Reflecting on the Student Experience – China 2019

“The China trip was a great experience from the first day to the end. The planned itinerary, the business visits and the free time to (wander) around is definitely memorable and (a) wonderful experience.” 

Continue reading to see student testimonials and photos from the study tour.

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Cultural Visits

Nazarian College International Study Group students, along with Professors Tao “Eric” Hu and Kunpeng Li, stand in front of the entrance to the Tsingtao Beer Museum while holding a CSUN Nazarian College banner. (Qingdao, 2019)

Nazarian College students were also able to enjoy a variety of cultural expeditions while traveling in China. They started with some popular spots in Qingdao, including the Tsingtao Beer Museum, St. Michael’s Cathedral and the May Fourth Square. 

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Business and University Visits

Nazarian College International Study Group students, along with Professors Tao “Eric” Hu and Kunpeng Li, gather in front of the Qingdao Dellware Refrigeration Co., Ltd entrance while holding a CSUN Nazarian College banner. (Qingdao, 2019)

During their time in Qingdao and Beijing, our students visited one university and multiple businesses, where they were able to learn about how each individual business operates. Their first stop was Qingdao Dellware Refrigeration Co., Ltd in Qingdao, a commercial refrigerator manufacturing company and certified supplier to well-known companies such as Pepsi, Haagen-Dazs, and Coca Cola. 

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Meet Our Students – China 2019

The 2019 CSUN International Study Tour took 24 students from the Nazarian College to the country of China from May 31 to June 10. They visited numerous business and cultural locations in the coastal city of Qingdao and the capital of Beijing. Click “learn more” to watch a video introducing our students from this year’s trip and the professors who accompanied them.

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Reflecting on the Student Experience – China 2018

Below are testimonials from several of the students that participated in the International Study Tour – China 2018.

Explore the photo album of the entire trip here.

“Professionally, this trip has provided me with better communication skills and expanded my network. It has also provided me with a more global mindset which will help me make important decisions in the future.

Personally, I have gained so much more. I learned how to depend on myself and my skills. I gained confidence in myself and my peers. My previous notions about China were all false and I have made that change. I also learned so much more about myself, my abilities, and my limits. My goals and aspirations also became clearer as a result of this trip.”

“Professionally, I have gained knowledge of how one of the other superpowers of the world works and I have seen how globalization has helped economies rise. I was able to visit the Shanghai Stock Exchange and as a finance major this was very interesting and I appreciate the experience. After visiting China and gaining this experience I would like to work on an international level. To be successful in business, professionals have to be knowledgeable of other cultures and have to be able to understand them as well. The cultural experience I had has changed my perception of the world and I look forward to gaining more experiences like these in the future.

Personally, I feel enlightened and I am more grateful for the sacrifices my parents made to immigrate to the United States. When I was in China I was a foreigner and through that experience I was able to put myself in my parents shoes and I was able to understand how they felt when they came to the United States. For the first time in my life I was not able to read, write, or speak the language of the country I was in and I was able to understand the hardship my parents went through. Sharing experiences with the Chinese students was very interesting and humbling because we are all going through the same things and trying to better ourselves. I believe trips like this aid in combating the negative associations made with immigrants or with people who are of other ethnicities.”

“I have never visited a different country before so this trip was eye-opening. The language barrier made things a little difficult but we managed and were able to communicate through other means. I gained a higher level of appreciation for the U.S.A. I was unaware that other countries are deprived of everyday rights such as free access to the Internet. It was interesting talking with the students and seeing how they are scared to talk about certain topics. We have many opportunities in the U.S.A. and I will certainly not take any of them for granted.”

“Yes! I would recommend it to a friend… it is an opportunity everyone should try to experience and step out of their comfort zone to learn more about the world.”

“I would absolutely recommend this trip. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Not only did we get to experience a different culture, we had the opportunity to see what it was like to be a student in a different country and compare our experiences to theirs. It was also a great bonding experience among our own student group and we really got to make great friends that I hope will stay in contact for a very long time.”

