After the extended weekend, classes started again on Tuesday. We also had a speaker from Generation UK who talked about scholarships for all kind of program levels, though, as I am not British citizen I am not eligible for this kind of support so I did not go there. I think on Tuesday afternoon I was doing some work for University or some other project, but either way I took it slow.
On Wednesday, we had our last culture class and we continued with all things business. We covered the laws and how Chinese businesses work with them. I cannot remember too much actually, but, as always, it was quite interesting how different the Chinese state does things.
On Thursday, we had a free afternoon as well and Oliver and I took up the offer from Fang for a museum visit. We went to the national (!) museum of tea which was nearby and saw all the different kinds of tea (there are so many!). It was very interesting and we even had a tea tasting (I think Fang set that up for us) with all the ceremony and things. In the end, I bought some Jasmine tea which is something like a flower you put into hot water which then expands and looks really, really nice. In the evening we went to a Sichuan Hotpot meal with the Chinese volunteer students. You have two “hotspots” in the middle of the table which are heated up. One is just hot water and the other one is chilli water which over time gets very, very spicy (I do not know how exactly, but it gets reaaaaally spicy). You order lots of different food and put it into the hotpot which surprisingly cooks the food very fast. Also, sharing food is the common way to go out for dinner. You order different bits and everyone can take them into their own little bowl. It’s very different to the European way of going out for a dinner, but also a very fun one! Finally, in the end we took a nice group photo and went back to the campus.
Friday was our last official day at the University and of the program as a whole. We had language classes in the morning, though, because we had our exam already on Thursday morning, we were discussing Chinese culture with our teacher, who was incredibly nice and brought us each a single gift! We also rehearsed our performance for the closing ceremony and the afternoon was once again free. The ceremony began in a local hotel at about 5pm and we had typical Chinese food on a round table and soon after we heard some speeches. After that each class had its performance, beginning with class A, my class. With these things, it is always a definite yes or definite no of how and even if people participate. Luckily, everyone joined in and we did have a great time. At about 8, the ceremony closed (we also got our certificates for the courses and all) and we went back to campus.
So, we had one night left in Hangzhou, what do you do? Well, we decided to go up to Laohe Shan one last time. I organised a group, we went to the shop before and then headed up. I remember that there was a gate which was open during and the day and I feared it might be closed during the night. Well, it was closed! When we arrived, we saw a Chinese couple on the other side trying to get out. We actually managed to get her out by beding the gates against each other, but he was stuck. Long story short, someone had the idea to just lift the gate. NOT KIDDING. The gate had a big chain and was all locked, but you could just lift it and put it on the side. This basically describes my whole experience of China, haha. Everything is well done (or copied from somewhere else), but due to the missing understanding of the concept behind something, the quality is lacking. It might sound a bit “Western” to say that and it’s always easy to point out mistake instead of pointing out things which are well done. But this concept of copying without the deeper understanding stems from an agenda coming from the top. Just last week, the Chinese government announced a plan to become the world’s best football country by 2050. They will invest money and they will train a lot of Chinese football players and pick the best. But, as long as they do not import the intellectual property, the understanding of how to win at football, just copying the appearance will not be enough. (China has been successful with these strategy at the olympics, so it does work here or there). Once again, it’s easy to point out mistakes and I am very interested in how Chinese people think of Europe and the US and if they can see any “mistakes” there.
ANYWAY, we lifted the gate and switched sites with the Chinese couple who just looked at us in disbelief. We made our way up to the top (some 800 steps) and enjoyed the (unfortunately polluted) view of the campus and all around. It was fascinating to see the city from the top at night. You could spot all the big places, West Lake and the temple. We descended at about 11pm and sooner or later went to sleep, because our shuttle left at 6am.
This is it. These where the three weeks of StudyChina UK at Zhejiang University. I did not put much effort into reviewing the things I wrote so these articles are my honest and authentic opinion I would tell you if you would ask me on the street. I COULD go on and discuss all the little details and the politics and the business and the people. And I might do in the future. But I wanted to separate my off the top of my head experience from the reflections, because that way it is easier to enjoy the fun bits and more effective and helpful to discuss the details.
My trip did not end there, I went on to Hong Kong and Shanghai for two days, see the other articles!