The Final Chapter

By: Connor and Michael

It’s time for us to go. After two amazing weeks in China, we are heading back to the US. Shanghai has had so much to offer us, and everyone found something great to do during our free time in the city. From the tourist shops of Nanjing Road, to the real shops of Huaihai Road, to the cafes of the former French Concession, to the skyscrapers of Lujiazui, Shanghai was not short of fun places to go, and these few days were definitely not enough to see the city. So for many of us, Shanghai will be a repeat destination.

Michael and Piper say hello to the window-washers at the Shanghai World Financial Center Observation Deck, more than 1,500 feet above the ground

Throughout the trip, the China that we found was not always the China we expected. But everywhere we went, we found something worthwhile and new. The mud of the farming village we visited seemed a long way from Shanghai, but we had been there only a few days ago. All of us saw so many different sides of the same country. For those of us who have been to China before, we all leave with a new appreciation for its true scope and diversity. And for those of us who had never been there before, this trip was a whirlwind introduction.

The students of GEA China 2017 raise a toast at the final banquet in Shangha

On our final night, in the cosmopolitan metropolis that is Shanghai, we ended the trip the way we began it. Our GEA team, including Professor Sheehan and his wife, had a banquet consisting of just an absurd enough amount of food to satisfy an army, including dumplings, duck, and a variety of other Chinese dishes. Everyone at the dinner took turns praising one another and toasting Professor Sheehan, culminating in a major group toast at the end. During this intimate dinner, we were offered the opportunity to reflect on our time in China, and in doing so, simultaneously reflect on the growth we experienced, ultimately coming to the conclusion that our growth was fueled by the diversity and adversity we faced together. From the alleys of Shanghai, to the Paul Witt Hotel, to the 100th floor of the world financial center, I can confidently say that Global East Asia China was an experience that we will all never forget.

Shanghai style Shengjian Bao at the final banquet – a (delicious) local specialty

Unfortunately, leaving Shanghai was not quite as easy as getting there. As we split off to go to our various destinations, most of us encountered some sort of weather-related delay. After two weeks of spectacular weather in China, our luck finally ran out, and the Shanghai wet season decided to begin on the day that we were due to fly out of Shanghai. The group headed back to Los Angeles was even stranded on the tarmac for almost three hours — enough time for a movie or two.

This trip has given us a lot – places I never thought I’d go to, friends I’m so glad to have met, and the most satisfying Popsicle I’ve had since I was 6 or 7. But now, as we arrive home and our jet lag begins to do battle with our exhaustion, the only things we can do are to thank the East Asian Studies Center and its incredible staff and teachers for creating such a mind-opening trip for us and to hope that next year’s group has just as great a time as we did.

Signing Off

-Michael and Connor

6/7 and 6/8: Last Day in Zhengzhou and First Day in Shanghai

By: Brianna and Erick
June 7, 2017

In the morning, we went to the Yellow River Scenic Area. It was an interesting experience and we got to ride a hovercraft as a parting gift from our awesome tour guide Johnson and the tourist agency! Thanks! Some members of the GEA team group decided to ride horses and buggies but we got into some heated arguments with the vendor over how much money to pay. Afterwards, we went to lunch near the Zhengzhou East Station before finally saying bye to Henan. Many thought that our last lunch in Zhengzhou was fantastic and tasty! We then headed towards the Zhengzhou East station for our 5 hour long high speed rail ride to Shanghai. During the 5 hour long train ride, everyone found interesting activities to do to pass the time. A good chunk of the team decided to turn the seats around and play card games like Tonk and Sushi Go together, while some of us decided to chat and relax while others watched movies. At around 9:00PM, we finally arrived in Shanghai, the last leg of our amazing journey!

Top: A delicious lunch in Zhengzhou before we leave Henan for Shanghai! Thanks Johnson!

June 8, 2017
The Beginning of the End, or the Start of My Love Affair with Shanghai
As we settled in to our final destination, the reality that our time together was coming to a close started to sink in. Unlike our last stops, Professor Sheehan served as our tour guide of Shanghai, taking us to see the sights of his second home. We visited the iconic skyline of Pudong and the Bund, conducted the last of our fieldwork in the surrounding mall, and visited the massive City God (“Epcot-isized”) temple area with lots of tourist shops and the City God Temple used by Shanghai locals. While honestly, the names of individual locations and stops were difficult to differentiate for this non-Chinese speaker, my overall impression of Shanghai through Professor Sheehan’s eyes is one of a fiercely thriving intersection of culture, history, and economic power that I sincerely hope to return to someday. Many of us concluded our Professor Sheehan-led day in Shanghai by proceeding to follow him into the hotel gym for a GEA workout session. Post-workout (and nap), the GEA squad went out to explore Shanghai at night, returning to see the iconic skyline of the Bund and visiting other local spots. After our introduction to the city that day, we were left to plan how we wished to spend our next (and final) full day in Shanghai. 

