Waiting To Inhale in China February 24, 2009Posted by acc73 in : Uncategorized , 2 comments
I wrote a previous post entitled waiting to exhale, and I figure it is only appropriate to have a blog entry entitled Waiting to Inhale to talk about the air quality in China. During the Olympics air quality was a major concern of China, because many athletes needed to adjust to the heavy smog/pollution of China. While China has done a magnificent job trying to reduce overall pollution, pollution/air quality presents a major problem in Shanghai and China overall. It only takes a few minutes outside of the airport until you notice that your chest is feeling really heavy for some strange reason. Also, as the weeks go by you notice weird things about your body: your earwax is the darkest color you have ever seen, and your snot turns brown because of the air quality. It’s gross but other students in the program can attest to this strange trend. As you continue to make your way across the city you can notice easily what causes the pollution. With the recent urban development of China, it has detrimental effects to the overall environment with the lack of trees and public parks. China has tried to establish more public parks where old Chinese people go to play badmitton which is very huge here. The next adjustment about the air quality is the rampant smoking. Every Chinese person seems to smoke here, and you pretty much can’t find a place to yourself where you can breathe easy. In the restaurant while eating food, outside while walking, in their room, and even on the toilet, there will most likely be someone smoking. My Chinese roommate is a chronic smoker and he smokes about more than a pack a day but he is kind enough not to smoke around me. He says the reason why Chinese people smoke so much is simply, because it’s cheap. Even other study abroad students have begun to pick up the habit of smoking, because the peer pressure gets to them. While I have been in China, I have only smoked one cigarette and I hope to keep in the single digit arena.
Alex Tries to Learn The Art of Haggling February 22, 2009Posted by acc73 in : Uncategorized , 3 comments
One of the most important arts in China is the art of haggling. Unless you are going to a really Westernized shop, you will notice that there are basically no price tags. That is because in China the only set price is the one you and the shop owner agree upon. This means that a shopping trip which would normally take only a half-hour to do can take up to a couple of hours because you must browse, compare prices, and then become willing to haggle a price to which you both can agree on. Sometimes you can end up with a really good deal, or sometimes you can think you can end up with a really good deal but realize your friend paid 40 Reminbi (Chinese dollar) less for the exact same item. My first adventure was one at an underground commodities market where I was looking to buy a grey peacoat, but mostly to practice haggling that went completely unexpected.This is just a sum up of what happen in English, but this conversation was mostly in my broken Chinese.
Alex: Hey can I get the biggest size of this jacket? (Because I am like a 4XL in China, and it just becomes so hard trying to find jackets/shoes/clothing that can fit me)
Storeowner: Yes, here you go.
Alex: Ok, how much is it? Getting ready to hear her ridiculous price because in China where they know you are you at least start haggling at half the price they say at first.
Alex: That’s way too expensive! I will give you 100 Reminbi, ok?
Storeowner: 100 Reminbi?!?!? Are you kidding me, this jacket has some special material imported from Europe. 238 take it or leave it.
Alex: In America I can buy this same jacket for the equivalent of 100 Reminbi, don’t try to jack up the prices because you know I am a foreigner
Storeowner: Well that’s great, you can just buy this jacket in America, because you are obviously not going to buy it here for 100 Reminbi! (Continues to say other smack talk in Chinese)
Alex: Ok well here’s your jacket, I am out!
That’s how it ended, what an amazing first experience haggling where I didn’t even have a chance to haggle because the storeowner was being a jerk! You have to love China for that!
Love And Basketball February 19, 2009Posted by acc73 in : Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
This past weekend was the National Basketball Association’s All Star Weekend and I got to celebrate all the festivities of the game from within my room in China. At China, one can notice how passionate the Chinese are about basketball. You can’t walk two blocks without seeing a little kid trying to shoot some hoops or a billboard with Kobe Bryant’s face plastered on the wall. Even at the local Hongkou Stadium which is used for futbol, it is covered with advertisements featuring Kobe. Of course, most of the Chinese students favorite player is Yao Ming who played for the local team Shanghai Sharks. Next on the list is Kevin Garnett, the Celtic my roomates all seem to like despite the fact I am from Los Angeles and therefore can’t support a Celtic in any way. Kobe and Dwight Howard are also very popular among Chinese youth. Every 10 minutes I see a Dwight Howard addidas commercial where he is warming up. I guess David Stern the NBA commissioner is proud to know how basketball has become so ingrained into Chinese culture. American football not so much. When a Chinese man saw one of the other study abroad students throwing a football, he said he never seen a ball anything like it. Zhongguo ren ai da lanqiu (Chinese people love to play basketball).
The guy in the back might look familiar! He is Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic welcoming the Chinese crowd.
