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Students Visit Asia

Bike Boy Lost

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Today we had an adventure with the bike boy. Starla, Kendra, Laken, and I decided to go to the market for some last minute shopping, but little did we know the market didn't open till later on. So we walked around and found this 4-D Imax movie theater, which was amazing. I'm talking seats moving, water spraying in your face, and snakes striking at you. After the movie we went back to the market and shopped until it started pouring the rain. We went straight for a bike boy, a motor bike boy. We first gave him our card so he would know where to take us, then we get in and we are on our way. After about 5 minutes we start going down this dark alley, of course we are all freaking out, especially little Laken, because we had no clue what is going on. Then we finally figured out we were lost, but no worries the bike boy asked for directions and brought us back to safety.

Much Love,
Krystal Scarberry

Beihai

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Yesterday, we traveled on a bus to the beach in Beihai. I was so happy about going! I haven't been to a beach since 2008 and have wanted to go again. Beihai was nice; there was some construction and the city looks like it'll be different in the next few years and developed. One of the first things I wanted to do was rent a jet ski, it turned out that it was 10 Yuan a minute! I couldn't believe it. I was not going to pay 10 Yuan a minute, that's basically just throwing money away but if I had money to burn I would've rented one. The beach was nice; I looked for seashells to take back home and found good ones. It felt really nice at the beach since there was constant wind and the water is the warmest that I've been in. Today wasn't that pretty and there were rough waves so I didn't swim in the water. We went to Silver Beach which was on down from our hotel. It was nice, but it wasn't as nice as the one we were at. I loved being at the beach and would love to go back. Our trip there was too short and I wish we could have stayed longer.

~Ashley Carter

Nicest people ever

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I was hesitant about doing a home-stay with complete strangers. I didn't want to do one by myself or do it at all. We had a dinner for all of our friends Friday evening at 6pm. The dinner was really good and I ate quite a bit. After socializing and eating, we learned who we were staying with. Lauren and I were going to stay with Kim and her husband Steven. When we arrived to their apartment, I was impressed by how nice and big it is. We talked before we went to sleep. It was really nice talking to Steven and Kim. Kim's mother stays with them and we met her. She doesn't speak any english but she's nice. Steven fixed breakfast and lunch for us; lunch and dinner was amazing! I've never eaten so much food in my life but it was very enjoyable. Steven is a great cook and I appreciate him cooking for us and for making sweet n sour pork. Staying at their house for one night and part of a day is not enough time. I know that I'll come back to China sometime and see them. They were very nice and welcoming. We left early yesterday after dinner.

~Ashley Carter

Hanoi and the Midnight Train

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I finally made it to Vietnam, and the trip was wonderful. Like China, Vietnam has a great deal of construction. We stayed in the Old Quarter, and the people were friendly. The French clearly influenced the architecture, and the buildings very much have a colonial feel. The Old Quarter is crowded in and the little shops are neat and clean. The Vietnamese clearly take pride in their places of business. Westerners are everywhere, and you can get by with English. A few Westerners even own restaurants. I felt very at home.

We visited the infamous Hanoi Hilton, where American pilots were kept as POWs. There are numerous photos of John McCain. We also had an excellent trip to the American Embassy in Hanoi. One of the representatives was from Madison County, Kentucky.

We also had a productive meeting with officials at the Hanoi Foreign Trade University. Who knows, I may make it back to Vietnam.

Vietnam was all that I expected and more. The traffic was similar to China's, but with more mopeds, and the always constant horn honking.

We took the night train back to Nanning, and that was an experience. We had sleeper cars and were awoke around 4:00 am to go through Vietnamese and then Chinese Customs. It had the feel of a Cold War spy film.

See you soon.

John Ernst

A Day in Vietnam

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The day started with a trip to a military prison, where a lot of Americans were held after they were captured. This prison even held John McCain for over 5 years after he was shot down form his plan. It was intense seeing all the jail cells the people stayed in, definitely something I will never forget. After the prison we took a trip to a museum, looked around for a little while and then got lunch. Then we visited a University were we got to interact with a group of students who plan to study in the U.S., but after all of this the best part came. A full body massage at the hotel just tipped off the great day in Vietnam.

Much Love,
Krystal Scarberry

Temporarily Adopted

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With all our adventures here in China, it is still amazing that we were able to arrange for a night with a host family. For half of the day, the students helped prepare Japanese Curry for the banquet where we would meet our host families. Before I begin, I guess I should revise my last statement by explaining helping as mainly test tasting and explaining that we still don't know why Japanese Curry represents American cuisine. Nevertheless, the curry was good and we got to relax before beginning our trip "home". As we got to the banquet, we met several of the English speaking students from previous meetings and caught up on what we had missed with them. The students and parents also made food for us and we made our way around talking and eating. After the food was gone and the rain had started, I met Kim, my host parent. We had met her several times before and she was responsible for helping us organize our trip in China. We were both excited to meet each other and live together. She told us about her family, especially her son, Roger, her pride as a mother. When we got to her house, she gave us a tour, introduced us to her family, and explained certain paintings they had in the house. One of the paintings was by her husband who painted Peonies and explained the importance of watercolors in Chinese art. He told us that water emphasized the importance of flow in the painting. Kim also explained the paintings by a famous artist that represented traditional Chinese sayings like Race towards the Sun and Here we share a cup of Tea. Through these paintings I noted Chinese hospitality and also some similarities with Western sayings like Reach for the Stars. That night I talked with Steven, Kim's husband, about politics and with Kim about her hopes of setting up an exchange program for her students.

The next day, her husband cooked the most delicious meal I have ever had in China. He cooked sweet n' sour chicken, bar-b-qued pork, chicken wings, two types of eggplant, green beans, shredded pork, and later steamed buns and crab. While eating this meal, I was reaffirmed of the fact that home cooking always is better than eating out.

Later we went shopping, looking at the community, and down local streets to see how everyone lives. Kim told me about her love of ice cream, something we both share, and some of her trips in the United States. I was sorry to leave their house early. We talked about so many differences between Western and Chinese culture as well as our happy experiences in China. Kim's mother cried for us as she explained the sadness of a child being away from their parent which really emphasized how important family is to the Chinese and how blessed we were to be accepted into their home. At the end of the night, Kim drove me back on her moped, officially establishing that I have travelled by every piece of transportation in China.

