First Lady Michelle Obama’s “100,000 Strong” China Study Abroad Initiative Event. 10:30am EST today.
Video of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “100,000 Strong” China Study Abroad Initiative Event
Hi CET students, alumni, parents, and friends! Are you or someone you know interested in volunteering abroad? Then visit www.omprakash.org, a 100% free network of international volunteer opportunities. Currently, our network includes over 120 organizations in more than 30 countries. Omprakash also offers competitive Volunteer Grants to cover all or a portion of your expenses while abroad.
Best wishes for the New Year,
In the year 2010, the world was united by three things: the World Cup, the World Expo, and the world’s economic crisis. Having planned to spend seven months of my 2010 studying abroad in China, I was expecting to gain a lot of knowledge and understanding from and about the Expo and the economic crisis. Never did I imagine that during my time abroad, the World Cup would have actually left me with the greatest impression.
China has an uncanny interest in international sports. Sports being one area in which China hasn’t found much success, the Chinese are overly-eager to give their support to the rest of the world, whether that’s NBA basketball, PGA golf, or international soccer. Over the summer of 2010, China was ablaze with soccer spirit – belief in Paul the Octopus and all. The bar districts were transformed into tailgating and viewing areas (something rarely seen on that side of the globe): large outdoor projection screens were installed, and the Chinese came in swarms to grab plastic lawn chair seats and show their international pride. They were faithful fans, rain or shine, day or night, even when games started at 2:00am or later because of the significant time difference.
My own interest in international sports is rather weak, but some friends in my Chinese language class were proud Germany fans and dragged me to every game. I have to thank them. Of course the sports, late nights, and fellowship created an exciting atmosphere, but my experiences those nights surpassed the mere social aspect, and I returned home after the games with a changed view of China and a larger appreciation for its place in the international world. Upon first glance, these World Cup viewing parties were seas of Chinese men, plastic lawn chairs, and bottles of TsingTao, but within the first few minutes of the first game (and a couple displays of Germany pride!) I found myself in conversation with Germans, Turks, Japanese, Hispanics, and Americans – about six of us, each from a different country. That was one of my first experiences in China, and it was one of the most empowering and unifying experiences I’ve ever had. There we were, from every part of the globe, uniting in a corner of Shanghai, China, to watch a soccer game that was taking place in South Africa. It was quite the cosmopolitan experience. I felt empowered at being instantly united with a large representation of the globe, and that gave me renewed appreciation for both China – the nation that brought us all together – and English – the language which brought us all together. I felt amazed (and still do) about having just stumbled into conversation with such a diverse crowd. That is not a common occurrence in my humble hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. But it has seemed to become a common occurrence for me in my second home of Shanghai, China. We united because of the rampant international interest in China and the ever-increasing multinational presence in Shanghai.
I am now preparing to return to the United States after spending seven months here in the Far East. I feel enriched and blessed, because not only am I returning to the US with higher language skills or with a greater understanding of a foreign culture, but I’m returning home having gained new friendships literally spanning the globe, from China to South Africa to Europe and the Middle East. I can honestly say, due to the current flood of foreigners to Shanghai, I don’t believe there is any other study abroad destination which could have given me that.
Happy New Year everyone! Before the CET programs welcome another semester of students, we will post the last few blogs written by Fall 2010 CET Shanghai students. Enjoy and check back soon to read our Spring 2011 blog posts!
One thing to remember when it comes to traveling in China is that there’s a right way of doing things and a wrong way of doing things. The right way is simple. You figure out where you want to go, you go to the nearest ticket office or train station as soon as the tickets go on sale, then you just sit back and wait for your boarding time.
The wrong way would be to show up at the ticket office ten days after your tickets go on sale, only to find out that your much-needed ticket (to one of the most popular trains in China, mind you) sold out a week ago. The wrong way would be to book the only ticket available that would get you back into town without doing the slightest bit of research first. The wrong way would be to book hard seats in an effort to save no more than 20 RMB (roughly $3). The wrong way, to sum it up, would be the T100.
The T100 is the 16-hour overnight train that runs from Guangzhou to Shanghai. Seeing as how the direct Hong Kong-to-Shanghai train was already sold out, our only option of getting back from fall break was to take a train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, then a connecting train from Guangzhou to Shanghai. Going into it, my friends and I knew that the T100 was a simple commuter train but we would still find comfort in asking ourselves, “How bad could it be?”
Famous last words.
Our first red flag popped up the minute we set foot on the train. It was a decrepit-looking car to say the least; peeling paint, cracked windows, world-weary smells embedded into the upholstery. We found our seats quickly, only to discover that when a train company advertises a hard seat, they mean a hard seat. I can honestly say 16 hours on a subway car would have been more comforting to my lower back than what it had to endure on this trip.