Stanley Wu: China, Are You Ready?

After 20 hours, we are now standing on the land of China. Last night’s taxi ride to the hotel was an introduction for most of us. The amount of cars were on the street at 2 in the morning was unbelievable. Many stores were still open to serve people. It seems normal for Chinese people to walk on the street at 2 in the morning to find some late night snack. This is very different from what we are used to.

After a few hours of resting at the hotel, I gave the group a brief overview of Mandarin and Chinese dinning etiquette. It was definitely an interesting experience for me to teach 20 people how to speak my native language and to eat a formal Chinese meal. I presented a few basic phrases that the group needs to know in order to get by while they are on their own. For instance, how to find a particular subway station, where is the washroom, how to greet others and introduce self, and how to ask for the price etc. Most of the group got the idea and have a basic travel Chinese phrase package with them. Personally, I think we will do well over the next three weeks.

There are so many rules in Chinese dinning etiquette. However, there are some very important rules that we need to know:

·         The seat of honor is the one in the center facing east or facing the entrance. Those of higher position sit closer to this position and those of lower position sit further away. The left-hand seat of guest of honor's left is slightly more prestigious than the one to his right.

·         Always serve from oldest to youngest and yourself last.

·         Dining may only begin once the host and all his guests are seated.

·         NEVER stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice.

·         When it’s your turn, don’t dig around with your chopsticks for just the parts you want to eat.

·         Always order an even number of dishes, because an odd number is usually only ordered at a funeral meal.

After my one-hour long of Chinese cultural introduction, we headed to our partner university, Jinan University, to visit the campus. One of the study abroad students from Squamish, Iain, and three exchange students from Jinan University: Felix, Angel, and Emma came to greet us from the school of International Education faculty. They showed us the massive and beautiful campus that situated in the center of Guangzhou city. There are many buildings for different subjects and degrees, a few restaurants for students and guests, student dorms, and lot of areas for students to do sports and socialize.

We had the privilege to attend one of their classes. It was a group discussion with local Chinese students and international students about health care systems in different countries. It was a fascinating experience. In Canada, we are fortunate to have a public health care system that allows us to have health care when we need it. However, in China, people only have minimal access to public health care system. After the discussion and presentation, many of us realized that how lucky we are to have a public health care system to support us.

We decided to take the public transit back after the visit in Jinan University. It was an experience that one can only have in China just before a holiday for the next three days. People were everywhere in the station from every direction. It was an important skill to be able to live in China. While we were on the train, there was not much of space between one another. People were boarding and leaving in every station regardless. Even though, it took us two hours to get back from Jinan University, it was still a unique experience. We are now in China. I believe we need to experience China in any possible way we can.
After the preparation for China from this morning, the extraordinary nightlife we saw last night, and the experience we had with the subway this afternoon, I believe all of us are ready to explore China and have an amazing three weeks!
So, China, are you ready for us?

Stanley is a fourth year Bachelor of Tourism Management students.  This is Stanley's third study abroad program.  He went on exchange to Management Centre Innsbruck in Austria in Spring 2013 and participated in the 2014 Guatemala Field School. 


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