China Pre-Departure Report


Hello! My name is Jacob Diefes, and I am excited to be a part of the China Plus 3 program. I am a rising sophomore in the computer engineering department in the Swanson School of Engineering. I am from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and I look forward to having new experiences while overseas.


My international experience to date is:

In May of 2015, I went to Greece with my high school’s orchestra. We visited Athens, Mykonos, Ephesus (Turkey), and a number of other places of cultural and historical significance. During this time, we put on a number of concerts, including a few small chamber performances on the cruise ship. I learned a lot about Greek (and some Turkish) culture, and there were a few things I was surprised by, namely the number of similarities there were to American culture. Because of this similarity, every slight difference stood out to me, and it was fascinating.


I want to go to China because:

I want to experience more of the world, and going to study abroad in China is a perfect way to do that. I want to experience different cultures, try new foods, meet different people, and try out different ways of life. China’s relationship with the US is economically and politically important, so I think it is a good idea to understand how that relationship works, and the best way to do that is to experience the country.


I think the main professional work differences I will experience will be:

I do not have much, if any prior knowledge about the professional world in China and how it compares to here. However, I would assume there would be many similarities. I imagine that the main differences would be in the “chain of command”, and how reporting to higher-ups works. Also, I wonder how many businesspeople speak English fluently.


I think the main cultural differences I will experience will be:

As an American, I will experience being a minority, which I do not exactly see here. I know that the population density, specifically in Beijing, is vastly higher than we are used to in cities here. I am not sure what to expect in the ways of street vendors, but I know in Greece shop owners could get fairly aggressive.


I think the main political differences I will experience will be:

I do not expect that it is widely acceptable to discuss politics, especially criticism of the government. And now that the Chinese president has abolished a term limit, I do not believe that having outspoken political views is a particularly wise idea. I think the wisest course of action would be to avoid talking about politics, but being gracious towards the Chinese government if it comes up in conversation.


I think the students I meet in my country will be:

I think the students that we meet in China will be pretty similar to us. I know there will be somewhat of a language barrier, but I learned in Greece that despite any initial barriers to communications, people figure it out. I think we will have a lot to learn from them, and they will also learn a lot from us.


I think the major differences in living conditions will be:

Population density will be a huge difference from what I am used to here. That being said, we are staying in a fancy hotel, but I am not sure what to reference this metric to, so overall I expect that our living conditions will be fairly nice. The average Chinese person’s living conditions (in cities), according to the travel guide book, is apparently somewhat tight on space.


I think the most enjoyable experience I will have during this trip will be:

I am most looking forward to exploring where we are staying. I imagine that each city we visit will have a very different atmosphere to it, and I want to get the full experience of each location. I think the most enjoyable experiences of the trip will not be the planned events (although I am sure they will be fantastic), but the spontaneous interactions we have while exploring.

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