“It was an amazing experience. I saw new things, tried new foods, and met new people. I do not think that it would have been possible to learn and experience as much as I did if I had went to China alone or on another type of tour. I feel that we did everything possible and I did not miss out on anything while in China. This trip also made me wish that I had studied abroad one of my semesters while in college.”

Day 12 – Our Last Day in China

Today is our last day in China. After breakfast, a few of us took pictures by all the cutout signs set up for Sanda University’s graduation ceremony. It was a bittersweet feeling because it finally hit us that we were actually leaving China. It felt like we were, in a way, graduating from the university.

Photo of Students at I Love Sanda U Sign

Initially, I didn’t think much of our dorms at the university. But after spending the previous week there, it became like my second home. To get from the Sanda University dorms to the Shanghai airport, we took a bus, then hopped onto a plane to Guangzhou. We spent over 6 hours at the Guangzhou airport, which we used to eat Chinese/American fast food and Burger King, as well as do some quick shopping to use up our yuan.

Photo of a Shop in the Airport

I wish we could’ve spent another week or two in China to explore the city because there was so much to see. The trip flew by so quickly. China was not what I imagined it to be, with its beautiful architecture, museums and gardens. Compared to LA, the metro and other public spaces were a lot cleaner in China. All the people we met at Sanda University were all so welcoming and friendly. It was especially interesting having conversations with the Chinese students who spoke to us about their education system, Chinese food and the Dragon Boat festival. I enjoyed all the food provided to us, as we always had many options of dishes to try. We never had a dull moment as we were always learning something new about Chinese culture and comparing it to our American culture. We encountered many culture shocks throughout these 10 days. For one, we realized that the Chinese preferred their squatting pans over our western pedestals because the stalls for the pedestals were almost always open. I thought we would be able to meet more individuals who knew fundamental English, but most Chinese were not able to understand us and vice versa. It definitely helped with our communication skills because we had to get by through body language and the occasional use of translators. One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to the theme park in Hangzhou where we walked around the theme park, dressed in silk kimonos. Inside the theme park, we were also able to watch the Romantic Show of Songcheng.

Photo of Students at Time Travel Park

This trip truly allowed us to be culturally immersed in China, and I’m excited for the next group that will be given the same opportunity as us.

Day 11 – A Rainy Visit to the Volkswagen Assembly Factory

When we woke up today the forecast called for rain, and rain it did. In California, we are not used to rainstorms. The rain was heavy and you were soaked if you went outside for a minute. There was also thunder and lightning with the rain. I have never heard such loud thunder before. You could hardly see the lightning but the thunder made up for it. It was quite the experience.

For breakfast we ate pork dumplings, a fruit salad, white bread, a banana, and green tea. I am not sure what exactly was in the fruit salad but I did like it. The pork dumplings have been my favorite breakfast dish thus far. On that note, I have realized that China does not have typical breakfast dishes as we do in the U.S. It seems as though you can have any type of food for any three meals of the day.

Photo of inside the bus 

After breakfast we took a bus to the Volkswagen Assembly Factory. This was amazing. I have never been inside a factory before and have never seen assembly lines. The entire time within the factory my Systems Operations Management class topics were running through my head. I was also amazed with the robotic style machines that they use within the factory. We witnessed the cars being assembled piece by piece and watched some aspects of the testing.

Photo of students at VW factory  

After the factory we went to the second Sanda University where the freshman study. The students played traditional Chinese instruments for us and then performed a traditional Chinese tea show. We were also given the opportunity to learn how to begin to play an instrument of our choice. I was surprised to learn that tuition for the Hospitality major is the most expensive at the school. The classes for this major consist of tea etiquette, horseback riding, golfing, etc. During this visit we also had a chance to speak with some students. The students spoke English well. My partner’s English name was Eva. It was interesting to learn that they have an English name in which they choose themselves. Eva grew up living at school, as most Chinese students do. She is studying International Economics and Trade. Students in China are only allowed to change their major once and it can only be done during their first year of college. Eva and I exchanged addresses and plan to become pen pals.

