Obtaining celebrity status
I was always under the impression that Americans and Chinese hated each other. However; one of the most interesting and amusing things I have learned while being here is that Chinese natives are actually extremely interested in Americans.
It’s the craziest thing just standing there with my friends and having dozens of Chinese citizens coming up to us and asking to take pictures with us. It cracks me up every time. I never knew I was so interesting!
We will be at historical sites and yet they are much more interested in us. They are so friendly, especially when they know at least a little English; they seem very enthusiastic to be able to use it. It is definitely weird, but it’s really funny. I feel like we are celebrities here or an endangered species.
When I think about it I start to understand though. Living my whole life in America I always took diversity for granted. I don’t remember the first Asian, Black, Spanish, Jewish, or Middle Eastern person I saw was; and I can’t count how many I have seen. To live in a country almost entirely populated by one race though it must really be exciting to see a person who doesn’t look like you.
An American Menu
The first “American” restaurant I ate in here in China was Pizza Hut. I was expecting to see the 50 cent machines right next to the take out window like all the other Pizza Huts I’ve ever been to. Instead I walked into a two story restaurant with a nice waiting area and expensive looking scenery.
There was no buffet, no salad bar, not even cinnamon sticks on the menu. It was definitely a step up from the Pizza Hut that I am used to. From what I hear, all western restaurants in China are this way.
We are having our next cultural dinner at KFC, so I guess I will see if that is also fancy. It was interesting to see people eating lavishly at Pizza Hut. I usually see everyone getting either a large pizza to split with the table and some bread sticks, or just sticking with the buffet; but here people got full dinners, soup, salads and desserts. I was watching the lady next to us try to eat her spaghetti. Twirling my spaghetti with my fork and big spoon has become a second nature, but she held the spoon and fork in her hands so awkwardly and just looked at them not knowing what to do, so she eventually decided to eat the spaghetti just like noodles.
I figured this is probably what it is like for Chinese people to watch me eat with chopsticks. The pizza is different here. There is basically no sauce on the pizza, and I ordered pepperoni and had probably one pepperoni chopped up and spread across the whole pizza. It was definitely good to eat some American food though. I would like to go back there again
A high speed trip to Shandong
Over the weekend we went to Shandong Province. We took the high speed train to get there, which only took about two hours. On Saturday we went to Mount Tai, where we got in a shuttle and rode that about half way up the mountain and then took the steps the rest of the way.
It took us a few hours to walk up a few thousand steps to the top. My friends and I were the first to the top! It was a really beautiful walk. I think it’s been my favorite thing I have done since I got here. Once we got to the top we went to a buffet restaurant for lunch.
The food in Shandong is a lot different from the food in Beijing. I like the Beijing food better. After lunch, we did a few presentations and after that we began our dissention back to the bottom. Just like on the way up, we were the first to make it to the bottom. On our way down we saw a man who lives in a cave in the mountain. He is old and has long white hair. He gave us a few really long hugs and kissed us on the cheeks. It was kind of uncomfortable, but it was funny.
Sunday is Shandong was a little slow. We went to Qi Fu, which is the city where Confucianism was born. We first went to a museum, then a mansion and lastly the cemetery where Confucius was buried. I think the history behind it all was interesting, but I was really tired from the day before and I didn’t really know what I was looking at because it was so crowded.
We stayed at hotels Friday and Saturday night. The stay included a continental breakfast in each hotel. I was interested to see what they would serve, because since I have gotten here it has seemed that breakfast is nonexistent. Turned out I was right. They served the exact same thing as they do for every other meal. I was able to drink coffee though for the first time since I’ve been here, so I had about six cups over the span of the weekend.
We are now half way through our trip. It has been a good experience so far, I am excited to go to the Great Wall next weekend!
This past Wednesday we went to see a Kong Fu Show. I really enjoyed it. I thought it would strictly be a performance of Kong Fu moves, but it was accompanied with a story line. It was almost like a Broadway without all the singing.
The men who did the Kong Fu were amazing. It was like they defied gravity. They also had kids perform, which was my favorite. The kids were so young to be so talented and strong. The show was about an hour and a half long. It was told by an old man. The old man was telling a boy the story of another young boy who was sent to be a monk and had to learn the art of discipline, which included mastering Kong Fu.
As the boy got older he was faced with things, such as lust and pride. He had to fight these things in order to be a true monk. He told the boy in order to be completely peaceful and in control of yourself you cannot fear anything or give into temptation. He also told the boy that when you feel the strongest is when you are usually the weakest. This was an interesting quote. At the end of the play, the old man revealed to the little boy that the boy in the story had been him.
Food is very different in this country than what I am used to. They don’t seem to be worried about eating healthy the way America is. They do not really have any sort of whole grain or whole wheat starches in restaurants, and there are no less than 600 calorie menus like at Applebee’s.
Restaurants serve mostly carbs, lots of meat, some vegetables and little fruit. I have not seen any grocery stores either here, only convenience stores where they sell snacks and packaged food, all which is very limited. There aren’t nutrition facts on most of the food. This is the hardest thing for me to get used to.
At home I eat as healthy as possible and count everything that goes into my body, and here I have no idea what I am eating — all I know is that it is not as healthy as at home. This stresses me out, because it’s not a diet that I could ever get used to.
When you order at a restaurant in America, you generally get a meat, a starch and a vegetable on a plate. Here you have to order all things separately for the most part. The first thing I’m doing when I get home is definitely going to be to eat my mom’s food!
— Jeanine DelSordo, finance and economics major