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在复旦的时候: reflections

It’s already been two weeks since I moved to East China Normal University in Shanghai to work on my senior seminar research. I try to spend my time here in a productive way, but also enjoy the company of the three professors and two classmates from Wabash who arrived this summer. Very often though, I reflect on the experience of my IES Abroad semester at Fudan University. I have to admit that I’m very thankful to Wabash for this opportunity. It was very interesting to see how higher education works in mainland China and Hong Kong (we spent a week at Hong Kong University) and compare it with the U.S. and Europe. I made some (really smart:)) Chinese friends at Fudan who taught me a lot about the Chinese culture and “how things here run” in general. I was lucky enough to have only four people in my Mandarin class, which enabled me to learn a lot, especially work on my pronunciation. I will certainly miss all my American friends (most of whom are already back in the U.S.) from the program, including our irreplaceable RA. Once I’m back in Indiana, I know that I will certainly miss the IES Shanghai staff who are very professional and took great care of us, but are also a lot of fun to be around.  I am also very thankful for my internship with BD Shanghai, where I learned a lot about marketing in China.

In the next note I will write more about my post-Fudan Shanghai life.

 

考试: Last Weeks at Fudan

To start with, I owe you an explanation as to why I haven’t updated this blog for a while. Well, finals at Fudan University are just around the corner. In less than two weeks, my IES Abroad semester will be over. Therefore, since the beginning of the month, I’ve been working hard to make sure that I have enough time to write all the papers and study for my two final tests. With the five credits I will be bringing back to Wabash, this is no easy task, so please keep your fingers crossed for me! :-)

Once I’m done with everything at Fudan, I will certainly write a note reflecting on my academic experience of studying at one of China’s top universities. In this note, however, I would like to write about something I promised to share in my last posting:  my plans for the summer.

As I mentioned previously, thanks to the generosity of our community, I will be able to spend this summer in Shanghai. In late April of this year, I received the Wabash F. Michael Cassel Fund to do political science research in China and continue to work on my Mandarin. Immediately after the end of my Fudan semester, I will move to Shanghai’s East Normal University campus. At East Normal, I will be working with two professors from our political science department (they will be teaching there over the summer) on my undergraduate research. The Wabash professors, as well as a member of the Fudan University faculty and a University of Washington PhD student, will be mentoring my research of the comparison of the Chinese and American 2008 fiscal stimulus packages. I think that this will be a fascinating study and am very thankful to the Cassel family as well as the Wabash community. Also, I am very happy to have the chance to practice my Chinese for another two months; during my time here I discovered that studying this language is something I feel very passionate about.

世博会: The Expo

Last Friday I attended the World Expo in Shanghai for the first time. I was very excited to see the event that is being discussed by so many people around the world right now.  I had a chance to visit the Expo thanks to my study abroad organization: IES Abroad purchased tickets for all the students participating in its Shanghai program.

We left early in the morning and returned after 11pm. I was able to see the pavilions of seven countries: China, USA, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Israel, and Singapore. Each country prepared something different to leave the visitors with an unforgettable impression.  From the places that I saw, the German and Chinese pavilions were definitely the best ones. They were very informative and offered a lot of interactive exhibitions/events. When I visited the American pavilion, I really liked the fact that the message of both the President and the Secretary of State was featured in the presentation showed to the guests.

As I expected, the World Expo in Shanghai was really crowded. In order to see the most popular pavilions, one has to line up for about two hours. The average of about 250,000 visitors per day makes it very difficult to see a lot in just one day. Therefore, I will have to go back to the Expo soon, especially to see the pavilions of countries that I haven’t yet had a chance to travel to, but would like to visit in the near future.

旅行: Shenzhen

 

The past weekend was without doubt one of the best weekends I’ve had since I came to China in January. I was able to see the beautiful Shenzhen metropolis and hang out with two great Wabash guys from the class of 2014.

As you might recall from my previous notes, during my trip to Hong Kong in April I met up with Jack Yuan’14. During our meeting, Jack invited me to visit Shenzhen, his hometown. We further discussed this idea when I returned to Shanghai and with Jack’s invaluable help I quickly finalized all the travel arrangements. I left on Thursday evening and spent three days in Shenzhen. I found this city to be extremely interesting. Just thirty years ago, Shenzhen was a small fishing village. However, in the 1980s Deng Xiaoping designated it to be the first Special Economic Zone in China. This establishment proved to be very successful and Shenzhen started developing at a very fast pace. Today it is one of the most prosperous cities in China and an important player in shaping future relations with Hong Kong. Shenzhen, however, has a lot more to offer than its interesting history. I fell in love with its energizing tropical weather and a great amount of green space. The ability to travel to Hong Kong in less than two hours also makes Shenzhen a great city to live in.

