After checking in to Shanghai Normal University we were taken to the Tianzifang cultural and shopping area. You wouldn’t know the vendor shops were even in the Tianzifung because the streets are so narrow. We spent four hours walking around bargaining for cheap souvenirs before returning to the University.
On Monday we made presentations about Lander and were taught many things about the different dynasties in Chinese history. We learned about the history behind the Great Wall and the Terra-cotta warriors as well. On Monday night we had a great time going to KTV karaoke where we had some beers and enjoyed a private room for singing karaoke with our student and faculty guides. I found out that I don’t remember the Nelly song “Grillz” as well as I thought I did however I still could follow the Paul Wall part which made everyone laugh really hard. After our fun night at the karaoke party we returned to the University to get some rest before heading to the People’s Square and the Shanghai Museum on Tuesday.
On Tuesday we went and saw the People’s Square and Shanghai Museum. We also visited the Yuyuan Garden where we enjoyed the scenery as well as a great lunch and dinner. Tuesday night after dinner we returned to the University where we watched a music concert where we were able to see many Shanghai students perform. The students were very talented and the whole group thoroughly enjoyed getting to see a cultural event on the Shanghai Normal campus.
On Wednesday we travelled to the other Shanghai Normal campus called Fengxian where we learned to paint Chinese calligraphy and also attended a demonstration and class on Chinese Kung Fu. I enjoyed learned to paint Chinese characters and was happy to have some of the students help me learn to write my name in Chinese. After our calligraphy we went to an auditorium and gym where we were shown a demonstration in Chinese Kung Fu, Chinese fan presentation, and numb chucks. After each presentation we were able to get with the presenters and learn some basics of each Chinese cultural talent. My favorite thing to learn was the numb chucks and I was happy to get to keep the pair that we were taught with. After our classes we ate dinner and returned to our guest house ready to head for Beijing.
On the west side of Shanghai, properly known as “new Pudong,” lays Shanghai University of Electric Power. As we arrived more than a dozen students were waiting to greet us. The campus was alive with the shuffling of students from building to building. A large sign made for us read “Welcome Teachers and Students of Lander University.” After checking in we meet with students over lunch which we made ourselves. Making dumplings was a fun activity to get to know the students. I was able to get to know Javerse who was a freshman student who helped teach us to make our lunch. After lunch we participated in several activities with the students including a game of charades and a game similar to “Simon Says.” After getting to know the campus we went to play basketball with some of the students we had meet. Everyone stared at us on the court and we were the loudest people playing. It was funny how every time Kiera or Melanie would make a basket Kiera would run in a circle screaming “yeah” and Melanie would do a funky dance. I found the others students on the courts playing were very quiet and the more I watched them play the odder the playing seemed. The mostly all male students playing basketball mimicked styles of the NBA players yet had poor technique and made very few shots. Another noticeable difference in playing style was that there was little to no guarding on the part of the defending team with players giving the opposing player lots of space to take shots. It seems that while basketball is very popular and everyone there knew the main players in the NBA like LeBron James the aggression of the game was non-existent. For dinner Friday night we went to a place some of the American English teachers called the pink table cloth. The food was very good but also very spicy.
On Saturday we travelled to Dishui Lake and the East China Sea. The lake was very large and beautiful. People were camping in tents on the bank. At the sea we got off the bus and walked down a long cement boarder to get to the water’s edge. The tide was out and the water left pooled in the muddy bank was warm to the touch. The mud of the sea bank allowed for many Chinese visitors to capture shelled crustaceans, either oysters or clams. After seeing the East China Sea we took the long bus ride back to the university. At dinner Saturday night we returned to the pink table cloth with an English teacher named Jeremy and his wife who also taught English at the University. Three students from the University attended dinner with us. I was able to speak with two of them one named Ellen and her boyfriend Jo. Ellen wanted to discuss politics so we had a great time trading rhetoric of policy making and government opinion. One of her most interesting viewpoints of America was about America’s entrance into Iraq. Ellen saw the American incursion into Iraq as a “big mistake.” She said that she felt “our parliament” had made an error in entering Iraq and said that she only understood the reasoning behind it as a way to gain oil rights or to make money through war profiteering. I found it interesting because it showed me that the United States global actions often are interpreted in many different ways by the many nations in the world. Ellen’s boyfriend Jo was less interested in talking politics. Jo said his biggest issue in the political realm was that North Korea was acting erratically and he saw a US-Chinese partnership against North Korea as the right move. Jo was more interested in discussing the differences in US culture to that of the Chinese. One of Jo’s friends went to New York for an exchange program and told Jo that while at a bar an American woman tried to take him back to her room for the night. Jo said wanted to know if this was a common occurrence in America because in Chinese culture he said the majority of families were more traditional (or in our country what we would call conservative). As we discussed the idea I told Jo that different people in America hold different perspectives of sex and traditional lifestyles. Again I reflected to a previous assumption I had gathered from our cultural exchange that the majority of negative stereotypes our country puts out to other countries come from Northern regions of American in major cities like New York and Chicago. I explained to Jo that for the most part the United States was broken into four main sectors the North, the Conservative South, the Midwest, and the far West. Jo and I came to the agreement that different people in every part of the world have vastly changing definitions of what is right or wrong, traditional or non-traditional, and what is ethical or unethical behavior. As we wrapped up our night we looked forward to moving on to Shanghai Normal University with our first real taste of Shanghai student life.
