Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Warming up to Husky Life

The winter season could put a real chill on some outdoor plans. You never know what to expect and if it’s warm enough to do some activities outside. But there is always one thing you can count on, and its Netflix.

Netflix is one of the most addicting websites a college student can go on.

Let's be honest we all have gone through a Netflix binge at least once a semester. Watching eight hours of Netflix in a row is something I know I look forward to.

The hard part is that once you get connected to a TV show you are bound to finish it in a week.
Six seasons. More like four days.

It’s a real sickness we get from watching Netflix.

Winding down and relaxing?

College life can be very stressful but coming to a stop in the on going day to take a breather and catch up on Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Lost, or Gossip Girl, can give the college student exactly what they need to break away from life for a little.

For me, my ultimate favorite show is Gossip Girl. As a Jersey girl who lives right by New York City I was able to really connect and envy the characters within the show.

I always wanted to live on the Upper East Side and this show took me right into that life style. Living in big fancy apartments, and going shopping everyday is only a girls dream.

But this show has so much more than material aspects. Every episode dives deeper and deeper into the character lives and with large amounts of money comes dirty secrets and betrayal. As the audience, we know the secrets and just want to scream at the characters to tell them what’s going on, but in the end we are seeing out of the eyes of the Gossip Girl. And we can’t wait to hear, “XOXO Gossip Girl."

As for the guys or girls who aren’t into the high society life style, another great option is Prison Break. My boyfriend and all of his roommates are obsessed with this show. This show has just enough action, drama and romance in it to make both sexes happy.

I occasionally watch it with him, because it’s a great show for us both to enjoy. Michael and Lincoln are thrown into prison for a crime they were framed for, but by trying to escape they are causing more kayos, and with kayos causes drama and suspense. We just hope that one day they will live a free life.

The winter weather gives us that perfect excuse to lie in bed all day Saturday and watch our favorite shows or movies. Its endless fun and excitement in the warm humble abode of your room.

Its nothing to be ashamed of, we all partake in this satisfying binge. As for me, my next series will be Friends. I have seen almost all of the episodes from reruns, but finally I will be able to watch it in order.

Surviving the Semester Freeze

— Samantha Gross, sophomore telecommunications major #HuskyUnleashed

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Words of wisdom

Hello Huskies! Now that we’re starting to stray away from the first week gotta look nice stage of the semester and are slowly moving towards the rolling out of bed wearing yoga’s and/or sweats to campus every day look, the reality of being back to the grind of things is starting to sink in (for some slower than others).

As a graduating senior I feel it is my duty to grant the youngsters of BU with my best advice to help you survive the greatest, most exciting four years of your life. And although it gives me great pain to claim the role of a soon to be graduating senior, I hope to shape my grief into pure reminiscent bliss by telling some of my stories in hopes that present and future huskies can avoid my mistakes and follow in my happiest footsteps.

After completing seven out of eight semesters at BU I can confidently say I have experienced just as many (or more) awkward and embarrassing moments you are probably experiencing. I was just as uninvolved and unconcerned as most of you, always reassuring myself with, “I still have time to pick a major, I still have time to get a job, I still have time to find an internship.

#RachaelTip - Never allow waiting to become a habit. Looking back, four years was NOT that much time.

*Flashback to 2011*

High school senior me made the impulsive decision to commit to Bloomsburg University. Back then, as if this was that long ago, my future was extremely unclear. I had no idea what I wanted to major in, no idea what I was good at, and no idea if I could survive living away from home.

So I decided to migrate a total of 20 whopping miles from my hometown to Bloomsburg University. Such a huge transition. I sometimes detest my choice and wish that I would have at least attempted to relocate to a university farther away from home. But after all of this reminiscing I came to realize I could go on for hours about what I would change. But that’s not why I’m here. What I want to share is what has changed all of my doubts about BU, a university I chose solely due to its convenient distance from home.

