Dalian’s Number One High School

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The school’s name is No. 1 High School of Dalian Economic and Technical Development Area. We spent the morning there and had lunch with the high school students. This lovely girl named “Jessy” took me on a tour of the school. We got to ask our tour guides many questions about what school life was like. In China, I learned that the students study much more and go to school longer than in America. The Chinese students seemed more focused in their studies and take high school much more seriously than in America. The students are very ambitious and eager to achieve and grow to their highest potential. The students live in dorms at the high school and go home only on occasions as holidays or vacation times. The students are under much pressure to study well because they will have a big test that will determine what colleges they can study at. Also, in China, the children of the family must support their mom and dad when they are elders, so the pressure exceeds more. I believe China has mastered how a high school education should be. I am very happy I visited the high school and met some of the students to really understand the education system.

Terracotta Army

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The Terracotta warriors and horses was an amazing art to see. The warriors range in different heights, the taller, the higher ranking they are. The purpose of the warriors was to protect the first emperor of China in his afterlife. The site was found by farmers digging a water well in 1974. Now, three pits have been uncovered. Still, with this historical site being relatively new, much of it is still uncovered. Pictured is a photo taken from pit one. Pit one is the most uncovered. In this pit, warriors, horses, and chariots were found. A museum was built over top of the pits to preserve the site. The warriors were originally painted but when exposed to the air the paint deteriorated almost instantly. I hope in a few years from now, the museum will grow bigger and I am excited to see what else will be uncovered in the pits. Xi’an, I must say will always be one of my favorite cities in China to visit.

The Dou Gong Bracket System

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Dou Gong or “cap and block” is known to be a remarkable structural element of joining wooden brackets. It is one of the greatest elements in Chinese traditional architecture. The pieces are fixed together by only the joints made in the wood. It did not use nails or glue, it was held together because of the accuracy and excellence of the woodworking. In the Forbidden City, all of the buildings used this technique. William Watson, the author of The Art of China, states that, “the purpose of dou gong is to provide added support for the weight of the horizontal beams that span the vertical columns or pillars by transferring the weight on horizontal beams over a larger area to the vertical columns. This process can be repeated many times, and rise many stories. Adding multiple sets of interlocking brackets reduces the amount of strain on the horizontal beams when transferring their weight to a column”. Numerous dou gong lets structures to be flexible and to resist damage from earthquakes.

The Great Wall

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The Great Wall of China had started being built around the 7th century BC. It consisted of smaller walls throughout northern China and stretched from east to west. It later was conjoined to become the Great Wall and now is a total of 13,171 miles long. Its primary purpose was to prevent the Mongolians from invading China. The construction of the wall is primarily stone, brick, and wood. Many people believe you can walk the wall, but in reality its more of a hike and seems you are climbing a mountain. It is thought you can see the wall from outer space because of its massive size, but according to a Chinese astronaut you cannot view it from space.

The Great Wall reflects upon Chinese culture. In China, there are walls around everything. There are walls around their homes, schools, colleges, public buildings, work places, and etc. According to some Chinese people, it allows them to feel safer and protected from the outside. I think having many walls can be both a positive and negative thing. The walls do give protection to people, but it gives the feeling of seclusion. The Great Wall of China is the most recognizable icon of China and always will be.

Mao Zedong… China’s Well-Respected Chairman

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The influence Mao Zedong had upon the Chinese people has been seen for many years since his death. Many people love and respect him for everything he had done for his country. They worship him even more for his treatment of the people. Maybe China will move towards a democracy in the years to come, though I think they could not have done so without first having gone through Mao Zedong’s ways of communism. The Great Leap Forward, the Cult of Mao, the Cultural Revolution, the changes in women’s rights, and the Hundred Flowers Campaign are the main events that shaped the Chinese people into who they are today. Chairman Mao had a goal in his life; it was to lead China and its people into a world of greatness and power.

Now his picture hangs at the “Gate of Heavenly Peace”, Tiananmen Gate, located in Tiananmen Square. Thousand’s of people each day flock to the square to visit his embalmed body at the memorial hall. People may also tour the Forbidden City and the National Museum of China there. In Conclusion, Chairman Mao will forever be remembered for his greatness and works and all he has done to form, modern day China.

Global Financial Center

The Global Financial Center had levels of excitement I could not explain.  I don’t think the elevator ascended high enough to describe how cool it was.  The GFC is an amazing tourist attraction, even though it only scratched the surface of the wonders of Shanghai.  It was the first time I had been in a building looking out of an entire city of rooftops.

The floor below me just added to the suspense — glass.  I could see what was directly below me, hundreds of feet below me.  It was so cool.  It almost made me forget about when I was in the elevator, and started falling down.  It caught itself, and we were only on the 5th floor when it started falling.  It could have been a lot worse, but we were fortunate.  It is an interesting elevator story I live to tell!