Lauren VanHook


The Socratic debate with a Chinese Scholar

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Last night was one that reminded me of the conversation in Plato's The Republic. My host father, Steven, is a professor at the college and stated that he loved talking about politics. We began with the opening question of how one could unify the world and bring everyone together, especially under a government. He proposed that the best way to establish harmony was if everyone gathered under one consciousness, forgoing personal preferences for the sake of the group. By everyone joining the political consciousness and taking the time to examine all aspects of a situation before reaching a conclusion then we could achieve world harmony. I, however, advocated that a form of personal identity and opinion was necessary (if on a small scale) for happiness to still exist within such a system. Using American promoted values, I explained how personal identity and expression gave a person pride, strength, and confidence behind their work. He agreed that the American values should be incorporated into the system because such democratic values were better than most current systems, but he still maintained that the collective consciousness was the most important since it could most effectively assign justice. Which brings us to the Socratic part of the debate. I asked him how justice could be dealt out since it is hard to measure and there is no agreed consensus about the appropriate universal laws. Steven explained that the only way was to create a universal law that prevented harm to others and if harm was placed on a person, then physical punishment would correct such crimes. I immediately disagreed since crime can be interpreted differently and there is always more than physical damage associated with a crime. Damage such as psychological damage cannot be as easily measured but also is a consequence of crime. In order to establish equilibrium, the emotional trauma must also be addressed. Throughout the conversation we debated these principles, occasionally adding in real world examples from the US, China, Japan, Greece, Germany, and other countries. As the debate progressed, it was interesting to see the incorporation of principles from our backgrounds forming our arguments. Steven emphasized the establishment of community, something I've noticed reoccur in conversations with some of the people here. Meanwhile, Steven noted my western influence from the US. Eventually the debate came to an abrupt close as Ashley fell asleep during the Steven and I's debate. We never fully came to a resolution to the discussion, but it was certainly a debate that intertwined both our cultures.

Lauren VanHook


Lazy Days and New People

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   Since we have arrived back from Vietnam most of our days have been consumed with school, homework, and just wondering around the city; it has been nice to take it slow.  Yesterday most of us went to this little dumpling shop for dinner and managed to get a full course meal, we are getting better at bridging the language barrier between us and the locals and it is becoming easier and easier for us to understand them.  Most of the meal was delicious, but we soon discovered a hidden surprise in the potatoes, as everyone dug into the delicious food we all looked at each other with pain as peppers scorched our mouths.  It was hilarious to see everyone grabbing their water and trying to put out the fire, yet despite the hot bombs we found Laken demolished every bit of the dish; potatoes are her savior when it comes to Chinese food.  After dinner we then proceeded to treat ourselves to a smoothie and explore the arcade.  Let me just say that the arcade was a crazy experience since we had never seen half of the games in the arcade and when ever we asked for help it was a complicated process since the only english was broken and hard to understand.  My favorite game had to be the driving one since it spoke english and told me exactly what to do, but I also loved this fighting game that Krystal and Starla found since I was the champion and dominated Scott and Lauren. :)

    After our arcade adventure Krystal, Starla, and I decided that we were going to try and find one of the local markets and do some shopping.  Making it to the market was no problem and we did great at bargaining, but when it came time to go back we thought it would be fun to take a different route back to the campus and became hopelessly lost.  We walked a good mile and determined that we had no idea where we were and would just hail a taxi to take us back. Our first attempt failed as the woman just waved her hand and kept on driving, then the second taxi driver just laughed at our attempt and wouldn't take us so we just continued walking and walking until we found a sign that said Guangxi University.  As we enter the gate we wonder if we are even on the right campus and begin to walk around and looking for something familiar; eventually we end up getting chased down by a security guard who is yelling at us in Chinese, completely confused we look around and realize that we are in an all male area where all their dorms are located.  Luckily the guard was able to help us and pointed us in the right direction of our dorms which apparently were on the other side of town.  Krystal found us a bike boy and we finally got home after a hard day of playing, shopping, and exploring Nanning.

    Tonight we are hosting a dinner for all of our friends here at the university and meeting our new host families for the first time.  I feel like the situation may be a bit awkward since we are meeting these families at the dinner tonight and then going home with them for the weekend, but I'm hopeful that it will be a great weekend and a wonderful experience.  I can't wait to meet my family and see how this weekend goes.

 

Kendra Scarberry     
 

Doing my own thing

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For some reason I was exhausted; when I got back to the dorm I took a nap. I decided not to go out to eat with everyone since I was tired. I was by myself for the first time since I've been on this trip. I loved it! I needed a break from going out and from the heat. I watched a movie and became hungry. I went to the market that's close by and bought something to drink and got something to eat from one of the street vendors that I went to a couple of days ago. The food tonight was extremely good. One of the things I'm going to miss about China is just going down the street and getting whatever I want.

~ Ashley Carter

Something Different

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Normally I wouldn't take a ride from a total stranger but yesterday I did for the first time. A woman at the shuttle stop asked me where I was going and offered me a ride. I was very hesitant and cautious. Krystal and Starla both said that it would be an experience taking a scooter ride to building nine where our class is held. After a minute or two thinking about it, I got on the scooter. It wasn't so bad or bad at all. She was a great driver and the ride wasn't scary at all. After we had arrived at building nine I offered her 10 Yuan but she would only take 5 Yuan. I thanked her for the ride and went to class. 

- Ashley Carter

Made for China.

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As a 6 foot 4 inch tall American in China I stick out... well.. Like a 6 foot 4 inch tall American in China. Since the beginning of this leg room has been a luxury for me. The plane ride was cramped. Taxies are cramped. Busses are cramped. I mean I know I'm a big dude, but come on! Towards the beginning of the trip I did not really notice that I was so much bigger than everyone until we went to the Dragon Boat Festival in the park in Nanning. In broken English and old Chinese man who was walking beside me looked up and we made eye contact. He muttered three words before walking on to continue enjoying the festival. Those words were "You are big." From that point I have noticed that, yeah, Chinese people are short in general. Another example of this is when we were out with our Yangshou contact, YaYa. YaYa is one of the nicest people we have met, which is saying something because most everyone who we have talked to has been extremely nice. But I digress. We were looking at the city and I pointed at something to my right. This happened to be where YaYa was standing. My arm went horizontally outward and cleared YaYa's head my at least three inches. That does not seem like a lot, but then I noticed that she was wearing high heels. Adding a couple inches to her diminutive stature. One final example of this is in the dorm rooms. We have very nice dorms compared to the full time students here in Guangxi University. We have A/C and hot water in a room to ourselves. While normal students sleep 4-6 in a room with no A/C or hot water. Again, I digress. In our dorm rooms, naturally, we have doors. These doors have peep holes like the ones that are in hotel rooms. I normally have to bend down slightly to see out of American peep holes. Not in China. Relative to my body the peep holes height is mid-chest. Which means that I am at a steep bow when I look out that little window.

-Scott Stanley

 

 

Beautiful Ha Long Bay

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We took two buses to Ha Long Bay and it was a bumpy ride. Vietnamese country roads aren't as taken care of as the ones back home or here in Nanning, China. It took a while to get to the boat but it was way worth it! There were only 18 of us on the Dragon's Pearl which was great. When we first arrived on board the ship we received a watermelon welcome drink that was good. Then the tour guide told us the itinerary for Saturday (the day we arrived) which included swimming! I was so excited and it was well worth the wait. We boarded a smaller boat to get to the cave and the beach that we would be swimming at. We first went inside a cave which was nice and felt cooler inside; I was ready for swimming. Kayaking was first before swimming and I was like I want to go swimming and don't really want to go kayaking. Doctor Ernst, Scott, and I didn't want to go Kayaking so we stayed behind to go swimming. The water was nice and warm; it was a great way to cool off. The scenery from the spot we were at was beautiful. After an hour and a half we went back to the Dragon's Pearl. After we cleaned up, we ate dinner which was really good. The next day we went to Vung Vieng fishing village in a rowing boat which was rowed by people from the village and went through the floating school and fish farms. It was neat to see the school and their houses. We didn't have time to go swimming after the visit. We ate lunch before we docked and met the crew of the Dragon's Pearl. Then we got on the two buses to go back to Hanoi for dinner and shopping before going to the train station at 8:30.

