Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Second Day in Beijing

Sorry for taking so long to get this post up. I have been bombarded with work, and I am currently in search for internship opportunities to head back to China for the entire summer next year. I have been doing some research on possible internship programs there, as well as possibly using some of the connections I made during my study abroad trip. I am going to try to do one post every other day this week. I really want to share with you all the amazing time I had in China. My family and close friends are probably getting sick about me talking about China, because since I have gotten home, I have not stopped talking about it! I loved it so so much!......

Our second day in Beijing was extremely tiring. We all woke up at 5AM, but it felt like 5PM because we were extremely jetlagged. Some of us decided to explore our area a little for breakfast. My friends Linda and Tierra came with me to a bakery around the corner from Bei Way to get some breakfast. We decided to try a "iced latte", and some type of pastry with fruit. The pastry was good, but the iced latte was not what we expected. It was OK, but not what we are accustomed to from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. After breakfast we got on our bus and drove through the "rings" of Beijing to reach our destination. Beijing has these "traffic rings" that are literally circles going through the entire city. Imagine 5 large rings surrounding a city, and that is what it is. The outer rings are where we stayed, and the inner rings are deeper into the city, such as where the Birds Nest is (where the Olympic Games were held in 2008).

We went on two "business" trips. Our first stop, was the United States Embassy, in Beijing. The embassy was really cool. It was extremely strict as far as security. We weren't allowed to take pictures on the grounds. When we went inside the Embassy, our electronic devices were taken by security, as well as our passports. One of our professors "secretly" snapped a picture of the Embassy building when we were on our way out. :)

Two people at the Embassy lectured us about the government and economy of China. Andrew Billiard and Irv Messinghe were our presenters. Billiard is in expat working in China, originally from the United States, as well as Messinghe. During this lecture we were given with great detail the intricacies and processes of the Chinese government and economics. Billiard told us we would see any 'shanty" towns in China. This was only our second day in China, and we were all wondering what he was talking about. Billiard explained to us that shanty towns meant areas of China where homeless were living in filth with no resources. During the lecture, I had to agree with Billiard. From the ride to the airport to our dorm rooms at Bei Way, I didn't really see any homeless people grouped together in a "shanty' town. China's government is trying very hard to keep the urbanization and development at a steady pace in which everyone can keep up, to insure that these shanty towns do not develop. From that statement, you can clearly see the communistic views of China. I do agree with the Chinese government in this case. If you want to better the entire country, you cannot grow rapidly. The growth must maintain a steady pace, in which the middle class can keep up with
the wealthy.

The remainder of the lecture describes how China is becoming more modern. We Americans still view China as a third world country, struggling to keep up. Yes, the western side of mainland China is very much that view, but the east coast is almost similar to New York City. I remember during my prerequisite course before my trip to China, my professor said, "You are going to wake up in Beijing and feel like you are in New York City". Don't get me wrong, Beijing is not all Broadway and flashing lights, BUT Beijing was urbanized and developed. However, some major aspects Beijing lacks in are sewage systems and air filtration. The toilets in our dorm room were very hard to flush, there were actually signs that told us to dispose of our toilet paper in the trash cans. That took a little while for us to get used to! Also, we learned very quickly that everywhere you go in China, you need to take toilet paper with you, as none is provided in bathroom stalls, like here in the US. In addition, we finally got to see the "American" view of the Chinese bathroom. A "hole" in the floor as a toilet. Don't get me wrong, yes it's a hole, but it really is a toilet sunken into the ground. The second aspect Beijing still needs to work on is the air quality. I understand that Beijing is a huge city, occupied by 20 million people..but there has to be a way to implement recycling and other eco-friendly processes to create better air for its people. My entire group felt the side affects from the bad air: trouble breathing, stuffy noses and headaches.