I can now truly say that I am completely content with my decision to come to Bloomsburg University. Not only did BU help me discover my strengths, it has allowed me to meet and connect with inspiring students, professors, and coworkers. Unfortunately, it took me until the very end of my sophomore year to grasp the fact that I had nada to put on my resume. I was not involved in any clubs or organizations, I didn’t have a job, and I had not made any influential connections.

ATTENTION READERS - if this sounds like the present you - listen up!

One of the first steps I decided to take was job searching on campus. While talking with my peers, one of my friends suggested applying to the Student Activities Office in Kehr Union. Fortunately they were seeking students like me who lived locally and would be available to work during the summer, so I was lucky enough to get a job as an office and main desk assistant.

However, my #RachaelTip to you would be to apply to several places on campus, not just one.

This way, you can get your application out there and have options while also not feeling bad about yourself for not getting a call back. Having an on campus job has been a wonderful opportunity and has allowed me to become much more involved within the campus community. For me, working on campus has given me the chance to meet other students while opening up doors I never knew existed. With this job came firsthand access to exciting information on campus events, activities, trips, and discounts the university offers.

For all of you undeclared majors, I was once in your rocky boat. My sophomore year I finally made the decision to join the communication studies major.

#RachaelTip - I highly recommend looking into this major!

The communication studies department has an amazing group of faculty and a variety of concentrations you can choose from than fit your interests.

But anyways….(not trying to be the poster child for Comm Studies, but really, it is the best ☺), after declaring a major I slowly started to make my way into the crowd. I decided to join the NCASC (National Communication Association Student Club).

NCASC is a national organization welcoming students of all majors meeting bi-weekly and providing important information and workshops on topics such as interview etiquette, how to perfect your resume, landing internships, studying abroad, and more. Oh, did I forget to mention the free pizza??? NCASC is run by a group of BU students ranging from sophomores to seniors, so don’t worry, you won’t feel intimidated by a bunch of big seniors running the show.

After being involved in the club for nearly two years, my junior year I decided to run for a leadership position on the exec board which would be in charge of Public Relations and the clubs social media sites. When I first joined NCASC sophomore year, I never thought that I would be one of the students helping to organize events and run the meetings.

#RachaelTip - if you want to strengthen your resume, exec board positions show diversity and your ability to handle leadership roles.

Usually at the end of the spring semester clubs will vote for new exec board members to replace any graduating seniors. Whether you are a leader in a club or general member, joining a campus organization is a significant way to get your foot in the door and boost your resume.

Although I can’t speak for all departments, if you are unsure if your major has a club or organization my advice would be to check with your department secretary. They are there to help you and are very friendly! You may also want to look into finding out whether or not there is an honor society for your major.

Lambda Pi Eta, BU's communication honor society, reached out to me my junior year inviting me to join the other honor students in the major. A month or two after getting inducted, I decided to run for the open Public Relations position and I somehow landed the role. While running up against my fellow students I thought to myself, “What am I doing? I look like a fool. No one will vote for me!” Please, don’t have these thoughts!

#RachaelTip – Remember, you can do anything you put your mind to. As long as you stay true to yourself I assure you, all of your hard work will be recognized.

So freshman and sophomores, maybe even some juniors and seniors….get up and get moving! With the large variety of student life opportunities on campus, there really are no excuses. BU has more than 250 student clubs and organizations ranging from the arts, business, entertainment, athletics, community service, and faith. I have built friendships, gained leadership positions, and created amazing opportunities for myself because of being active in all that the university has to offer.

Nowadays, students with scholarly grades are not as notable as those who are deeply involved with a wide range of roles and engagements. After all, college is more than just going to class. It’s about taking advantage of the rewarding opportunities sitting in front of you. One final #RachaelTip - Enjoy every moment. Make mistakes, try new things, learn, and push yourself to greatness!