- Ashley Carter

Hoyer vs Bourdain

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The decision to go on this trip was made after I was approached by my parents with the suggestion/demand to either get a job or take classes. Neither of them sounded too appealing, so I became more interested in the study abroad program I had heard about from my advisor, and close family friend, Dr. Ernst. I thought this was the best of both worlds, because I am making my parents halfway satisfied, I am getting out of this so called activity we call "work," and I will hopefully learn a few things as I soak up some Asian culture. I also believed that I knew everything there was to know about the Chinese and Vietnamese, since I have seen every episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on the travel channel. Needless to say Bourdain, being an accomplished author and world class chef, romanticizes the people, places, and food he encounters, but the beautiful madness of Hanoi, Vietnam is unmatched from the other places we have visited. Our hotel in Vietnam was located across the street from Provecho Bar and Grill, a restaurant that catered to the eager stomachs of foreigners. Our group decided to eat there the first night we arrived, and I was not disappointed with the decision. After dinner a few of us stayed to sample their ice cream, and the owner of the restaurant began to converse with us. I was immediately intrigued, because the owner was from the United States, New Mexico to be exact, and I was curious about how he ended up owning a restaurant halfway across the world. His name was Daniel Hoyer, and he traveled to Hanoi three years earlier to write a cookbook, and loved the city so much he decided to stay. I immediately brought up Anthony Bourdain when I realized he to was a chef and author, and Mr. Hoyer had read all of his books, and seemed to envy him in a certain way. We talked all the way up to closing time, and I absorbed all of the valuable travel lessons he was throwing our way. This experience is something most people would not blog about, but the knowledge I gained from listening to the well thought out words of an accomplished chef and author, while looking out into the electric city of Hanoi, is as valuable and memorable to me as the tourist who climbs the Great Wall for the first time.

- Patrick Fouch


Vietnam Trip

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    The last excursion of the trip was to Vietnam where we visited Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, which was pretty amazing. It took us all day to reach Hanoi by bus, an hour of which was consumed by customs. By the time we reached Hanoi we were dying for some food and a place to rest, luck would have it that we stayed in a marvelous hotel which was located directly across the street from a pizza shop. After supper we all branched out to conquer the streets with our amazing bargaining skills and see how many trinkets we could jam into our bags. 

    The next day we got to travel throughout the city and see all kinds of things including the United States Embassy, the Foreign Trade College of Vietnam, Museum of Ethnology, and a prison which held captives during the Vietnam war. We had a great time in Vietnam but I kept finding myself looking forward to our trip to Ha Long bay where we would get to swim, kayak, and enjoy a day out on the boat. :)  While in Ha Long everyone had a pretty relaxed weekend and I had a blast, I have been wanting to go swimming since I go here and finally was able to.  I also got to got Squid fishing, but unfortunately the only thing any of us caught was a stinking jelly, though it was still tons of fun.  Now I am back in Nanning and biding my time until our homestay this weekend, for now we are having class and exploring the city a bit more. 
 


Traveling in Vietnam

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So we just got back from the most amazing trip ever. Vietnam boat cruise!!! Oh yea!!! Our last excursion was to the most amazing place but was definitely the worst ride ever. After the clever thought of our professor to go cheaper so we could have spending money we took a 12 hour bus ride to arrive somewhere in the middle of the street in Vietnam, there was no legitimate but station just the side of the road by a bus sign, it was so much fun. We got to ride in a Vietnam taxi, crazy, to arrive at the most amazing hotel, then to dinner and bed for an early morning to some museums and then some other museum and then we finally got to have fun shopping!!! the museums were cool but just so much walking and reading not fun. The best part of the trip was definitely our boat ride through Ha Long Bay. We got to Kayak and swim in the bay and maybe not our smartest or safest decision since we had already views several jellyfish swimming by during our kayak ride. Me and my partner, not the best in the world on a kayak we continually got pulled out in the middle of the ocean by the current, we were getting a little upset but the happy upset where its making you mad but its funny. The food on the boat so amazing and the service great as well.

- Starla Dyer

Pizza Hut

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We are finally getting the hang of things after about two weeks of total and utter confusion. We have now taken the bus and the taxi by ourselves to go downtown which is a total mad house. Our mission was to find pizza and that we accomplished by walking down the campus street asking everyone that we passed if they spoke English after about ten minuets of utter failure we come across our new friends. We found some students taking their graduation photos out in front of the campus and tried our luck one last time. Thank the heavens they spoke perfect English we told them Pizza Hut and they led us across the minefield of traffic and put us on the bus after we took some senior photos with them of course. We get treated like were animals at the zoo on display people will take pictures of us just standing around, totally cool and awkward at the same time. After a long bus ride downtown we found our Pizza Hut we were unaware that it was a 5 star eatery serving everything from steak to lobster. We had to wait like 30 minuets in line behind red velvet ropes because we didn't have a reservation but we were not going to leave without our pizza, I mean who would have ever thought that you would have to have a reservation for Pizza Hut. It was so worth the wait for me however unfortunately it was not for some of our group the waitress did not speak any English and they did not their pizza and had to go across the street to one of the 50 McDonalds. Then it was back to the dorms via air conditioned taxi, to study. We were all so proud because we survived our first night downtown by ourselves.

- Starla Dyer

Finally in Vietnam

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We finally arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam yesterday after taking two buses. It seemed like it took forever to arrive in Hanoi. Hanoi is pretty and different from cities in China. Some of the buildings are tall and slender instead of wide. We went to the US Embassy where we learned more about the US-Vietnam relationship and the economy of Vietnam. Then we went to the Foreign Trade University and talked to some of the students about University life.

- Ashley Carter

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

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It seems like it took FOREVER to get to China. Now, the Study Abroad trip is going by quicker than I had anticipated. The old saying is true, "Time flies when you're having fun." I have been having fun making new friends and seeing the sights in Guilin and Yungshuo. Both cities were extremely beautiful.

I love how cheap items are here in China; it's a shopaholic's dream or just mine. I don't normally wear dresses unless I find something that looks good on me but when I went shopping with one of my new friends Haiyan, she picked out this pretty black and white, ruffle-sleeved dress that looks good on me. I love the clothes here, even if I'm slightly bigger than most or all of the Asian women here. Every woman I see on the street or out seems to have fashion sense and care what they look like. Back home it seems like not everyone wants to look their best but here in China they do.

- Ashley Carter

the 'study' part of 'study' abroad...

