USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences > Blog

June 28, 2013

Last Days in Shanghai

Filed under: Class — geachina @ 11:11 pm

By Esmeralda Del Rio and Sunny Sun

Monday, June 17th

Esmeralda decided to visit the Jewish Refugee Museum located in Shanghai. Before she entered the Museum, Esmeralda was expecting artifacts of people who had lived in Shanghai. She went into the first exhibition, which showed vivid illustrations about Auschwitz during the early years of the Second World War. Esmeralda really wanted to go visit the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum because it took place during the International Settlement in early 20th century—also connected to theme of our class, globalization.

Esmeralda decided to visit the Jewish Refugee Museum located in Shanghai. Before she had entered the Museum, Esmeralda was expecting artifacts of people who had lived in Shanghai. She went into the first exhibition, which showed vivid illustrations about Auschwitz during the early years of the Second World War.  Esmeralda really wanted to go visit the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum, because it took place during the International Settlement in early 20th century—also connected to theme of our class, globalization.

The front of the Museum

The first exhibition in the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum.

The first exhibition in the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum

Tuesday, June 18h

After class, we decided to have lunch with Jess and Aijun, students from Fudan University. The restaurant was amazing because the atmosphere was great and the food was delicious. We discussed life as college students at Fudan University and USC.

Erica and Jess

Erica and Jess

Michelle Lau and Aijun

Michelle Lau and Aijun

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June 27, 2013

Dragon Boat Festival, Pudong and More!

Filed under: Class,Shanghai — geachina @ 6:53 pm

By Erica Christianson and Joshua Neill

June 12-
Happy Dragon Boat Festival Day! Today is a national holiday in China, so everyone gets the day off to go eat zongzi (sticky rice inside of a leaf often with a taro or red bean filling) Why, you ask? Well, we had the same question, and after Professor Sheehan, Carlito, Michelle Lau and Lao Mao (our tour guide) put their heads together, they came up with this history (or this is as much as we can remember):

Back in the Warring States period there was a high official who can loosely be described as the first poet of China. He was part of the educated elite and liked literature. He got in a disagreement with the Chinese government and drowned himself in the river. The people really respected him, and they didn’t want the fish to eat his body, so they threw rice in the water for the fish to eat instead. Only you can’t just scatter rice, so they squished it up and wrapped it in a leaf, and thus the zongzi was born! Some stories continue with the people rowing a dragon boat out to rescue the body, which inspired the dragon boat festival.

After staying the night in probably the best hotel of this entire trip, we unfortunately had to leave, but not without saying goodbye to a large crystal Buddha worth 300 Million RMB (roughly 50 Million USD), which was quite a sight to see.

Crystal Buddha in the lobby of the hotel in Henan Province

Crystal Buddha in the lobby of the hotel in Henan Province

Then it was off to the airport, and we had to say goodbye to our local guide Joe. Zhengzhou was a city none of us had thought about before our trip, and it was enlightening to see that the Zhengzhou airport rivaled the largest and most modern airports in the USA, such as Denver International Airport. Once we got back, a group of us and Professor went around the corner for dinner, eating dumplings at a restaurant called Dong Bei Restaurant which means northeastern restaurant. Dumplings are traditional to northeast China and although we did not visit northeast China, our professor helped us find some of their authentic cuisine in Shanghai. The restaurant is by the university, and this week is finals week for the Fudan students. How do we know this? Because the first thing Professor Sheehan did was find a table full of baby freshman and introduce himself – just like a true academic.

June 13-
In class today we all picked partners for the assignment linked with our afternoon excursion.

Students mulling around during a break in lecture on Thursday afternoon

Students mulling around during a break in lecture on Thursday afternoon

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June 26, 2013

Adventures in Henan

Filed under: Travel — geachina @ 11:25 pm

By Charlene Tran and Tyler Tokunaga

9 June
We said goodbye to Beijing and caught our very first train in China to Zhengzhou. At the speed of 307 Km/ Hr, the image of the vibrant city of Beijing quickly faded into the background from the window view to give way to vast rice fields that stretched as far as an eye can see. While the cities of China constantly reform themselves to catch up with the pace of globalization, the vibrant agriculture in the countryside remains the firm foundation of China’s economic development by embracing and nourishing lives. Instead of taking a nap, some of us took advantage of this rare opportunity to contemplate the beautiful scenery of the countryside and let our thoughts be carried away.

Zhengzhou, a provincial-level city that not many know of is actually home to a population of roughly seven million Chinese and is a political, economic, technological and educational center of Henan Province. We arrived in Zhengzhou in the afternoon and after lunch, we went to the city center of Zhengzhou, also known as Zhengzhou New Area or Zhengzhou Eastern New District. On our way there, we saw both sides of road being crowded with ongoing constructions of apartment and office buildings while various parts at the middle of the road were fenced for construction of highway bridges. At Zhengzhou New Area, our bus stopped at a large park along the river opposite to Zhengzhou International Art Center. We felt as if we had entered a completely new country; the area was devoid of traditional Chinese characteristics while having an advanced city design with a combination of ecological city and ring city ideas. Many buildings were also branded “International” to blend in with and enhance the modern feel of the city.

Zhengzhou New Area, despite its cosmopolitan look, is China’s largest ghost town. The park by the river was filled with visitors, who came to enjoy the greenery and beautiful man-made marshes, but rows and rows of newly constructed luxury apartment, hotel, and business buildings surrounding it still sat empty on vast, deserted boulevards. The lack of demand for these new constructions was indicated by missing air conditioner units. Will life spring up in this “ghost town” in the near future? The answer, perhaps, depends on how fast Zhengzhou New Area can become a center of capital flow to attract foreign investments and a place where jobs are better paid and easily found to encourage migration of workers from rural areas to the city center. At around 5pm, we left Zhengzhou New Area and headed to our hotel to check-in and have dinner.

