Industry Study Tour (2015) to China
Pre-departure was very exciting. I was really looking forward to meeting everyone at our workshop and as I completed each section of the module and we got closer to going my excitement grew. I found the industry study tour site was extremely helpful with extensive resources made available for my international integrated learning experience.
Pre-departure was all about networking, teamwork, leadership, employability and how I might relate this to my own experience and my discipline of professional writing. It was a great advantage in integrated cultural learning and concepts on how to become an innovative, creative entrepreneur.
Being actively involved with the industry study tour only enhanced my learning. My understanding of the reflective process by using the 5R’s has evolved and I feel I have developed some real world cultural diversity.
Every experience can be fraught with challenges and mine was overcoming fatigue as we kept on a very busy schedule, the language barriers of mandarin and the new technology that is forever evolving.
It seems an integrated learning study tour has given me a certain edge to succeed in the workforce. Going global has developed my capacity to obtain and/or create work by using the reflective practice to identify my employability skills and attributes. I now have a better sense of cross cultural adaptability, navigating new and hazardous environments, cultural awareness and the exchange of negotiating on so many levels.
The exposure to a county like China meant not only experiencing pollution and congestion but the opportunity to grow as an individual. This direct exposure to the challenges of real world learning, the culture shock of road rules not being enforce, the diverse culture of food and spirituality, temples and calligraphy, social networking on WeChat, and business etiquette of guanxi all made for a very wonderful journey.
I loved this experience very much and although I returned a little unwell and chronically fatigued this did not detract from the fabulous friendships I have made and the exciting times I enjoyed.
Pauline in the Shanghai subway going to Metro City
Traffic and pollution Shanghai
Pauline hitching a ride
Cathy and Dun
Hazardous Pollution Mask Day
Panda at Beijing Zoo
Well, we are certainly being kept busy here in China. Our schedule was fairly jam-packed before we left but Fanfan, our superb tour manager, keeps finding more interesting fun and cultural experiences to add.
The day after our trip to the Great Wall we spent the morning at the National Performing Arts Centre; a spectacular building that is a source of great pride — our guide did mention that it was three times bigger than the Sydney Opera House (actually I think she told us that three times as well)! It took six years to build and no expense was spared, no detail overlooked; even down to acoustic material on the seats.
In the afternoon we broke into two groups: one went to the Beijing Zoo and the other to the Technology Museum. Unfortunately the Museum was closed but that group found other interesting things to see, our group fussed over the Pandas.
Saturday we had to get our University hats on and attend a workshop morning which flew by and before we knew it we were out exploring again. The afternoon was free time and the only downside was that the smog reading for that day was very high and we all had to purchase and wear face masks. It is hard to tell what is more claustrophobic: wearing the masks or breathing the smog. The masks make it hard to breathe freely and are very uncomfortable, they can only be worn for 15 – 20 minute bursts then taken down for 5 minutes before being put on again. One can only sympathise with those that live with this as part of their daily life – we are so fortunate in Australia; more so than we realise. We were wearing our masks while we went shopping for a basketball shirt. The night before, a group of students had gone to a Chinese League basketball game to watch the Beijing Ducks. In the rush after the game one of the girls missed out on buying a Ducks singlet and we were on a mission to get one. It was astounding that not one shop in downtown Beijing had a Beijing Ducks singlet and yet they all had numerous versions of NBA clothing and basketball merchandise. It just highlighted the Chinese fascination with Western culture.
Sunday morning we packed up, said goodbye to Beijing and boarded the bullet train to Shanghai. Security is strict everywhere — at the train terminal we once again had to produce our passports and go through the security scanners. We are used to seeing these only at airports but in China, bags are even scanned on normal subway train stations.
The bullet network is the most efficient way of traversing China and it only took 5 hours to reach Shanghai. The train is very comfortable and you would think it was no different to your normal commute to work if it were not for the red numbers that keep appearing overhead showing the speed you are travelling – they varied from 280 up to 312 km an hour. We arrived safely and were taken to the top restaurant in Shanghai for a traditional Chinese hotpot dinner. The service was excellent as was the company and the food. We then got back on our bus and set off to our new hotel where we crashed into bed.
Article written by Jan Farrell
Day two and a visit to the Forbidden City with a two hour tour walking from one end to another. My feet are sore but this was an incredible and inspiring trek. Our tour guide Zoe told us we would not get to visit inside and see the tomb of Mao. I was disappointed I did not get to see Mao in his crystal coffin. You are unable to take anything into the building. Only exception is self and passport, no cameras no handbags etc. Tienanmen Square is larger than I expected. Plenty of walking means we are getting more than our daily need of exercise. This walk included many stairs. The ice meant careful maneuvering of feet as you stepped and side stepped to keep upright.
A welcome lunch at the Laoshe Teahouse and puppet show was next on the agenda. This was so wonderful. A beautiful show with a crane and tortoise. The food was an amazing banquet that just kept coming and our table devoured everything. I particularly enjoyed the tofu filled with shrimp but the most popular dish was the duck rolled in pancakes.
