Peking University

China Checklist

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Written by Eric Gong, Foster undergraduate

Here’s Five Things That I was able to do:

1. Got a Bike (Early September)

In my last post, I briefly mentioned my bicycle. However, I wasn’t able to pay the full respects that its due. This is my way of amending that. 



I’m borrowing the bicycle from distant relatives here in Beijing, which is what it looks like  too. The relatives live near the Beijing Zoo, so I was able to ride from around there back to school. Despite all the people and cars, I enjoyed the opportunity to ride a bike again. Walking around everywhere was getting a little old. And it was fun to see some of the city.

Most people’s first reaction to my bike is usually laughter—though I don’t find it all that funny. I think people must be under the impression that I actually bought the thing, which in that case would be that I’ve been swindled out of my mind. Really, if this wasn’t a family artifact, then I’d have to get paid to ride it. But hey, it looks pretty nice. Picture me riding.

2. Olympic Stadium (Early October)

I vividly remember watching the 2008 Olympics and really like the Olympics in general, so dropping by here really was a no-brainer. We didn’t actually go in the stadium*, so I wasn’t able to do my Usain Bolt impression. Maybe that’s for the better


*Decided against it cause of money and time

3. They Could Be Royals (Early October)

I was also able to visit the Summer Palace, which ended up being one of my favorite places. Unfortunately, I forgot to put in the memory into my camera when I left. That meant that my phone was left up to the duty of pictures. To my surprise, it was more than up to the task. The views inside really were spectacular.




4. Biked Across the City (Mid October)

I got the crazy thought that cycling across Beijing with the school’s cycling club would be a good idea. So we left at 9:00 pm and I got back to my room at around 2:00am. The last 10 kilometers was the worst part because cause there were no sights to left to see and I wanted to sleep. Despite this and the pollution,I thought the experience was a good one. It was fun being able to see this city at night, including Tienanmen Square andthe lights at 后海. And hey, I got some exercise in as well. The 50 kilometer trip was well worth it.

5. APEC Holiday

Thanks to the APEC Conference that was being held, all the students in Beijing got an extra five days off at the beginning of November. I spent that time at 张家界 with some classmates. 张家界 is said to be the inspiration behind the film Avatar. I’ve never watched the film, so I’ll let you be the judge of that.


Second Chances

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Written by Eric Gong, Foster undergraduate

Yup, I gave it another try. After I tried 臭豆腐 (stinky tofu) in Taiwan a few years ago, I swore that I would never try it again. It tasted just like how it smelled and I honestly despised the taste. It looks as if my resolve has weakened over time. My food philosophy has evolved over time. Local foods and fermented foods are both of greater interest to me.  臭豆腐 fit into both of these categories, so when I was in 长沙, I decided to go for this local specialty*.


*Hard to see in the picture, but this type of 臭豆腐 came in a soup. It is made differently than the Taiwanese kind. It smells about the same though.

One of my friends gave his assessment and I think it sums it up pretty well: “It just tastes like tofu”. I’d agree that it really just tasted like tofu, green onions, and chili peppers. It’s the after-taste that’s special; lingers in the mouth for quite a while, which was certainly not a plus for me. But 臭豆腐 has now moved into a zone closing to acceptance. I’m still not fond of it, but this polarizing Chinese snack could probably warrant a few more tries from me.

Climate Challenges in China

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Written by Eric Gong, Foster undergraduate

Beijing’s air can get really dirty, and when it does, it stays dirty for days at a time. The pollution puts a hazy tone on everything. It really is no fun when it happens. It’s too hazardous to go running. People have to wear masks*. The smog clouds the sun. Everything is gray.


*Without one, some people start coughing. It’s never been that severe for me. But for me, my throat feels really dry and I start to feel my lungs

For reference, Seattle’s Air Quality Index is a 40 on a bad day. Beijing on a good day is around 100. However, there are the very best days, which are around 40. But then the winds blow the smog away. And everything changes.  Beijing is better when the skies blue. But the gray ones make us appreciate the wind.




Amazing China!

Monday, November 15th, 2010
Mark Peking 2Hello, my name is Mark, and I am a Finance and CISB major currently studying in Beijing at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management for Fall 2010. The two months has been challenging as well as very fun—getting an apartment settled, deciding on classes, integrating into the culture, and meeting other students from around the world. The classes here are all taught by professors who were educated in Europe or in America, with a lot of the professors being quite young. I’m taking some finance classes, such as difficult Project Finance, as well as an equivalent of OPMGT 301, as well as some interesting classes such as Doing Business in China and Chinese Economy.

