watermelon which has come to signify the end of the meal every time this trip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Boarding the high speed rail train to Nanjing was extremely exciting. The average speed of these trains are 280kph or 173mph. The first class compartment was very nice, large comfy seats and foot rests made the journey go by very quickly. The trip took us nearly two hours, yet looking out the window we never felt like we left the city. It was an endless sea of 20 story apartment buildings and manufacturing facilities. That really showed how huge China’s population is, as well as its booming economy.

An old saying is that you can always tell how good the economy is doing by how busy construction is. After being here a little over a week and traveling in 3 major cities, I have seen so many construction cranes erecting buildings into the sky. New buildings just completed ready for tenants to move in. The booming economy, with new factories and apartment buildings, will provide ample opportunities for the dilapidated areas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The city of Nanjing greeted us with a downpour of rain and a long, uncovered, walk to the bus from the train terminal. The traffic in Nanjing was relentless and by far the most crowded streets on the trip. This made the soaking wet trek to dinner and the hotel an even longer journey through the city.

Arrival at the Nanjing Grand Hotel was very pleasant. The entrance was luxurious with a grand piano playing in the back of the room and a fountain front and center. The rooms were interesting, especially the bathroom. The toilet had a bidet, heated seat, and a control panel to work all the features. The room was spacious and the beds were very comfortable. Further investigation of the hotels facilities we discovered a great looking workout room, and several restaurants. Unfortunately, the pool was closed until July which will be a sorely missed commodity as our group has used the pool and hot tub extensively at the previous hotels.

CPU vs ECU

wellsheadshot

 

Written By

Elizabeth Wells

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Without a doubt today was one of the more enjoyable and uplifting experiences so far this trip. Outside of site seeing and attending company visits, it was a day filled with interaction and laughter among fellow students at the China Pharmaceutical University (CPU). Conversing with other students at the university allowed us to learn about student life as well as gain knowledge of the university itself. We started out our day by being greeted with our hosts who welcomed us with open arms and generosity. They were more than excited to have us as their guests as we were looking forward to meeting them. We had a quick overview of the university and culture of Nanjing as well as their economic standpoint. Following lunch, we toured the dorms of the students and toured the History of Chinese Pharmaceutical University Museum.  We ended our day with a friendly game of basketball with the CPU students. Photo 5

CPU is a large campus with 15,000 students and a seven to one female to male ratio (quite an interesting statistic). The campus is remarkably attractive with ponds and courtyards throughout. It is peaceful and quiet with areas for students to get away from the busy student life. The buildings throughout the campus are a dark gray color, meaning that the university is more prestigious and respected. Schools that are not as esteemed or highly regarded as such are more colorful. Compared with the U.S campuses that have well manicured lawns, I noticed their campus was more natural growing.

Photo 1

In regards to student life, it was interesting to learn that life was not much different than student life back home. They were provided with cards similar to our one card used at ECU. The food was abundant, but they did not have as wide as a selection that we do at ECU. The selection consisted of the food we had been experiencing throughout the trip (typical Chinese cuisine). However, there was a place to grab hamburgers outside of the cafeteria. What caught my attention about the food and beverages was the option of some alcoholic drinks you were able to purchase on campus. That was the first time I had heard of a campus allowing students to purchase alcoholic beverages while on school grounds.

Photo 4

The dorm situation was an intriguing topic that was discussed for a while after we walk through the rooms of some of the students. The size of the dorms were a little smaller than what I have experienced in the colleges in the U.S., but how they were arranged and set up were similar. There were four students to a room and they all shared a bathroom. There were mosquito nets around the beds. They were not allowed to cook in the rooms and there was no place for a television. What I thought was interesting was the air conditioning was only installed a year ago and there was no laundry service so they had to wash their clothes in the sink and hand dry them on the balcony outside the room. The dorms were separated by sex and boys were not allowed to be inside the girl dorms, but the girls were allowed to be in the boy dorms. The girls told us that it was common for them to cook food for the boy students. The dorms were also separated by undergraduate and graduate and with students occupying dorms based on year one through four of their schooling. They were not allowed to live off campus and most of them did not drive unlike most students at ECU.

