Day 3: Meeting Chinese Students

              Today we visited a university in Beijing, CUFE. I definitely felt like a foreigner when the students looked at the group of us walking through the hallways, but I can understand it because if a group from their college walked through Swanson, we’d probably react in the same way. We sat in on a lecture from a marketing professor, and he dropped a lot of big ideas that I hadn’t heard of before. WeChat is a universal platform here in China, and accomplished basically what Apple was trying to do in the States with iMessage, Apple Music, and Apple Pay. I also got some questions answered: the masses of yellow bikes can be rented out through weChat and the paint on the bases of the trees is meant to repel pests. The professor also introduced the idea of Big Data, which I’m still trying to grasp the concept of. Finally, we learned about differences in the general market structure. In China, every thing is on a smaller scale: the food, the carts, etc. However, this was surprising to me because from what I’ve observed in the past two days, all of the malls are multi-story and everywhere, and consumer culture seems more prevalent than in the US.

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After the lecture, we met some Chinese students, Alan and Michelle. To get into schools in China, it’s more selective than the US, but it’s primarily score-based, rather than essay based. It was interesting talking to them because similarly to Pitt, many students grew up “just outside of” big cities. Michelle was from the Shanghai suburbs and has never been outside of China before, which is analogous to many students at Pitt. I also found it surprising that for many of the students, Phys Ed was their hardest class! We saw students running laps, fairly fast, on the track outside as part of an examination. We also walked through their library, and it had escalators in it! Apparently, many students come to the library in their free time, not necessarily to study. They also used a kiosk-based method to track which seats were free in the library based on scanning their ID upon entry and exit. This is a huge cultural difference because as Jimmy and I found out through our RWDC project, in the US people would be in too much of a rush to scan their ID, and the system wouldn’t work.

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After we got back, Rashel and I went out exploring and went to the nearby park. We saw people playing badminton ball. There were a lot of families and teenagers, which was something we hadn’t seen yet. Later that night, we used the subway for the first time to go to the Olympic Village. In comparison to Pittsburgh’s 2 lines, the 15-line Beijing subway is an infrastructure wonder. The Olympic Village was impressive, and also surprising that it was actually busier than the Great Wall. However, it was a bit weird to me that the Olympic Village isn’t used for anything besides tourism, despite that it’s a cool area. Overall, I enjoyed learning about how daily life works in Beijing today, by using the subway and going to the park.

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