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We all boarded the overnight train back to Nanning, China and Patrick, Scott, Lauren, and I all played cards until we fell asleep. Shortly after falling asleep we had to get off the train to go through Vietnam customs for leaving the country. After that we all went directly to bed but it was no use. We had to get off the train again with all our things to go through customs for entering China. It is definitely interesting to compare the two countries' customs as it was much easier to get through China's. Vietnam seemed very inefficient as they wanted to see your passport multiple times. This could be due to the fact that China has many more people and therefore leaving and entering China has less of an affect than leaving and entering Vietnam-a much smaller country by size and population.

It was also interesting to compare the two countries in regards to globalization and economic development. It is not fair to compare the two countries based only on what we experienced since we experienced the capital city in Vietnam (Hanoi) and we experienced less tourist cities in China (Nanning, Guilin, and Yangshuo); however, we learned many things based on our trip to the U.S. Embassy that we could compare the two with as well. In Vietnam it is very hard to get a job and we had many students ask us about job availability in the U.S. In China when we go to Walmart and similar stores there are lots of workers waiting on each aisle to help people. This is a drastic difference and can be attributed to China's overpopulation which increases demand for jobs while lowering the cost they will work for. In Vietnam there is less of a job opportunity. Three fourths of the population in Vietnam is under 35 therefore creating a higher job demand while it is hard for jobs to establish themselves in the country because the process is not transparent. People in Vietnam occasionally protest for higher paying jobs meaning that lowering pay to accommodate a larger workforce is inconceivable. This is evident by simply looking at the streets and sidewalks. The roads in Vietnam are much less developed than in China and are not maintained as well. In China you see women sweeping up leaves and garbage everywhere whereas in Vietnam you must simply walk over the garbage that fills the roads.

Another comparison between Vietnam and China lies in the minority. In China we visited the Yao people who worked the rice terrace fields and lived in the mountains. In Vietnam we experienced the people who lived on the ocean and had floating houses. Both villages had little access to economic development and benefited little comparatively from globalization. In both villages the children are sent to the city for education after primary education, which could potentially leave the villages without a generation to take over. Globalization has helped both have more options and have availability to easier tools but it has had little effect in changing their way of life in the present. Tourism played a large roll in both of the villages' economic development. The villages differed in that the Yao people had more opportunity for an education because there's better infrastructure and had a stable house rather than living on the ocean. The Yao people also had more access to technology as they had satellites and internet. We didn't view inside the fishing village houses but there was some access to electricity it looked like. We did not view any internet usage or satellite television.

While both countries have poor education it seems that China has better education than Vietnam. China accepts many Vietnamese students to study in their country while Vietnamese try to study abroad when they can. Vietnam postsecondary education isn't very effective and students often graduate without the skills needed to enter the workforce. Some companies work with the education system to create an education track so graduates will be equipped to work for them. In addition, Vietnam education consists of an entire year of learning about the Party history which takes away from learning skills.

Laken Gilbert

 

 

Robbed by a pineapple

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I guess the most colorful experiences will be the ones you remember the most. While I'm still extremely infuriated with the incident, I'm much more calm compared to earlier. To be perfectly honest, I just want to start throwing pineapples at the people pushing them on me, but that would have some unwanted reprocussions.

Earlier today while shopping for gifts from Vietnam, Laken, Scott, and I are approached by a woman selling pineapples. At first she gets our attention by telling me to carry the baskets which we got pictures of and then she hands us bags of pineapples. The pineapples look delicious and the woman has been as friendly as every other person that we have met here. We ask how much and she says 250. With my head still swimming from the exchange rate (the very reason why I don't like math since I'm slower at it) I ask her to repeat the price thinking it is a lower price. While I open my wallet, she points to the 200,000 bill I have and I hand that to her. She then asks for another as I'm trying to ask her the price again. When I take out the other, she quickly takes it out of my hand, gives me the wrong change, proceeds to rob Laken, and then runs off shouting to the other pineapple vendors who are starting to swarm like sharks. Vicious Pineapple-selling Vietnamese sharks. Furious, but seeing the swarm, we start running. They are closing in from all directions, we are almost to the hotel (how 2 more pineapple sharks got to the front of the hotel before us is still perplexing) Scott is yelling out that he is allergic to pineapples (though this is a lie, like the price of the pineapples). Finally we reach the hotel, safe from more pineapples. As we get up to the room, I'm cursing the pineapples. I bite into my overly priced pineapple to taste not sweet delicious fruit, but anger, bitterness, and resentment. Laken tries to tell me that the piece she ate is good, but as soon as she takes another, she tastes the anger too, only it's not the emotions we are tasting, it is a sour pineapple, potentially rancid.

I'm still infuriated over the pineapple, but at least sharing the experience and calming down later was better than nothing. Now I have a good story and better experience. I will not show my money to anyone and I will refuse Vietnamese fruit vendors since this incident happened to a couple others.

Lauren

Millionaire in Hanoi, Vietnam!

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We arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam and have been having a blast. The hotel is great and has eggs for breakfast! There are western style toilets and SOFT beds (well, soft for Asia). The best part of the trip is that $50 dollars here equals 1 million in the Vietnamese money--dong. So far we have visited a prison used in the Vietnam War (the same one John McCain was imprisoned at), the US Embassy (Best part of the trip), ethnic museum, and visited the Foreign Trade University where we met with an International Business class for 30 minutes. It was amazing to interact with Americans at the Embassy and get the US's position on issues between the two countries. One of the people lecturing us at the Embassy is from Richmond and went to EKU so he was especially excited about our arrival to Vietnam. They were surprised that undergraduates were visiting. After the visit with the Embassy I am super excited to pursue an internship with a US Embassy next summer! I think it would be a great opportunity based on talking to the people here.

 

Tomorrow we leave to go on a boat trip in the ocean with the boat all to ourselves. It will be super exciting and we stay overnight on it before returning to Hanoi to venture back to Nanning. I am really looking forward to it!

Well, off to do some shopping as a millionaire!

Laken Gilbert

 

 

Day in Hanoi

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After the bus ride that took forever, we reached Hanoi, exhausted, but in one of the finest hotels that we have ever stayed at. Today we got to visit the Ho Chi Mihn Prison. It was a strange experience to say the least since it expressed the horrors that occurred under the French rule, but said that they American prisoners experienced luxary. Later we visited the Embassy which was amazing and insightful. I received a card from one of the people who were working there so that I can ask him questions about potential career choices.

Lauren VanHook

Hospitality At Its Finest

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A little fun fact for you, China is hot, and southern China during the summer months is scorching from sunrise to sunset. During one of the hottest parts of the day a few of us ventured out into the blazing hot sun and attempted to find a place to eat, where hopefully they had pictures on the menu, so we did not have to try and speak Chinese. We happened to stumble upon a street vendor who was selling her assortment of mystery meat products, and chose to sit in her cramped restaurant. By this time I was thoroughly drenched in sweat, and the setting of the outdoor restaurant proved not to be an oasis from the heat, with only one desk size fan being used as its main source of air. As I was using my shirt to wipe the beads of sweat from my forehead, the lady who was making our food picked up the small desk fan, and placed it from her direction, to right beside our table. At that moment in time the cool air of the fan was the greatest gift of all, and as she went back to her cooking we both made I contact, and I smile appeared from both of our faces. This simple act of kindness is what makes China, one of a kind.