Six hours after we arrived in South Korea we arrive in Shanghai, China. A long wait in line in the Shanghai Airport and a quick stamp in my passport marked my first entrance into a foreign country. The smells and scene were completely new to me. An overwhelming smell of tobacco smoke, carpet, and city air drifted through the airport front entrance. Mandy, our guide, introduced herself to everyone and then we went outside and got onto the Sanda University bus which made the Lander bus look like a mini cooper. Sanda University has around 8,000 students although the campus was a ghost town because of the Labor Day holiday here in Shanghai. Our guest house was positioned on the river running through campus.
On Tuesday our group attended classes at Sanda University on Chinese language, Chinese culture, and Consumer and cultural perspective differences between Chinese people and the west. Our instructor for our first two classes was named June. She referred to the language class she was teaching us as “survival Chinese”. This reference made much more sense to us as we travelled around the campus and surrounding area of Shanghai throughout the week. Our language class covered basic terms and phrases such a ni hao (hello), xie xie (thank you), and ce suo (bathroom). Next we covered the four different tones, the front and back nasal speech of the Chinese language, and ‘pinyin’ the type of initials and finals of the language which are similar to consonants and vowels. After we covered language we began learning about Chinese characters and how Chinese calligraphy comes from hieroglyphics which usually are written to mimic the actual objects, places, or people represented by the characters. Jane also taught us the first 10 numbers in Chinese.
After a wonderful lunch we returned to classes and learned about how to tie lucky knots as well how to make red paper cut outs by making a double happiness paper cut out. After our class on culture we were introduced to a professor of business who gave an interesting presentation of Chinese customs and viewpoints of American culture. The professor felt that Americans were very aggressive and more open in terms of promiscuity. He showed us a McDonald’s commercial that the government sees as inappropriate however Americans would see the commercial as nothing unordinary. I found the presentation interesting in terms of the misconceptions foreign countries have of Americans. Most of our negative stereotypes come from the Northern region of American whereas the South is much more in line with Chinese culture in terms of tradition.
On Wednesday we visited the Shanghai Maritime Museum which focused on the Chinese boating and marine life throughout history. The museum boasts of the new Chinese aircraft carrier with posters and flyers throughout the front entrance of the museum. The interesting design of the new aircraft carrier was of interest because of the aerodynamics of the ship to help it glide through the water with more speed than any other in the world. While this one aircraft carrier is the first for China this ship is of no significance to the United States because we have so many already. The only real notice that our country needs to take is that China is moving to become a larger military power and build a large scale navy similar to the United States. The great thing about having a strong navy is that a country can enforce its global markets by force if necessary. This is a strong indicator that China’s growth rate is more fact than fabrication. The museum was the first of two we saw on Wednesday. The second museum was the Shanghai Herb Medicine Museum which focused on the history of medicine in China. While most of China uses a mixture of Eastern and Western medicine the history of Chinese medicine focuses heavily on natural remedies from animals and plants as well as stretching routines, massages, and acupuncture. The museum’s content really reminded me of Native American style medical history. Many of the same themes seen in Native American cultures are in line with Chinese historical cultures including medicine, warfare style, and jewelry styles. At night after dinner at Xin Wang we went on a river cruise from the east side of the Shanghai River. We got to see the multiple state buildings as well as the Shanghai financial district. One of the most memorable sites was the sphere tower and the finance building with a large square hole in the top of the building. Our time at Sanda University was very interesting and I truly enjoyed my first glimpse at Shanghai.
We have arrived in South Korea after our first 15 hour flight and are awaiting our next flight to China. The flight was long but we endured it. When we first arrived to leave from the Atlanta airport we had a fiasco trying to get the Lander Bearcat Bus door open so we ended up beating the door open with a tire iron. We got our baggage, went through the airport and got aboard our flight. My biggest frustration now is my laptop which refuses to connect to the internet so I am on Kiera's laptop now doing my blog so I apologize if the blog post are short and not well ordered. We knew we would run into problems but boy does this technology problems set me back. However I will endure and be sure to check the messages as soon as I can from those reading my blog (parents). If you want to contact me post a comment on my blog and I will try and respond within the week. I don't know when I will have access to the internet again or if my computer will cooperate. Traveling is still fun.