Young Social Innovators
The college’s Transition Year class enjoyed stunning success in this competition in 2012, winning the Gold Medal and the title of Best School in Ireland for its project on missing persons, entitled ‘Forget Me Not’.
My Shanghai Diary by Chantelle Flood, Davis College
My name is Chantelle Flood from Transition Year Davis College Mallow and I have embarked on an exciting adventure to Shanghai, China with four fellow classmates. The trip has been organised by the Confucist Institute in UCC and since September in Davis College every Monday morning we begin the day by uttering the word “ Ni Hao”. We have been learning Mandarin Chinese. This for me is a once in a lifetime opportunity especially because it is my first time ever travelling outside of Ireland. Not a bad start!
On Tuesday the 10th of April 2012 we left from Cork airport and travelled to Shanghai via Amsterdam. The trip to Shanghai from Amsterdam was a 10 hours 10 minutes journey, which I must admit was extremely tiring. Shanghai is 7 hours ahead of Irish time so we arrived on Wednesday at 14:00 in Shanghai time. We got a private bus to Shanghai University campus where we will stay for the next 2 weeks.
On orientation day we went on a campus tour which was followed by an opening ceremony lunch, a welcoming gesture. The food and smells here are very unusual compared to the foods we are used to back in Ireland. Chinese food most certainly is not like the food we would eat in your local Chinese restaurants, it is much healthier with a unique taste and they have great imagination in their dishes. It most definitely is somewhat of an acquired taste. Tip number 1, it is not a good idea to come over to this country being picky about what foods you do or do not like. Be adventurous, whilst in Rome and all of that!! After our meal we went for our first Chinese class, which is two hours in duration. Here, we revised what we already knew and learned useful phrases for when we are in difficult situations or indeed bargaining/haggling at the market, which is commonplace here.
The following day class began at 8am, the typical starting time for students here, something which made us appreciate our later starting time in Ireland. Next on the schedule was a city tour. Wow, what a city. The skyscape is most impressive, with skyscrapers and neon lights dominating. We had the opportunity to visit the JinMao Observatory 88 , the biggest sightseeing hall in China with a height of 340.1m , an excellent place to overlook the overall view of Shanghai. The overall landscape of Shanghai city is under your view. There are two elevators running with high speeds of over 9 m/s. It took us 45 seconds to rise from the bottom to the 88th floor!!
It’s so surreal how different we are over here, we stick out like a sore thumbs. Asian people are fascinated with us and they give compliments all of the time and stop to take pictures of us and with us. We are getting a small sampling of fame!! That evening was our Huangpu River Cruise which was such an experience that I find it difficult to put words on it. We saw the city shine in the darkness of night, catching a glimpse at wonders such as Pearl Tower
The following day saw a change to the usual classroom start when we visited the very famous traditional town of Zhujia Jiao which boasts the Kezhi Gardens, Shanghai Quanhua art gallery, the Yuan Jin Buddhist temple and a humanist museum amongst others. A real treasure trove.
Tai Chi class was first on the schedule the next morning where we were lucky enough to be tutored by the Chinese National Champion and got an insight into the importance the Chinese put on healthy body, healthy mind, ying and yang.
Our Chinese lectures are so insightful and we’re gaining much knowledge about Chinese geography, history, culture, reform and development. Some interesting facts – one in every 5 people in the world is Chinese. Less than one tenth of the vast land mass can be farmed due to the mountainous regions. Regarding population the population has sharply increased from 1300000000 in 2005 to the present figure of 1370536875.I’m sure you have heard of the one child policy, something which has changed somewhat and will talk more about in my next entry. Average life expectancy, 77. Blue collar workers can retire with pension at 50 years, white collar, 55 and professionals 60. GDP currently stands at 9.5%, the largest exporter in the world and 2nd largest importer. One skyscraper is completed every 5 days. China is a leading investor in renewable energy. Chinese rarely say please and thanks as they view it as an unnecessary formality. The Chinese lack affiliation to any religion. Chinese medicine cures the person, not the disease. To sum up the Chinese can be described as:\Frank yet tactful. Honest yet sophisticated. Suspicious yet clever. Until next time…..