— Rachael Scicchitano, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU

Thursday, January 29, 2015

China Today: Colorfully intense and diverse

I have found myself incredibly fascinated by the traffic here in China. There are a number of elements that pique my interest. The first of these is the diversity of the traffic. Here in Hekou, most of the diversity is in the various two-wheeled vehicles people use to travel around. There are very nice, pristine, and personalized mopeds, beat-up dirt bikes, bicycles with carts attached to the back, and all sorts of old mopeds. These vehicles seem to allow you to drive wherever you want, as they weave through the streets and even on the sidewalks. There is no discernible organized parking, and people seem to leave their mopeds—or what have you—wherever they please.

The same general rules seem to apply to cars—there is no specified parking locations, and the cars simply drive through the streets, honking at people and smaller vehicles in their way. These cars have an even larger diversity than the two-wheeled vehicles. I’ve seen all sorts of brands, like BMW, Toyota, even some Fords and Jeeps. They are mingled with small and large vans that appear to be unique to China, and there are a few large cargo trucks that have a militaristic air to them mixed in as well.

I’ve noted no speed limit signs, though it is possible I haven’t recognized them, as they are most likely in Chinese. People walk into the streets wherever they please. In Kunming, I saw a woman standing in the middle of traffic waiting to pass through each lane. On our journey from Kunming to Hekou, I noticed a few vehicles that were sitting idle in the middle of the highway. I can only assume they broke down, and I suppose rather than moving the car off to the side, people just get out and walk away. For all of this chaos, I have not noted any road-rage. Nobody seems angry at anybody else for getting in their way, perhaps because there are no rules to follow and therefore no rules to break. The bustle of the streets sounds exactly New York City, save for the sound of police sirens. If anyone in China ever gets a ticket, I can’t imagine what it would be for.

I have an incredible respect for the Hani people, and everyone who lives like them. Their existence is so simple and natural. The little old women working in the fields and carrying things around on their backs were so solid. Watching them, and the men herd the water buffalo and the pack mules through the village, was like standing at a still point in time.

While the village did posses plenty of modern amenities, the people still worked the land to live, using simply tools and methods, as they would have hundreds of years ago. China, so far, has impressed me with its beautiful coexistence of past and present. It’s not something we see in America, as the present is consumed the past.

First of all, Happy New Year! I never imagined I would fulfill one of my new year’s resolutions, to do more exciting things, on New Years. Anyway, I’ve been really interested in the way all of the people we’ve seen in this country dress. There are the Hani people, of course, who wear those beautifully embroidered traditional clothes. Even the more reserved clothes that are one solid color dot the terraced fields and decaying buildings like ornamentation. However, their clothing is not what I have found the most fascinating.

On our drives, we pass through a lot of small towns or clusters of buildings that are very dirty and rundown. In them, I have noticed a lot of women dressed as if they belonged in New York City. They are often in high heels and fashionable jackets, and honestly look more stylish than I do most of the time (regrettably, I do not have any photos of this). I was talking with a few of my comrades, and they suggested that perhaps the single women do it to attract men. This would make sense, as all of the women I have seen dressed this way are young, while many of the older women are wearing simpler, average clothing.

I’ve seen some really cool graffiti here in China. It’s funny to see people carving the Chinese symbols into trees and stuff like we carve our initials. One type of graffiti I’ve seen a lot of is crayon children’s drawings. This is probably my favorite type of graffiti to see because it’s not something seen in America. I’ve noticed that the children are often running around free-range with each other, up and down the streets with no worries. I even saw a child crossing the street by herself yesterday.

In America, children aren’t really allowed to do that anymore; they’re very sheltered and their parents are always watching them. Although, it is mostly in the small villages that I see the children running around unsupervised, which I imagine is due to the likelihood that everyone knows each other in the smaller villages. This child-like graffiti is evidence of the independence these children have on their little streets. (As a side note, it is entirely possible that I am mistaken, and that these are not children’s scribbles, but the scribbles of someone who is not very skilled at drawing. Either way, the point stands: the children in this country appear to have a lot more freedom in playing than American children)

I continue to be blown away by the intensity and diversity of the colors in this country. I’ve already written about the beautiful colors in the clothing of the Hani people, and the same intensity that exists there exists all over the place. Looking down the street, one is met with bits of striking color. One thing I have noticed is the presence of bright red ribbons tied to different places. I have seen a few tied to tree branches, a couple on the front of a car, and they surround the entire memorial site of the founders of the University in Kunming.

