Pre-departure Report: Kevin Collins

My international experience to date is existent, but brief. I traveled outside of the country for the first time at the end of 2016 for a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico. The vacation was mostly sheltered because we stayed at a resort, but we did travel off the resort a few times for excursions and we were able to experience more of the true culture of Mexico. I also traveled to Scotland in the summer of 2017 to visit my older brother who was on a study abroad program at the time. While there, I was freer to walk around and meet the local residents because most things were within walking distance.

I want to go to China for multiple reasons. For one, their economy is booming, and I think it will be exciting to see cities that are growing at incredible rates. Also, I was very interested in the smartphone aspect of the trip. Since they are so relevant in today’s culture, it will be interesting to see how they are developed and improved to sell to customers. Finally, I want to go to China to experience a culture that is completely different than my own. It can be an eye-opening experience that helps me grow as a person.

I think the main professional work differences I will experience will be in the organization of the business’s and in the social aspects. Since they produce so many products, I would assume that their offices and factories are set up to be as efficient as possible. I would also assume that they are less social in the office and more work oriented.

I think the main cultural differences I will experience will be when we attend the tourist locations and walk around the cities. Seeing the way that people live, eat, and drive on the opposite side of the world will surely be a culture shock, but I am excited to experience everything and try to better understand those that live cultural lifestyle than my own.

I think the main political differences I will experience will be trying to not accidentally mention something that offends anyone that would be considered an appropriate topic over in the United States. For example, the topic of death is not an uncommon thing to talk about over here while in China it is apparently an unspoken rule to not discuss it. Also, they do not tip over there, so I must remember to not stand out or disrespect anyone by tipping at a restaurant.

I think the students I meet in China will be incredibly hardworking. Their school life seems much more intense than ours and there is more stress on academic placement then there is over in the United States. I am hoping that I can both give and receive study advice so that we can improve academically. I am also excited to learn about their daily routine and what they do for fun out there.

The major differences in living conditions I think will include much tighter spaces and more stress on the interior of the home rather than the exterior. The population in the cities is huge and everyone needs to live somewhere. I am assuming that the living spaces are small, but efficient. Also, I had read that they take great pride for the things they decide to display in their homes, so I assume that every home will have a different set up that means a lot to the person that lives there.

I think the most enjoyable experience I will have during this trip will be all of the site visits we take. I have always wanted to see the Great Wall in person. Something so old and so large must be an incredible thing to see especially for the first time. I am also excited to see the Terracotta Warriors because of the incredible detail that they were given and how long they have lasted throughout history. Finally, I am excited to see Yu Gardens because online it looks amazing, and I cannot imagine how amazing it will look in person.

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