Experience China 2016 A journey worth taking. A journey to relive.

5. was all we knew. 5. was our american Crew. 5. In which we grew.

During the spring of 2016,Studies University, five of us from the University of Wisconsin-Madison traveled to Hangzhou, China to study abroad. Our program was titled Experience China and was a partnership with Zhejiang International Studies University located in the center of Hangzhou, a city comprised of just over 9 million people (more than the population of NYC).

Prior to going there was a concern of where are we living? Will anyone know English? How do we navigate? Know and behold, we lived in the international, mixed-gender dorm. This dorm housed about 50 students from countries all over the world such as Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, Angola, Congo and Georgia. They were all studying Chinese and were great assistance for Ubers and ordering food in the school cafeteria.

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.

Pictures of West Lake in the Heart of the City


Host Buddies

Meeting people was one of the most affluent parts of the trip. Each of us was paired with a host family and buddy on campus to be our ultimate guide to the land of China. Iris, was my host buddy. I loved getting to know her. She invited me to her home where her mother prepared a meal for us. We developed a strong friendship I aspire to continue for years to come. She was helpful with navigation and any translating I needed anytime. When my laptop crashed her and Ronnie, another host buddy, assisted me on where to get it checked out. Having on hand translators were key. <3

Host Families

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 job at Kohl's New York Design Office 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).

West Lake resides in the Heart of the City. <3


The Bund

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.

Qingdao, Shandong Province | Northern China

Hong Kong

Huangshan Mountain

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.

Hongcun Village, Anhui Province

One of the many ancient villages throughout China.

Tea Plantation

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.

Eco Farm

Lingyin Temple

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.


Kristine, Emily and I ventured our way to Beijing at the tail end of our trip. We went through China Highlights to have a tour guide of the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. There are many stories to tell from this trip; like us almost hitting someone on the E-bike and Emily flying face forward in the van breaking her umbrella. It was the most hilarious thing, but honestly, it's a "have to be there" moment. ;)

Other Travels and Activities

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.

Professional Development

Us 5 students to a Product Development course where we were able to participate in various filled trips to Macy's Hong Kong, factories and Li & Fung Shanghai.

Macy's | Hong Kong

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.


Shinsun | woven Factory

One of the factories we toured for our Product Development course.

Artwell | Vertical Woven Factory

Another factory we toured a part of our Product Development Course.

Jiaxing Rising Garments | Woven Factory

This was one of the factories that I shadowed at for my internship.

Li & Fung | Shanghai

We met with Li & Fung executives to learn more about the series they provide as an agent for retailers and businesses. We also toured their explorium where they do interactive observations of consumer behavior.

All journeys come to an end

But it is the memories that last forever.

Created By
Emily Schlangen


Mk Azooz | West Coast | Muhanned | Brooke Paynter | Emily Schlangen