Gym selfie with Professor Sheehan (and half of Katie)

The Pudong from the Bund

The Pudong from the Bund that night!

Halfway Through !

Welcome! Biajani and Piper here giving you the lowdown about halfway through our trip! We are loving it!

June 4th, we left Hebi and spent the rest of the day in Zhoukou. On the way out of Hebi, we toured a “ghost city,” a group of tall buildings at the edge of the city which are not occupied yet. The photo below is a few of us at a convention center type of structure in the “ghost city.” Posters on the building indicate they actually had an event in 2013! So, it’s been unused for four years.It was raining when we got to Zhoukou, REALLY raining, so that made our fieldwork and exploring ten times more exciting to navigate as we jumped over massive puddles. After we completed our fieldwork for the day, most of the team met up at the Guandi Temple and it was quite impressive! And they had a student discount which was great 😀 The photo below features HUGE statues, which were very impressive!

The photo below is a shot of the temple, you can kind of see the concrete glisten as the rain poured down! Oh taking this photo is where I found a nice pile of mud, my shoes really liked that!

And finally, the most important photo is us posing like a Korean Boy Band!

June 5 in Zhoukou
Professor Sheehan took us to another popular shopping area where we got to do some more fieldwork. Katie and I, the soybeans, were finally extremely successful in finding both Chinese and western food chain brands in this area. We also almost got run over by two buses while trying to cross the street. There are absolutely zero traffic laws or regulations in Zhoukou! After everyone’s fieldwork and a little shopping, we found our own way back to the hotel and all napped before our class presentations. Everyone has made so much progress on their research and has begun formulating formal theses. Then we had arguably the best group dinner yet! The Piranhas below certainly would agree.

Ursula, Katie, and Edith attacking the best fish we had in China.

June 6
Today we piled on the bus to head for Zhengzhou. But before our final city in the Henan Province, Papa Sheehan showed us the side of China that no tourist has ever seen. We visited a small village where all the people waiting for the fields to dry came out to greet (and take pictures of course) with the foreigners. Some of them were kind enough to let us into their homes. Just like Papa Sheehan acknowledged, their lifestyle was by no means a simple one, and their living conditions validated this truth. After a long-ish drive, we did a lot of fieldwork and walked around the shopping areas. Zhengzhou is interesting because it used to have one of China’s most famous ghost cities with hundreds of unoccupied sky scrapers! Now, though, it is starting to fill up! We had two major examples of globalization today as our whole team ate dinner at McDonalds (and enjoyed it) and I had my usual at Starbucks, a chocolate croissant heated up with a grande whole milk latte (which I loved of course)! You honestly can’t even tell I am in China just by this photo, even the picture on the wall behind me is in English!

GEA China Students with Village Residents

After a great day of fieldwork, exploration,and shopping we went home and packed to get ready for our journey to Shanghai! Woo hoo!

The Apogee of Our Beijing Adventures, Fieldwork in Beijing, and Hebi

By: Kenny and Ursula

Our second full day in Beijing seemed to be very promising—Ming Tombs, Sacred Way, Great Wall of China, and Peking Duck all in one day!

Our first stop was The Ming Tomb Changling as opposed to the Great Wall which is usually scheduled first on tour itineraries. Papa Sheehan made sure our tour guide Lisa made that itinerary change so that we would visit those touristy destinations during their less busy times. Before entering one of the 13 Ming Tombs, Lisa gave us an explanation as to their geographical placement; the Ming Tombs were built according to good feng shui with mountains behind them and a river flowing in front. We had an hour to explore the Ming Tomb, so we slowly explored all the structures that were placed before the burial ground where one of the Ming emperors was buried. Unfortunately, we could not actually get close to the burial site since the Chinese government decided to place fences around it. That being said, we did get to climb a tower that gave us an unobstructed view of the entire tomb site.

The second destination was the Sacred Way. This path was decorated with statues of guards, scholars, and different animals on both sides, and it extended for approximately one kilometer (0.621371 for people in the Miles club). Walking through the Sacred Way was a good way to channel our inner chi and mentally prepare ourselves for the afternoon hike at the Great Wall. It also served as a nice spot for people to get candid shots for their Instagram accounts.

After a quick lunch break, we were finally ready to take on The Great Wall of China. Papa Sheehan likes taking his Global East Asia students every year to a very steep section of the Great Wall called Juyongguan. The good thing about having a challenging section of the wall is that fewer tourists crowd the narrow steps which makes the hike a lot more enjoyable. On the other hand, most human beings who hike to the top will wake up with sore calves the following morning. In all seriousness, hiking the Great Wall was truly an amazing and humbling experience. Don’t mean to brag, but this year’s class broke the record of student percentage that climbed to the top with a whopping 90%!

