China: What the Tech?

Before coming here, I – like many Americans – had a few stereotypes about China. I thought Chinese people loved to eat fortune cookies, preferred Eastern culture over Western culture, and had a technology infrastructure that was underdeveloped compared to America’s.

However, these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. Practically no Chinese restaurants serve fortune cookies – when I asked one of my Beida language buddies about it, they laughed at me – and many of them really love Western culture! In fact, I met two Chinese girls who found each other through translating episodes of Sherlock into Chinese for online consumption. :O

And beyond that, the technology infrastructure here is BOOMING. In America, people are more likely to have access to cable or Netflix than a smartphone. However, here in China, smartphone penetration reaches into some of the poorest communities in the country – areas which are far poorer than America’s poorest areas.

Why is that? Mainly because in China, smartphones are more of a way of life than they’ll be for years in America, if not decades. In just one smartphone app (WeChat), you can schedule your next doctor’s appointment, pay for literally any service in the country, apply for a visa and pay off your parking tickets.

The IMC class I’ve been taking here has helped me realize that China is not looking to America for future technology – in fact, it’s America trying to catch up to China! This makes marketing so fascinating here, as you have a combination of tech-obsessed people in China with marketers using big data to target each consumer individually. When you add onto that the notion that Chinese people haven’t been exposed to in-depth marketing for more than a couple of generations, as private corporations didn’t exist in China until very recently, and it makes for an incredibly intriguing advertising climate. I honestly feel I’ve learned more about catering to your target market here in China than I have through all of my advertising classes so far!

15 hour flight calls for some quality reflection time….

Wow, I can honestly say that 2 months ago I did not think I would be sad to leave China and head back. However, today.. Was the most bittersweet day of my time here. I genuinely was not ready to board this plane, I feel my time in China is not done. Having had to do many lacrosse workouts abroad, I was grateful enough to find a local league to play with and essentially coach, as they are not all that developed just yet. This was the best decision I could have ever done while in China. It had opened me up to a bunch of other university students, expats, and locals. The diversity of the team allowed me to explore parts of Beijing I didn’t know existed while doing my favorite thing: play lacrosse. Through this league, I have found a lifelong friend, Chris, who is on the Women’s Chinese National team. What I recommend to anyone studying in China, or elsewhere around the world: invest in the natives, yearn to hear their story, let your relationship manifest from the differences and realize how much you can learn and teach one another. With Chris, I was able to go out to different restaurants, practice my Chinese (speaking and characters), visit her home to see what the traditional Chinese lifestyle is like and more. I encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone when abroad. You are cutting your trip short if you don’t. The conversations you have with these new people in your life are ones very different from the ones you have with  best friends. I initially struggled a lot with Chinese and how much class there was… I was worried I wasn’t seeing enough of China. However through making Chinese friends, I found my learning continued even out of the classroom which greatly improved my understanding of the language. I initially embarked on this journey to experience a different culture, which I did… But what I learned along the way was, you must immerse yourself in the culture to fully learn it. Reading the books and knowing the history isn’t enough. This summer has been one I will remember forever with friends that I hope will last a lifetime. I plan to come back and play for the Beijing Lacrosse team and beat Shanghai!! I came to study Public Health, and left in love. I may have showed these people some lacrosse, but they have showed me the world. I have learned more in my time here about my life, my happiness, and my values than I have been challenged to think about my whole life. It is not until you remove yourself from your normal life to realize things from the outside, we should do this more often. This has been an amazing and scary summer full of realizations but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

(Me & Chris’ Friends on her Birthday!)

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China Lax!!!!!

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For the Love of the Game.

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Hey guys,

So as I just looked through a bunch of my photos from my trip thus far, it hit me that I have traveled to five different cities throughout China these past 8 weeks. When I initially began the trip I had no intentions of leaving Beijing and diverging from the campus and districts I knew as I feared not knowing the language, the bus system, how to buy tickets,.. as you can see many different things that are necessary to traveling throughout a foreign country. However, throughout my first four weeks here, I was amazed with how much Chinese I had learned to be able to read signs, hold conversations (not too in depth, I’m talking very basic), and buy things! This new knowledge gave me the confidence to see what more this incredible country has to offer. And trust me…….. boy, does it have amazing things to offer. At the half way point, we get an oppurtunity to travel with friends for our long weekend break: IF YOU CAN, I RECOMMEND TRAVELING TO A DIFFERENT CITY!! The program does an amazing job of offering pre-planned trips but you can also find a crew and make your own itinerary. I had went with a pre-organized group to Hangzhou and Huangshan, two beautiful and different cities. This trip was something that allowed to create new friendships, hear people’s story’s, try out a different city’s famous food, and see more of the country. Warning: This trip included a lot of hiking, but trust me the view is worth it. The tour guides map out your 5 days to the max and really make sure you get your time and money’s worth. It was so nice to not have to stress about planning, meals, or transportation. (Top of Yellow Mountain)

