July 17, 2013, by Tony Hong
Life in China in comparison to other places that I have visited
By Harvinder Singh Sandhu,
Studying Finance, Accounting and Management at the University of Nottingham UK.
Ni Hao! Having completed my second year of study at the University of Nottingham, I felt that this was my last opportunity to travel abroad to study in a different country. When I heard about the opportunity of a two-week summer school in China, I felt that it would be the perfect opportunity for myself to experience a different culture and learn more about China as a rising superpower.
When I first arrived I travelled to Ningbo from Shanghai with the friendly reps. During the three-hour journey to Ningbo I began to make comparisons to other places that I had visited around the world. India seemed to be my closest comparison, however China seemed a projection of what India would look like in years to come (in terms of buildings and infrastructure).
I have enjoyed everything about my trip to China, in particular the trips to Hangzhou and Shanghai. In Hangzhou we visited the West Lake, which was really beautiful. This was built up of traditional Chinese buildings. Although it was raining that day, there was still a huge amount of people who came to see the famous lake. Shanghai was exactly as I expected and I would definitely visit there again; it is a modern city with evidence of western influences in the architecture of the buildings. The view from the pearl tower is something that I will always remember as I am a huge fan of skyscrapers.
The night life in Ningbo and Shanghai is very different to that of the UK, however I would highly recommend to those visiting China to experience going to Chinese clubs and playing the dice game. The Chinese people in these bars and clubs are friendly and welcoming to foreigners and drinks appear to be just as costly as those in the UK.
In comparison, I found it astonishing how cheap many things are in China. For a 30-minute taxi it would cost 30/40 RMB, which is approximately £3/4. The same length journey in the UK would be at least 10 times as much. In addition to this I also felt that the food in China was cheaper. Having visited many restaurants, both Chinese and western, I felt that 50 RMB per person at a good restaurant would be enough for a huge variety of dishes. Switzerland is probably the most expensive place I have visited with Western restaurant meals such as McDonalds costing approximately £15. In China these prices seemed similar to the UK and USA, which was pleasing.
My last comparison of China to other places that I have visited is that not as many people speak fluent English as I would have thought. After speaking to a Chinese student studying at University of Nottingham Ningbo, I was told that only students studying at University at this moment in time are expected to learn English. So I believe that in generations to come, more and more Chinese people will be speaking English.
I also tried to learn Mandarin, which I found difficult. There are numerous meanings to simple words depending on the tone at which they are spoken. When I get back to the UK I aim to study Chinese as I found it challenging and also very interesting.
My overall experience of China has been wonderful and I highly recommend the summer school and China as a whole to anyone wishing to visit. I have learnt a lot about the Chinese culture in terms of history, food, language etc, that will enable me to view things from a different perspective in the future. I will definitely visit China again in the near future, as I would like to see the Great Wall of China; hopefully I am able to speak a little more Chinese on my return!