Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Only Waldo can go to China.

Nín hǎo!

My buddy Sam and I recently traveled to China as part of a travel abroad program for Visual Communication students. In addition to WSU, students from the University of Maryland and a couple of art and design universities in China participated. We sent eight days in Jinan, China.

As part of our trip we collaborated and created interesting graphic design pieces that we ultimately installed in a gallery at the Shandong University of Art and Design. The university hosted several different workshops and ours, the Visual Communication workshop, under the topic of Family and Growth, received first place. We explored the many differences between American and Chinese cultures.

In China, everything was different for the Americans. We stood out in a crowd and knew nothing of the local language, except “hello” and “thank you,” which don’t get you very far in casual conversation. Most of our communication with the non–English speaking Chinese felt like a game of charades (which is even tougher when you don't have opposable thumbs). It was interesting, but the language barrier was the main inhibitor of progress. It made the lectures and design process very slow. In the end though, everything was completed on time and looked great.

Mealtime was odd. The food was so much different from typical American cuisine (and our own “Chinese” food). Tastes and textures were often the exact opposite of what they appeared to be, which was both an ongoing joke as well as a bit of a disappointment. Some foods turned out to be delicious, though, and considering all the uncertainty, it was important to stock up on those few foods that we knew we liked.

All in all, the trip was amazing. It was a huge inconvenience to have left in the middle of the semester, but I would definitely do it all again.
Here is a small group of us students from our workshop. In this photo there are five students from Chinese universities, two students from the University of Maryland, and three of us from Weber State University.
This is the group from Weber State University during the gallery installation. From left: Britni, Sam DeMastrie, professor Biddle, Aaron, Monique, Jamie, and Kacey.

Gift–giving is a tradition in China, so everyone was very pleased when I handed out our bandanas. Little did I know, the Chinese have no idea what bandanas are, or what they are used for.

Lunchtime at the university. Food is always served buffet–style and ranges from fish to fresh fruit. It's difficult to describe real Chinese food to traditional Americans—all tastes, textures, and temperatures are so different from anything we're used to. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not.

My buddy Sam at the Confucius Temple. This is only one of many buildings that populate a very large complex full of ancient sculpture, architecture, and artifacts.

This critter at the end of my chopsticks is a scorpion. Surprisingly, it tasted a lot less offensive than some of the "normal" food.
Am I the best wingman or what? My buddy Sam with some of the design students from the other universities. I don't even want to think about what he spends on international calling.

 See the rest of my photos from the trip here.

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