This last piece of information leads me to believe that perhaps the red is symbolic of loss or memory. Perhaps the ribbons in the trees symbolize a location where someone died, and the ribbon on the car is in memory of someone. Since red is also the color of the Chinese flag, it could symbolize some kind of nationality. I’m not able to research any of this on the Internet, so I will have to clarifying my suspicions with someone who knows the culture. For now, however, I find it exciting to speculate the meaning of things based on observing them in context.

When I took anthropology my freshman year, I learned about the affinity that the Chinese have for Christian traditions. The article I read back then was about how they like the have all of the ceremony associated with Christian weddings. They even fly over Americans to act as priests, many of them not being priests themselves. I noticed evidence for this on the flight here, as there was and advertisement that came before the movies of a bride and groom dresses in the tradition white wedding gown and black tuxedo.

As I have been in China, I have noticed a lot of Christmas decorations. There are Santa Clauses, Christmas trees, even a sign that said "Feliz Navidad." We were told later that the Chinese celebrate a non-religious Christmas that is essentially a time for people to party and have fun. I find it very interesting how they have incorporated an element of our culture into theirs, but have modified it to make it fit into their beliefs.

— Katie Starliper, art studio major #HuskyAbroad

Led by Vera Viditz-Ward, professor of art and art history, and Jing Luo, Ph.D., professor of languages and cultures, a group of Bloomsburg University students spent three weeks in China studying language, culture and photography. The group, hosted by Yunnan Normal University, traveled to Kunming, Hekou, Yuanyuang, Mengzi, Dali, and Lijiang, where they had close contact with a variety of ethnic groups and learned about their lives and cultures.

China Today: A transitional country

After these first few days in China, what I’ve noticed most is that this country seems to be in the transition between a third world to a modernized country. Driving from Kun Ming to He Kou, I saw countless high-rise apartment complexes under construction, but very few looked completed. It as if they were all started at once, and have yet to be completed. It was strange to see rural farming villages, with stone houses that seemed at least a century old, being dominated by these skyscrapers. I know there are 1.3 billion people in this country, but it’s hard to imagine that there will be enough people to fill all of this new housing.

Seeing first-hand the relation between the Vietnamese and Chinese at the border and in the markets is another testament to the growing economy here. The Chinese must have a significant disposable income if they Vietnamese can sell the cheap goods they had and make a living. I can assume that this is the result of there being a lot of construction going on in China so many people are employed.

Being in this mountainous region in which terrace farming is so prevalent has forced me to think a lot about the terraces. I realized that I become more aware of the hills—their slopes and curves—when I see how the people have had to work with them. It’s an example of nature providing this framework of the landscape, and man squaring it off to make it usable.

This occurs essentially wherever people live, but the terraces made me hyper-aware of it. The terrace farming also speaks to the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the people here, which brings me to the way that the people here recycle trash for practical purposes. My favorite example of this was seeing a large toy truck being reused as a flowerbed. Vera and I were talking about this on the bus and agreed that the amount of litter here is almost excusable, as they really seem to use everything they can, unlike Americans who tend to throw away everything that isn’t perfect. I will also note that Americans wouldn’t dream of farming anywhere that isn’t mostly flat land, let alone on mountain slopes.

I am constantly taken aback by the vibrant colors everywhere here in Yunnan. Before coming, I assumed in my naivety it wouldn’t be the case and everyone would dress more like a communist. I packed accordingly in hopes of fitting in and not drawing too much attention to myself. I was quickly proven wrong to my pleasure as a photographer. The traditional dresses worn by Ha Ni women are obvious examples, but also contemporary clothing, storefronts, advertising, and packaging burst with color. Seeing the fruits at the farmers markets gave me an idea of their source material. I had fun taking pictures of people whose clothing matched the color of the fruit they happened to be standing next to.