Guanghua Main Building -- Peking University

Guanghua Main Building -- Peking University

Beijing is a very vibrant and interesting city with an official population of around 20 million people! However, I just live a bus away from campus near a subway station, so getting around is quite convenient.

These photos are pictures of Beijing, and some from Tibet, where I went for the weeklong National Day Holiday. China is a very spectacular country where you can experience some of the highest mountains in the world, along with 21st century cities. It is also amazing to see how fast it is developing, with buildings appearing almost overnight. Surprising to some people, Beijing becomes very cold in the winter. It already has been dipping as low as 0°C (32°F), which is far cry from the 30°C (87°F) I experience when I first arrived!
Potala Palace -- Lhasa, Tibet

Potala Palace -- Lhasa, Tibet





Saturday, February 27th, 2010

My name is Katie Gray, and I’m a CISB student on exchange in Chile for Spring Semester.  Well, I’ve been in Santiago about 3 days and I’m already shaking things up!  Talk about making waves!

EarthquakeOk, enough.  First and foremost, I am alright, and so is everyone else I know here in Chile so far.  I am very lucky to be living in a nice part of town with solid architecture that was built with earthquakes (terremotos in spanish) in mind.  I am so grateful that I had the fortune to come across this family, who were not only level-headed, but were well prepared with loads of candles and a radio to listen to updates on, for when the power went out during the quake. However, all our thoughts go out to everyone who was not lucky enough to be in a well-built structure during the quake.  I know there isn’t a lot of damage here in this part of town, but everyone here is thinking about the people who were living in areas that may have gotten hit harder.

So, in case anyone is interested, here’s what happened.  I am still feeling like I’m on Tucson time, and for those who know me as the night owl I am, you can imagine that I’ve had a pretty hard time getting to bed before 4am here the last few nights (which is about midnight in Tucson time).  The family’s two sons, Rodrigo and Javier, were having friends over for a little get-together last night, and they invited me to come out and socialize with them.  So we were all in the backyard at 4am when the earthquake hit.  It took a few seconds to dawn on me what was happening.  There were about 15 or 20 of us in and outside the house, and everyone immediately rushed outside and huddled together in a circle and held hands while we waited for it to pass.  I’m told it lasted for 3 minutes, which is an incredibly long time to be wondering if the Earth is about to open and swallow you up.  The most fascinating image that I will remember until the day I die was of the pool in their backyard, which was twisting sideways back and forth like a mobius strip, emptying out probably half of its water in the process. Incredible.

They are saying that at the epicenter the quake registered at as 8.8, and I think here in Santiago it was an 8.0.  Thinking about this really makes me feel fortunate to have been in a place that is well prepared for earthquakes.  To give you a frame of reference, the quake that hit Haiti in January registered as a 7.0–so many tens of times less intense.  But the immense damage was sustained due to their poor construction and infrastructure.  Luckily, much like the Bay Area, Chile is better prepared than a lot of other countries for such disasters.  As Maria said, better it happen here than in somewhere like Bolivia or Peru.

Immediately following, everyone was pretty out of it for a few seconds, and then all of a sudden, it was like we all came back to life at once, and people started hugging each other and crying and getting on their phones to call their families.  It was then that everyone really started to freak out, because the power had gone out (on purpose–it’s one of Chile’s many earthquake safety measures), and all the phone lines were down, so no one could get in touch with their loved ones, and some people were getting really worried.  There was one guy at the party, who is easily big and tough-looking enough to be a bouncer, who was in the corner bawling because all his family lives in Conception, where the epicenter of the earthquake was.  My thoughts to him and his family.

All in all, I probably got to bed a little before 7am this morning.  I woke up at 1pm, noting that last night did not do anything to actually help me achieve my goal of setting my body clock forward a few hours…but then again, I just don’t think it was meant to happen last night.  Tonight however…

On a side note, last night during the 3 hours where everyone was just milling around and talking by candle light, it occured to me that I was incredibly hungry.  Like, emergency chocolate hungry.  Even after my post yesterday, I never imagined that I would ever actually have to use the chocolate for an emergency, but with the power out and not a lot of food to go around with such a full house, I decided it was time to use up the rest.  Luckily it did the trick, and now I have learned my lesson.  I will never take emergency chocolate for granted again. Amen.

Check natural disaster off the life list.

Que les vayan bien.

China’s 60 Year Anniversary

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Sophia2A month and a half has never flown by so fast in my life, and yet I still feel like I have so much of the city to explore. I would never be bored here. Living in Beijing, I came to realize that even if I went to see ten historical sites a day, I would still not be able to see everything within my semester here in the capital of China. The city is a mixture of the modern and the ancient. Of new-ideals and strong traditions. When talking to the younger generation of China, I noticed that their thinking contrasts so much with that of the older Mao-generation.

