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4 posts from June 2013

06/21/2013

淘宝

以前我写我的照片,我要写我的研究项目。研究项目的题目是网上购物中心怎么印象中国的经济发展。

我在时尚莱迪,  新接口 拍了这张照片。这张照片有很大的”M” 表示麦当劳, 也有非常明亮多彩霓虹灯. 这张明摆着看起来很西式. 

我们看到女人比男人更多。这张照片里我们看不到商店,其实,在时尚莱迪大部分的商店是女人服装类商店。 这说明,服装类消费者大多是女人。很有意思的是,这张照片里我看到他们空着手,谁都没买东西。为什么?我觉得这种情况和网上购物中心,特别是淘宝有很重的关系。

一个研究说,”虽然中国的国家消费增加了很多,但是家庭消费比率下降。实际上,家庭消费支出越来越高,但是家庭的节省增加得更多,所以与收入相关,中国人的消费比率下降了。这意味着,如果他们的收入不增加,他们的消费支出可能下降。这个趋势告诉我们,越来越多的中国人消费得很慎重。我们都知道中国人口太多了,这意味着,中国也有很多的潜在消费者。从30岁到60岁的年龄,照料家庭的人是大部分的消费者。所以,潜在消费者是年青人或者老的人。但是,老人,65岁年龄比较大,通常已经退休了,实际上潜在消费者是年青人,10几岁的,20几岁的人。因为,年青人是经常学生或者开始工作的人,所以商品的价格是买东西时候,最重要因素之一。再说,虽然人均收入越来越高,但是贫富差距增加了更多。大部分的普通消费者还也觉得价格是买东西时候,最重要因素之一。

 网上购物中心有几个好处,使它发展得非常快。

第一,在网上商品的价格比普通商店的商品价格比较便宜。其实,在中国对普通人来说,商品的价格还是最重要的,所以越来越多人在网上买东西。

第二,在网上商品的质量通常是不错的,商店商品的质量跟网上商品的差不多一样。再说,网站上消费者可以共享他们觉得这个东西怎么样,所以如果商品的质量不太好,消费者要写这商品的质量不太好。别的潜在消费者要看这回帖(hui2tie3-comment),决定他们要不要买。我觉得这会让老板注重他们商品的质量。

第三,在中国用网络人很多,非常多。这意味着,在网路上买东西非常方便。大家不用出去买东西,但是他们可以点击(dian3ji1-click)一次买东西。 我觉得这也是网上购物中心的好处。

这说明,中国的网上购物中心发展得很快。

一个统计说从2008年 到2012年11月30号 淘宝的消售总额,1,000,000,000,000 块,差不多160,000,000,000 美元。

这个统计说明,4年之间,网上购物中心发展得非常快。这增加太多了。

这样来说,如果中国让越来越多中国人当消费者,中国当然会有很大的经济发展。在10年前,谁都不知道网上购物中心会发展这么多。现在明摆着,网上购物中心吸引了很多消费者。那这将成为中国经济发展的非常重要的因素。

