Texas Tech University

Connor K. blog

 The last couple weeks of my life were spent traveling across China via the Texas Tech Agriculture and Applied Economics departmentally organized study abroad program. During these two weeks, I spent time in the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Hong Kong. This time spent in China was one of the most profound and insightful experiences of my life, providing many impactful memories that I will remember for the rest of my life. Through this travel blog, I aim to share what a positive experience I had in China in order to both reflect on my time spent abroad and encourage other would-be study abroad students to participate in this program in the future.

Beijing was the first city our study abroad group visited during this trip. We arrived in the afternoon after a lengthy flight and despite being fatigued by jet lag decided to have dinner together that night. This was our first introduction to Chinese cuisine straight from the homeland. The food was far different that I imagined it due to the Americanized "Chinese food" I was used to consuming back home in the states. However, this realization was not a negative one for me personally, as I enjoyed most of the cuisine that night and for most of the trip going forward.

The next morning our group visited the U.S. grains council, followed by the Sunyuan Dairy Group in the afternoon. Both visits were very insightful, and had useful applications to the curriculum we had studied at Texas Tech. That night, we had the renowned "Peking Duck" for dinner, a meal that I really enjoyed. Although Beijing was not my favorite city in terms of infrastructure and scenery, from a cultural perspective I found it to be by far the most interesting. This perspective was brought upon by our next two days, which were spent visiting Tianamen Square, The Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Beijing Zoo, and The Great Wall of China. Our first Stop,Tianamen Square, was not exactly a scenic area of the city, but provided great insight on the impact of communism in China, more specifically the influence of Chairman Mao Zedong. After viewing Tianamen Square, we entered The Forbidden City. The Forbidden city was a destination that I had always longed to see, and it did not disappoint. I found the sheer size and architectures within the city to be truly astonishing, as well as the lengthy history behind the area. That afternoon, we visited the Beijing Zoo (Panda bears and all) as well the Summer Palace. The next morning, our group headed the The Great Wall. This was a sight in which I believe the significance of can only truly be realized by firsthand exposure. Although the climb to the top of the wall was quite taxing, the view was definitely worth the effort. The wall spanned as far as the eye could see, and it was hard for me to imagine that such an impressive structure could be built so long ago. The next day our group attended another business meeting at Chinatop. The leader of this who spoke to us, Mr.Wu, was a very straight forward man who spoke his mind and gave an interesting perspective and how trade is conducted by a Chinese company despite the barriers imposed by the Chinese government. I did not expect anyone in China to have a critical and honest opinion of the Chinese government, but I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. Wu's perspective. That evening, we met with students from China Agricultural University. I learned a great deal from the students from this university about Chinese/U.S. relations and the differences between student life in the two countries, and they were even kind enough to buy our dinner!
The next day our group took a high-speed train to Tianjin. The train ride itself was an interesting experience, moving at speeds upward of 200 mph. Upon arriving in Tianjin, we spent some time visiting at the local markets and viewing the city. I knew nothing about Tianjin before arriving there, but I found the city be both scenic and enjoyable to visit. The next morning was spent at the company ADM's plant outside of the city. The company provided our group with a tour of the plant followed by a QnA session, both of which were helpful and applicable to our education. That evening, our group attended a meeting at Nankai university, where we had a group discussion about the implications of various issues occurring between the U.S. and China. The student's perspectives were very interesting, and I found the meeting to be very productive.

The morning of May 24th, our group flew to Shanghai. The first day in Shanghai was included free time and getting some much-needed rest. The next morning was spent at a meeting with the U.S. consulate followed by more free time in the afternoon. The following day, we visited the Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world, which provides an incredible view of the city from the top. That afternoon we visited the Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar, an area which really shows the dichotomy between the old and new portions of Shanghai. The following morning, we boarded another high-speed train to the city of Hangzhou. Shortly after arriving, we visited a local tea plantation. The workers at the plantation showed us firsthand how the tea is brewed, which I found to be very interesting. After lunch and a tour of a garden within the city, we boarded the train back to Shanghai.

The next morning our group flew to our final destination within China, Hong Kong. This destination was the one that I was personally most looking forward to on the trip, and despite less than stellar weather expectations, I really enjoyed my time in this city. The first night was spent transferring to the hotel and having dinner together. The first morning in Hong Kong, representatives from Cotton Council International and a beef distributing company within the city came to our hotel to gives us an overview of how they conducted business both within Hong Kong and internationally. Due to poor weather conditions, our original plan of touring local beef markets was cancelled, but this time was filled with some much-needed shopping. Our final day abroad was spent visiting Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay, and Stanley Market, all of which were both scenic and interesting areas of Kong. The next day, our group said our goodbyes to each other and boarded our own various flights back to the U.S.

Overall, I found my experience traveling within China to be very positive and enlightening. I would definitely recommend those who are considering taking a study abroad trip to China or looking to just spend leisure time within the country to go forth with the decision. The trip had a memorable impact on my life that I will always cherish, and I just might return in the future!


Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

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    Texas Tech University, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
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