Patrick Fouch

A Night in Nanning

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    Since we have been in Nanning we have found some interesting things, one of which is the soccer field here on campus.  During the day the field is full of active students in a competitive soccer match, but as soon as the sun goes down it becomes lovers lane.  Last night, Krystal, Starla, Patrick, and I decided to see just what all went on down there and play a friendly game of truth and adventure, which is the Chinese version of truth and dare that Ya Ya taught us. Amidst all the couples in the center of the field we began our antics; we started random conversations with those surrounding us even though most of them didn't speak English, did cart wheels and tumbles down the field, and even made a few friends along the way. 

    We also enjoyed a nice game of pool last night and a ton of fresh fruit from the vendors outside of our dorm.  One of the main things I am going to miss about China is the ability to just walk down the street and buy anything you need from fresh pineapple to webcams, everything is right at your fingertips and I love it.  I am going to miss a lot of things about China but I am also going to be glad to go home.                    
 

Kendra Scarberry

Day of Rest

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We are supposed to leave anytime now for Hanoi, Vietnam. As we travel from one city to the next in quick succession, it is nice to gain a few hours of relaxation. I was finally able to grab some sleep and now that I feel rested, maybe I should attempt to do my homework...

Lauren VanHook

Lost in Translation in Nanning

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I'm back in Nanning and craving western food. I need a variety of food to choose instead of eating the same thing over and over again. I don't mind eating the same thing but it would be nice to have options to choose from. The one thing I don't understand is not getting free refills at some restaurants and the service is horrible. Waitresses forgetting orders is not something I'm used to at home, probably because they know what I'm saying and what I'm saying isn't lost in translation. I love it here but ready to get back to the states where people can understand what I'm saying and the things I'm used to.

- Ashley Carter

Half Way Home.

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These past two weeks may have been the quickest passing two weeks of my life. I feel like my senses have been bombarded with new things constantly. We just got back from our first excursion to Guilin and Yangshou and this is the first time in almost a week that I have had a chance to really sit back and soak in what we saw. The mountains in Guilin seems to come from no where. Sticking straight out of the ground hundreds of feet in the air. When a gentle fog rolls in and covers the base the mountains looked extremely similar to the floating mountains of Avatar. But now we are back in Nanning, which means back to classes. With all these new experiences its easy to forget that this is a STUDY abroad. Back to work..

~Scott Stanley.

Biking In The Sister City

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We had a great visit to our Sister City.   The trip down started with a four-hour train ride, a slow relaxing venture.  My first time on a train, and the scenery was beautiful.  We then took a long boat trip, which featured good food, and little islands with water buffalo and vacationing families.  When we arrived at our Sister City, numerous merchants embraced us.  It was an intense experience that tested my bargaining skills.  Negotiating with local merchants is all part of the fun.  The best part of the trip was riding bicycles in Chinese traffic.  This was fun, intense, and scary all at once.  We head to Hanoi tomorrow.  I have waited years to go to Vietnam, and am very  excited.

See you soon.

John Ernst

Mountains Were Made To Climb

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When we arrived in Guilin China the mountains that surrounded the city immediately captivated my attention. I soon became drawn to the idea to climb, or attempt to climb, one of these mountains. As we moved from Guilin to Yangsho the plan to climb soon began to fade from my mind, since I did not think we could find enough time to achieve an all day activity into three fully planned days as is. My luck changed when YaYa, our wonderful tour guide, introduced to me one of her friends that happened to be a rock climbing instructor, and we set up a time so we could climb before we left on Sunday. As we made our way to the mountain, and I looked up to see what were about to climb, my stomach began to feel a little uneasy, and this once crazy idea of mine became a reality.

I strapped my harness, tightened my helmet, laced up the single most uncomfortable shoes ever, and took my first steps up this daunting mountain. I will be the first to tell you I was scared to death at the beginning. My legs were trembling, my heart was racing as I went up placing my feet in cracks and crevices that did not appear to be big enough to support my weight. I imagined the higher I climbed the more frightened I would become, but with each step up the mountain the more peaceful I began to feel. With everyday in China a new adventure appears, but this was just one of the many highlights I hope to achieve.

- Patrick Fouch

There is a first time for everything.

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Leaving for China was kind of hard for me because I have never been away from my family for this long and I have never left the country. But like I always say, there is a first time for everything. Not only was it my first time leaving the country, it was also my first time on a plane. I was freaking out for a little bit, but after 20 hours I was tired of it and ready to get off. Once we arrived in Nanning I was so excited, i had no clue what to expect. And our first experience was riding in a taxi. That was one thing i will never forget, I was scared for my life. Then after all of our tours and shopping, the first day of class came along. I'm just now a freshman so this was my first college class. I was a little nervous but everything went great. Next we left for Guilin, which was beautiful. We got to take a tour of the Yao people's village and it was crazy how they lived. Now we are in Yaungshua, Morehead's sister city, and I have to say it is by far my favorite place that we have visited. Next week we leave for Vietnam and I'm excited to see what new adventures lie ahead.

Much love,
Krystal Scarberry

Mountain Climbing Fun

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    Yesterday morning Patrick, Lauren, and I went mountain climbing with some men from Yangshuo.  We  arrived at the shop around 9:00am to get fitted for our shoes which had to be two sizes to small, supposedly this helped us to better grip the mountain since they came to a point at the top. Once we were all fitted up we hoped on a bus and drove out to the countryside anticipating the climb to come, and listening to Superman's ( our mountain guide) stories about his climbing experiences and why Moon Mountain was the best location for us.  Our bus ride was then followed by a short hike leading us to the challenge, at first it looked a little daunting but we all managed to make it to the top.  The face was shear in some points and had this cave that we all got stuck in for some point trying to find our way our but the view from the top was awesome and the accomplishment you feel afterwards is indescribable; we scaled 81 feet of rock and reached our goal.  Lauren and I even went on the climb another course up the mountain, though this one was far easier than the first and I managed to make it to the top rather fast compared to the last one, but it was still just as fun.  I think that I may have found a new hobby, and in China of all places.

 

Till next time,

Kendra Scarberry
 

Tandem Bikes and Chinese Traffic

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    On our second day in Yangshuo (the sister city of Morehead) our group rented bikes and went to the river for a bamboo boat ride.  Our tour guide Ya Ya, who I must say is the absolute best, Professor Masterson, Professor Ernst, Starla, Krystal, and I all opted for the tandem bikes ( a bike that rides two people) this was a trip all of its own.  At first the whole experience was a little daunting but after a few minutes I began to get the hang of it and rater enjoyed myself.  The intricacies of Chinese traffic can't be explained, you just have to experience it, but we eventually made it to the dock after getting lost, and a three bike pile up that Ya Ya and I were lucky to avoid. 

