Day 10: The Top of the World

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Our third and final hotel breakfast is truly top tier. They have a massive buffet with all kinds of hot food, cold food, and pastries. This morning I had dumplings and actual egg rolls, as in wraps filled with scrambled eggs. Very tasty. After breakfast we got on the bus and headed to the East China University of Science and Technology. If CUFE’s campus had been like Carnegie Mellon’s, ECUST’s was more like Pitt’s. It felt more urban and compact and felt like it was in Shanghai, not sitting on the outside. Our lecture today focused on the history and geography of China, Chinese foreign trade, and the current political climate in China. I learned that while many Chinese people think Xi Jinping has done a good job as president, they aren’t happy about the abolition of term limits and see it as a potential threat in the future. The people are also frustrated by the governments attempts to censor and limit information on the internet. One major thing I’ve learned on this trip is while the government limits personal freedoms and can be oppressive, the Chinese people are not oppressed. They are surprisingly free thinking. After the lecture, we were introduced to some student tour guides. Chris and I had a girl named Hannah has our guide. She showed us around campus a little and then took us to eat lunch and the canteen. I got sweet and sour pork and noodles, both of which were better than market food. We talked to Hannah and found out she is trilingual. She speaks English and Chinese, but her major is Japanese. She’s never been to the United States but would like to visit. She also told us that her friends and she have trouble telling white people apart, and she asked us if we had trouble telling Chinese people apart. There is a stereotype in America that all Asian people look similar, but Chris and I did not feel comfortable saying this and did not know how to answer her question. After lunch, Hannah bought us ice cream, starting a chain of events that led to everyone getting ice cream. Then we all played a game where a ball was passed around and when music stopped the person with the ball had to perform a song. Being obnoxious Americans, we performed the Star-Spangled Banner. Then we tried to play never have I ever, but we ran into problems. I didn’t know whether it was a translation problem or if they play the game differently in China, but there was a lot of confusion. What I learned from this University visit is that Chinese students are very similar to American university students. They are curious about the world outside China and they questions the actions of their government.

View from the hotel

Ice cream

We got back to the hotel early, around 3, so Alana attempted to teach me how to play Mahjong. Mahjong is the most complicated game I have ever played, by a long shot. The setup is confusing, the game is fast paced, and the scoring system is convoluted. After Mahjong, we wandered around lost for an hour trying to find this noodle place to eat dinner at. On our walk we talked to an old lady and 3 security guards who all tried to point us in the right direction, but we could not find it. We did find an outdoor kiosk where we played fruit ninja on a street corner. Eventually we found a Pizza Hut and decided to cut our loses and just eat there. Chinese Pizza Hut is very different than American Pizza Hut. For one, we couldn’t find any cheese pizza on the menu. Secondly, they sold margaritas, which seemed way to classy for a Pizza Hut. We ended up ordering a Peking duck pizza, which was delicious, and a bizarre pizza that had crab, shrimp, squid, pineapple, ham, sausage, and peperoni on it. It was pretty good.

Then, we took the subway to Pudong. The Shanghai subway seemed much older than the Beijing and Xi’an subways. It was still clean and on time, but the stations and trains seemed older. Being in Pudong at night, surrounded by countless skyscrapers, was amazing. We bought tickets to go to the top of Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China and one of the tallest in the world. The view from the top was staggering. The entire city spread out beneath us, the second tallest building in the city seemed tiny from up there. It was breathtaking. On the way back to the hotel, we ate at a Mexican restaurant in China where the staff spoke English. Globalization is amazing. Back at the hotel, we played mahjong until we fell asleep.

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