After a busy day visiting the Great Wall, I was still not able to sleep well. I woke up a few times, just as yesterday, but I was able to get closer to a good night’s sleep. I woke up early again, around 6 this morning. It was my second day waking up in the hotel, and my second day having their fantastic breakfast. Today, however, I branched out into eating a more diverse set of foods. I tried sticky buns, both with meat and with bean curd, and I also had some of their chocolate croissants. Overall, it was an outstanding breakfast and became my staple over the next few days. I was starting to adapt to the Chinese culture.
After breakfast, we moved into the core of our day, which was a day at the Central University of Finance and Economics (Central University or University). At the University, we started off with a presentation by a professor on big data and its implications in our daily lives. The lecture was truly eye opening, and gave me insight into how lectures might be taught in China. To be clear, China is a communist country. And while it has opened up in recent years, there are still heavy restrictions on learning and the ideas taught. For example, there were certain questions about privacy and other subjects that the professor did not feel comfortable speaking about. This was a primary difference from America, where a professor could openly voice his opinion without repercussions.
The second difference was not even a main point of his lecture, and strayed from anything of real note. In fact, it was a simple response to an answer that caused me to think. The question was along the lines of “how do you get people to keep their bikes in easily accessible places without cluttering road and halls”, to which an American student said provide a punishment. The professor heard this, and acted a little surprised before saying that instead you could add a reward. This small response went to show the difference in Chinese vs American thinking. In the end, they both led to the desired result. However, Americans looked for this more aggressive approach, willing to offend and disturb the user. Instead, the Chinese looked for a more peaceful and willing approach. Both ways got it done, but it did show a difference in approach.
After the lecture on big data, we moved on to lunch. It was in their cafeteria, but in a back room that was very nice with food much better than we would have seen in a cafeteria in the US. It was good, and from there we went to the library to get a tour. The library was different from most libraries I had seen before, with not necessarily a bigger feel but a more technological feel. Here, the tour guide told us that most students spent their free time in the library, different from a university in the States. In the United States, more students would spend their time out drinking, or hanging out in their rooms with friends. For sure people study, but more time is spent hanging out at from what I was able to observe during my first year in college.
After the trip through the library, we took a walk out to their outdoor exercise facilities. They had open tennis courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and empty pieces of asphalt (which is where we set up). We played some ice breakers and games before heading home soon thereafter. For dinner, we all went out to a tourist strip to potentially purchase different items. They were all a little expensive, and no one really had an eye for anything in particular, so I just ate dinner and then headed home for the day.