My International Experience
To date, my international experience has included:
- Family vacations to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; Riviera Maya in Mexico; Toronto and Niagara Falls, Canada; London, England, United Kingdom; Paris, France; Brussels, Belgium; and Rome, Florence, and Venice in Italy.
- When I was much younger, I traveled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where my mother, aunt, uncle, and grandparents were born and where they lived.
- In each place, we explored what we could of the cities, towns, and surrounding areas and embarked on short excursions to visit historical and cultural sites. When we could, we interacted with locals and talked with them about the area and about their experiences.
Why I Want to Go to China
I want to go to China because I have never been to a place so markedly different from the United States. China is rich with culture, history, and development – both old and new – and is very vast and diverse in geography, lifestyle, food, language, and industry, to name a few domains. There is a plethora of places and topics to explore and learn about in China, from ancient landmarks to the modern industrial boom, which includes the smartphone industry. I also love traveling; going to new places, even within the United States, is extremely exciting and immensely intriguing.
Main Professional Work Differences
- I think the main professional work differences I will experience will be the presence of many steps in the supply chain in one country, including, in the smartphone industry, manufacturing of component pieces, production of the finished product, retailers to sell the product, and customer service to troubleshoot issues and handle customer comments and complaints.
- Based on shallow knowledge and conjecture of professional work in China, I think that the end of the supply chain as well as the higher levels of a given company will function similarly in process and mannerism as in the United States, but that the “common workers” and earlier stages of the supply chain will have lower standards for quality and working conditions.
Main Cultural Differences
- I think the main cultural differences I will experience will be language, food, and cultural customs. Mandarin, and all of the other dialects and languages spoken in China, is extremely different from English, French, and Spanish – three languages that I know or have been learning. Mandarin uses symbols to represent words, instead of letters that form words that, in turn, can be phonetically pronounced.
- In terms of food, I have heard many times that cuisine in China is a lot different from Chinese food in America. I really enjoy food, so I am certainly excited to try some real Chinese food.
- As for cultural customs, each culture views a certain set of behaviors and practices as taboo or unacceptable. I do not want to offend anyone by overlooking this aspect of culture, but these behaviors and practices sometimes have to be revealed by someone who knows them since they can be cultural nuances. Conversely, I would not be surprised if we come across some customs in China that are shocking, confusing, or different for us.
Main Political Differences
- I think the main political differences I will experience will be the style of governance and of the rules and regulations of the country. Over spring break, I watched Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown in which Anthony Bourdain, someone who travels the world, samples food, and talks with members of each society and community, went to Shanghai. One of the discussions he had was about how China is perceived as a communist country, but how the country exhibits many commonly capitalist traits. Especially in the West, China seems to be commonly perceived as a strict communist country, perhaps due in part to Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution.
- Also, my human geography teacher from high school has traveled to China before, and she mentioned that, to use a computer in one of the libraries, I believe she said, the employees had to make a copy of her passport.
It will be interesting to observe first-hand how China actually functions internally and as a world power.
What I Think the Students I Meet in China Will Be Like
I think the students I meet in my country will be people like myself living in a globalized society, surrounded by technology. I think that they will be, in ways, outgoing and ambitious like myself and other students my age in America. However, they will probably have different social customs and interactions and will likely have a different perspective than I do on their country, on America, and on the world. Despite the dissimilarities based on originating from drastically different countries, I do expect that there will be some similarities between the students that we will meet and ourselves.
Major Differences in Living Conditions
- I think the major differences in living conditions will be – first and foremost – the number of people occupying not that much space. The population density in China, based on the last time I was updated, is very high because many people live in the cities or migrate there for work, and much of the middle and west of China are comparably more sparsely inhabited deserts.
- I think that the living spaces will also probably be smaller in general in order to accommodate the number of people living in each area. In my estimation, the living conditions will likely vary from cramped, low- to average-quality living spaces, possibly for the average factory worker, to more spacious, more elegant residences.
- I am also expecting to encounter a lot of cars and a lot of traffic and to observe a general continual busyness.
Most Enjoyable Experience
I think the most enjoyable experience I will have during this trip will be engaging with the people in China professionally and socially. I am curious to visit these prominent companies in China to learn more about smartphone manufacturing and its supply chain, to observe the global nature of business and engineering in action, and to view the professional world from a different angle. I am excited to encounter Chinese culture firsthand and to meet with and talk to people.
Additionally, I am intrigued to learn more about China’s history, present, and future, by connecting classroom lessons to the sites that we will visit, as well as by contextualizing these places – including ancient sites, companies, and everyday spaces – as remnants or continuations of the past, as institutions that have relevance in the presence, and as pieces that continue, in some manner, into the future.
I am incredibly thrilled to be going to China!