I am a student at Ball State University and majoring in Telecommunications. I am spending 6 weeks in China, traveling around to Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong with five great fellow Ball State students and two awesome Ball State professors.
Posts by Jeff Holiday
Saturday night we went out with our new Hong Kong friends to celebrate Dominic’s 23rd birthday. First on the list from our night of debauchery was dinner. Our friends took us to a restaurant in the Causeway Bay area that seemed like all the others we had been to in Hong Kong but this one was a little different.
Yes the food was good, and yes the service was great, but what made this stand apart from the rest came by surprise during the end of the meal. After we had eaten and had been disappointed to find out that there was no Happy Birthday singing in restaurants in Hong Kong, the waitress brought out something that looked along the lines of the famous dumplings. They seemed to be made of the same type of batter but turned out to be a very traditional birthday dessert. Although they looked like dumplings they tasted much different, and in my opinion a lot better. It was a weird, or should I say different, combination of sweet outer batter with a meat middle. Different, but a good different.
After dinner with our Hong Kong friends, we went to a bar in the Lan Kwai Fong area just to kill some time. It was a bar with a Russian theme and an ice bar that got down to -22ºC (-7.6ºF ) as pictured above. The bar provided optional fur coats so no one would freeze to death.
Third on the list was the trip to the night club Billon. According to our friends it is popular spot in Hong Kong, and by the amount of people there, I would have to agree. I think maybe we all spent a little too much money, but I’m pretty sure I can speak for all of us that it was a night well worth it. And hopefully Dominic got a birthday celebration that he will never forget.
The other day, the rest of the group and I made a little side trip to Macau. Macau is a Portuguese settlement that is now part of The People’s Republic of China. It is a 60 minute ferry ride across the South China Sea to Macau. Ask anyone and they will tell you that I am up for just about any type of fun, but in Macau I was just another stick in the mud. I gambled a little at first, but after losing HK$240 (USD $30), somehow I thought the casinos were getting the better end of the deal no matter how many free drinks and free plays they threw at me. Even though I had only lost USD $30 it still made me sick to my stomach. I didn’t like the thought of losing MY money for no good reason. Some will argue and justify it as entertainment, but to me it all sounds like a foolish game. What made me even sicker was the hundreds of people throwing their money away as well. I just couldn’t see the sense in it, so instead, I spent the rest of my time in Macau relaxing in the bars or watching others throw their money away.
After being in China for almost four weeks now, the part I like the best is the people. I love meeting new people and seeing their points of view and hearing about their experiences in China as well as sharing my own thoughts and experiences with them. I have a total of ten contacts in my phone that I bought at the local Chinese Wal-Mart. To you, ten contacts may not sound like much, but to me it is a step in the right direction.
One of my goals was to take something back from this trip. I could not think of a better way to take China home with me than to learn from the people living here. I have met so many interesting people and it has been great to learn about them and how they live here in China. It’s even a joy just to say hello or ni hao to someone on the subway or passing by on the street. There is so much to learn from this culture. I cannot wait to take what I have learned and apply it to my own life.
After being in China for three days, I feel like I have a good first impression of it, or second impression rather. I decided to hold off on writing my first thoughts about China because I really wanted to immerse myself into the culture in order to understand what it has to offer.
From chopsticks and bizarre meals at breakfast to getting stared down by locals on the streets of Shanghai, this place seems to be very different from home. It seemed obvious at first that this new land was in stark contrast to what I have been used to. But as I thought more, I came to the conclusion that underneath all the cultural differences, we are all just human beings. So I challenged myself, to reexamine my preconceived ideas about China to prove them wrong. I was determined to find similarities between myself as an American, and the people of China.
I found that the only thing that sets me, and other Americans apart from Chinese locals is culture. Culture is a huge part of people’s lives. It is the outer most layer of a nation, and often times people do not look beyond it. While culturally we are very different, humanly we are alike. I think the best examples of this can be seen through our conversations with the Chinese. Every time I have ordered food it has been a challenge because of our language barrier. Half of the time I have no idea what the other is saying, or I end up ordering something that I did not intend. While language is cultural, there was something human that was always shared: laughter and smiles.