A puzzling view of natural beauty and reality
Living in China has made me appreciate all of the privileges many Americans take for granted. I’m not just talking about the big things, like our multi-party democratic elections, private land ownership rights, or freedom of speech in a public forum.
This is not about the ethics or human rights issues that differ between our countries; it’s about the minor things that really get to you on a personal level every day.
First the bathrooms in China are held to a much lower standard of cleanliness. For example, on average a good hotel or restaurant might have at best the kind of sanitation you would expect at the lowest grade of hotels or food places in the states.
There isn’t always a toilet. In China, there are mostly squat toilets and almost never have toilet paper; and even less frequently have hand soap.
The second thing is the water. The first thing anybody tells you about everyday life here is not to drink the water. It’s filled with harmful bacteria and chemicals that cause diarrhea or worse, and it makes things like brushing your teeth, using ice, drinking from a tap, or swimming in a stream impossible or at least tricky.
The third is the lack of respect for the environment. The streets are always dirty, and half the time has a particularly unpleasant aroma to them that I could live without. The air is thick, and at times it’s possible to taste the pollution. The air quality fluctuates drastically from day to day, as well as from place to place.
Today we traveled from a seaside town, which was clean for the most part with clear blue skies to Zibo, where our University is located. Zibo had such heavy thick air to the point that visibility at street level dropped to a few hundred feet, and at night the sky was a reddish-orange color.
It makes me extremely sad to see how they treat the environment, but it puzzles me at the same time when they put such a great deal of energy into creating beautiful water and topiary features across the nation to enhance its natural beauty.
Living like a king
If international travel is something that interests you; but your budget is small, look no further than China. As long as you don’t spend much time in any of the bigger, more developed cities like Beijing or Shanghai; the most expensive part of the trip will be the plane tickets.
I converted about $500 before leaving for China and got around 3,000 Yuan, which has lasted me most of this trip. After eating out almost every day, getting countless souvenirs, paying for many taxi rides, and just spending money for no reason; I have lived like a king for a couple weeks for the price of a weekend trip to New York City.
The most expensive meal I had here was $100 Yuan, which funny enough was at a Pizza Hut in Qingdao. The meal consisted of a pizza, appetizer, and drink, which worked out to be around $15.
An interesting and pleasantly surprising cultural phenomenon in China is the fact tipping is not considered necessary or even nice in many places. From restaurants and bars to taxicabs, nobody accepts a tip and will outright refuse it, look extremely confused, or even act awkwardly towards you.
— Morris Longo, a sophomore business management major