More important than the places I visited though were the people I spent time with last weekend. I had a chance to get to know Jack a lot better. Now I’m really sure that he is a person with whom I will be spending a lot of time during my senior year at Wabash. Apart from Jack, I also had the chance to hang out with Songying Fan’14. I corresponded with Songying since January, but on Friday I was finally able to meet him in person. He is a really great guy who will bring a very unique perspective to our campus. Songying has a lot more life and work experience than an average college freshman. As a consequence, he really appreciates the opportunity of gaining education again and is ready to work very hard at Wabash.

I will tell you everything when we meet at Wabash in August, but I cannot find the words to describe how hospitable Jack and Fan were to me during my weekend in Shenzhen. Never before in my life have I experienced so much hospitality from people who are not members of my family.

When you have a minute, please welcome Songying and Jack to our college. Both of them are really excited to become part of our community. You can contact Jack at jackyuan1017@gmail.com and Songying at fsy2014@163.com.

 

我想一下: Reflections

As another class of Wabash men is getting ready for the graduation ceremony, I’m a bit more than halfway through my semester at Shanghai’s Fudan University. Although I am very happy here and consider coming to China as one of the best decisions in my life, throughout my semester abroad I realized how lucky I am to study at Wabash College; being a student at a large public university in China and interacting with students who attend different universities in the U.S. I became conscious of great things about our college that we often take for granted:

·         * Our professors really care about us; next time you stop by a professor’s office think about how much time she/he devotes to developing personal relationships with students.

·          * We have an incredible alumni network. I often mention to other American students specific example reflecting how passionate our alumni are about shaping the college’s future and making sure we that we do great things after graduation. Most of these students are very surprised and admit that alumni relations look very differently at their colleges.

·           * There’s a lot of trust in the Wabash community. I realized this when recently I was not feeling well and could not attend class. Although the staff of my program could clearly see that I was sick, instead of resting I had to worry about visiting the Fudan hospital to get a doctor’s note and write a short petition to my study abroad organization just to get an excused absence.

As I already mentioned, even though I think my study abroad in Shanghai is a great experience, I often miss Wabash and will be happy to return to our college in August.

To all my friends from the class of 2010: Good luck and I will truly miss you. Hope you fulfill your post-Wabash ambitions and give back to our college to make it an even better place.

你们看一下: More about Hong Kong

As I wrote in the last note, the Hong Kong trip was a lot of fun. However, it was also a great learning experience and an important academic component of my education at Fudan University. Monday through Thursday of last week, our group attended very interesting lectures given by HKU faculty and guest speakers. After the lectures we would go on fieldtrips related to the Hong Kong themes of the lectures (introduction to the city, educational system, business, and sustainable urban development.) We visited a number of museums, a Hong Kong school, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and a beautiful beach area. During our short period of education at Hong Kong University, we were also able to meet a few HKU students who turned out to be great ambassadors of their college.

I really enjoyed the trip and had very mixed feeling when returning to Shanghai. However, in two weeks I will have a chance to see this interesting metropolis again as I’ll be visiting Jack Yuan, a Chinese Wabash men from the class of 2014, in Shenzen. As can be seen on the video below, during my trip I had a chance to spend an afternoon hanging out with Jack who paid me a visit in HK (Shenzen is located relatively close to HK). We had a really good time and Jack invited me to visit his hometown during a three-day weekend in two weeks. I am really excited to get to know Shenzen (home of one of our most talented students, Stanley Xu’10) and return to Hong Kong for a day. I will make sure to share this experience with you:-)

Wabash friends, I also wanted to thank you. Yesterday was one of the greatest days of my undergraduate education. I feel honored and extremely excited to be the recipient of the F. Michael Cassel award. I can’t wait to start my senior seminar paper research here in China during the summer…

旅行: Hong Kong

 

I am confident to say that the past week gave me memories I will remember for the rest of my life. It started with my typical “Shanghai business”. I attended classes at Fudan on Monday and finished an important project at BD Medical on Tuesday. The rest of the week, however, was nothing but typical. On Wednesday I picked up my parents from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. They flew to China for two weeks to again experience this interesting country (they had a chance to spend some time in China in 2001) and check how their son is doing:-). I was very happy to see them and hang out with them on both Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, however, I had to leave Shanghai for a one-week academic trip to Hong Kong. It is quite unfortunate that I had to departure during my parents’ visit, but when they were planning their trip no detailed information about this trip was available.  However, I will still have a few days to spend with my mom and dad when I got back to “The Paris of the East” on Friday.

I got to Hong Kong University (my University for one week) shortly after 11pm on Friday. I made sure to rest well and spent my first full day in Hong Kong getting to know HK University campus and exploring the downtown area. The next day, however, was the most remarkable day of the past week. With a few other IES Abroad students I travelled to Macao-the other special administrative region of the PRC located just one hour from Hong Kong by ferry. I did not waste my time there and apart from sightseeing I had the opportunity to do the world’s highest commercial bungee jump from the Macao tower. It was an amazing experience that is hard to describe in words (I will do my best though when you ask me about it on the campus in August:-)).