We went to the gift shop, and there was a bar in the corner.  I totally wanted to have a beer on the highest building in the world, but they were so expensive, and I am… well… so cheap.

I was happy to get on the elevator, and descend safely.  It was a good time, and I would join this program if I could do it all over again.

The Ghost City

The Ghost City was to say the least interesting, and I had more than enough fun for everyone in the program. It started off leaving the cruise ship off the Yangtze River. Every time we left the cruise to go on our next on shore expedition, we had to cross a series of scaffolding sections on ground level, metal pallets, and stone structures. The only time we had to cross every kind of obstacle was the Ghost City. All the cruise ship workers were saying, “Mind your step.” and “Watch your head.”

After I crossed the series of exercise warm-up worth of paths made, I approached a very large set of stairs, and after the Great Wall just about everyone hates stairs. I remember thinking, “What if I see a ghost?” Just as this thought passed through my head a man appeared in front of me, as I had been staring right in front of myself until this point, he was disabled and begging for money. Regardless, the way his leg was bent reminded me of a scary movie. I tried my best to keep calm, and I did. My heart was probably beating an extra 50 bpm in addition to the stair climbing though. There were many other disabled beggers on our way up to the Ghost City.

Electric carts took us into the city and dropped us off where we were able to see and hear from a tour guide much of the Chinese religious traditions and history. I thought it was very interesting. I remember seeing an old lady performing the bridge test with us. You were not allowed to slip, and you had to take an odd number of steps. I took an even number of steps by accident, but no one seemed to notice.

One of the other tests was to lift a 400 pound stone I think it was onto a small curved surface about a foot off of the ground.  The stone was small, but extremely heavy.  One of the students in our group tried to lift it, but he looked like he was going to pop a blood vessel in his brain or something.  Then, we watched a skinny man do it.  He spun it in a circle, and then lifted it onto the surface.  The legend was if you could lift it, then you were superman.  Surprise.  We were informed that since he could lift the heavy stone, we should give him money.  It was pretty cool so I gave him ¥5.

 

China Reflections

Coming to China, I mainly wanted to see the many different historical sites that the country was famous for, and after those things I wasn’t really looking forward to anything. I couldn’t have been more incorrect in my assumptions that those sites would be the best things to see in China, and while they were very cool to see, I think that seeing the modern engineering projects was more worthwhile. Seeing the different projects such as the Three Gorges Dam and the Hangzhou Bay Bridge were much more interesting than seeing the historical projects.

If anyone is reading this and is thinking about taking this course, or any course that is study abroad, or is just thinking about going abroad, I say they should go. It was a life-changing experience that anyone who can take, should take. I am much more open to going international in my job and for another study abroad course, if I can possibly do it.

The final thing that I really underestimated going on this trip was the friends I was going to make on the trip. I hope to visit with all of the people I have met on the trip back in the United States.

The photo on the right is the Three Gorges Dam, and the photo on the right is the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which are mentioned above.

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The Dongtan Eco-City

One recommendation that I would give for the trip next year, is to spend more time looking through the Dongtan Eco-city. I feel that there wasn’t enough time spent at the site to warrant a paper about the place. It felt like we just stopped, ate there, and left.

The only green thing that I was able to see while actually there was the solar panels on the top of the streetlights. I was able to get a picture of one of the homes, but that was on the way back to Shanghai from the eco-city itself. The eco-city seemed empty and decrepit itself. All-in-all, I was disappointed with the visit to the eco-city, and I am worried about the paper my group has to write about the city.

Below are the few pictures that I was able to get in the city, and I was unable to find the picture of the lamp posts that I talked about earlier in the post. I apologize for the blurriness of the one photo, as we were in the bus and moving.

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Misconceptions about China

Before coming to China, the main two things that I was worried about was the food and the general feel of China, both socially and politically. I can say now that my ideas of these two things going in to the trip were both mostly wrong. I was worried that the food would be too different to be likable, and while the food is incredibly different, it is really good.

The feel of China is also very different, but not in a bad way like I thought it would be.The amount of freedom given to the citizens of China is also surprising to me. There are a lot less regulations and laws it seems than the U.S. in regard to social things. The amount of things that Chinese drivers can get away with is crazy, like pulling a u-turn in the middle of the road, or fitting 4 lanes of traffic into 3 lanes of highway.

I was worried that the government would find some reason to detain me or something like that because I was a foreigner. As the CEO of Changan Ford Auto Company put it, there was nothing to be afraid of, there were no communists to take you away to a prison, there are only good people who want to welcome you to their country. They want to live their lives like we do. I am glad that I was wrong about these two things and my stay in China is great thus far and hopefully will continue to be great.