An enlightening game of basketball was the ending to a great day. I was surprised at the amount of people that showed up to watch the game. We obviously needed some practice, but that is what made it more enjoyable and entertaining. The style of play was a little different as we were more competitive and they were more concerned with having fun and approached it in a less competitive spirit. Winning wasn’t their priority, but I think they fed off of our drive for performance. They were much better and taller than what we expected. And in case anyone was wondering, the game ended in a tie.

In the Midst of Chaos…

DSC_0234

Written By

Mark Powell

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

The importance of water transcends cultures and civilizations – from the Mississippi to the Nile Rivers, water has allowed for the transportation of goods. For as long as history can tell us, the Ganges and the Jordan Rivers have carried a spiritual significance to the people who visited them. China is no different from the rest of the world.

midst2

The Chinese people have formed cities and villages along the coast that have grown to be some of the largest ports in the world (Shanghai and Hong Kong). Today we visited the village of Zhouzhuang also known as the Venice of the East. The village began in 1086 c.e. when a devout Buddhist named Zhou Digong donated his home and land to serve as a Temple. Since, the village evolved into a water town with canals as the main form of transportation (much like Venice, Italy). These canals were navigated by what many westerners would call a gondola – those from the east just call them small boats. And this whole village was started just because one kind benefactor decided to donate their home to become a Temple.

If you are not aware, Buddhism and Taoism are the main forms of religion found in China. Many believe Buddhism to be more of a way of life rather than religion, and I tend to agree with this viewpoint. As an Episcopal Priest working on my MBA, I have been particularly interested in learning about the faith communities in China. Understanding a community’s faith allows you to get a better understanding of their culture and what is important to them. We have visited a few temples in our time here so far and a couple of folks on our trip have asked me about my thoughts of these places. Sure, I could point out all of the differences that separate my faith background from theirs but I wanted to look through a lens of connectivity; I wanted to see the similarities. Not surprisingly, there are many similar things between the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), Buddhism, and Taoism. The focus on prayer and connectedness to a higher power is a main commonality.

DSC_0144

After walking around the village of Zhouzhuang, pondering the role Buddhism played in building this village, a small group of us boarded a gondola. As soon as we stepped onto the boat and began moving along the canal system, a sense of peace swept through our group. The chaos of tourists, Chinese and foreign alike, moved into the background. It was as if the water was speaking to our souls and we were able to take a deep breath and absorb the beauty of this village and its people. The gondola offered us the ability to navigate the waters of the village, away from the hustle of bustle of vendors, and into the backyards of locals. We saw laundry drying and boats being repaired. Even though interaction was limited, I felt like I was better able to connect with the Chinese people than in the busy cities and tourist areas that we have visited so far. We were able to get a small glimpse into their everyday life.

In the Zulu language there is a term called Ubuntu, which means: “I am who I am, because you are.”  In other words if you suffer – I suffer.  If you have pain – I have pain.  If you have joy – I have joy. Basically, Ubuntu speaks to the importance of relationships and how vital it is for everyone to see that we are all connected. Traveling to Zhouzhuang gave me a glimpse into the lives of the Chinese people that I had not seen until this point in our journey. It allowed me to see how my life was connected to theirs.

Tea, Tofu, Tourists, and the Art of Taking Selfies

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 10.41.32 PM

 

Written By

Rachel Parrish

COB Study Abroad Program China

 

Today was an extremely long, tiring, and absolutely amazing day! I can definitely say I have never had so much hot tea to drink, my picture taken by so many complete strangers, and the amount of selfies I saw taking place was unreal. I was able to experience so much of Hong Kong today and I am really sad to be leaving tomorrow!