Beijing Foreign Studies University was huge. The library was beautiful and exceptionally neat and clean. My student Choy (Pineapple) this his nickname as he loves pineapple, told me his teacher said the library is filled with books for show as the students rarely take them out and make use of them due to their use of digital technology. While there we got caught in a snow storm while walking around campus. It was very cold but we were all thrilled to be in the storm and very excited. Even the students were excited as this was quite unusual, especially this time of year. Emily one of our student guides accompanied me for most of this visit. We enjoyed the students very much and they were chatty and very funny. Choy hopes to visit and study in Australia in about two years.
Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press This was the university’s own press where students are able to assist with the translation of foreign works. For instance I saw the complete works of William Shakespeare. There is Academic and Dictionary and Multi Language Publishing also. One of the highlights was a beautiful large handmade book depicting ancient dynasties all in a fold out style across a large table. I found this written work to be a piece of artwork and it was extraordinary the detail that had gone into this article.
After getting back onto our bus, feeling cold and exhausted, the day was not yet over. We soon headed out to dinner, walking in the snow again where we were directed to a noodle bar. We had noodles of course and I enjoyed a cold light beer. Beer is cheaper than water, go figure that one out. After dinner we walked back in the snowstorm to a little theatre company and watched an acrobatic performance about the history of Beijing. We were all excited to be going to see a Chinese Kung Fu performance. It was definitely not what we had expected.
After the show ended we climbed on board our bus and headed to our hotel. Once we arrived Jan and I and Roslyn and Cathy one of our guides and her husband Den all went across the road to enjoy a foot massage. Cathy got us all a free gift hand and arm massage included in our price. It was then time to say goodnight as we were all very tired and I personally could barely keep my eyes open.
Despite our aching feet, we are having a ball here in Beijing.
Our days have been filled with activities, sightseeing and educational experiences. The Forbidden City with its opulence and mystique was fascinating; a window into old-world China and the absolute power of the ancient ruling dynasties. Following our morning visit we were treated to a traditional Chinese welcome lunch complete with shadow puppet show—they were both magnificent.
In the afternoon, local students at the Beijing Foreign Language University welcomed us enthusiastically and were keen to show us around their campus before joining us for an enjoyable lecture by Dr Qin MA on the do’s and don’ts of Chinese Business Etiquette. On the same campus we also visited the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press Centre before heading off to an entertaining performance by acrobats, contortionists and a tap-dancing juggler.
Our third day was all about the children. We had the opportunity to visit a social enterprise space dedicated to assisting the mental and social welfare of many thousands of rural children who have been left in the care of their grandparents and extended family when their parents come to the cities to work. We then travelled to Beijing No 7 Middle School. This also is an opportunity for bright children from rural areas to come to the city to study. It is highly sought after and the children work very long hours each day to achieve good scores on the National Exam and ensure a good placement for their further studies. These children are all teenagers and most of them have had little Western contact and are very shy. Our appearance certainly elicited some excitement and many of our younger students were mobbed like movie stars.
This morning was a particular highlight as we made our way up to the Great Wall. There had been heavy snow overnight so the trees and the battlements were adorned with white and the scenery was spectacular. It was a moving experience, both in terms of the sheer magnitude of the structure and its position atop so many high mountains and also in the sad history of the many thousands of Chinese workers who remain buried in the granite. They were simply buried where they fell; many Chinese say the Wall is the world’s largest cemetery.
There are many more exciting days ahead, but for now, a hot cup of tea and some quiet refection is in order.
Written by Jan Farrell
Nihâo from China.
After a delayed start we finally arrived into a wintry wonderland. White tipped trees and snow-covered rooftops greeted us at every turn on our hour-long trip from the airport. After a traditional dumpling lunch our tour guides accompanied us on our explorations around the city.
Beijing’s public transport system is fast and efficient but a little more complex than we are used to. Changing lines every two or three stops is not unusual and mostly requires you to negotiate a myriad of subway tunnels and stairs, stairs and more stairs.
The people are friendly and warm although you need to take care when travelling in small groups. Two of us were lucky not to fall prey to a band of scammers this evening when we went out for a quick bite. Had it not been for the sage advice of our leader Dr. Mark Finn, we could well have found our spending money severely diminished.
The group have bonded well and are all looking forward to tomorrows itinerary; a day filled with culture and learning. First up we are off to the Forbidden City followed in the afternoon by a trip to Beijing Foreign Studies University and a Kung Fu performance in the evening. But for now, a soft pillow and a comfortable bed beckon and we are all in need of a good sleep.
Written by Jan Farrell
At the end of a long year of study it is a real buzz to be associated with an overseas Study Tour. Most of the 23 students on the Future Leaders tour heading to China next week met for the first time at the opening workshop on November 4th. However, you wouldn’t have guessed it from the energy, ease of conversation and enthusiasm that flowed around the room. That positive flow certainly augurs well for a jam packed global adventure that is designed to enhance our learning and personal growth and allows ample time for us to have fun. For most of us the learning has already begun via research into the chosen theme that will form the focus of our particular discipline during our in-country experience. For my own part, it has been helpful in creating a broader perspective on Chinese culture. Not long to go now, it will be a busy ten days; my suitcase is out, I’m planning the pack and trying very hard to keep a lid on the excitement factor.