After having a filling family-style dinner at the hotel, some of us went with Professor Sheehan to the shopping center of Zhengzhou at around 7pm. We met a very friendly female taxi driver who was also our age and college student. During the entire taxi ride, she chatted wholeheartedly with Elisa and Grace, our two Chinese-speakers, and even took a photo with us. The shopping center was crowded and lively, and a popular spot for locals to spend their night. Many of the shops had English names, and some were named after global brands, such as Playboy, even though the products were not related. The middle of the road was fenced up for the construction of the first subway line in Zhengzhou. On the fences, we saw images that portrayed the future Zhengzhou, moving towards modernity, consumerism, and globalization.

Construction at the "Ghost town"

Construction at the “Ghost town”

Zhengzhou New Area

Zhengzhou New Area

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Our Trip to Beijing: June 7-8, 2013

Filed under: Beijing — geachina @ 11:15 pm

By Amy Nham and Elisa Ting

We were so excited to go to Beijing! It was most of our first times in Beijing, and even though our flight was delayed for over two hours due to bad weather, that didn’t curb our enthusiasm. After arriving safely in Beijing where the weather was slightly drizzling, we had a KFC lunch on the bus and then headed off to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was a lot bigger than we had expected, since it took us an hour to just walk through it in a straight line. There were many tourists there but most of them seemed to be from Asia; we were the only group we saw that came from the US.

This was our group picture in one of the courtyards of the palace. The background was kind of misty due to the weather making it look like a backdrop, but it was definitely real!

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The buildings had really ornate and decorative designs on them.

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This was one of the three thrones of the emperor.

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June 25, 2013

First Return to Shanghai: June 1-6, 2013

Filed under: Class,Shanghai — geachina @ 9:35 pm

By Cliff Liu and JJ Bassette

This week was mostly spent on our EASC 360: “Global China 1800 to the Present” course at our classroom in Fudan University, where we also live. The course’s content has covered a wide variety of subjects, including a general introduction to Chinese geography, history, and philosophy, not to mention more global aspects of China’s recent modernization. The bulk of the material is delivered in a series of 3-hour morning lectures by Professor Sheehan. Here Professor Sheehan is delving into the basic differences between political ideologies that have shaped China’s history.

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During 3 hour classes, breaks were necessary in order to promote an optimal learning environment. Some of the students used these breaks as time to mingle with the Fudan University students.

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After each lecture, we’re given an hour for lunch, where students disperse into the surrounding city to find street food, local restaurants, and markets to grab grub. Some of the students had a special treat when one of the Fudan University students auditing the course took them nearby Fudan for a meal at one of her favorite restaurants.

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After lunch, all the students return to the classroom for a Chinese language lesson taught by our T.A. Carlos Lin. Due to the wide variety of previous Chinese experience among the students, the more experienced students helped coach some of the less experienced students. Here’s native speaker Elisa Ting helping Joshua Neill work on his calligraphy.

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Trip to Wuzhen, Yiwu, and Hengdian World Studios

Filed under: Hangzhou,Travel,Wuzhen — geachina @ 5:02 pm

By Kristi Rogers and Michelle Lau

Wednesday 29 May 2013

On Wednesday, we got on the bus, with a new tour guide in tow and drove three hours to Wuzhen, which is an old fishing town in Zhejiang province. The first thing that we did there was take a small boat ride through the canals from the entrance to the other end of the town. It reminded us a lot of Venice, but more rustic, and Chinese. Then we moseyed our way back to the entrance. Along the way we saw a rice paddy shaped like a dragon, and drying racks for the textiles that they dye in the village. The village also had the nicest public restroom that we’ve ever seen in our lives, which was sweet relief because most of the public restrooms that we have encountered thus far in our travels have been less than pleasant. This restroom had an indoor waterfall, a river inlaid in the floor, and a bridge to cross the miniature river. Josh said that he wants to get married there!

Milling around and stretching our legs at our first pit stop.

Milling around and stretching our legs at our first pit stop.

A view of Wuzhen from the canals.

A view of Wuzhen from the canals.

All smiles!

All smiles!

Jumping photo in the rice paddy shaped like a dragon in Wuzhen village!

Jumping photo in the rice paddy shaped like a dragon in Wuzhen village!

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June 24, 2013

Arrival in Shanghai

Filed under: Class,Shanghai — geachina @ 9:02 pm

By Danielle Then and Grace Mi

The first day of our trip was very hectic but our TA, Carlos, came to the rescue, earning the nickname “Mama Bear.” 

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From that point, everything was smooth sailing (or flying, rather) as most of the students napped or watched the free films Asiana Air provided on the way to Incheon. Landing at the airport was akin to landing in a cloud, and the view was spectacular. After enjoying Korean barbecue in Korea, some students preferred the back of their own eyelids, however.

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Upon our arrival in Shanghai, we had our first Chinese family-style meal, served up on a lazy susan. Professor Sheehan taught the class the first thing about banquet etiquette by giving a toast. We were then shown our home-base for the next month, and  everyone went out with Professor Sheehan and bought cellphones. We returned to Fudan, at which point most students went to sleep. Some of the more adventurous students went out to see the city, some even venturing as far as the Bund.

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