Hi, my name is Jack Meyer. I will be a sophomore telecommunication/news major this fall. I am from Noblesville, Indiana and on our trip I hope to focus on news writing but am excited to work with other media as well. Can't wait to get to work and start exploring.
Posts by Jack Meyer
China has truly been too good to us. Although trips to China by Ball State students will continue for years to come, I can’t imagine any future trips being as good as the first.
What has really made this six week excursion great has been the people. Not only did we get to see each city we traveled to, through our own eyes, but we got to talk to and spend time with people who live in those places and are a part of the everyday life. These relationships provided a priceless perspective on a foreign culture.
From an academic stand point I know that I could not have gotten the same journalistic experience I have gotten over the past month and half in any classroom at home. Being in China has taught me a lot about the way news media work and also turned me onto international journalism. Since being able to visit China Daily in Beijing and ESPN International in Hong Kong, I am seriously interested in seeking out international internships or even working as a journalist overseas after graduation.
As we spent our last night in the Hong Kong airport, the only thing I could think about is how lucky I am to have been a part of such incredible adventure. My outlook on the world, my own country and myself have all be changed by our experiences. I wouldn’t take back any part, good or bad.
One of our favorite sources of entertainment while out and about in all three of the cities we have been to has been signs everywhere written in Chinglish. Chinglish is a failed Chinese attempt at English. Often, it is the kind of direct translation that comes from an online translator, the kind that makes automatic translations between languages that usually come out woefully incorrect. These kinds of mistakes can be seen on signs everywhere in China, even in culturally diverse areas where better English might be expected. In some situations the mistakes aren’t so bad that the intended meaning of a sign can’t be deciphered, but there have been a few times when we have been left with no idea of what a sign is trying to say. For example, at the gate leading into the parking lot at the section of the Great Wall of China we walked, one sign read “The Tourist Gets Out the Bill Enrollment in Preschool.” I can only assume that the sign probably meant to say something like, “Have Your Ticket Ready Before Entering the Gate,” but who knows. Since getting to Hong Kong, because of the British influence, the English seen and spoken in public has been noticeably better, but not perfect. Being able to better understand different signs has been great, but I do enjoy a good laugh at an incomprehensible attempt at English. Below are a few of the better signs we have seen during our journey.
For the first two weeks of our China adventure, we were struggling to find stories relevant to people back in Indiana. But in our final week in Shanghai, our fortunes began to change with the meeting of Jose Villarreal, the Commissioner General of the USA pavilion at the World Expo who just happened to be a Hoosier.
So, after Sarah and I did the interview and I worked with Terry and Suzy to tweak my print story, we now have our first published piece and Sarah on the brink of submitting an audio story about Villarreal to IPBS radio stations. Man, it’s a great to have things come together even if it means running around, trying to keep up with the opportunities that have presented themselves. We are working to pitch the story to other news outlets, but just to have it picked up by one is a great feeling. Here’s a link to our first published story on theindychannel.com – http://www.theindychannel.com/news/23778295/detail.html – and there will be plenty more where that came from.
Bravo to the whole crew!
Before leaving the United States for China, I told most people who asked about my trip that I expected to miss the small things about life at home the most; and I was right. During breakfast, it isn’t the substitution of scrambled for hard-boiled eggs that bothers me. It isn’t the smaller portion sizes at lunch and dinner or even the cooked chicken feet that I have noticed the most. It’s the lack of ice cold drinks that I can’t seem to make myself accept.
I never realized how much I appreciated an ice cold drink in the morning or an ice cold glass of water with dinner until getting to China. I rarely drink it at home, but because it’s one of the few things commonly kept cold here, I have without a doubt drank more soda since arriving in China than I have in the past two years of my life. Even if most drinks were just served at room temperature, I think I could handle them. But some drinks that have been served are obviously cooling after just having been boiled. Two nights ago, at what we were told was one of the nicest restaurants in Shanghai, I ordered a glass of water expecting it to be cold, forgetting the way drinks had been served to me in the past. I was disappointed when the waiter brought out a glass of water too hot for me to even pick up without burning my fingers.