   Once we made it onto the boats it was smooth sailing up until our first waterfall, Ya Ya and I were relaxing and soaking our feet in the cool river water when we noticed the fall but unfortuantely we had forgot about our shoes just sitting on the boat.  I managed to grab mine just as the water started to wash them away, but hers escaped her grasp and were washed away, luckily we had a great boat man who chased it down for us. The rest of the ride was a peaceful and relaxing journey on which Ya Ya and I got to know a lot about each other, its neat how much you can have in common with someone who lead a completely different life.  Ya Ya is a Chinese minority and grew up with a different culture, language, and heritage but we still both had the same protective father, brothers and sisters, love to volunteer, and share similar dreams of traveling and seeing the world. 

Kendra Scarberry

Laughs and Pains

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    During our visit to the Longsheng Rice Terraces we were able to experience the culture of the Yao people and learn a bit about their heritage, these people have been cultivating the rice terraces for the past 800 years and made it the wonderful beauty that it is today. The village is composed of 180 families, nearly 800 people and tourism is a big part of their economy.  As you walk down the streets you are bombarded by women trying to sell their wars, anything from postcards to dolls and bracelets, though in all honesty it's this way all over China.  We also got to see dances and wedding ceremonies, this was my favorite part because they used men volunteers from the audience, luckily Scott and Patrick were both chosen.  They had to be dressed and preform the traditional ceremony with their "wives", at one point they were dancing and all the other women started pinching their butts, apparently it is a sign of affection and has become an on going joke in our small group.  The boys also had to sing a love ballad to their "wives" at the end of the ceremony which was just icing on the cake for us all, luckily we have it on video and can try to upload it later.

    After the dance we begin to ascend the thousands of stairs to the top of the terraces, I was never so happy to sit down in all my life than when I reached the top.  When I first looked at the climb I thought it wouldn't be that bad but after 20 minutes of stair after stair my calves were screaming and I began to realize just how out of shape I was.  Though all in all it was worth it after a few breaks I was ready to go again and conquered the mountain with renewed vigor as I reached the summit, the view was breathtaking and completely worth all the effort.  Each terrace was filled with water glistening in the sun and young rice plants just beginning to grow as far as the eye could see, one stacked carefully atop the other.  Then the mountains in the distance and the Yao village rising up in the middle of terraces just added to the majesty.  

 

Kendra Scarberry            
 

    

    

    

Visit to Guilin

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   Our first excursion outside the city of Nanning was to a town called Guilin, here we visited another university and got to see the Longsheng Rice Terraces. Departing the university at 7:30 in the morning we split into groups and took taxis to the train station, it was here the adventure began.  While everyone else got let off at the train station the taxi that Starla, Krystal, Ashley and I were riding in dropped us off on the wrong side of the road so we had to play extreme frogger through four lanes of Chinese traffic.  I must say that I am getting very proud of us when it comes to crossing the road, at first most of us were timid and would wait till nothing was coming but we soon learned that was impossible and u just have to weave your way through each lane.  Once we made it to the other side we boarded a five our train then had to take a bus before arriving at our destination where we were greeted by two students and escorted to lunch.  One of the students was a girl named Ruby (many of the Chinese people here have adopted English names to make it easier on us since most of the time their Chinese names are difficult to pronounce) we became fast friends and traded emails promising to write often.  I love how so many of the people here are excited to try out there English and take pictures with the Americans, its kind of bizarre but you just have to take it with a smile and entertain them, what can it hurt to stop and talk for a minute or pose for a picture with some kids.  We also go to visit an class at the university and talk with some students who have studied English for most of their lives, many of them started when they were four or five and have continued to progress to university level, their English is great and makes me want to further my language skills even more.

Kendra Scarberry

going back to the beginning

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    With the limited access to internet here many of us have just recently started blogging, and this is my first one since arriving in China. My Asian adventure started with our group being stranded at the airport and trying to find a way to the university at 12:40am, it turns out there was a mix up in the times and our driver thought we were due in the next day at 12:40pm.  Anyway we ended up getting a taxi and going downtown, many people thought the ride was crazy and the traffic was disorderly but after my time in Egypt I can promise you that the Chinese driving isn't the worst.  I actually love the fast pace of the driving here, the sudden se thtops and dodging other cars and people; its all very exciting.  Our first night in China was spent in a really nice hotel and was followed by our first Chinese meal for breakfast, which is nothing like Chinese food that we are used to in the States but all in all it was okay.  We were all so excited for our first day in China and have a wonderful time meeting the students and touring the university, I just knew this was going to be a great summer. :)

Kendra Scarberry
 

I fell off a cliff

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Yesterday, Patrick, Kendra, and I went rock climbing with one of Yaya's friends. Keep in mind that neither Kendra or I have ever been rock climbing except for maybe some little excursion at the local YMCA. After I put on my gear which included shoes that were two sizes too small in order to help me maintain my balance. As I started up the easiest part of the mountain, I got up about 5 or 6 feet before my feet slipped and I fell off. Thoroughly accepting the challenged the rock wall just gave me, I began climbing up again, making it past the easiest part and up the wall. For my first time, I only got stuck twice. Once in a cave where I was supposed to slip around the edge to the other side. The second time was on a smooth surface right before I could reach the anchor. It took me what felt like an hour, probably 5 minutes to find a foot hold and touch it. When it was time to go down, I got to turn around and look at the scenery from the top of the mountain. It was beautiful. Seeing the green farm land juxaposed against the mountains was a sight I wish I had my camera for.

Lauren VanHook

The art of shopping

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After we all had passed out in the afternoon from bike riding, we went shopping along the streets of Yangshuo. Shopping is much different here than in America. The first is rule is that the first price offered (with the exception of super markets and certain stores) is too expensive. As a result, many of us tend to offer our own price that is about 1/3 of the first price offered. From there it is an intricate dance of counter arguing, negotiating, and examining the product. Which brings up the second rule, criticize the product. Many of the vendors attempt to sell to us based on the notion that all the products are handmade. This is surprising since most of the shops sell the same thing that are all "handmade". By showing the vendors the flaws in the product, they will offer you a better one or a different product for a lower price. This is all part of the dance. The last rule is to learn to walk away. Keep in mind that 90% of the time, you aren't really walking away, instead, you are walking away from the price. Several times when I started to walk away, the vendor chased me down to agree to my price. That is the art to Chinese shopping.

Lauren VanHook

Shopping and Much More

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Shopping in some of the stores in Yangshuo is expensive. I bought a dress for 80 Yuan, thanks to two of my Chinese friends. This is the only dress I bought so far in China. Walking on West Street is crowded, hot, but I love shopping so it didn't bother me too much.

China is wonderful! On the plane ride from Detroit to Shanghai I had reservations as to what it would be like since it's different from the States. I didn't have anything to worry or be concerned about. I really like it here and want to visit China and this area again. I miss home though; I miss air conditioning, driving, the food, western (normal) toilets, facebook and tv. It's been good for me to experience another culture and a Foreign country. I'm happy that I made China the first foreign country I've visited. I've been wanting to visit China for so long because I'm interested in knowing more about the history and culture. I'd like to have visited Beijing and see the Great Wall, Emperor's Palace, the Forbidden City, but I'll come back in the future to visit.

