Day 3: First University Visit

Today, we visited the Central University of Finance and Economics. I’m still impressed by how much green Beijing was than I expected. You could see first thing on campus, people tending to the gardens and the shrubbery in the morning. After walking into one of the buildings, we waited outside one of the classrooms where a class was in session. Once the local students left their class, we received a lecture by Dr. Kai Yao. Dr. Yao talked about what big data is and how it plays a big role in China’s e-commerce industry. It was very interesting to learn about how websites like Amazon use cookies to give users a more personalized market when browsing online. E-commerce is now an integral part of China’s lifestyle. In 2000, there were only 2.1 million users, but in 2016 there were over 700 million users. It’s hard to visualize the number of people going completely mobile. Dr. Yao said that many people don’t even need a wallet because they can use apps like WeChat to pay for most items on market.

After the lecture, we went off to lunch where local students around age joined our table. It was very insightful conversing with the local students. I learned about their hobbies and interests. Interestingly, American sitcoms such as Friends is very popular in China. After lunch, we toured the library. This library was built less than 5 years. The library was very expansive. It had a room specifically for reading newspapers and I really like the inclined desks. What caught my most attention was the library desk/seat system. One of the students explained to me how it worked. First, you have to scan your school ID into the system. Then you are able to reserve a seat that is differentiated to other seats by floor and number, which is physically visual on the desk space. If you don’t sign out of your desk, you’ll get a strike on your account. Three strikes and you can’t reserve space for a month. Perhaps Hillman Library should take a look at their library for inspiration.

As our tour of the library ended, I had a very interesting conversation with one student. She asked me about the party and drug scene in the United States. She explained to me that there was a Chinese pop star who was caught taking drugs one single time, and suddenly his career quickly fell apart. It was insightful to talk about how this matter is somewhat glorified in America, while it’s regarded as shameful in China. We continued the conversation until we reached the place outside where the outdoor activities were taking place.

First, we played a game where a group started out in a circle. Then each person had to be in a position where they are not standing next to the same people originally. Finally, each person grabbed the person that stood on their right with their right hand and grabbed the person that stood on their left with their left hand. The objective was to untangle yourselves until the group goes back into a full circle. The second activity involved a jump rope. Unfortunately, my foot got kicked as I jumped during one round and I landed funny, rolling my left ankle in the process. Walking it off, I said goodbye to my new friends as we left the university.

As soon as I returned to my room, I tended to my ankle before going out again to the supermarket. I went out with a group to buy Chinese snacks. We had a snack party to try out all the different types of treats in China. There were egg rolls, blueberry-filled marshmallows, strawberry wafers, fruit-flavored Pocky sticks. I think the most interesting snack was the shrimp flavored potato chips.

Everyone wanted to go to visit the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube which both held events during the Beijing 2008 Olympics. We took the train to Olympic Park. It was interesting to see that the subway system was arranged in circles just like how Beijing is set up. The lit-up Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube were very beautiful to look at. Instead of going back to the hotel, many of us decided to go one of the marketplaces. I think my favorite thing there was the giant soup dumpling that I had to use a straw to drink the soup out of. Finding a taxi at night was quite difficult, but we managed to get one and returned to the hotel.

I’m very happy to have met and connected with the students of CUFE. My only regret was missing the chance to exchange contact information with them.

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