To wrap up our touristy day, Papa Sheehan took us to eat Peking duck for dinner. The dinner was extra special because we got to celebrate Michael and Ursula’s birthdays! Needless to say, after our special dinner everyone went back to the hotel and slept till the next morning.

We created our own schedule on Thursday with fieldwork and lunch with our Capital Normal students followed by a trip to Silk Street and dinner. Team Little Mermaids went to a fantastic noodles place for Ursula’s birthday (since long noodles represent a long life). After lunch, they took a bus to see the Beijing Film Academy. Instead of arriving at the school, they found themselves at an abandoned film set used during the Communist Era. Meanwhile, Team Huami met up with a new Capital Normal student to eat traditional Beijing food. Then they visited Suning, the largest retailer in China, to check out their smartphone selection. From Suning, they went to an OPPO store. Team PEBs walked around with their students taking pictures of pharmacies and successfully explained the concept of a punch buggy. The Capital Normal students took them to some really yummy Chinese fast food. Team Soybean went to another mall to visit KFC and McDonalds and then had a very authentic snack food lunch as a place with nostalgic decorations. After we finished out field work we regrouped at Silk Street to practice our bargaining skills at the infamous fake goods market.

Early the next morning we piled onto the bus to take us to the train station. The 2 ½ hour high speed train ride flew by given most of us slept at least part of the way. When we arrived in Hebi, our new tour guide, Johnson, took us to the hotel to check in and eat lunch. The hotel was quite an experience from the excessive number of plastic chandeliers to curtain-less, bathtub-less showers. After lunch, we went to the main shopping area. It soon became clear foreigners do not frequently visit Hebi, given the number of stares and photo requests we received. After completing our fieldwork which included visiting bathrooms with “personality,” waking sleeping employees, and a trip to Walmart, we reconvened at a local coffee shop for a game of cards. From there we decided to go to the arcade at the top of the mall. One of the highlights from the trip to the arcade was when a man at the arcade decided to show us how Dance Dance Revolution should be done by getting a near perfect score after dancing with arms and gestures and everything. Being tired out and hungry, we went to have dinner at the food court. The food court had tons of choices. We got noodles, soups, dumplings and flat bread. After a cheap, filling, and delicious meal we decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel for a relaxed night in.

Our First Days in China

By: Edith and Katie

On May 28, at 6:30 in the morning, EASC 360 students started our journey to China! First stop: Beijing. We had a quick layover in Vancouver and some of us enjoyed some delicious A&W root beer floats along with a quick workout!

After that, we finished the longest leg of the trip–a ten hour flight to Beijing. When we landed, we went straight to dinner and enjoyed our first meal in Beijing! Restaurants host large parties with Lazy Susans. That way many plates are served at once and people can easily access them!

After dinner we went to get checked into our hotel. Most of us were ready to unpack and pass out!

Even though everyone was exhausted from our long flight and lack of sleep the night before, we couldn’t just go to bed for our first night in Beijing. We all decided to instead go out enjoy the night! We took the subway to Nanluoguxiang. It was basically a mile long alleyway lined with small shops and cafes. Everyone got ice cream and we all relaxed in an LA-vibin’ place.We were all pretty exhausted after that so we decided to head back before anyone passed out (a few of us almost did!). That night set a high standard for us–to go out and enjoy China as much and as often as possible. We’ve only got two weeks in China, so we have to use every moment we’ve got!

So after we got a full night’s rest, we embarked on our first full day in Beijing. We started the day with a trip to the Forbidden City. We spent an hour walking from the front gate of the city to the back garden, with many stops at the residential areas of the Ming and Qing royal family.

The big group was separated into a few smaller groups to tour the city. One group took a hilarious photo in the garden by the sign that reads “Caution Wet Floor” posing as if they were falling. This group’s great sense of humor was very much appreciated by a group of middle aged Chinese women who asked to take the photo together. And hence the following photography:

In the afternoon, after a mediocre tasting of a tourist meal at a restaurant that is 80% occupied by foreign tour groups, we got dropped off at Wangfujing, which is a famous shopping street at Beijing. At the Apple store, we met our China Normal University students who are helping us with each of our groups’ research for the first time.

For team Soybean, the duo who were assigned to assist our group are both Chinese history majors. They took us to some western chain fast food places and informed us about the perception of these fast food for Chinese people.

After we were done with field work, we met up with the other 2 groups and went to a hutong, which are small alleyways in Beijing. After that, we kept walking and got to the park right across from the Forbidden City where we climbed up a hill to see the whole Forbidden city from above. The building that was built on the top of the hill was also the center point of Beijing.

After the arduous journey of 5 minutes of hill climbing, we went back to Wangfujing’s APM mall for a hot pot dinner. The soup was plain and the sesame sauce that we dipped everything in was delicious. It was a nice ending to our first full day!