After the visit to the other campus, we returned to the main campus. We leave tomorrow so the evening was spent packing. We plan on visiting downtown Shanghai tonight for the final evening.

Day 10 – Case Studies & A Visit to Yu Garden

The day started off at 9am with the case presentations. There were 3 different topics on the case studies which were on K-pop, Xiaomi, and Uber specifically in China.

Student presenting case study Student presenting case study Student presenting case study

After the case presentations, we were left with the day with free activities. The group split into 3 different groups. One group left for Disneyland, the other left to the Yu Garden, and the last group left to downtown Shanghai. I left with the group to go to the Yu garden and do some shopping. During the day, it was pouring rain, but it was humid. This is nothing like the weather in California. What I liked about the trip to the Yu Garden is traveling through the subway because we are so used to having our own car and driving where we want to go.

What I take of this experience is that we are all people that live in different environments. There are different norms and morals that people follow but we are all just trying to live. What I found exceptionally moving was the act of crossing the street. When people are crossing the street the cars continue to pass. People in China see this as normal and do not worry about getting run over.

Day 9 – A Visit to Hanshan Temple in Suzhou

Today, we visited the Hanshan Temple in Suzhou, a Buddhist temple that locals and foreigners visit to pay their respects and make wishes. This is done by lighting incense, bowing in the three directions of each Buddhist temple, and placing the incense in a large box. People also gather to bow and pray to the large Buddha statues throughout the temple, as well as throw coins into a large tower in the courtyard as an offering. Experiencing a Buddha temple was humbling and fully immersive into a part of ancient Chinese culture that continues to thrive today.

Photo of students lighting candles

After visiting the temple, we moved on to visit the temple of the first king of the Wu Kingdom: Tiger Hill. This experience was coupled with urban legend which made walking up the hills to the main tower that much more entertaining. Hearing the legend about how the emperor, his soldiers, and weapons were buried among the hill made it exciting. Our tour guide spoke about how the son of the emperor was worried the laborers who buried the emperor would come back and steal the weapons and treasures that were buried with him. The son decided to throw a huge party for them that ended with their murder. Seeing the courtyard and the huge rock where legend has it that the laborers’ blood was spilled was interesting as well. These cultural experiences were definitely worth bearing the heat and humidity.


Day 8 – Tiger Hill and Canoeing

Today we went to Tiger Hill where the leaning tower of china is located. It was very culturally enriching. It all began with about a half a mile hike; as usual, we all made sure we were prepared once there. That sense of comradery – team work- once again in place. Something as simple as making sure everyone had bug spray brought us all together. As usual for every cultural tour we were told the history of the location or if there was a story or tale associated with that place.

Photo of students Photo of leaning tower of china

Later that day we were taken on a canoe ride down the Venice of china, where we actually saw a broken bridge (which I associated with the broken bridge tale we were told the day before). Besides the pleasant canoe ride, we were able to appreciate local foods and entertainment which was rather different than what we experience in the U.S. For example, we saw a man in a monkey mask doing a variety of poses and just watching and as usual – at this point no longer shocking- mopeds and motorcycles everywhere parked on the sidewalks and streets.

photo of venice of china photo of students

What I gathered, not only from this day but the whole trip, was that cultural acceptance is necessary and essential to be able to adapt to a new location successfully. In the real world one hopes that when you find a job somewhere, it is a place that you will be able to work at for a long period of time, but there is an existing culture  there. Of course, if there is room for improvement and you are able to contribute to the betterment of that culture then, go ahead and do so. Yet, if the circumstances don’t allow it or no change needs to be done, it is important to be able to adapt and incorporate yourself to that existing culture in the work place and in life, wherever that may take you. Therefore, I found this trip to be exceptionally useful in cultural immersion and I deeply appreciate the opportunity to be once again feel that culture shock. Some may find it uncomfortable, but I look at it as an opportunity to learn and further my knowledge of the world.