Golden Week National Holiday

After four weeks of adjusting to campus life, settling into class schedules and tackling the steady inflow of assignments, the Golden Week National holiday provide the perfect opportunity to be able to go exploring around nearby provinces and soak up some more of the Chinese culture.

The Golden Week National Holiday was from 1 October to 7 October and is arranged so that workers in Chinese companies always have seven continuous days of holiday and enable them the opportunity to travel and help expand the domestic tourism market, improve the national standard of living and allow people to make long-distance family visits. With this in mind, my Polish friend Gosia and I decided that we would make our contribution to the domestic tourism market and travel to the city of Wuhan situated in neighbouring Hubei province.

We decided that we wanted to experience as much Chinese culture as possible during the week which started with catching a local train from Nanchang to Wuhan. The train ride was a 10 hour round trip and, being the only foreigners on the train, provided the perfect opportunity to meet some new friends and practice by very basic Chinese I learned in class.Nanchang_station friends_on_train

Once we had arrived in Wuhan, our cultural experience continued as we checked into our hostel where we shared a room with four other Chinese girls. All of the girls were extremely nice and very excited to be sharing a room with two foreigners!  After initial introductions and getting to know our roommates, we all went to dinner together and we were able to help each other with our Chinese skills and our new friends with their English.

The next morning we set out to explore the sites of Wuhan. Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province and is it most populous city in central China. It is a city rich in history and is where Mao Tse-tung formed and developed the Chinese Communist party, therefore the first place on our list to visit was the Hubei Provincial Museum  which contained many historical artefacts and details about Chairman Mao’s contribution to the communist revolution as well as artefacts from the tomb of Marquis Yi (Zenghouyi), who lived in the 5th century B.C.

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Over the next few days we also visited Wuhan University which is one of the largest and most picturesque campuses in China, Yellow Crane tower, Boatong temple and strolled along the banks of the Yangtze River.

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We are all Students and Teachers to each other

One month of my student exchange has gone already!  Time certainly does fly when you’re having fun!

Classes are in full swing at JUFE and I can finally say that I am feeling a lot more settled, am getting into a weekly routine and am becoming more accustomed to the language and cultural differences of China.

When signing up for my classes, the first thing I noticed was that class timetables run very differently at JUFE than at CSU. Classes are scheduled to start at 8am each morning and some days they run as late as 9pm at night making for a couple of very long days in my schedule!

I have chosen to study Corporate Finance, Public Finance, International Business, Chinese Business Culture, International Business Negotiation and Chinese Language, which is by far the most challenging of all of my classes!  We have started with learning Chinese Pin Yin which is the official phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet.  Pin Yin consists of three parts: initials, finals and tones. The tones are very important and they give the seemingly identical pin yin words different meanings. For example, ma when pronounced with a neutral tone means mum, with an accelerated tone means numb, with high to low tone means horse and with a short, sharp tone means scold!  I will definitely have to be careful putting this into practice when speaking with the Chinese people!

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While facing challenges whilst learning to master the Chinese language was expected, what I was surprised about was the diversity of cultural knowledge I was to learn during my business classes.  Although these classes are taught by English speaking lectures, quite often they struggle to translate their teachings from Chinese into English and this is where the students become the teachers as we help them with English words, pronunciation on meanings.business_class finance_class

I am also fortunate to be study with many other exchange students from a diverse variety of countries and as a result the lectures often ask us to make correlations about the similarities and differences between China’s business policies and practices and those of our home countries.  This has provided an excellent opportunity for each student to teach other students about the practices of their home country as well as an opportunity for me to extend my knowledge of business and trade practices and policies from Germany, Austria, Poland, Sweden and America.  My fellow students are also very interested in the Australian business culture and are often amazed at the significant differences between Australia and their home countries.  I am really looking forward to learning more from my teachers and fellow students alike during my time at JUFE!

Irish Slang

I’m back again! So I’ve been away from home for exactly 2 months now and been living in Limerick for 6 weeks. It’s strange to me how easily I’ve started to fit into Irish culture, at first the way everybody talked and acted seemed strange, but now I find it normal and even caught myself doing some of it.

For example Irish people say the word “grand” all the time, I’m grand, you’re grand, everything is grand. Fun fact, if something is grand, it is not as good as when something is great, which makes no sense. It’s probably because they throw out the word grand every 5 seconds it loses its meaning.

My other favourite Irish saying is “no bother”. It’s just so easy! None of this “ oh don’t worry about it” “ oh your fine! Haha”. Just no bother move on. If somebody bumps into you “no bother”. If someone steals part of your traditional Irish meal of chips with a side of chips “no bother”. If someone hits you with a truck “no bother”. If someone steels your pint of Guinness…. Ok no then you have a problem.  It’s simple subtle changes, but it really makes you feel like your part of the culture when you start using it.

Classes are also in full swing here, I’ve discovered that many of my courses consist of a group project and an exam, with an essay sometimes. Although the concept of having to form a group to work in is initially daunting, I’ve met some cool people, both Irish and international. Also all of my teachers are so welcoming to the international kids and they all offered to help us find people to work with.

Last Friday we went to a Munster Rugby game locally in Limerick, which was a really strange experience. Firstly the crowd was really close to the players. Secondly when a player went to kick the whole crowd went silent, no matter what the team. There was just another level of respect that I’ve never experienced at a sporting event before.

12067822_10153271323255208_1502202654_nThe following day we went to Galway, which excited me muchly because my favourite Irish song is Galway girl. I think the high point of Galway was firstly seeing the sea for the first time in months and secondly sitting in a pub watching Australia kick England out of their own Rugby world cup. Super satisfying.

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I’ve had a blast being so close to the UK when the world cup is being hosted in England, it’s been a really fun atmosphere here. Another Irish saying that I’ve picked up at Irish rugby matches is “Come on lads”, which in the Irish accent is MON LADS. Just shout that whenever and you sound like a professional Irish rugby enthusiast.

The next weekend I spent the day seeing cork and Blarney castle. Here’s me kissing the Blarney stone and gaining the “gift of the gab”.  Basically now I’m super eloquent and have the ability to talk for ages about nothing. Score.

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This looks ok but is actually terrifying, like there is a man holding you there so you don’t fall to your death. Ok I’m exaggerating slightly. It was grand. No bother.

I enjoyed cork as well, but I have to say I’ve become a bit of a castle enthusiast since I’ve been here so I really enjoyed the first part of the day wondering around the grounds.

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Also apparently I’m scared of horses

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