The sun rises around 5:30a here so bright and early I wondered downstairs for an American style breakfast buffet. The food was amazing, with features such as classic scrambled eggs, pastries, fruit, yogurt, cereal, and more. They also had some traditional Asian dishes such as rice, steamed buns, and a pork-type rice thing (for lack of a better word or description). Enough about the American food though and on to the rest of the day!

Our first stop was to the Wang Tai Sin Temple, which is a traditional Taoist temple. The temple featured many statues all of which are believed to give good luck if rubbed. Many of the worshippers carried three units of incense in which one signifies their heaven, earth, and the “underworld”. This temple was also the first experience I had with a random stranger taking my picture. I was walking with Rachel, another member of our group, when a woman grabbed us by the arm and took a picture with us. I’m not going to lie it kind of made us feel like total celebs!

After a few minutes here, we hopped back on the bus and headed off to Victoria Peak to get a spectacular view of the entire bay area.

We traveled up the steep mountain by a crowded tram to reach the top of the peak. Although it was a little hazy and cloudy, the view was absolutely breathtaking. This is when I began to realize how intense a selfie is valued here. Not only do they retake it at least five times for the perfect photo, but they even have extender rods specifically for the art of this photography style. I saw multiple people using these rods throughout the day.

After sight seeing it was time for lunch, and to experience my first true Cantonese meal. The style of serving is a tad different as everything is served in the middle on a large rotating plate. This allows for everyone to grab and share the dishes, as they want. Our lunch included: assorted dim sum, Chicken and sliced squid, sweet and sour pork, fried rice, and Chinese petit fours for dessert. The favored dish among everyone seemed to be the sweet and sour pork; it was served with pineapple and the sweet fruit with the sauce was super yummy. Dessert was interesting to say the least. There was a gelatin square, pecan cookie, a bean-based dessert, and some other type of dry pastry. Overall lunch was good, and we soon finished up with lots of laughter, and table messes from trying to pick up food with chop sticks.

The next stop on the trip was Ocean Park, an amusement park that sits on the top of the bay. When we entered the park, we huddled to take a group picture that drew the attention of at least ten by standers that all took pictures of us as well.  One even hopped in with us for the picture! I was able to “meet” An-An a male panda! Then we waited for 30 minutes to hop on a cable car to be taken to the other part of the park. We waited another 45 minutes to ride on its largest roller coaster that happens to be the closest roller coaster to ocean water. While in line we caught random people taking our pictures, trying and failing to be discrete.

For dinner, we had another Cantonese meal very similar to the meal from lunch. Once we finished dessert, we walked outside and waited for the Symphony of Lights at Victoria bay. This was a neat show to see.

Victoria Bay 2The last experience of the night was heading over to the Night Market to do some shopping. Basically vendors set up booths that stay open late that offer all types of goods such as souvenirs, knock off clothing, paintings, etc. This is a great place to do some bargaining and negotiating.

Today was a fantastic day and although I’m sad to be leaving this beautiful island, I am excited to see what Shanghai has in store!

One Country – Two Governments

amy phillips

Written by

Amy Phillips
 
COB Study Abroad Program
China

 

I started the day not knowing what to expect. We knew we were leaving Hong Kong to come to Shanghai, and that it would be different. One of the things I found most interesting were the differences in culture, not only between the US and China, but also between Shanghai and Hong Kong. In only about a day, Hong Kong felt comfortable — we could communicate in English fairly well, people were friendly, and we were having fun. In terms of English, the people we encountered spoke about the same amount as those in Hong Kong. The city, however, is completely different.

