Day Three: Central University & Olympic Park

After a long day at the Great Wall, it was nice to have a less hectic day. We left the hotel at around 8:30 am to visit Central University of Finance & Economics, where we got a nice look at the campus as well as some of the facilities.  The day started off with a lecture on big data and smart phone marketing by Professor Kai Yao.  He began the lecture by talking about the use of big data in general; for example, Amazon uses internet cookies to be able to see your browsing history on their website, and in turn, they are able to give recommendations for products that are closely related to your previous searches and various interests to get you to buy more off of their website.  Later on, he compared the e-commerce industries of both China and the United States.  What I was surprised to learn was that e-commerce is even bigger here than in the U.S.!  They apparently have their own version of our Black Friday, called “Singles Day”.  It occurs on November 11th each year, and is the world’s largest shopping festival for both traditional and online shopping.  He also talked about how 55% of Chinese smartphone users actually prefer using their smartphones to pay for things instead of card or cash.  WeChat is one of the ways they use to pay for miscellaneous items.

I was slightly familiar with WeChat prior to coming here; I helped my mom and dad set it up on their phones so that they can contact me easily.  However, WeChat is so much more than just a messenger application.  It is also a social media platform, method of payment, and even has its own app store!  I was fascinated at how this app grew over time to become a massively popular all-in-one smartphone application, and one of the students afterwards showed me even more functions of the app, such as playing mobile games (similar to iMessage), ordering food, and booking taxis.  I was impressed, to say the least.

After the lecture, we got lunch with some of the students and discussed a lot of the cultural differences between our two home countries.  We touched a few different topics like music and food.  When they asked us what our cuisine consisted of, it was actually kind of difficult to explain; in the United States, we really take parts of other countries’ cuisines and integrate it into our own.  The only specific things that we could really think of that is “ours” were burgers, hot dogs, and french fries.

We later went on to visit their library, and it made Hillman Library over at Pitt pale in comparison.  This was a brand new, state-of-the-art facility that was simply incredible.  It was six floors of giant, open space.  We were informed that students often come here in their free time as well as to study, which shows just how hard-working and devoted Chinese students really are.

That night, we all took the subway to the Olympic Park, home of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  The Olympic Stadium (shown below) was even more massive than it looked on TV!  Overall, today was a much more laid-back day, and it was nice to get to experience the day in the life of a Chinese university student.

-Colin

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Front Entrance of the Olympic Stadium
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First Glance at the Library

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