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After this weekend and long discussion with my family about how much I loved seeing a different city, I was fortunate enough to have my family come to Shanghai for a weekend visit. For those of you who are missing a metropolis full of shops, amazing food, and skyscrapers- Shanghai is the move. I am from NY (and will forever argue it is one of the best places ever) and didn’t think I would think I could love a city as much as NYC, but… Shanghai, is definitely hai up there (see, what I did there? ;)) Here, I highly recommend going to the Shanghai Tower (2nd tallest building in the world), the Yu Garden (STUNNING), the French Concession (amazing pastries and COFFEEEEEEEE :D), walking the Bund, and shopping on Nanjing Road!

(Top of Shanghai Tower & the Yu Garden)

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One Friday, we had off from afternoon class and friends and I decided to go to Xi’an. This is another MUST SEE in China. Beautiful, historical, and one of the only cities that still has their city wall in tact. Those of you who do this, I recommend biking the City Wall at sunset, absolutely beautiful. Terra-cotta Warriors is a classic as well as the Hot Springs that is en route to the Warriors. There are famous Biang Biang noodles and dumplings that Xi’an is famous for, alongside other street food that all tastes incredibly tasty. For Xi’an, we did without tour guides and just asked local people for suggestions for places to go, and I do not regret this decision at all. I felt that this was truly an authentic experience of being immersed in the local culture. Muslim Street, near the Drum and Bell Towers (two other cool sites), is packed with street food and people which is a little overwhelming but a lot of fun to experience!! (Jumping rocks at the Hot Springs & Terracotta Warriors)

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Overall, my suggestion to those studying in China: focus on your studies and remember to take advantage of what the country has to offer. Do not let the free weekends go by watching Netflix in bed. Explore.

 

Foreign Farewell

Hello Everyone!

I can’t believe there are only two days left in the program here in Beijing! It’s unreal how close the end is. Though this trip was only 8 weeks, it felt like a lifetime. I learned soooo much about Chinese culture, history, politics, and language. This knowledge has allowed me to look at America and myself in a more wholistic way. Being able to learn about and experience another culture allows you to appreciate your own as well. Though different in nature, both are important for many people. I am so grateful for this experience and cherish the memories made.

For fun I made a list of 3 things I’m expecting to happen when I arrive back home:
1. Unconsciously using Chinese phrases instead of English when asking simple questions.
2. Having a odd craving for Jianbing every morning. (Honestly this was my breakfast everyday)
3. Telling the same stories of my time abroad to many different people.

Well, now I’m looking towards the future and the next adventure life brings. When I return home, I will begin preparing for my senior year at NU (which means finding a job lol) and continue to grow in new ways. I’m so grateful to have been able to spend my summer in Beijing. Admittedly, I didn’t like every day of it (classes mostly lol). However, if prompted, I would do it all over again!

High Hopes and Big Dreams
Cheron❤️

(Look out for my next post about adjusting back to the US!)

Looking towards the future. Wondering what's next...

Looking towards the future. Wondering what’s next…

Bargaining Tips

One of my favorite things to do during my time in China is walking through small shops looking at cute trinkets. I remember my first time going to one of these shops–I was so excited and bought a bunch of really cute scarves for what I thought was a pretty good deal. It was only after I got home and called my aunt that I realized how much I’d been ripped off. The lesson I learned: Always try cutting the price down, especially in small shops.

For those of you who have never tried bargaining before, there’s an unsaid set of rules that you should try when bargaining. First, keep in mind if you can’t speak Chinese without an accent, the vendors will know that you’re foreign and therefore hike up the price. Starting out, as a rule of thumb, cut the price in half, making sure it’s slightly lower than how much you are willing to pay. Don’t be surprised when the vendors start venting to you about how ridiculous your offer is and how they won’t make money. That is rarely the case. I usually repeat my offer a few times until the vendor gives a return offer. When this happens, don’t give in too easily. Repeat your original offer. If the price is still too high, start walking away. At this point, if the vendor tries to keep you by making a return offer, it means that your initial offer is still in the range of what he or she is willing to accept. If he or she does not try to keep you, realize that your price may be actually too low.

All the cute things I bought from the Pearl Market!

