Day 3: Gym Class

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I was disappointed at breakfast when I found that there were no pears today. I did however enjoy quite a bit of the dragonfruit, because I don’t know that I would really be able to find any that good at home.

We took a bus a ways outside Beijing to the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE, they pronounced it like cue-fee). When we first arrived, we were taken to a lecture room where we learned about Big Data marketing. Some of the lecture went over my head (I still don’t fully understand Big Data), but I thought most of it was pretty interesting.

We ate at the school’s cafeteria for lunch, where we sat with some students from the university, along with a few staff members. Ruben and I talked to a student named Alan, who taught us a lot about how the university process works in China. Getting into college there relies heavily on standardized exams, a bit like the SATs here, except they matter even more. Universities in China will also populate the student body with students from each province, so depending on the population of each province, it could be easier or harder to get in. Alan, for example, who was from a province with a high population, had to be in the top 0.14% of students to get into this university.

After an enlightening lunch (besides the lesson on higher education, I tried a lot of new dishes), we made our way outside to the library. This library, which was only a few years old at this point (and had a large budget) put Hillman to shame. It was almost a piece of art while also serving as a fully functional student space. We toured a couple of floors, saw student artwork, and were told about the smart seat-reserving system that we should really look into implementing at home.

Of course, no university visit would be complete without PE class. We walked over towards the courts and fields, where we participated in a number of activities (not ideal, as we were all in business casual, but fun nonetheless).

That night, originally a few people had planned to go see the Olympic stadium. That small group eventually became the entire class, and Dr. Li, Liliana, and Jane led us there via the subway. I never imagined I would be able to see the Bird’s Nest, from the first Olympics that I actually remember watching, but it was amazing to see in person, especially at night since it was all lit up. Of course, another sight to see was the Water Cube, the massive rectangular prism of a building where all the swimming events were held.

From there, we went to a street that was entirely food stands, restaurants, and shops. It was fun to explore and see what was around. A few people (including me) got soup dumplings: giant dumplings filled with soup, which you were supposed to drink with a straw. This is also when we learned that everything in Beijing (and presumably Xian too) closes at 10:00 PM, if not earlier.

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