The campus itself included several gender specific dorms, an international mixed-gender student dorm (where we stayed), a library (where most of our classes took place), a large track and soccer field, a cafeteria, a small coffee shop, fruit stands, and a convenient store. It was a safe neighborhood that had security guards at the entrance all night.
We also were paired with Host families. I was able to celebrate the Chinese New Year with Tongtong and his mother Helen. His father later joined us. On various occasions I spent time at there home reading playing games with Tongtong. They taught me various things about their culture and family traditions. Helen, Tongtong and Grandma are now living in Montana, where Helen was accepted at the University for their Graduate program. I met up with them on their trip to NYC prior to starting my career at Kohl's Department store and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Being able to share my home with them as they shared theres with me was unifying.
I made friends from all over the world and grew my friendships with those I arrived with.
West Lake, Hangzhou
Our first arrival at West Lake we were bombarded by locals. It was a paparazzi fiasco. For about 15min we did not move because we were constantly being photographed. We were then, I'm sure, shared and posted all over WeChat (the main Chinese app for communication).
On numerous occasions, I took trips to Shanghai. The first time I went by myself to meet up with new expats I met in Hangzhou. Being a 40min speed train ride away made it manageable to travel to the neighboring city. The next two times was with my fellow Americans for leisure and to visit Li & Fung.
Known also as Yellow Mountain and what inspired the movie Avatar, we hiked up and down nearly 7,000km! Staying over night in a hostel at the peak of the mountain, we conquered the unconquerable.
One of the many ancient villages throughout China.
Located just outside of Hangzhou, we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day to venture to the Tea Plantation. We were able to try freshly steeped tea and purchase to our liking.
In the city of Hangzhou, lies one of few preserved Buddhist Temples. You may encounter people praying by lighting incenses and bowing three times in each direction.
We had many opportunities to travel with the help of George, our lead advisor. He arranged various trips to textile museums, villages, Traditional Medicine Hospitals and many more. We also had the opportunity to hold an English Corner where Chinese ZIZU were able to participate in lectures we had about America. These lectures were about food, pop culture, movies and swing dancing. I also had the opportunity outside of campus to teach English at private schools for a little extra cash on hand.
There were a variety of foods to choose from. You could expand and eat traditional Chinese food, generally lazy-suzan style, but there were also various ways to find Western, Middle East, Indian and make your own foods. The downfall is it is a bit more expensive and harder to find ingredients. FYI: vanilla is nowhere to be found. Also cilantro is the same as Chinese Parsley.
Around the middle of our Product development course, we had the opportunity to take a trip to Hong Kong to meet and tour the office of Macy’s Merchandising Group. During this visit, we learned about production flow, quality assurance, and Macy’s manufacturing guidelines. The next day, we had the chance to visit the office of Macy’s China Limited, a joint venture formed between Macy’s and Li and Fung aimed at selling Macy’s products online to Chinese customers.