Seeing the French railway station in Menzi reminded me of hearing the story of how it came to be in the museum in He Kou. I have trouble believing that the French could be so na├»ve to think that they could control China with one railroad spanning half of Yunnan. I kept hearing about the many Chinese lives lost in its construction and driving through the area in which it is built made me see how. Yunnan seems like the last place I would want to try to build a railroad. I was amazed to see how much infrastructure was required to put a modern highway there, and couldn’t imagine being a Chinese worker a century ago attempting a similar undertaking. There was a picture in the museum in Menzi of a bridge that connected tunnels coming out of solid cliffs. I can only imagine what a toll the Chinese payed in building it. It was funny to see the clocks at the station, which aside from the railroad’s design seemed to be the only French contribution.

It is also interesting that the Chinese barely use it anymore and it seems that it is kept in use for the sake of Vietnam. In this trip I learned a lot about French influence in this part of the world, which aside from the basic fact that they controlled Vietnam, I knew very little about.

Class discussion was very interesting this morning. I am glad to hear that China is working on establishing social welfare and anti-corruption programs in attempt to close the income gap, I am starting to get a better idea of what is currently going on in this country. I get the impression that the embrace of capitalism and communism working simultaneously was to improve the standard of living for all the people. The income gap is in theory a temporary side effect of this, and I suppose the plan is that everyone will come out more equal but with a higher standard of living than in Mao’s time. It is an ambitious plan but the ideology is in the right place in my opinion. In the United States, many of our politicians have a hard time even admitting that our own income gap a problem and we are seeing movements to unravel many of the social welfare programs initiated by Roosevelt and Johnson that many rely upon.

Today, I took a walk around Kun Ming after seeing the birds in the park. First of all, I noticed many people singing and dancing in groups at the park. They didn’t seem to be street performers but instead just engaging in community activities. Before I was out of earshot of one group of dancers, I was already being bombarded by the sounds of musicians playing traditional instruments. Seeing something like this is fairly uncommon in America unless those involved are trying to make money, and I think it reflects the communal nature of Asian culture.

After leaving that I walked back the way we came and fell across some bookstores. Most were in Chinese but I found a few English books, mostly on Buddhism and Tibet. I also noticed copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm as well as Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I was surprised to see these books as China seems to try to control information and media, and these stories all directly conflict with the ideology of the CPC, by displaying the evils of socialism and totalitarianism. In the same neighborhood I saw coffee shops where there were college-aged girls smoking cigarettes and one was playing the guitar—both things I understand to be rather taboo here. It was interesting to find a counter-cultural side of this city.

— Hugh Hopkins, non-degree visiting student, #HuskyAbroad

Led by Vera Viditz-Ward, professor of art and art history, and Jing Luo, Ph.D., professor of languages and cultures, a group of Bloomsburg University students spent three weeks in China studying language, culture and photography. The group, hosted by Yunnan Normal University, traveled to Kunming, Hekou, Yuanyuang, Mengzi, Dali, and Lijiang, where they had close contact with a variety of ethnic groups and learned about their lives and cultures.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

China Today: An artistic impression

Our first day in China went by quick. After a short welcome we traveled to a city on the border of Vietnam. Hekuo seems to be a city that is mostly based on trade. We walked a long portion of the train tracks connecting Vietnam and the Chinese city of Hekou. The Chinese though seem to grow their food and maximize any land that is available. Making due with small gardens on hillsides or between buildings.

It's hard to tell if they use these plots for subsistence or trade. They don't seem as though they could produce enough of a crop from some of these to sell in trade but it is possible they have a large quantity of these small gardens spread out to produce a sufficient amount. I did observe a man preparing greens that were more than likely self grown but later in the day we visited a farmers market where the same greens could be purchased. If anything the people of this town work very hard to survive whether it be through trade or farming for consumption.