06/19/2013

Almost saying 再见

For the past ten months my two large, red suitcases have been hiding behind the curtains in my room because there is nowhere else to put them. I look at them in the corner of my room and admit to myself that those suitcases have wheels- wheels that were made for rolling. I remember when I bought one of the hardback red suitcases before coming to China because I remember taking it off the shelf and testing its rolling ability. And the color: red for China. I remember my mother standing at the other end of the shopping aisle, the fluorescent lights, the shopping list I had in my hand, and I remember looking at the wheels-
- wheels that roll, stop for a while, gather dust in the corner of a dorm room in a foreign country, and then one day you look at the calendar, there are only two weeks left, and it’s time to think about letting those wheels roll again soon. The girl who bought those suitcases over ten months ago was so excited to pack them and unpack them, and the girl who is writing this can’t believe how much has filled the space in between. 
There’s a scene in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth is perched on a swing, all wound up. The ropes slowly unwind  as she watches her surroundings change with time, frame after frame. I used to remember that scene and think that maybe, after spending my senior year in Nanjing, it would feel a little bit like that by the end- that I would have been able to watch the seasons change as the ropes unwound themselves. I arrived in Nanjing on the tail end of summer with nothing but a backpack, I shuffled through crispy autumn leaves, I shivered at the bus stop in the snow, and then finally I was able to open up the windows again and let the spring breeze (and the mosquitoes) in. I sat on that swing and watched the world turn around me. Like my memories of the beginning days, it began so quickly, that unwinding- a blur, the wind, your face, blending together until now it slows down, down down down until
the swing stops for a second, and it’s almost time to stand up. 
Like a fool I thought I would just watch the change and observe, watch Nanjing and China from my perch.
Ten months have passed. I wasn’t just watching the seasons change. There are a few things people don’t tell you about doing this, and here is one of them: at some point it hit me that inevitably, I have changed, too. With the passage of time, sometimes you look around you and see the changes in your surroundings, and then you think, maybe, just maybe, this has changed me, too. I came to China to learn the language and to see the changes, to study it and observe and report back- as if I could touch and see but not be influenced myself- and I was swept up in those changes because I became a part of the surroundings, a part of the environment I live in. Detaching oneself is nearly impossible. I am a victim of China, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I remember when the biggest concern on my mind was how to say goodbye to my place and people across the ocean and, months later, the relief I felt when I knew that it was going to be okay; now, it’s about the art of going home. The difficult part is remembering how to be in a place you once called home when that place is blurry at best. That place that was once a foreign country that you were preparing to spend your senior year in? Yeah, it’s not so foreign anymore. It feels something like home, if you knew what home was. And then as soon as you decide to settle in, the place mashes you, and it’s time for those wheels to roll again. 
One more thing people don’t usually tell you: that foreign country that you love? It won’t always love you back. That person who told you it’d always be fun and rainbows and adventure? They lied. If I have represented myself as a China-lover, let me be the first to admit that I do not wear rose-colored glasses and I do not love every bit of living in China, and that’s okay. I just prefer to blog about the good stuff and downplay the bad stuff. I still have days where I genuinely question what I am doing here. Like anything you grow to love, however, you realize that you can love the thing itself without loving every aspect of it, and that is how I feel about China. I can love it while simultaneously disliking parts of my life here. Most of the negative aspects of being in China all fall back on one thing: comfort. I can live comfortably in America where the air is clean, where people are not worried about food sanitation or the risk of disease like Bird Flu, where I’m fluent in the native language and in the native culture, where I have friends and family nearby.
DSC03839
my class 
But I look back at even the worst days and I see how everything I truly needed was provided for. I don’t know what my future holds, where I will live, where I will go- and for the past ten months I’ve played a game with myself where I ask, in every city or country I go to, “Could I live here?” People ask me all the time why I would want to live here. Besides the fact that China fascinates me, I believe that I am not necessarily called to live a safe, comfortable life, and by allowing myself to abandon the idea that I deserve or need those comforts is giving myself the opportunity to grow and learn- and sometimes that requires growing pains in a place that’s not easy to live in all of the time. So, no, I do not love every bit of living in China- but neither do I love every bit of living in America. Home is where you are. This year was a difficult year in many ways, but still I will say that China has latched onto my heart and has changed me for the better. China will always be my thing, will always be the place I pine for. The fascination and sense of fulfillment I have with being in China far outweighs any deterrence or setbacks I have encountered. I will be back. 
What has this year been to me? I keep getting this question. Some people would shy away and say they don’t know where to begin- I say, where do I end? Do you want the long version or the longer version? 
As much as I like to write, I am an analyzer at heart, a list person. I make lists, I check things off of lists, I write in my journal and make boxes and charts and want to measure things. I can try to measure this past year with numbers and figures, but the numbers only say so much. 
This year I traveled to twenty-one different cities in China, four countries and six cities in Southeast Asia (and I’ll be stopping by in one more country before I leave…), I learned thousands of new characters and too many grammar structures and have a callus on my middle finger from writing over and over and over again. Every Thursday I gave presentations in Chinese class. Oh, forget the numbers and the list- I got to live in an incredibly fast-paced country and see it change. I lived in China during a change in national leadership, during a time of record-breaking pollution, I got caught next to a Diaoyu islands protest- how awesome is it to read about international conflicts in the news and walk outside and see the impact? And there was so much more… 
But that doesn’t quite do it justice, does it? How could I tell it all? It was the stuff in between. I stood on the edge of the Gobi Desert and got sand in my eyes, I watched people share the joy of dance in Yunnan, I played in the snow at one of the most important monasteries in Qinghai Province, I climbed to the tops of mountains and ate stale sandwiches. I learned Latin Dance in Chinese and joined a yuppie gym and discovered how wonderful hot yoga is. I saw pandas in Chengdu, I ate snake meat in Vietnam, I got stranded at the Cambodia-Laos border overnight, and I let wild monkeys crawl on my head because I can.. I spent my Chinese New Year at my dear friend’s family’s house and I got adopted into a Chinese Bible study. I rode a bike around ancient ruins and next to elephants in Thailand and through a herd of cows in Laos. I discovered what my heart is really passionate about researching because if I start sweating when I talk about it, then I should probably not let that go, right? I threw a snowball at my little brother on the Great Wall of China and we walked across the frozen-over lake at the Summer Palace. I learned some things about myself along the way. I laughed more than I ever have, and cried more than I care to admit. I met my best friend. How could I ever measure all of that
IMG_1912