Hong Kong was the first city I have ever gone to that actually incorporates mountains into the cityscape. It was fascinating, and clearly still growing. Shanghai is comparable to New York City; the skyscrapers seem to have a little more space between them, and many of the viewing areas nearby are rather touristy. This provided ample opportunity to take pictures of the beautiful skyline, day or night. One of the biggest differences was the area called “The Bund,” a street lined with old buildings and hotels that have a strong English and Indian influence. Our tour guide, Qi, told us about some of the old hotels that hosted similar parties to those seen in “The Great Gatsby.”  A clock tower, built in the same place and modeled after Big Ben in London, is prominent from the street.

image(1)

Our tour guide in Hong Kong, Natalie, told us about the relationship between the governments, since Hong Kong became part of China in 1997.  The agreement to leave British control for China was that Hong Kong will have its own government, and the government of mainland China will make no changes for 50 years.  Although they are now considered one country, there are two governments set up: Communist in mainland China, and Capitalism in Hong Kong.

Many cultural aspects were also somewhat similar.  In Hong Kong there is a section devoted to banking, and many of the buildings are owned by banks.  Shanghai is considered the biggest banking area in mainland China.  We’ve also been extremely entertained by people who see us (particularly the blonde girls of the group…) and either attempt to discreetly take our pictures, or ask to take pictures with us.  We’ve experienced some of both in Hong Kong and Shanghai so far, but the people in Shanghai seem to be much more interested in taking pictures with us.

image

I’ve been fascinated and surprised by the Asian culture we have experienced so far.  I’m not really sure how to describe what my expectations were for each place we have visited, but both places have been completely different than what I envisioned.  Although I wasn’t ready to leave Hong Kong, Shanghai has been awesome as well!  I can’t wait to see what else the culture has in store for us.

Stride On

Howdy y’all. Or if you’re not from Eastern North Carolina, hey everybody. Glad to see you came back to read my blog especially during the summer. There are so many interesting things you could be doing, but you’re here with me and I thank you.

Well, as I have mentioned before, I am one of the toughest critics on myself. Recently during this summer session I received a bad grade on a test. I was very nervous and went to see my teacher. After our meeting it appears I am in the clear and just need to focus in on these last few weeks. Makes me feel a little better, light at the end of the tunnel but the work is not done yet.

To catch you up with a few things that’s happened other than school. I did take a vacation to NASCAR’s Coke 600 in Charlotte, played in a golf tournament in New Bern, and continue to work out as much as I can. I’ve been putting school first so the amount of time I put in the gym has been limited significantly, but I have to get my priorities straight, right?

photo

IMG_1844photo(1)Next week I have one week left, and hopefully better news and a better idea of where I sit in my third MBA class. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on all the sticky details. See you next week. Keep those comments rolling in and continue to follow me and ECUCOB on our social media sites. Special thanks to last weeks comment winner. Once again, you know who you are:-).

School is in for Summer!

Welcome back everyone. I hope you all are enjoying your summer, if you are in summer classes I hope you enjoyed your break, and if you graduated… Hope you are enjoying your new life. As for me, it has been one hectic introduction to summer classes in the ECU MBA program.

For the next 4 weeks my summer consists of reading a chapter a day in order to stay caught up in my class. Not so difficult if that is all I was asked to do, but life comes with its own list of priorities, and some days you just don’t want to read. Not to mention I don’t read for fun I read usually because it’s mandatory, but a 700  page text book is asking a bit much.

I have to remember to stay positive, and stay focused. A year and a half from now I’ll be done with school and that my friends is the light at the end of the tunnel. This blog is just a way to get my feet wet again after my hiatus. I’ll be sure to make my future blogs a little more enticing especially once some suggestions start rolling in from my blog followers. (You know who you are) So in the mean time have a great day and continue to follow me and ECUCOB on social media. See you next week.

The Final Chapter

This is it. The week that has always seemed so distant in the future, the last few moments you never think will be real. I can’t believe it, and I know most of my classmates can’t either. It genuinely seems like just the other day that my Dad was driving me to ECU to help me move into my dorm, and I cried the whole drive down because I was apprehensive about starting this new chapter of my life. Sappy as this is, I know many tears will be shed this upcoming weekend, and for many different reasons. Time is a crazy thing. When it passes we miss it, and when we feel as if we’re stuck in it, we want it to pass faster. Some days seem like they drag on, yet in a blink of an eye days, weeks, months, years have passed and you’re wondering how it went so fast.

