A Sleeping Giant

As the first week coming to a close, it is tempting to say that this week has gone by crazily fast. But that is far from the truth. Within a week, we have done more things than I have anticipated for this entire summer. I have learned many great things; not just from the people and things in China, but also from the wonderful students in my group.

On my first day in China, I was greatly impressed by the way things work here. The rule and laws is not as strict as America. Yet, everything in the system works just as natural as they can. Traffic rules are rarely observed by motorists; a one lane street might actually have three lanes, pedestrians take the cross-walk lights only as suggestions, and a sidewalk might be used by both motorists and pedestrians alike. Nevertheless, I have yet to see a single incident within the past weeks. China is often seen as an inferior developing country from the western eyes, but in my opinion, they are as efficient as they can be now with great potential for the future.

My experience so far is consistent with my initial expectation for China. Having grown up in a third world Asian country, I understand the rule of laws is not strictly enforced here, and traditional values play a large role within the society. However, China’s economy is much more advanced than I expected. In Beijing, it is almost the norm for the average citizen to own a car, unlike other developing neighbor countries. Capitalism is slowly taking over the Chinese society, with western brands like Prada and McDonald’s becoming the staple for Chinese consumers.

Out of the things that I got to do during my time in Beijing with my group, the most impactful event for me was the Great Wall trip. The trip was nowhere near I was expecting. Instead of visiting the more popular part of the wall, we went to a much older area that was less tourist-friendly. The hike up the mountains was challenging but rewarding. Seeing such a marvelous man-made structure that is twice as old as America was a very humbling experience. It was even more enjoyable to listen to our tour guide, Noodles, talk about the history and purpose of the wall. To me the wall represents a sleeping giant waiting to be awakened that is China.

I am only 1/8 through my journey in China. If this past week is representative for what to come, I am more than ecstatic to look forward to what to come. With my internship officially starting next week, I cannot wait to see China from another perspective. With that said, there are a few questions that I would like to know the answers to in the upcoming weeks:

  • How do traditionalists feel about the modernization of China?
  • How do Chinese feel about Western culture?
  • Is there a cultural gap between the younger and older generations?

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