My experience was not what I expected. It was so much more. 
 “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
J.R.R. Tolkien 
After I finished my final exams, I took the elevator back up to the tenth floor where I live, and I think that means I’m a college grad now. My graduation ceremony occurred on the other side of the world, in the opposite time zone, about a month ago- and I watched it on the internet. But I’m done. 
I came here to focus on Mandarin. After this year of studying and tests and countless hours of tutoring and classes, it’s time to ask myself: did I get to the level I wanted? Am I where I need to be? I suppose there are two answers to this question. Yes, I improved quite a bit. I am proud of how far I have come- the comparison of my level now to what it was when I arrived demonstrates a tremendous jump.
But is it enough? Nah. I’m not where I want to be. Learning a language is different for everybody and Mandarin is an extremely difficult language to learn.  I can speak much better, my vocabulary has increased tenfold, and I am much more comfortable functioning in a Mandarin-speaking environment than I ever was before. I took the language proficiency test for my fourth and final time since I’ve been here, and though it was still challenging, it was so much better this time than the first time. Fluency is the ultimate goal, and it’s a goal I’m going to be working toward for the rest of my life.
Lesson number one: this is not checklist, not something you work toward and then suddenly achieve and that’s it. This is a lifelong commitment, something I will have to continue working toward and continue maintaining.
Lesson number two: the best way to improve in a foreign language is to stop being afraid of making mistakes. I spent the first semester dwelling on the mistakes I made and being too quiet because i was worried about looking stupid. Pride is a tricky thing. Throw it away if you’re going to learn a language. I wish I could go back and remind myself to stop caring so much and start talking more. 
So, in the end, am I going to get on the airplane and feel satisfied with where I’m at in terms of Mandarin? Absolutely not. Don’t kill me. But I am proud of how far I have come. And I didn’t just come to learn Mandarin- I came to learn more about China, to better understand Chinese culture, and I think that’s a big take-away. After talking to many people about a range of topics (especially politics and culture) I’ve not only been asking the questions, but have been asked a lot of questions myself, some about my opinion as an individual but most about American views as a whole. (Think questions about anything- the current administration, relationships, religion, guns, national defense, pop culture- you name it, it’s a question.)There are some things I just plain don’t know the answer to- or at least I am not sure how to answer in a way that represents the diversity of American opinions.
But that’s what makes it interesting- if I ever thought it was easy to put all Americans into one box and label them as one way or another, I quickly realized that it’s not only impossible but also a disservice to American national identity itself- and the same goes for China. These are two countries made up of people- individual people. As someone who is interested in public diplomacy, this intrigues me because there has to be a way to effectively communicate a message on behalf of a group, while still remembering that America is not black and white and neither is China- or any other country I’ve been to. Communication and mutual understanding between individual people is just as important as government-to-government, and I am excited that I have had the opportunity to participate in that exchange during my time here.
Now my undergraduate career is over. I remember the night before my first day of classes at the University of South Carolina. We were sitting cross-legged on the carpet of my new dorm room- just the two of us, baby freshman dance majors, hair in ponytails and we had probably just eaten at the Russell House. I remember we were talking about “the future” and what we wanted to do with our lives, shuffling around, all nervous about the beginning of college. Though I knew I wanted to double major in Political Science, I had no idea what that entailed, and China was not on my radar. In short, neither of us had any clue what we were doing. Four years later, we’re still good friends and she went to law school and I’m in China. I could never have imagined that I’d get to study abroad in China not once during my college career, but twice. I am incredibly blessed.
Sonya