That's all for now!

- Ashley Carter

Yungshao Love

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Yungshao is now one of my favorite places. We went to a show last night that was ah-mazing! It reminded me of the Beijing Olympics intro in 2008. There are so many shops around that are close by and you don't have to walk very far. I went to a salon here and it takes 30 minutes to get hair washed; the hairdreser massages the scalp, neck and it feels really good. It's a lot different from back home but easy to get used to. There is beautiful scenery, mountains and trees.

Well that's all for now, until next time!

- Ashley Carter

Biking: Chinese dodging style

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After last night's beautiful show where they lit up the mountains and danced on the water, we biked to some bamboo boats. We weaved in and out of traffic because that's the method used over here. While I was getting road rage on my little bicycle, I came to realized that road rage doesn't really occur here unless you hit something. Crazy traffic is just a way of life. Hopefully this driving skill doesn't follow me back to the US.

I do have say that I'm proud of my biking today, despite getting lost, despite almost crashing, and despite having a three bicycle wreck. My one achievement is carting the watermelon some bought up the mountain to the bamboo boats. Walter Melon's journey came to an unpleasant end unfortunately on the way back when he fell off someone else's bike. At least his last days got to enjoy a cruise on the bamboo boats and the water gun war on the "high river".

Lauren VanHook

BIKING, RAFTING, AND THE SUNBURN TO PROVE IT!

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Today we rented bikes and got to ride them to the river. It was very entertaining to see Masterson and Ernst as well as some of us ride the tandem bikes in the busy streets of Yangshuo. I talked earlier about how wild and crazy the taxi ride was--it is even that much crazier when you are the one driving! We would swerve in and out of traffic, ring our bell at the pedestrians in the street, get honked at by large tour buses, and we even crashed into each other when we came to a sudden stop.  

Once we made it to the river, after half of the group getting split up, it was so worth it! We got on rafts and went down the river with water squirt guns aimed at each other (until mine sadly, sadly broke). We had two people on each raft (except for Scott who got the watermelon as a companion) and went down small waterfalls. It was a blast and lasted a long time! After we finished we got back on the bikes for our trip back which was much more down hill than the trip there. While the rafts all had umbrellas to shade us, I came back with a super bad sunburn. Apparently in China you are more beautiful if you are really white so sunscreen is outrageous! I think I might be making that purchase after today!  

Lesson for the day: always bring sunscreen to China.  

Now off to try and talk Masterson into some Western food! I could go for pizza, McDonald's, or even KFC.  

Laken Gilbert 

The Great Wall

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While in Guilin we visited an English class and got to talk to the students. We asked them questions about China as they asked us about Kentucky and the United States. We were not surprised when they made reference to KFC, however when we asked what else they knew about Kentucky one student said, "Kentucky is famous for basketball, right? You all had the #1 draft pick: John Wall." We were amazed and all yelled, "Yes, we had him!" John Wall is OUR Great Wall, even if you can't see him from space!

Such Beauty.

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This place is so beautiful we went to the village of the Yao people to view the rice terraces, it was so beautiful. It is their belief that hair is a sign of vitality so thy never cut their hair. They performed their hair dance for us and some of the girl's hair is longer then they are, it was quite beautiful. Scott and Patrick, the two boys with us, got a standing ovation from our group when they actually went up on stage to help participate in their traditional wedding ceremony. It was so funny they even had to sing to their new wife and everything, they really got into it. If the boys ever want to stay in China they now have wives in the Yao village.

Just getting to the location was amazing they have these rolling hills of rock not quite like you see in Morehead. As we were in the village we all thought that it would be smart to all stand on one side of the swinging bridge to take a picture. Yea I am quite sure we were getting some looks as we about toppled the bridge over. Another fun memory we will have. After viewing their ceremonies we had to climb like over 1,000 stairs! They took us to the very top of the mountain so that we could clearly see the beauty of the rice terraces. It was like a 40 min trip up the hill but it was so worth it. After the trip up the hill some of the students were crazy and decided to go up the other side of the Mountain where as the rest of us were smart and decided to shop! We did a good job considering we had no interpreter, I guess money truly is an international language itself.

- Starla Dyer

Rule 37: Enjoy the Little Things

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Greetings from China! After a couple months of planning, fundraising, and trying to learn how to eat with chopsticks (and a 18 hour plane trip) we finally arrived to China. Aside from no Facebook, no twitter, no American food, no soft beds, no "normal" toilets, no traffic rules, no sleep, no breaks, and most of all, no English, this trip has been very amazing! We have met many awesome people and have experienced the Chinese culture to a heavy degree. We arrived on June 3 once you allow for the plane trip and time difference and have been going at it full force.

We took a tour of the city and campus we are staying at--GXU at Nanning. It is the third largest University in China which partly contributes to all the walking. For one yuan (15 cents) we take a bus across campus. We stay in dorms with air and hot water, but we rarely use the hot water. We have to wash our clothes by hand and hang them up to dry...this trip will make even the most independent person even more independent. My air did not work the first night, but our Chinese friends helped me get someone to repair it!
We have many amazing Chinese friends who help us do everything from ordering our food to fixing problems to helping us arrange our trip (and take us out to experience the nightlife, which is amazing here). I was given a Chinese name which means "the heart of the lake." Everywhere we go people stop to take pictures of the Americans. We have our Chinese friends help us bargain for things when we shop because they tend to raise the prices for foreigners. . .That's another point, it is very strange to be classified as a foreigner. We experienced this first when we went through customs in the "foreign" line.

Currently, we are in Yangshuo, Morehead's sister city. It is hands down the best city we've been to so far. We saw an amazing water show yesterday which has been the highlight of the trip (next to the night life of course). We have visited Guilin where we met Yao people and climbed a HUGE mountain to view the rice terrace fields. Definitely a humbling experience to see how these people have to farm and provide for their families. We then took a boat cruise to Yangshuo which was amazing.

Food: Give me a cheeseburger! That is all.

Class: lots of reading, writing journals, and article summaries.

Travel: Taxi's are CRAZY! People here don't know what the lines on the road mean or care about pedestrians in the street. It is definitely an experience each time you cross the street. I feel like I will come back to America and get lots of tickets! Horns are used more here than in New York City. No one ever gets road rage though. They simply warn people they are coming and NO ONE gets mad. People in China are so much more care-free and laid back.

Well, that's all for now. Hopefully this lengthy blog makes up for all the time internet was limited! Off to go rafting and then shopping!

- Laken Gilbert

A lazy kid's nightmare!!!

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After a 23 hour plane ride we arrive to one of the hottest places in the world!! We have been treated like kings since we arrived banquets at every location, although the food is not as good as it is in the U.S, it taste completely different from like Morehead's China Star or China Cafe. We have been here for 5 days now and we just now found a computer with internet access and an air conditioner.