After we left the Embassy, we headed to lunch near our dorm rooms in Bei Way. Typical Americans, we opted for a place that served "pizza" and free beer. We were in for a treat. The place we went to was called Stairway to Heaven. We were seated in a small room with couches and a large table to eat on. We all ordered pizza. To our dismay, the pizza was actually really tasty. The beer was also good. We got a huge mug of Beijing Beer, and we really enjoyed it. We also were given about 3 bottles of Corona each. We couldn't believe that our waitress just kept bringing out all of this beer. At the end of our meal, we were totally in shock over the price. For one personal pizza the mug of beer and 3 Coronas, it only cost me about 8 US dollars. We were even more shocked when we left our waitress a tip, and she came chasing us out of the restaurant telling us we gave her too much money. We then learned from our tour guide Karlis, that normally tips are not expected in China.

After lunch, we hopped back on our bus and went to Ingenta Publishing Technology. Ingenta is a publishing company that works with companies to produce published material. From Ingenta's website, they describe themself as a "Publishing Technology to serve the international publishing world, academic/scholarly and trade, books and journals, digital and print. We (Ingenta) offer a complete service from the point of content acquisition through to consumer delivery. In the fast paced digital world, our services are designed with tomorrow’s market in mind.  Supply chain to social networking, scholarly research to semantic web, Publishing Technology provides practical and accessible solutions and does the hard work for you.  Our brand heritage speaks for itself, combined with our future proof new products we will work in partnership across the publishing industry to deliver your business success."

While at Ingenta we had the opportunity to speak with the CEO, Henan Sun. Ms. Sun explained to us her personal life, how she got involved in the publishing world, and how to start a joint venture business in China. She told us that she attended University in London, and studied publishing as well as computer technology. She said that he degree with computers has been one of the most beneficial aspects to her career. Everyone in my group was stunned by her capability to speak English. She attened college in London, so her English had the British accent. I found Ms. Sun to be extremely intelligent. She has two college degrees and is currently working towards her Masters degree, all while being a CEO of Ingenta, a mother, wife, and also a professor at a nearby University in Beijing.

Ms. Sun also talked about the possibilties of starting a joint venture business in China. In order to start a joint venture business in China, you must have a Chinese company. Additionally, to start a business in China, you need to be a Chinese citizen. Ms. Sun said it is very easy to start a business in China, similar to the United States, you send in papers similiar to US's "Articles of Incorporation" as well as other official documents. I learned a great deal about doing business in China from the time we spent at Ingenta with Ms. Sun and some of her staff. I greatly appreciated the time they took out of their day to meet with us.

When we got back to our dorms that day, we were extremely tired. We were literally running on fumes. I think all of us passed out on the bus from Ingenta back to the dorms. It was a nice 1.5 hour nap. One thing we got used to was napping on the bus. Since there is so much traffic at every hour in Beijing, we had long bus rides which turned into great nap opportunities!

Our group at Ingenta, with Ms. Sun.

Ingenta's company logo in their Beijing office. 

My lunch group enjoying our lunch at Stairway To Heaven.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Day in Beijing

Hi Everyone! I have returned from China, and there is so much to share with you all! Unfortunately, the minute I went to update my blog upon my arrival to Beijing, our tour guide, Karlis, told me Blogger was blocked in China.. I was so upset that I couldn't keep you guys updated while I was in China, but I am going to do a few posts this week about my trip to China. First, I want to say China was everything I expected and definitely exceeded my expectations! Everyone has preconceived notions of China, thinking it is a developing third world country. Yes that is true, China is developing, but in my eyes, it is no longer a third world country. When we landed at the Beijing airport, I couldn't tell the difference between the US and China. The country is beautiful. We all loaded up on our tour bus with our amazing guide Karlis. Karlis has been living in China for the past 5 years. He is originally born in Latvia, pursued college in Washington state, and came to China to study his Masters degree and PHD in Ecology. Karlis knew EVERYTHING about China and its culture and history. I was amazed with his knowledge.