Since S and I met in dance class last semester, we’ve become great friends and I got to spend the New Year at her family’s house. This girl has more patience than anybody I have ever met- she has stuck by me for the past ten months even though my Chinese is probably painstakingly slow for her. This semester I’ve been going to a Chinese Bible study with her. This past Sunday we gathered together and had a farewell party because many of us are graduating and moving away. All of the grads had to give a short speech so I stood up and talked about my experience in China and what I had learned over the year. I was so nervous to give a speech in front of about thirty people, on the spot, in Mandarin- but it went fine. I did mention how, when I was a freshman, I never expected that my senior year would be spent in China- but I am so glad that is how it happened. 
One of the guys in my group was the last grad to speak. I’ve always thought he was one of those people who doesn’t speak that often, but when he does, it’s good stuff. He said that today is Sunday, the last day of the week. (In China, the calendar week begins with Monday.) But in the West, he continued to say- and everybody looked at me- in the West, Sunday is the first day of the week. It’s a new beginning. He explained that although for many of us our graduation feels like an ending, it is also a new beginning. It just depends on how you look at it.
My time in Nanjing is ending, but something new is beginning. Ironically, my flight leaving China falls on a Sunday. 
 

06/17/2013

Madness

            We all woke up early because CIEE had a trip planned to Xuanwu Lake. The instant we got outside, everyone agreed we couldn’t have picked a worse day. Soaring into the nineties with a humidity around seventy five percent, we sweat enough to fill the very lake itself. I also made the unfortunate decision to wear a long sleeved shirt because it had been the only shirt I had had after the shower the night before. The fact that it was made of cotton also didn’t help. I tried rolling the sleeves up, but that soon proved to have no results. Thus, I did what I had to do: I took my shirt off. I sprayed myself with insect repellant to be proactive.
           Somehow it didn’t work well. I still sweat more than everyone else. I blame it on coming from a desert (Colorado).
            Soon, Sam, Kris, her roommate, and I found ourselves in a foot peddle boat. It took us about half an hour to figure out how to steer it and another fifteen minutes before we realized that peddling too fast yielded no results. Sam and I found out the hard way. We watched the girls use almost no energy to propel us faster than Sam and I could. I guess our strength proved to be our downfall.
            Another fifteen minutes passed of mingling with the other CIEE boats, latching together, and heading back to the dock. By that time, sweat drenched both Sam and me. Not that it should have surprised me. Here in Nanjing, I sweat thinking about sweating.
            As I got set to leave to give myself time to do my six hundred-word composition, another cloud of misfortune set above me. Whereas the airport incident came as next to no surprise because I knew I would have problems when I couldn’t speak the language, this one hit me when I had settled down a little.           
    Lanier, Maggie, Kayleigh, two Chinese roommates and I got lunch at Dongbei (northwest) where we had chicken, tofu, vegetables, soup, rice, and pork. I had more than my fill. I only regret not being able to take the leftover food with me. But I had to leave.
            We walked all the way back. Somehow we found an American store that had everything ridiculously priced. Many “oohs” and “aahs” later, we left. Then, Lanier, Kayleigh, and I got some gelato at Skyways Restaurant for less than a buck and half. We ate at the restaurant, talking about inconsequential topics. We returned to the dorm where I studied a little, learning new vocabulary words with the help of Rodolphe.
            Unaware of the doom awaiting me, I went to find my bike behind the school. And, to my great surprise, I couldn’t find the damn thing. My first impression: someone stole it. However . . . well, this time I have no however. Someone had stolen it. A few swear words and waves of dismay later, I made the dreaded call to my Shushu. For some reason, he didn’t seem angry, only concerned about getting me home. According to him, I had locked it up and it wasn’t my fault. That’s not something I am used to. So I calmed down a little.