I can’t wait to get back to Indiana to be spoiled by a refrigerator filled with cold milk and green tea.
One of the most interesting things since arriving in China has been seeing the examples of simple etiquette differences talked about in our meetings before leaving materialize.
The first encounters began showing their faces just after arriving at our second hotel in Shanghai and meeting up with our Chinese partner Hong Kong Baptist University.
After unloading our bags from the taxis, our group of eight followed Professor Huang Yu of HKBU into the hotel’s restaurant where his students were having an early dinner.
It didn’t take long for the students from Hong Kong to realize that a group of westerners had entered the room.
A few of the students stood to greet us and, excited to meet the foreign students, I quickly walked to a couple of them giving them a good firm traditional United States handshake.
When I got to the fourth student and extended my hand it was obvious that she was a little surprised by the gesture but politely fumbled to move the napkin she was holding in her right hand to her left and shook my hand.
It didn’t occur to me until I had turned to walk back behind my group that I had been told in one our meetings before leaving that the Chinese rarely shake hands and when they do it’s a softer, less assertive handshake.
But, shrugging it off, I assumed that I would inevitably make mistakes like this from time to time.
I walked over and sat down with my fellow students and professors at one of the restaurant tables with Professor Huang who didn’t waste any time ordering beer, Coca-Cola, and orange juice for us to share.
After the drinks arrived at the table, I turned the lazy susan and filled my glass.
Looking across the table at Professor Huang, I watched him pick up a bottle of a Chinese beer, called Tsingtao, and, without asking if they’d like any, pour a glass for both of my professors and then himself.
Noticing that this seemed a little strange, I remembered in one of our small cultural info meetings that Dominic, our group’s communication studies major, had specifically told us that in China, it is a custom to serve those sitting next to you before serving yourself.
So after finishing my first glass and following Professor Huang’s lead, I reached for more, serving my fellow news major, Sarah, then myself, and set the bottle back on the lazy susan.
After finishing my second glass, Dominic, who is much more culturally wise than I, picks up a bottle of orange juice and fills the glass to his right.
When he turns to me and starts to pour me a glass, I quickly stop him, even after having served Sarah myself, impulsively saying “oh no, no thank you.”
Looking at Dom’s blank stare made me realize the mistake I had made even after seeing the Hong Kong professor set the example.
He was being polite by serving me, and in China it was impolite for me to refuse his gesture.
Professor Huang acted like he didn’t notice, and it’s likely that he really didn’t, but the next time around I made sure to wait until both of our glasses were empty to allow Dom to fill my glass, righting my wrong.
Even after just three days in China I have already found myself wanting and looking out for opportunities to talk to or have any contact with people who come from western societies. Although we have our group of eight with which we can share feelings and ideas, simple communication with new faces and personalities is still desirable without a doubt.
Today was the first day that our group spent at the World Expo, presenting us with our first good opportunity to meet people without the separation of a language barrier. After struggling to tell our taxi driver where it was we wanted to go, it was refreshing stepping out onto a street typically packed with Chinese. Almost immediately, Suzy, Jeff, Sarah and I ran into a group from Florida and Michigan who helped remind us how nice it can be just to small talk. Being able to share the exciting atmosphere of the Expo with new people felt far better than I ever would have expected. Even interviewing a woman inside the Expo who was a Hong Kong native who spoke fluent English was a treat. Being immersed in a foreign culture is definitely a fun and interesting experience, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for simple human interaction.
It’s not hard to get excited about a place that’s so full of life. Endless mopeds, bicycle carts and interested glances from locals make for fun walks past hundreds of open-doored business on the muggy streets. Although obvious differences in culture can be seen in the street signs and markets that line the walkways from place to place, seeing a local get as upset as I did at seeing the Orlando Magic losing game two of the NBA playoffs to the Boston Celtics on a CCTV Fox Sports feed in a Chinese cafe reminded me that we are not all necessarily so different.