          073

My Onecard that has seem some better days. This picture as you can tell from the stylish lanyard, was taken at freshman orientation.

I came into college thinking I had everything figured out and was ready to conquer anything thrown my way. Needless to say, that logic was quickly shot down and hit with a big dose of reality. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate the present more, genuinely get to know someone; ask how their day is, notice actions over words, and most importantly roll with the punches. As cliché as it is when people say “notice the little things in life”, it’s true. Whether it’s someone taking an interest in your hobbies, a book a friend suggests you’ll like, or even your dog cuddling up in your lap after a long day, sometimes these things that seem “small” in the present, actually turn out to be the big things when you look back, simply because these moments consist of subtle sincerity.

My time here these past 4 years here at East Carolina has been an extreme array of experiences, emotions, opportunities and awakenings. There is not one word, or even 500 I could pick to even begin to describe how amazing, and at times not so amazing my journey has been as an undergraduate student here. From pulling an all nighter to cram for a final, to going out with friends to a party, to moving into my first apartment, to countless tailgates and football games, these are moments that are irreplaceable and I know I will hold close to my heart. Honestly, I’ll never remember how to read a sensitivity analysis and that is perfectly okay. As great as it was to expand my educational horizons and work ethic, meeting all the wonderful people I’ve met along the ride and creating memories was equally as important to me. The relationships I have built, lost, strengthened, or decided to let go within these past 4 years were all more than worth it even up until this present day. I have experienced something unique with every person I have met in my college career and for that I am thankful.

          077

First football game of my freshman year on college hill with my roommate I have known since 3rd grade, to my very last game of my senior year.

My senior year has been the most exciting, crazy, scary, happy and challenging year of my entire life. Fortunately, it’s also the most positive growth I’ve ever seen in myself by consistently forcing myself to work outside of my comfort zone.

          075
        And of course I had to throw in a picture with Petey!

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to see what the future holds for me! From ending freshman year with a 2.4 GPA, to working my butt off and making Dean’s list/Honor roll a couple of times in between, it has been a trivial past couple of years positioning into young adulthood. Although it will be a bummer to not have pirate bucks to go to Chick-Fil-A or Starbucks anymore, or lucking out and getting registered in your first class of the day anytime after 11 AM, I know I have learned what I’ve needed to learn through some trial and errors in my college career. Sometimes it gets hard to learn how to let go of a place you consider home with people in it that feel like family, but hey sometimes the best things in life make us the saddest. Since coming into college as a little 18 year old that barely knew how to cook or do laundry, I have learned to push myself—in my education, work, values, beliefs, dedication, friendships and relationships, and that is something no one can take away from me.

Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to thank Shelly Spear for giving me the opportunity for this amazing internship, Sarah Morgan for also assisting me along the way, and a big thank you to everyone who has read my blog posts throughout the course of this school year :) You guys are the best, and please keep in touch! My LinkedIn is: http://ow.ly/tUzQg

          Blog by: Haley Nowlin

Busy Busy Busy

Good morning ECU. It’ll be a short post this week. Like you, I’m so wrapped up in exams and end of semester projects I have completely lost the concept of spare time. Before I depart, some good news to leave you with.

First, I’ll continue to write every week so look for my post every Wednesday. Second, keep putting those comments in so I can focus my blogs to what my readers are interested in. Finally, I’ve already received my first MBA grade and I got a B. So excited that I will never have to take another Accounting class.

Good luck to everyone on your exams, if you have some left. If you have already completed get ready for next semester, nothing wrong with being proactive. And if you’re done… CONGRATULATIONS!!! Time to show the world what you have to offer. Good luck to everyone and I’ll see you next week.