            Big mistake.
            My Shushu told me to take a taxi back, but I didn’t know the address. To top it off, a damned monsoon hit the city and I soaked instantly. Keeping a raincoat I borrow from Kathryn over my backpack because of a camera I had in there, I walked to the street to hail a taxi.
            That’s where I should have just said no.
            A car pulled up with a woman in the front seat. I didn’t see a taxi sign over the car, so I assumed they might be a caring couple concerned for my health. I don’t know what prompted me to make that assumption. I got in the car and gave him the phone after I called my Shushu so he could know where to go.
            The guy took us first to drop off the lady, which already disproved my original theory. Then, I gave him the phone again. He thought he knew where to go. When he got there, it didn’t look familiar to me, so I didn’t get out. After another phone call to my Shushu and a large amount of arguing on everyone's part, my Shushu told me to get out of the car and wait for him. Thus, I waited.
            He came on his bike. We walked back to his house, which, it turned out, was not too far away. He assured me that I would get another bike and that I don’t have to pay him, but I may have to find a way to sneak it to him. Perhaps in a red envelope.
            In any case, we had a dinner of chopped pork, pork with winter melon, pork with green peppers, and spicy carrots. I then left the dinner table for room where I did my homework, doing as much as I could to make this past experience seem less embarrassing than it actually was. 

Learning to be Brave

In Nanjing, I learned to bravely adapt to this society and fearlessly question my thoughts.  When I first began to study Mandarin, my professor informed me that I had to be ready to embarrass myself and do things I did not think I could do. I had to be ready to change the way I thought about communicating. She was never more right than now. In Nanjing, I am forced to do honor her way of thinking.

In the beginning, I was faced with many problems. Every time I went somewhere new or not so new, I got lost. Everywhere I went, people stared like they had never seen a black person before—maybe they had not. Most times when I spoke with people, they did not completely understand me because of my bad pronunciation and grammar. Also, I could not understand them because of the Nanjing dialect. Obviously, this was really frustrating.

However, I learned to buck up pretty quickly. Now, when I get lost, I ask for directions. I’m not completely disappointed in myself either. I consider it a good way to get to know the city and meet new people. When people stare, I greet them so they know I'm not an alien. They may have plenty of questions about my “unique” features, home country, and reasons for coming to China. I do not think of it as annoying, but rewarding because I helped them learn something that they may have never learned understood had they not met me. Not many Chinese people travel or get to see people of different races often, like I do, so I understand their curiosity and appreciate it. Also, my Chinese has gotten much better with many embarrassing moments. I have learned to persevere through some of the most mentally strenuous situations in my life—and it has been fun.

Also, in explaining myself and my own society in America to others, I have learned more about myself. I have learned to think about things in a way that I never thought about before. In explaining how I could be American and African at the same time, I thought about how I come from a country of immigrants (mostly European immigrants). I forgot that there is no such thing as ancient or medieval United States. Also, I am saying things that I never thought I would say before.  When chatting with a friend, I talked about wanting to watch a certain movie. He reminded me I could just go watch online. Then, I suddenly said, “Oh yeah I forgot China was free!”  Right after saying it, I had to think about what that meant. I meant that all forms of art are free, but I realized there are laws in both China and the United States that prevent art from being free in different ways. I had never thought in this way before. This experience has challenged me to confidently contradict myself and try relentlessly.