All the cute things I bought from the Pearl Market!

Ideally, if you know what you want before going out, go online (to websites like taobao.com) to find around how much this thing costs. Knowing how much things cost will be very useful in figuring out about how much you should bargain for. This, however, is rarely the case. If you’re in a market and see something you like, try not to buy it from the first vendor you see. Bargain with this vendor and note their lowest price. Most likely at places like the pearl market you’ll find multiple vendors selling the same thing. After bargaining a couple of times, you’ll figure out where you can get the best offer!

When I went to the pearl market, I saw a couple of times when the bargaining got really intense. I found the process a bit intimidating at first, especially when the vendor got really emotional about how she wasn’t going to make money. But over time, I actually learned to enjoy the process. It’s not like anything I’ve seen living in the United States.

Bargaining in China: The Do’s and Don’ts

Let’s face it. If you want to buy souvenirs in China at a low cost, you need to learn how to bargain! The reality is that Chinese vendors will try to sell foreigners items at higher costs. So, if you don’t want to blow your wallet after just one or two purchases, I would suggest learning how to negotiate prices. If done right, bargaining could be a fun and worthwhile experience!

Hongqiao Pearl Market

Hongqiao Pearl Market

Some tips:

1. Here are some commonly used bargaining phrases:

Duo shao qian?  (How much does this cost?)

Tai gui le! (Too expensive)

Wo zhi you [ ]  (I only have [amount]).

Wo shi xuesheng.  (I am a student).

2. Travel in a group. It might make the experience a little less nerve-wracking.

3. Look uninterested. Showing interest is a vendor’s cue to make their pitch. Play it cool. Bargain when you are ready.

4. If a price is too high, cut the price in half. Or you can determine your best price, start at lower price, and then work your way up to your best price.

5. Walk away, they almost always call you back – to your benefit.

6. Have some idea how much things are worth. If you are unsure, ask a friend.

7. Be persistent, but stay polite. Remember that Chinese vendors have to earn a living. Some vendors may be nicer than others. The important thing is to stick to your plan. Fighting them doesn’t help.

Some souvenirs I bought!

Some souvenirs I bought!

 

These are just a few tips you can use while bargaining in China. Remember that you’re not going to get it right the first time. It might take a few times before you work up the confidence to bargain, and to bargain well. 加油!

Down to my last week in China..

Homesick Celebrity


你好!/Hello!!

Welcome back to my blog! The last few weeks have been exciting and exhausting. While I’ve been able to visit various parts of Beijing, I find myself still adjusting to the way of life here. Number one for me has been the food. Now I love Asian cuisine, but only on occasion. I’ve grown to despise my favorite Asian dish, Kung Pao Chicken. Number two is waking up and not being able to see the sun most days. Who knew I would miss that.

My favorite weekend excursion thus far has been the Temple of Heaven. Partly because of the amazing scenery and history of it, but mostly because of the little girls I met and took pictures with. I was in awe at how excited they were to see me and enjoyed every moment of it.

Beijing has so much to offer and it’s so hard to see it all in one trip. I find myself bustling to see many more districts and restaurants. I am enjoying my time here, however it would be unfair if I did not mention that I miss home. I miss daily clear skies and home cooked meals. I miss my siblings and my dog. I’m so grateful that we have better technology which allows me to video chat them. I’m already planning a list of food items I want eat when I get back.

I don’t have much time left here, but I’ll try my very best to make it memorable and exciting. Thank you for reading :). Till’ next time. 再见.

万龙儿 (my Chinese name: it means “fun” dragon)

Me and the little girls at the Temple of Heaven exchanging WeChat info.

Me and the little girls at the Temple of Heaven exchanging WeChat info.

Acupuncture…Now you try

After a couple of sessions in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) learning about the theories governing this branch of medicine, we finally began the really interesting stuff–actually using TCM techniques to address problems.

Before delving further into what we actually did, I think perhaps it’s necessary to make a note on what TCM is. As opposed to Western medicine, which focuses primarily on symptomatic healing, TCM is more focused on healing the body to heal itself. A TCM doctor looks at all the symptoms of a patient as connected and addresses these symptoms as results of imbalances within the body. Restoring the body balance back to a balanced state, therefore, should alleviate the body of all symptoms. The techniques for doing so involve herbal remedies, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and blood letting, among other things.

Acupuncture statue at the TCM museum used previously in imperial exams testing future TCM doctors. This hollow statue with holes for the acu-points would be covered with wax and filled with water. Students must accurately poke the acu-points to release the water in order to pass the exam.