Today we visited an area called Yuanyang to see a minority village of Hani people and the famous terraced fields they grow rice on. As a drawing concentration in art studio I am always intrigued by the art I find in different locations. The art created by the people of the Yuanyang is amazing. The entire area is dependent on the terrace fields and the art represents this. What I found is many representations of the important animals to the people. The most important animal is the water buffalo because of its use in creating the patty fields. The image of the water buffalo finds it way into large and small portions of their statues and depictions.

One particular piece that I found on a large pillar at the top of the fields depicted two water buffalo with a vague human figure between them. This figure has its hands raised as if it is worshipping the water buffalo. With the water buffalo being an essential part of their production I am not surprised it makes so many appearances in their art.

During our time in Yuanyang I found the Hani people's personalities very diverse. One of the things that would happen was if we took a picture of some of the people was that they would ask for money. I understand that it probably becomes a nuisance to have tourists gawking at you and I am happy to spare a few Yuan. Though, there were some more humble people and some that were a little greedy. I don't fault the greedy; they have a harsh life working the patty fields. While standing in their village center I found a lady that just stood to the side with her daughter, in full traditional clothing, and waited patiently. When I saw this I decided to offer a few Yuan so I could take a picture of her daughter.

She graciously accepted and I took the photo. Our guide offered to let me take a picture with her and I did. After the picture I offered the lady few more dollars as a token of gratitude, and she was gracious again. As I did this, another lady came over and reached for my money. I tried to back away but she kept coming and eventually snatched a ten yuan from my hand. That was the point where I put my money away and walked away. Ten Yuan is not very much, only about 1.5 U.S. dollars, so I was not worried about the money. I was just surprised at how greedy the lady was and how polar opposite the first woman was. Outside of this one thing the time in the Hani village was enjoyable.

During our time in Mengzi we had a surprise stop at a fruit market. Our guide decided to purchase a couple things to try, as did Dr. Luo. We tried a Chinese version of grapefruit that I really enjoyed. It was more yellow than our American grapefruit and the interior was a clear yellow-white. Unlike American grapefruit it had a natural sweetness the required no addition of sugar. It made it very delicious. We also tried tamarind, which are a nut like food where you eat the gooey stuff between the shell and the nut. It was super sweet but had a strange after taste I didn't enjoy.

Next was pineapple, I was wary because I don't enjoy pineapple in the states. To my surprise though the pineapple was milder than it is in the states and I enjoyed it. The last on the list was jackfruit. It is a large fruit maybe slightly smaller than a watermelon. Cutting up Jack Fruit seemed like a terribly long process and labor intensive. We waited about twenty minutes until the locals finished. The fruit it self has the strangest texture I have ever tried, muscle like on the outside and soft on the inside. The taste was a strange sweetness as well and was interesting.

We took a walk around a park today that was located in Mengzi. The diversity of conditions in the city astounds me. This park is well maintained and beautiful but if you walk one block from it you find impoverished homes. You see similar things in our cities but our government will condemn a house if it unsuitable for living.

With roofs that looks as though they would leak with the slightest amount of rain and missing windows the buildings are in shambles. They are not quite as bad as what I saw in the rural areas though. Some of the rural ones looked as though they were ruins. Urbanization is great for the economy but I feel as though the older generations suffer in the initial move.

In Mengzi there is former railway station that was established by the French. No longer functioning it stands as a historical location. The station itself is not what intrigued me most, it was more the way the electrical wiring was openly visible. The States we tend to hide our wiring in boxes to keep them from being exposed and dangerous. The wires at the former French railway station were completely exposed and could have been a potential hazard. This wiring is from a different era where safety guidelines were less strict. I am curious if the lines are still hot or were shutdown when the station was shutdown. The tracks themselves looked as though they were still used, so there may be some electricity running.

— Jesse Hockman, art studio major #HuskyAbroad

Led by Vera Viditz-Ward, professor of art and art history, and Jing Luo, Ph.D., professor of languages and cultures, a group of Bloomsburg University students spent three weeks in China studying language, culture and photography. The group, hosted by Yunnan Normal University, traveled to Kunming, Hekou, Yuanyuang, Mengzi, Dali, and Lijiang, where they had close contact with a variety of ethnic groups and learned about their lives and cultures.

