During our visit to China, we stayed in the city of Nanjing. Prior to the visit, little did i know of the city other than that it was home to some very good universities including the Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications (NUPT). When you think or hear of china, the cities you hear of mostly are Beijing (Great Wall) and Shanghai (the worlds largest city).
Nanjing happens to be the capital of China’s eastern Jiangsu province. It was the national capital during part of the Ming Dynasty. It still houses many monuments including the city wall and the gate of China. This predates back to the 14th century section of the massive wall that contained the city’s entrance. This city wall is a ‘must-see’ if one visits china or Nanjing. Even though it cannot be compared to the great wall in Beijing, it runs for about 13 miles (initially 22 miles) and even though it was built over 600 years ago, it is still kept in very good condition with original inscriptions on the wall.
Some of the great places to visit in Nanjing are ; ‘Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum’, which is the tomb to one of the modern founders of china. ‘Xuanwu lake’, which is a beautiful lake that connects two islands with nice restaurants. ‘Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum’, which is a massive tomb that was built back in 1405 for the emperor at the time. It contains many pathways and statues. The city wall of course, which was mentioned earlier, the ‘Confucius temple’ and last but not the least, the Nanjing Museum.
This city is saturated with great historical artifacts, beautiful lakes and of course, its residents.
My experience as a whole is hard to sum up in a few words, a few sentences or even a few paragraphs. Being able to experience a mix of cultures truly helps prepare oneself for the future and being open to accepting change. Before I left for China, I had no real idea of what I would experience. I think having no real idea was beneficial for me because I was ready for a complete culture shock and seeing how life was from a different perspective. I was not held back by preconceived notations. Although, I did picture the old styled buildings I also knew there would be cities full of lights in the more known parts. I did not want to limit myself to what I thought or heard from others so I found it easier to just wait and experience China for what it really is.
How did I do it? By living in the moment, I had the time of my life. It is honestly hard to describe to someone until they actually experience it for themselves. It is amazing how are lives can be so different yet similar at the same time, a complete oxymoron but true. For example, the food was one of my biggest culture shocks. I thought I would have a hard time finding food I liked (so I brought plenty of snacks from home) but I always found myself wanting to try something new. I think while in China I tried the most amounts of newest foods I ever had. I felt that since I was here, I might as well at least give the food a chance because it’s not often I visit here. Although I did not try every new food I saw, I tried more than I would have if I kept a closed mind.
This trip really helped to remind me that it is ok to try something new and not like it as long as I gave it a fair chance. I think nowadays it is easy to dismiss something as simple as trying a new food because it is easy to. I will admit, some days I went out seeking comfort food and it was interesting to compare to back home. We tried a classic New York styled pizza (pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms) and had a burger another day. No matter what food I tried I was always down for the experience and I never tried to limit myself. I found out from this trip I love freshly made noodles that are made to order from small family owned restaurants! I also now know I like quail eggs! Overall, I learned I liked new types of foods I would never have tried without visiting China. I appreciate the help from all the volunteers and to everyone who made this trip possible!!
Over the course of our trip, we were treated very well by the students and volunteers from NJUPT. Frist, I was introduced to Brenda and Sharon who were in my group. They were both undergrads at the school and were excited about the workshop. Sharon had gone to an international school before NJUPT, and her home province was over 2 hours away. Brenda had gone to a local school in her area, that was over 3 hours away. For some reason, I kept forgetting how large of a country China was, so it amazed me that kids were coming from all over to attend the school.
Another student who I formed a friendship with was Fiona. Though she wasn’t in my group, I could always find Fiona close by as she said she admired our height difference. Whether or not they were in our group, the students were very nice and welcoming and would go the extra mile to make sure we had everything that we needed.
Talking with the students about their everyday life was an eye-opener. I now have to think twice about complaining about classes, as I learned that most students take anywhere from 10 to 15 classes a semester. This was normal for them and they were shocked by our responses. The other thing was the living conditions. Students had to walk from their dorm all the way to the dining hall in order to take a shower, and the showers were only open from noon to 9 at night. This was amazing to us, and again we were shocked at how normal this all was to them. Overall, this was a great learning experience for us to see how people around the world live on a day-to-day basis.
The struggles that I mentioned in my prior posts are nothing comparing to how much fun this has been so far; or to all the lessons that I am learning here. For me the best part of this program are not the what you learn from the lectures in class but all the indirect leaning associate with this awesome experience.
For example while working with my group sometimes I find myself frustrated with our differences. Despite the language not being a big issue here (because everyone in this program speaks “enough” English) it still really hard to work with people with completely different backgrounds, who have different life and professional values. However, I constantly remind myself that situations like this will be the same in the “real world” and I will have to find a way to work around our differences if I want to accomplish my goal. Thus, I can’t even imagine how valuable getting to have some experience on cases like this can be for my carrier.
I know that all the struggles mentioned might sound silly because I should expect the language barrier and all the others culture shocking differences. Honestly, I did expect it but EXPECTING and EXPERIENCING are two completely different things. With all this in mind, I can’t help but be thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.
We still have many days before the end of this program but I can already see how much it will enhance and add value in my professional carrier. This experience is proving to me that no matter how much research you do and how well prepared you think you are the best and only way to fully understand something is by living it.
The experiences in China just keep getting better. Last night we had the opportunity to learn to make Chinese dumplings. Needless to say, some were more adept at this activity than others…even with some expert students and professors doing their best to teach us.
This is my first time traveling to another country besides USA. I say besides USA because nowadays I live in the US but I am originally from Brazil. Prior to come to China I did a lot of research and thought that I knew what to expect and was prepared to experience the culture differences. I thought that wouldn’t be too hard for me to overcome the cultural differences in China because I had done it before when I moved to US 6 years ago. Well, I was wrong and I quickly realized it when I had to order a coffee by pointing at the picture and hoping that the coffee would taste good (I could not read what was in the coffee because the description was written in Chinese of course).
The struggle # 1 (BUT FIRST COFFEE)
I don’t consider myself to be a picky eater so I thought that I would do fine in terms of food here in China. Again I was wrong, even the coffee served in our Hotel for breakfast is really different and I can not get used to it. I don’t really like instant coffee but over here I am having no other choice but to drink it. In fact, I bought a box of instant coffee and I have it every morning. As you can see in the picture below I am so happy for finally having some somewhat normal coffee.
The struggle # 2
I am also having a hard time to eat Chinese food for every meal every day. Again because I don’t considered myself a picky eater I thought I’d be fine eating Chinese for every meal. However, even though I eat basically everything (meat, chicken, pork, steak, veggies and noddles etc), I think that the seasonings used over here and the way they cook the food is really unique. I feel like the smell of their food is everywhere all the time which is making me have a hard time to adapt to the food. Please don’t get me wrong, most of the food that I tried here is really delicious but I can not have it all the time. Most of the days I try to only eat Chinese food in one meal and for the second I try to eat the snacks I brought or I go out for food. We (the students) actually found a yummy pizza place walking distance from our campus and we go there often.
Ps: Back home I normally don’t even eat pizza but over here my resources are limited so I am eating it often.