Acupuncture statue at the TCM museum used previously in imperial exams testing future TCM doctors. This hollow statue with holes for the acu-points would be covered with wax and filled with water. Students must accurately poke the acu-points to release the water in order to pass the exam.

Going into the first day of our practical, I was completely expecting the doctor to demonstrate some of these techniques while explaining the function of each therapy. What completely escaped me, was the fact that after he demonstrated the first time, he handed each of us a needle and said, “Now you try.” No one in the class had previous experience playing with sharp needles, and now we were going to poke each other? What seemed crazy at first, actually turned out to be quite fun. The needles were all very thin and was barely perceptible when they were used. In addition, the doctor was quite specific about the point he wanted us to poke.

Through this experience, I learned two important things: (1) acupuncture is quite effective for curing my neck pain and (2) human skin is really quite tough.

Some tips on/around Campus.

Hi Guys!

So, I am currently sitting in a local little cafe shop, “Tomorrow’s Party Cafe” pretty sure it is called “Beautiful Time Cafe” but we have coined our own name for it, hahaha classic americans. For those of you who are the coffee shop kind of studier, this local little nook is a gem. Just a heads up, coffee here is expensive compared to everything else- but…. SO WORTH IT. I tried to give it up because I knew it was something that would put a dent in my wallet, but quickly succumbed to my cravings! However, a more cheap option is the bubble tea, not as much caffeine, but also super freakin’ good. There are  COCO shops all around, which are chain bubble tea shops that offer so many different flavors and tapioca options. For anyone who has had bubble tea in the states, multiply your experience and love for the drink by 100, and that is how satisfied you will be with COCO, trust me. (see photo below) 🙂 IMG_9982

The nearest CoCo to where we live is in Wudaokou, a very hip and fun bar/restaurant scene that has many foreigners. Wudaokou is reliable for some good western food: with restaurants like LUSH- (pancakes and fries are bangin’ there), and Beijing Yixin (good sushi!!). It also has a great night life where you can watch some sports games and grab burgers. On that note, I highly recommend getting a subway card for Beijing. It has allowed me to really check out so many different hutongs (villages) and fun restaurants easily. The subway system here is super easy because it has tons of english and there is an app “Beijing Metro” which lets you search which stop you need to get off at and what transfers you need to make. I go on the subway at least once a day as it is super cheap and convenient because there is a stop literally 200 meters away from our campus!

There are tons of different parks that are beautiful to explore and visit too. My favorite have been Beihai Park and Houhai. Both have fun village streets near by that you can shop (make sure to bargain) and eat some local street food. Be careful with the street food, often times my body likes to reject any cold dishes… not fun, haha. Houhai has a lot of jazz bands that come to play around 8 PM if you go and grab dinner there. It is really fun to listen and sit by the lake or take a stroll. All the restaurants and shacks have lights so it’s really cool to take a walk after dinner and burn some calories from your super inexpensive yet amazing dinner. Below is the first dish I ordered on my own…. I was stoked it was the right thing when I tried it. IMG_9696

Speaking of this food, I am getting hungry. I think tonight I will head to Korean BBQ! 🙂

I hope this has helped you guys!

Jules

 

 

IMC Memories

Hi it’s me~

The IMC class started about two weeks ago, and I didn’t know what to expect from it, especially since I’ve never taken a marketing class before. Thankfully, it’s going pretty well! The IMC class has 9 NU students along with 9 PKU grad students. These grad students sit in class, go on company visits, take photos, and help us whenever we need something and are all super friendly and nice.

So far, we have had many lecturers and a few company visits. All of the lectures are pretty similar to each other but the lecturers themselves are very successful people, especially in comparison to us undergrad students. For our company visits, we have visited BlueFocus, Uniqlo in Sanlitun, and Tencent, and we still have two more visits left. Out of all of the visits, Tencent was definitely my favorite. It’s amazing how quickly they’ve grown and how quickly they’re currently growing and how popular WeChat (a Chinese messaging app) is and its endless number of functions. WeChat can do anything from simple messaging to payments to even applying for visas! So much power in a single app!! I’m still so amazed that Tencent would even invite us to their office and talk to us and show us around.

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One day, after one of our company visits, the PKU students invited us to go KTV, or karaoke, with them, so my friend and I went along because who doesn’t love karaoke? At first, it was just Sarah, a few PKU students, and me, but halfway through, our PKU professors came and joined us for KTV! This was a really big culture shock because in America, professors don’t really go out with their students, especially to places like karaoke. Nonetheless, it was still a fun time, and the karaoke place was really really nice.

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I can’t believe I only have one more week left in Beijing…