I woke up so excited for the day ahead-we were going to the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing today! The plan was to interact with the students there, go on a campus tour, and hear a lecture from a faculty member in order to really be able to see how our education system differed from that in China’s, and how we could perhaps integrate our studies with theirs. As we ate a quick breakfast and headed onto the bus, I reflected on the previous day and how much fun we had as a group exploring the Great Wall. It was amazing to be in that environment, and to see nature from the way that we were able to. As we geared up for the day ahead in business casual attire, I was looking forward to meeting the students and talking to them about their days.
As we headed up to the University, it was interesting to see how traditional campuses in China differ from the United States. This was more so of a gated community, but inside, it was massive. I have seen universities similar to that structure in India, so I was surprised that it was present here as well. The campus and each of its buildings were huge! It was so beautiful, and students were flurrying around from class to class conversing in Chinese. We sat in a lecture regarding data analytics and its applicability in business taught by a professor who also studied from Penn, which was great because he was able to successfully relate a lot of topics back to what would be familiar to us. I loved sitting in the classrooms and hearing a lecture as if we were students there, and it was great to be able to interact with the faculty as closely as we did and to be able to hear their thoughts on the questions we had. I asked a question regarding how bitcoin and blockchain are thought to transform the massive E-commerce industry of China, and it was great to hear that it would only enhance it. I was surprised that E-commerce was truly “a way of life” in China-this is a country that is so advanced! After the lecture, we went on a campus tour where the saw the library and the cafeteria. The library was huge! It was so beautiful and so advanced-there was a screen just to reserve seating! It was interesting to see students take so much pride in their library, and it made me think back to Hillman and the many hours I spent there studying the past year. I loved how integrated all of the students were with their schools-it was nice to see how much pride they took in their university and all that it had provided them with. After the campus tour, we went to eat in the canteen. The food was delicious! I loved eating family style with the students, and we talked a lot about favorite books, movies, shows, hobbies, and much more. You know, in these type of situations, you really start to form a bond with the students and it opens up your perspective and view from more than just the 20 mile radius. Also-the cafeteria was beautiful!
Afterwards, we walked around to the field where the track, tennis courts, and play area was-and boy was it hot! The weather was scorching, and while we were there, we saw many students in their gym class either running on the track or playing tennis. A few were taking their final exams in physical education-and I thought it was cute how some of the students said that gym is there most difficult class! I did not realize that P.E. would be a mandatory requirement in the curriculum in China as well. While we were on the field, we played a lot of team building games! I think it really helped bond the entire group together as we did not know each other very well yet, and we had the opportunity to really just let loose and have fun while playing common team building activities that we play in the States as well. The best part was playing with Chinese students and interacting with them-they were definitely much more poised and calmer than we were. My favorite part had to be the skipping rope-it brought back so many memories. The students there showed us how they all jump rope in a line immediately after one another, and we tried doing the same in a very large group. I have fond memories from when I was younger of me and my friends skipping rope the same way, and I had a great time doing this!
I was so sad to leave the friends I had made behind at the University, but I will remember our conversations forever and the lessons I took away from that day. The University definitely started off our site visits on a great note, and I took a lot away with me. Once we returned to the hotel, a few of us decided to explore the mall across the street-which was huge!-and head to bed. I slept feeling so content with the day, and excited for what was to come.