For the first three days we did nothing but walk, walk and walk. That's all they do here is walk and after a few bus rides I can see why, lines in the road are an option. Crossing the street is so much fun its like playing frogger with our lives. After about five days of non stop walking you get used to it, especially when your walking to go shopping!! We all have done so much shopping its crazy, items are som much cheaper here, everything is cheaper, we can buy a bottle of coke for less than a dollar. Thank goodness for our interpreters that help us to bargain and barter to get the cheap items even cheaper. Our interpreters are so amazing they speak very good English, we would be lost without them. We have done some amazing things besides shopping I was given a Chinese name by a Chinese boy we met unfortunately he doesn't know Chinese. He told me that he was naming me the Chinese Queen, but what it really meant was my aching feet, which fits after all the walking but not exactly the name we were going for.

- Starla Dyer

I would hate to see what the shower drain looks like

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After taking a 5 hour train to Guilin, we arrived at another campus of Guinxi University. As soon as we got off the train we went on a tour of the campus which I have to say was even more beautiful then the first one we were at. The next day we took a two and a half hour bus to Longsheng, known for their rice terrace fields and village of long-haired women. Words cannot explain the length of their hair. In order to walk around, they have to wrap the hair several times around on their head. We found out that they only cut their hair once in their life, at the age of 18 so that they can add it to their long hair as they get older. During their show, we witnessed them combing their hair, of course they were combing their hair on an elevated surface. While watching them, the only thing I could think about was how awful that shower drain would look when they all washed their hair. For anyone with sisters, they know the full plight of this thought.

I am still amazed at all we got to see while in Longsheng. Everywhere you went, you got to see the villagers make and sell items. They are very aggressive sellers too. When I was walking around, three of the women ambushed me with silver braclets to try to sell to me. After one minute, I had about 13 braclets on me and was telling them that I didn't want any. The original price was 40 yuan, but after trying to take them off, with the aid of Scott, I was able to purchase it for only 10. And this doesn't mean that I cheated them, it's a practice here in China to barter for a lower price or they make fun of you for being ignorant.

I have to say that my favorite part of Longsheng was the personal victory of climbing up both 9 dragons and 5 tigers path as well as the 7 stars and moon path. My legs were shaking near the end, but the view of village and rice fields were amazing. Maybe a little bit later I will figure out how to post pictures.

 Lauren VanHook 

 

Still the same half a world away.

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We have been in China for almost a week now. In this time it is clear that the American and Chinese cultures are worlds apart. However I keep finding myself seeing some interesting advertisements that make me think "Huh, not so different after all."

The very first sight that made me think this was an advertisement we saw on the side of a hotel. This ad was for Chinese beer and beside a dark green bottle beaded with condensation it depicted two young, attractive women. I look at this and know immediately, while having know idea what the symbols mean, that even in China a beer ad is a beer ad.

Another advertisement came while riding on a bus of all places. This bus ran down town and was one of many that we were on and off of during our tour of downtown Nanning. This ad showed numerous Chinese men and women chowing down on some delicious looking sandwiches. Upon further inspection they weren't sandwiches, they were burgers. American cheeseburgers. Then the ever remembered golden arches flashed across the screen. Even in China, McDonalds is McDonalds.

There are more things that seem too similar to be true. But those may be for another blog.

Adios,

Scott

 

Fish eyes, green bean smoothies, and back alley pool

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We often forget about the luxuries provided for us in the United States. Things like laundry, air conditioning, clean water, and of course the internet. After so many days, we figured out how to set up the internet so that we can complete our work and communicate with families. While Nanning has been a culture shock, it is one shock that is pleasant. The lifestyle here is an active one whether it involves walking 30 minutes to class or talking to the street vendors selling food on every part of the sidewalk. It is only lately that I have been able to identify some foods, maybe. Nevertheless, it is a unique experience. In attempting to sample as much of the food as possible, I've eaten fish eyes, coffee shaved ice cream, various types of bread, a cake I can only refer to as fluffy deliciousness, and part of a green bean smoothie. Each was delicious and unique, illustrating a wide variety of flavors.

This active culture seems to enjoy life and spending time outside. The mornings have people using outdoor gym equipment, afternoons feature several rickshaws, and the night life is thriving and everywhere. Just a couple of hours ago, a few of us decided to play pool in one of the back alleys for only 5 yuan. We drew quite a few stares and a little bit of a crowd, but this is starting to feel normal as we are constantly stared at over here.

Lauren VanHook

AM Taxi Rides

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Greetings from China.   We arrived around 1:00 am in the morning, and took three taxis to the hotel.   Nanning was wide awake at 2:00 am, with cafes and an assortment of vehicles.   Construction was occurring and mini trucks were hauling stacks of bananas.

Our taxi drivers weaved in and out of traffic and beeped at anyone who got in our way.   The normal procedure is to anticipate the green light and hit the gas right before the signal changes.  

Every day brings something new.   On our first big trip, we went to the Dragon Boat Festival, where teams raced in long boats on a large lake.  We went by bus to the lake, and saw an amazing, modern city.   At the festival, we were an item of interest, and constantly photographed.  Our hosts are wonderful and continually take us to amazing restaurants, but that day we had a slice of down home at KFC!   We finished the day with smoothies  Mine was a mango.  Excellent. 

The next night our dinner flopped out of his tank, and did not act like it wanted to be on the dinner table.  Almost every night dinner feels like a big family reunion with each of us urging the others to try something new.

We are heading to Guilin tomorrow and then our Sister City, Yangshuo.

See you in a few days.

Best,

John Ernst  

 

Theory of Relativity (from Nanning)

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If indeed everything is relative, then nothing has changed in Nanning from a year ago since everything has changed.  Businesses are brimming with a nascent consumer class that continues to grow at high rates, admissions to university education as well, is growing leaps and bounds, and all the problems associated with high rates of growth, such as pollution and traffic congestion, continue along their unpleasant trajectories. 

But perhaps, everything is not relative.  Universal values such as kindness and generosity continue to remain robust and never ending here at Guangxi University (GXU).  From the top brass of the University administration down to the students stressed by their looming exams, people of all stripes at Guangxi University have exhibited unending kindness in making sure we are comfortable in Nanning during our stay and seeing to it that we are able to familiarize ourselves with the area.  The amount of generosity shown to our group by those affiliated with GXU in whatever manner has been incredible.  From lavish receptions to guided tours, from clean, private accommodations (far superior to what is provided to others around their campus) to genuine interest in the success of our program, time and again, the folks here at GXU have really made us feel special, welcomed, and inspired. 

It is perhaps this last point that I think speaks to what the folks here at GXU and the folks here from MSU have in common.  They have inspired our students and our faculty to build stronger and wider bridges not just between GXU and MSU, though that is certainly a welcomed outcome, but rather between Sino-US relations.  The students and faculty here, over the course of just four days in China, as a result of the generosity and kindness of those here at GXU, want more and more to help build these bridges, to find solutions to domestic problems that make further integration difficult, and more importantly to recognize the overwhelming advantages that we, as Americans, have, and give where we can to those, who have relatively little compared to us, but yet have already given so much to us in these short four days.

The challenge then for us is to begin to understand these issues over course of our program so that we can help solutions for future Sino-American relations.

Hot and Humid in Nanning,

Professor Masterson

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