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Greetings from Abroad-China

By Aaron Holmberg
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

June 20, 2006

Travel Journal

Here I am rolling across the plains of China in a big metal box stuffed full of people. I have been in this contraption for the last 12 hours, and I am happy to say that I have only five more hours left. I have been sleeping during the majority of my trip into the “countryside.” I am on my way to visit Dr. Zhong’s parents’ house for the long weekend.

The last few days have been filled with fun and excitement. Randy Pickelman, one of my dad’s coworkers and a friend of mine, came to Shanghai on a quick business trip Sunday night. My parents talked him into bringing a bundle of stuff for me, so I received a care package from home, which was greatly appreciated. I met him at his hotel Sunday, and his Chinese coworker Steve took us out for the evening. We started out with a nice meal at a fancy restaurant that Mr. Zanman graciously paid for. Then Mr. Zanman showed Randy the critical tourist sights, like the Pudong district and Nanjing Road.

On Monday evening I went out with Randy and two of his Chinese coworkers to a new restaurant. It had been finished no more than a few days before we ate there. It was kind of funny watching the new guy in China push his food around the plate with his chopsticks. Steve ordered us a small bottle of white wine to go with dinner. It ended up being one of the nastiest things I have let pass these lips so far. 

After we got done eating, we went our separate directions. I walked down the street to a nice little café that had the World Cup on TV. I came to find out that the café’s only customers were a bunch of American girls. They were from New Jersey and were just across the street from the college at which they would be performing during the next six weeks. It was interesting talking to them. They mentioned that their instructor told them there was a terrorist alert for Beijing and Shanghai, and they should not go into any American restaurants during their visit. I find this humorous and think it is a creative way of forcing students into fully experiencing the Chinese culture.
It is starting to get light already and I can see the countryside zip by my window as we travel along. It is amazing because China uses every square meter of land on its countryside. It seems there isn’t a plot of land without a crop planted or a little house built. The land does look really fertile though because there is water and green everywhere. I recently read that compared to America, China produces more crops with less land.

I almost forgot to mention that I have officially jointed the Shanghai pedal-biker gang. There isn’t really a gang but I have been covering a lot of ground on borrowed bikes lately. I had a 10-speed for a while that was really nice. I rode about 30 km one night on the way home from work. The next day my backside wasn’t feeling so good from the seat so I took to running and ended up lost for about four hours. I covered a lot of ground in two days. 

The IAESTE chapter contacted me for the first time since I have been in town. I was invited to the apartment where most of the IAESTE interns stay. It was fun to meet some of the other interns who are in town for the summer. There were students from countries all over the world. I met people from India, Texas, France, Greece, Italy, Russia and Slavonia.

Aaron H.

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