It took us about 2 hours to get to our dorm rooms from the airport. One thing I learned about China within these first 2 hours was there is a TON of traffic. Makes sense, considering Beijing is home to 30 million people. To put things into perspective for you, NYC has a population of about 5 million.. Finally we arrived at the Beijing University for Foreign Studies. We stayed in dorm rooms that were livable. The dorms in China made me appreciate my dorm room in Ithaca. The group I traveled with quickly learned that we would need to take toilet paper EVERYWHERE. In China, mostly all of the bathrooms are Chinese style, a sunk in the ground toilet (a hole) in the floor. Only Western-styled companies and tourist spots had regular toilets as well as toilet paper. I thought this was pretty cool, definitely a part of the China experience. We had a saying "YOCO" You Only China Once.. We tried to experience as many cultural things as we could. This saying came into my mind when I tried street food. One thing my mom told me over and over again before I left for China, was to not eat the street food... Our group went to a street vendor as soon as we got to Beijing, because we were starving.. So my first piece of food on the trip came from a street vendor.. (Sorry Mom!) The food we had from the vendor was called "Tien Bing" It was an egg wrapped up with chicken, lettuce, and onions. It was actually pretty good, I was scared to try it at first, but you never know until you try..

Our first night in Beijing we went to dinner as a group with our professors as well as Karlis. We went to a place called "Chicken Restaurant". They named the restaurant this because there was a huge chicken statue inside the restaurant. At dinner, we had our own private room. In China, when eating as a group you sit at a circular table with a huge lazy susan in the middle. A traditional Chinese dinner consists of about 12 hot and cold dishes. Also, real Chinese food is completely different from the Chinese food we have in the US. For this dinner we had lotus flower root, which has a really sweet taste, as well as spinach with boiled peanuts. We also had a boiled chicken, rice, eggplant, bok choy and many other delicious plates. After this first dinner, I knew I was going to love real Chinese food.

Our first night in Beijing was rough. The beds in the dorm rooms were really hard. It felt like I was sleeping on bricks. Although I was so tired from the 13 hour flight, it was hard for me to fall asleep. Although it wasn't what I was used to, I was able to manage and get some sleep.
Getting ready to board the plane to Beijing!

Sign in the Beijing airport

The campus where we stayed, the Chinese call the area "Bei Way"

Our dorm room

Our first group dinner at "Chicken Restaurant"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Arrived in Beijing

So I arrived in Beijing to find out from our host that Blogger is blocked on China.. I'm trying to send this to my blog from my phone but I'm not sure if it will work.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting Ready to Jet Off to China!

I cannot believe the time has already come. In a mere 10 hours I will be boarding my flight to Beijing! I am so anxious right now I cannot fall asleep. I am studying abroad in China this summer, taking classes in Beijing and Shanghai. Words cannot describe how ecstatic I am to experience this completely different culture and way of life. Everyone, including my family and friends have been asking me one question: "Are you nervous?" I always give the same response, "I am way too excited to even think of being nervous". While in China, I will be visiting the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and many other tourist attractions. In addition, I will also be taking classes, learning Mandarin, as well as calligraphy, and the economic and financial structure of China. I am very interested to learn about business in China, and I know I will definitely gain a lot of insight on this trip.

Because Facebook is blocked in China, I plan to keep my family and friends updated via this blog. I will post pictures after I travel through Beijing and Shanghai. I hope you all enjoy the blog! :)

A Little about Me

Hi everyone! Thanks for taking the time to check out this blog devoted to my travels. l am currently a student at Ithaca College, with a major in Business Administration with concentrations in finance and international business, as well as a minor in Economics. I am a proud Jersey girl, but  I am NOT from the Jersey Shore.. I have traveled to some places near and far from the United States, including Europe and the Caribbean.This blog will be devoted to documenting my travels around the world. I am very interested in learning other cultures and experiencing new things, so I hope to share some of these experiences with all of you! 

Bon Voyage!