Sierra in Asia

Sierra, a senior majoring in marketing and member of SMU’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams, is participating this summer in SMU-in-Australia-and-Asia. The group will spend three weeks traveling in China to cities including Shanghai and Beijing, and then will spend three weeks in Western Australia.

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Independence Day in China

Rach and I rolled out of bed at about 7am to go for our long run in the park again. We enjoyed running through herds of people doing Tai Chi.

Every time we have run here we can’t help but make strange observations. However after choking on pollution and fighting the enormous heat/humidity factor here, I would say we are well prepared for Dallas heat in the fall.

Aside from dodging a bunch of “tai-chi’ers” in the park, I found myself ducking a few times just to avoid getting hit by birdies flying through the air. Badminton is a big sport here. We were also surprised to find a guy running with us for a little while before he eventually dropped back. Usually people just stop and stare or start yelling at us, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if they’re cursing at us, laughing at us or just cheering us on; either way it’s funny not knowing.

Another odd thing I noticed was a lot of people just randomly walking backward. Maybe it’s supposed to be therapeutic because they do it a lot here. If that’s not odd enough, most all of the guys here walk around with their shirts off. It’s funny what people will do when it is so hot outside.

We also had a bit of a bathroom experience. Rachael needed to use the restroom. So after running around the huge soccer stadium nearby realizing that you can’t go for free, we finally thought we would just casually sneak into one un-noticed. Right when we thought we were winners and almost got through the door, some lady started yelling at us from around the corner. She demanded that we pay to use the “hole” in the ground she called a restroom. Well, after convincing her of the fact that we had no money on us and our pleading with her to just let us go for free, she finally, yet reluctantly, let Rach go. We got out of there as quickly as we could.

Trip to Fudan U
That was just the beginning. Our day started with a trip to Fudan University, where we had the opportunity to speak with some of the professors and students. It was cool to be able to get their insight into a lot of the issues we have raised through our research and study through China.

We asked them about the one-child policy and learned from teachers about their personal experience during the Cultural Revolution. It was interesting to hear from them about their current views on Confucianism as well. We asked the students what their thoughts were about its influence on child-rearing in modern China. Derived from the early Chinese philosopher Confucius, it has been a part of Chinese culture for over 2,000 years. It is primarily an ethical system to which rituals at important times during one’s lifetime have been added.

They said that Western methods have begun to displace Confucianism. Currently leadership in China is not a big deal at all and people think that emperors are more fit to be the country’s symbol of power. As the younger generation starts to rise, though, more people will be taking leadership positions. After our long and fruitful discussion, we went to lunch with our friends at a nearby restaurant.

Shopping “secrets”
Afterward we headed for downtown to shop around. The only cheap places in this area are in the shops behind “secret” doors, as I will explain in a second. Tash, Rach, and I went for a walk along some of the shops. I was not expecting everything to be as modern as it was. The city is very built up, and the architecture was incredible.

Immediately as we entered the main shopping square, our first “peddler,” being very pushy, brought us to his store, which was out of the main square, of course. The government is beginning to clamp down on these people selling imitation branded products. These high-end products, such as Gucci, D&G, LV, Coach, and various others, are all being sold as imitations behind these closed walls. Often, if caught, the cops will just be bribed away with extra cash in their pocket.

So we went to a couple of these shops and some of them made us a little nervous. For instance, what seemed like a normal store on the outside was something entirely different behind the closed bookcase, up the creepy stairwell, and behind the locked door.

open-air-sky-bar-sm.jpg
Celebrations
After that “dodgy” (as the Aussies would call it) experience we went to an Australian Chamber of Commerce network event. It was a party for Australians living and working in the city. It was in the most beautiful hotel overlooking the city on the top level. It was cool to be able to network with some of these people and meet a few fellow Americans as well.

july-4-giving-birthday-cake-sm.jpg It was also Chris’ birthday today, so after singing happy birthday and throwing cake in his face, we took off for what we thought was another celebration, but this time for Americans celebrating our Independence Day. We found some kids on the street to give the leftover birthday cake to. They were thrilled! It wasn’t quite what we were expecting, so we didn’t hang around long. Eventually we left and spent the rest of the night hopping around the city.

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    One Response to Independence Day in China

    1. Hexu says:

      Hi, I’m a Chinese student in Fudan University.
      I’m sorry you didn’t have a good time at morning run, but I want to say that things are not always the way Americans think. In different cultures people have different thoughts and beliefs about the world.
      It’s better for you to try to understand why they do things in a different way, instead of criticizing without checking first.

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