They stayed in Shanghai, Yangzhou and Beijing and some smaller towns in the neighbourhood. All 28 students chose the major Asian Business Studies, which is new at Avans.
The first town that was visited, Shanghai, was very impressive. ‘It was spectacular, with enormous buildings everywhere around, more than thirty levels was normal’, student Patrick Huijbregts mentions. In Beijing they saw all of the famous touristic attractions, like the Forbidden Town. An excursion to the Volkswagen factory was also part of the programme.
But in the streets behind the skyscrapers the Avans students díd see the poverty. It shocked them that the difference between rich and poor is so big in China. ‘In the Netherlands you don’t see that, everything is levelled over here’, Patrick says. They visited the Hutongs, the traditional houses in Beijing. ‘There you see how the Chinese live traditionally’, tells colleague students Niels Huinink.
To meet Chinese students they had dinner at the Wuxi University, that owns a big campus with a football station, swimming pool and several pubs. But the food at the school canteen was not a pleasure for everyone, it appears. ‘Disgusting’, student Joanne Chiu mentions, despite of the fact that she has Chinese roots, her parents are from Canton. ‘It was too salt en too cold.’ Her colleague student Patrick Huijbregts adds: ‘it was the first time in my life I didn’t have a clue what I was eating.’
Also the environment of the canteen didn’t please them. ‘It felt like a prison.’ For the Chinese students at this university it's daily bread. Studying in this communist country is not cheap and Chinese students have to be pleased with ‘prison-food’ and rooms shared with three other persons. The international students are luckier, they have their own room with a television and enough money to eat in one of the restaurants on the campus.
But the Chinese nightlife surprised the Avans students mostly. ‘Everything you ever dreamed of, comes true’, says Niels. Chinese nightclubs offer western students – average Chinese could never go there – luxury they‘re not used to. When they ordered a bottle of drink, they got a waiter with it, who stayed at their table all the time. The Avans students were pampered, and they loved it. ‘When we arrived in a new city we were eager to find out what the local nightlife had to offer’, Niels adds.
The students also found out what lack of freedom of speech means. One of the students had taken an Avans flag with him. They tried to make a picture of themselves with the flag on the places they visited, but that was a problem sometimes. ‘The Chinese police couldn’t read the words on the flag, so they didn’t allow it. It is a communist country, you know’, explains Patrick. They did manage to take a picture in front of the Temple of Heaven, in Beijing.
With the trip to China, teacher Yuxian Mao, realized her lang-held dream. She teaches Chinese at Avans. ‘I always wanted to show the students my country, because its so full of culture, it’s a beautiful country with nice people. She wants to do it again next year, but then her aims will be bigger. ‘It’s fine with me that the students enjoy nightlife, but next time I’ll give them more tasks.’ [PM]