Shanghai Subway System February 13, 2009Posted by acc73 in : Uncategorized , 6 comments
Shanghai’s subway system is great! It can take you anywhere you want to go for probably 3 yuan (Chinese dollars), which is especially cheap for Americans thanks to a highly favored exchange rate (1 American dollar= about 6.8 kuai). The only problem is Shanghai’s subway system is ridiculously packed and really confusing for someone who does not read Chinese very well. Don’t be surprised if you someone lays a shoulder into you even if it’s an old lady, because on Shanghai subways anything goes. It becomes really competitive trying to get a seat on the train. It was even one time I accidently took a seat from a lady not realizing she was trying to sit down, but more focused on how comfortable was going to be once I rest my feet. Shanghai is already corrupting my old ways.
The map linking the Shanghai Railway
First Day of Classes/Exploring (Getting Lost) Shanghai February 12, 2009Posted by acc73 in : Uncategorized , 3 comments
First day of classes at Shanghai felt like the old school days when I went to my first day of elementary school. I felt the need to take a dozen pictures during my first day of class and had all the same feelings before arriving in class. How was my teacher going to be? How was not taking a college class at Cornell going to be? Did I put on deoderant, I hope so because I don’t want to be known as that smelly guy.
Classes at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics is similar to any college level course. For my international marketing class, and managing Chinese enterprise class they were the simple lecture teachers, general midterm, final paper,and class discussions. However, there was one big difference. Each class was 3 hours, Yes I said it correctly, 3 hours. Back at Cornell I could barely endure staying awake at 11am during my Biology class and here I was in China taking a 3 hour course at 8am. The three hour classes are definitely an adjustment I have to undertake, but I don’t think I will ever be prepared. Along with the business courses, we have to take the language intensive Chinese class with it also being 3 hours broken down like this: First hour Grammar Review,Second Hour Drill 1 with Speaking, and Third Hour Drill 2 with practicing reading characters. Our Chinese teachers is extremely patient with us students and tries to give us English explanations for some of our questions. I am on the second level of our Chinese language classes which goes up to 5 so I am right around beginning intermediate. We have two teachers in our class and they have two completely different styles. Our first teacher is our grammar teacher and she speaks extremely slow so we can actually understand, our second teacher speaks as if we are native Chinese. We are provided with the best of both worlds.
Along with learning in the classroom, we learn Chinese everyday exploring Shanghai. Today we went to the Bund which is the major building area of Shanghai with all the major skyscrapers. We actually had the chance to go inside to the top of Jinmao building this huge building with a beautiful building. The best part was my interaction with one of the locals.
Apparently, native Chinese don’t get many opportunities to interact with Black people and they take advantage of any opportunity they can get. There was this Chinese guy who asked me if I could take a picture with his kid. I was like ok because I like feeling like a celebrity. Long story short the kid starts crying because apparently he is afraid of black people and then proceeds to punch his father in the groin area for the next 10 minutes which is hilarious. That was another strange situation in Shanghai.
After walking around we went back to the university after going the wrong way down the subway line. It was a very fun time as I continued to sing some old American songs while riding the subway.Another day, another bunch of stories to tell while studying abroad.
The view of Shanghai from Jinamo skyscraper!
This was the dad who wanted a picture with me and the child shying away from the camera!
Letter To Mom from China February 6, 2009Posted by acc73 in : Uncategorized , 3 comments
I have finally arrived in China and finally got connected to the internet so I can tell you how everything is going. The flight went pretty well, it was about 12 hours, but since I knew people on the flight it made the flight much better than if I didn’t have someone to talk to. They played three movies and guess which one I watched…. Tyler Perry’s The Family that Preys. It was a little bit different than the other ones since the girl was cheating on the man instead of the opposite but it kept me entertained so I could not complain about the movie. China is really amazing, even though I am in China it still feels like I am on the opposite side of the world. You can’t tell there is any communism/restrictive culture because everything is allowed. The first few days we have been just exploring the city and getting to know the important places so we can be able to survive. Even though my Chinese is not very well, I have been able to order food and at least understand somewhat what people were saying. I don’t feel too much of a culture shock because they are really westernized here. The first night we went to a bar and they were playing only English rap music which was surprising. There are also alot more black people than I expected, which makes me feel a little bit more comfortable. There have been a couple of adjustments to being in China.. the bathroom is alot different than the ones in America the bathroom is tiny and there is no shower area the only seperating the shower from the toilet is a thin curtain which will be interesting. I have also been assigned a Chinese roommate who wil move in a couple days from now. Everything here is pretty cheap and I wish I took my Bank of America card because they have a connecting bank which allows for atm withdraw from america for free! I will try to see if I can just get a card here or if you can deposit money into my account and send me the card which would make things alot easier. No I haven’t found my Chinese wife or really had any crazy adventures, but I am having fun and I am safe. Tell everyone I am ok and tell dad I will try to email him tomorrow