In the first three of this week I enjoyed very interesting lectures at Hong Kong University, saw some more of the city, and had a chance to meet another international member of the Wabash class of 2014; more about all of this in the next note.

我的美国的大学在中国:The Wabash family

This weekend I had a remarkable opportunity to meet a Chinese member of the Wabash class of 2014. Yang Yu, who lives in Ningbo city (about two hours by train from Shanghai), visited me in Shanghai to learn more about the college he will soon attend. I am very happy that Yang chose Wabash; he is a very talented and hard-working student.He is very open-minded, has many interests, and loves to get involved. He intends to major in political science and minor in economics. I believe that the liberal arts education of our university is something he will truly enjoy.

Yang came on Friday afternoon and went back to Ningbo city on Saturday. During the time we spent together, we talked mostly about academics and student life at Wabash. I really enjoyed our conversations and am looking forward to hanging out with Yang in the fall. If you have a few minutes, make sure to shoot Yang an e-mail (richer0630@sohu.com) and welcome him to our college. I am sure he will really appreciate it.

Unfortunately, not everything this weekend was so positive. I was devastated to learn about the tragic news from Poland. I would like to thank all the members of the Wabash community for their condolences. Ahead of me is an exciting week as my parents visit Shanghai on Wednesday and I leave the city for a short trip to Hong Kong this weekend. However, in my mind and heart I will share the sadness of the Polish people.

我爱这个地方:More about Shanghai

 

Leaving Crawfordsville for Beijing in December was a big change. I was living in a truly urban environment again. Although big city life has its downsides, I really enjoy it.  As I wrote in my previous notes, I found the capital of China to be very dynamic and anything but boring. However, while in Beijing, I was very curious about life in Shanghai.  Beijingers gave me very mixed reviews of this city, which added even more to my curiosity.

I’ve been in Shanghai for one month now, and I have to admit that I love this city. It has a fascinating history, very interesting people (who like to strongly distinguish themselves from other Chinese), great nightlife, and a unique energy that is hard to describe in words. Compared with Beijing, Shanghai appears to be very modern, and a lot more “walkable” because it’s not as widespread. I’m excited to keep learning more about the “Paris of the East” both through my Fudan University course and exploring Shanghai on my own. Below are two videos from last weekend I would like to share with you. The first one shows a surprising music performance on the balcony of a Nanjing Lu building. Nanjing Lu is one of the main pedestrian streets in downtown Shanghai. As you can see, it’s always full of people, especially on the weekends. The second one shows the Bund, Shanghai’s famous waterfront area. On the day I took the video, this beautiful place was reopened after being closed due to the 2010 Expo construction work.

 

复旦大学: My Shanghai University

For over two weeks now I’ve been a 留学生 (abroad student) at Fudan University in Shanghai. Since the academic experience is the most important part of my time here, I feel that I tell you a little bit more about my studies at Fudan.

I will be able to bring five credits from Shanghai. Two credits will come from my Chinese studies. My Chinese class meets for two hours and fifteen minutes four times per week. Our groups are small (only IES students) and we really learn a lot. During every class the teacher makes sure that everybody participates. Moreover, for every class we have to learn to write 15-20 new characters. Our newly-acquired knowledge is always tested with a dictation at the beginning of the class. The remaining three credits come from classes tough in English that I’m able to take at Fudan with my international colleagues as well as Chinese Fudan students. I’m really impressed with the Fudan faculty who teach these courses. They are true experts in their fields (it’s a top university in China after all) and have many accomplishments recognized on the international level.

One of my courses is titled The Chinese Metropolis: Shanghai in Comparative Context. Thanks to this class, I can understand and appreciate Shanghai a lot more. I’m also looking forward to comparing and contrasting Shanghai with Honk Kong, since this class will be an important part of our IES week-long trip to the latter in April. The second class I take in English is The Political Economy of China. The name pretty much speaks for itself. As a comparative politics political science major at Wabash, I really like it simply because both the political and economic reality of China is so much different from other countries in the world. Religion in Contemporary Chinese Society is the third class I take in English at Fudan. In this course I hope to learn a lot about both the historical place of religion in the complex Chinese society and the issue of religion in the PRC.

When I’m not in the classroom or rushing to the Becton Dickinson Shanghai office, you would often be able to find me enjoying the beautiful and very modern Fudan campus. I hang out with my Chinese classmates making a genuine effort to only speak Mandarin :-) . Good thing it’s only March and I have three more months to enjoy this magical place.

P.S. As I’ve been registering for the fall classes this week, I’ve noticed that Mandarin will finally become a part of the Wabash curriculum. I’m really excited about it and believe that this is an important step forward for the college.