Just recently I had the pleasure of witnessing China’s 60 year anniversary. I’ve never been to another country quite like this one. The day before October 1st, the government launched chemicals into the sky so the whole city faced heavy rainfall all day. The next morning I woke up and saw that their plan has worked: Perfect weather. Beautiful blue sky, sunny, cloudless, warm, with a nice breeze. In the month I’ve been in Beijing, I have never seen such nice weather before. This lasted the whole week of the Chinese anniversary. The day of the anniversarySophia (1) the government closed off all of the city center and recommended all families to stay home. My roommate and I tried exploring the city, and it was uncomfortably quite. Not a single car driving past, no street vendors within eye sight, and nobody out on the street. We tried to go to Tiananmen Square where the huge parade was going on, but everywhere security guards stood across the street to block every intersection into city center. Later that day I heard that the Chinese government also canceled all flights in and out of Beijing’s capital airport. That was crazy to imagine. In total, they spent over 60 billion rmb on the parades, which equals to about 9 billion usd. On TV I watched the parades that lasted all day- from when I woke up 9am until midnight. Every public transportation I took, they were playing songs about the “great Motherland” and “I love China”. I couldn’t but help wonder how much of this was just for show.

Anyhow, it was a great experience to see this all take place, since it’s so different from what I’m used to seeing in the States.


Shanghai in Construction

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

BAD NEWS: My trip to Tibet was canceled.

GOOD NEWS: I went to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing for ½ the cost of the Tibet trip.

Shanghai in Construction #2During the Mid-Autumn Festival, the first week of October, I was supposed to go to Tibet. However, for security reasons, the Government decided to have a quota on how many foreigners can enter Tibet during the national holiday. Unfortunately, we did make it in to the list. I was very disappointed because I’ve always wanted to go to Tibet, to walk around the Potala Palace, to see Mt. Everest’s with my bare eyes.

Since there is no other option, I decided to take a trip to Shanghai and the surrounding cities of Suzhou, Hangzhou and Nanjing with couple of friends from the exchange program. We boarded the train from Beijing the day after my last class. After 14 hours of lying down on the hard-sleeper bunk, we arrived in Nanjing. Nanjing used to be theShanghai in Construction #3 Capital city of China, so it is rich with cultural relics. The following days we visited Hangzhou and Suzhou, which are known for their beautiful lake and river.

Finally, we spent the last three days in Shanghai. I really enjoyed Shanghai. There is a very long shopping street called: Nanjing jie, which is filled with designer’s stores but there are still affordable shops. However, with the upcoming World Expo, there is a lot of Construction to be done. You are able to see construction sites throughout the City. Even though I was in the middle of the construction, I really enjoyed Shanghai scenery, shopping, and Shanghai’s world-famous-dumplings.

Shanghai in Construction

Beijing! Beijing!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009


So… after 5 hour of a plane ride, 1.5 hour of bus ride and 15 minutes of taxi ride, I finally arrived at my apartment in Beijing. This is actually my third time in Beijing, so I am quite familiar with the city, how to get around, what to eat, and what to NOT eat. Even though this is not my first time here, I am still very excited to be a student at Peking University, the best university in CHINA! The smartest of the smartest of 1.3 billion people attend this school, so I am, at the same time, excited and nervous to be around these brains.

Yesterday (Sept. 14, 09) was the first day of class. I had information economics in the morning and operation management at night—from 7-10pm. The professors here are very young. I was expecting some 50-year-old Chinese in a traditional button up shirt, but instead I got some 20-year-old looking guy in a H&M’s style jacket for my information economics class.

Many of my classmates are exchange students from all around the world, but surprisingly about 80% of them are from Europe. I was expecting more exchange students to be from the US, but there is only a handful. I also made friends with local Chinese students.

During the break in the evening’s Operation Management class, I had a conversation with a local student who sat behind me. I asked him about the typical life of a typical Peking University student. I learned that they study a lot. Some of the students can study 14 hours straight per day! To deal with this studymania, the school completely turns off the electricity in the dormitory at 11pm. But this doesn’t prevent these studious students from over studying; many of them go to the nearest McDonalds to study—most McDonalds are 24hour in China.

I used to think that I am a hard-working student, but after hearing this, I felt very lazy.

However, there is more stuff to do other than study in Beijing. I went to the Great Wall, Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven last week with my new German, Korean, Australian, Romanian, Italian, Spanish, and French friends. And I will be going to Tibet by train in 2 weeks!