Day 9: Even Dining Halls are Better Here

After a much-needed good night’s sleep, we began the day with a bus ride to Donghua University, our destination for today. When we arrived at the school, the first thing I realized was that the school had much more of an urban feel than Central University of Finance and Economics back in Beijing and the campus was much smaller. This is because CUFE is located on the outskirts of the city of Beijing while Donghua is located rather close to downtown Shanghai. We were led into one of the academic buildings where we would attend another lecture about smartphones and e-commerce in China. The lecture was given by one of the university’s marketing professors, Dr. Simon Koffi Kpotchi. He mainly focused on the e-commerce industry and the rise of dominant companies such as Alibaba and Tencent, the creators of WeChat which is the most widely messaging app in China. Dr. Kpotchi also touched on their marketing and outreach strategies, one being the dispatching of agents into the rural communities of China to influence entire communities to use their e-commerce services.

After the lecture, we were partnered with local students who gave us a tour of the university. The students’ descriptions of their university and life outside of classes seemed to parallel those from CUFE. Donghua University specializes in fields related to interior design and fashion, which is almost unheard of in the United States. Because of this, the university’s students took a course load of fewer classes but with more opportunities for hands-on application. Unfortunately, we did not get to see any of the studios, but we got the chance to see some of the work of an interior design major who was in our group. At the end of the tour, we ate lunch in one of the dining halls on the campus. The food was amazing and seemed much better prepared compared to Market Central back at Pitt. The students didn’t think much of it, however, likely because they’re used to it.

After lunch, we spent about two hours trying to tie elaborate Chinese knots with some yarn. Between the students from our Plus3 class and the Donghua students, only a few of us could tie any of the knots, even in the given time. Personally, I found this activity boring after about an hour, when I realized there was no way I would be able to tie something so intricate and all of the guides we were using skipped steps and were generally unclear. However, I found the overall visit to the university to be a fun experience.

For dinner tonight, a small group from our class went to a Mexican restaurant that was a short walk from the hotel. Despite it being the only Mexican restaurant we’ve seen since we arrived in China, the food was easily better than a large majority of Mexican restaurants in the U.S. I think I can officially conclude that food in China is generally better than food in the United States. Authentic Chinese dishes have much more substance than typical American dishes and the food at restaurants is extremely cheap relative to the quality.

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