China Today: A wondrous place

I enjoyed the short walk through town and getting my first glimpse at a real Chinese city. The breakfast we had was delicious, but a little bit too much food for what I’m accustomed to eating in the morning.

I was glad that I waited to withdrawal money until we got to Kunming, because using the ATM was quick and painless. The welcome banquet was a wonderful experience! I loved how everyone sat together at one big table and all of the food was easily accessible just by spinning the lazy-susan. And the variety of flavors, colors, and smells were all wonderful. I was proud of myself that I tried a little bit of every dish, and I enjoyed almost every one. The grasshopper wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, and the seasoning on it helped. I’m amazed at how much food is always provided for us, and even though it seems like I eat a lot there always more leftover. It pains me that the food would go to waste, but maybe they use it for their livestock or to fertilize their crops?

The bus ride to Hekou was a definite change of scenery. Although I couldn’t keep my eyes open for the entire trip, because of the jetlag, I still enjoyed every bit that I did see. It’s so interesting to me how they farm, irrigate, and create their lifestyle. For such a hilly and mountainous country they really are effective and efficient at what they do. They cut in to the side of the mountain and form these perfect and seamless rows of crops and vegetation. It makes for a lovely photograph, but I can imagine the hard work it must be to keep up with something like that and harvest all that they can.

On the bus ride to Hekou we learned a little bit about the customs and the way of the trade that happens everyday at the Vietnam border. We were able to see the incredibly long line of trucks and civilians that walked across with their goods to sell and trade in China. It’s amazing how their system works, and I admire their patience to do that every single day!

It was here in Hekou that I started noticing many different textures and patterns in their architecture as well as in nature. As we walked along the old railway station, and learned some of the history, I became more and more fascinated by the way time had altered and changed the environment. I liked taking really close up pictures of the different textures and patterns so it’s seen out of context and can be viewed as just lines and colors.

But I also found it very interesting, and quite overwhelming when I was told that each of those railway ties representing someone that died. Just thinking of the labor put into building a railroad is one thing, but then having that significant meaning behind each of those wooden ties…I stood there in a moment of silence and awe.And even though I have photographs of it, it’s not the same as being in the presence of something that impressive.

The Border Trade Market and the local farmers market gave me great opportunities for close ups of vibrant colors and the variety of textures found in their products. I saw lots and lots of different fruits and vegetables that were unfamiliar to me, but I love the whole experience of learning about their culture.

The Yuanyang terraced fields are an amazing sight and beautiful to look at. I can’t imagine the labor that was put into building these terraces. They seem to go on for miles and miles! The curvy lines and repetition of these fields makes it almost look like they were formed by nature instead of man. But after seeing all the women carrying huge bundles of branches, stones, etc. on their back I know that these were indeed made by the people of the mountain.

I found it really interesting that even though these people are all working towards the same goal and maintaining the terraces, the mountain is made up of many different types of ethnic groups. We spent the most time in the Hani and Yi villages, which is close to the top of the mountain. When we were in these villages and taking pictures we soon realized that taking their pictures was not for free and they expected some money. Even though some people might think they’re being greedy, I think it’s smart on their part. They become accustomed to tourists coming through their villages and taking their pictures, so they figured out a way to make money from it. Though it is possible to be sneaky about and get a quick snapshot of their beautiful handmade ethic clothing when they’re not looking.

We got to do a little shopping, and of course I bought some little trinkets as gifts for family back home. I’m always a sucker for handmade quality crafts, and they made some beautiful things. Everything there is handmade, even the roads that wind along the terraces. I have a huge respect for these people and the way they live. It’s not an easy life, but I’ve noticed that not one of those village people were overweight. They remain in great shape because of all the exercise they get building their village and maintaining the fields. We traveled further up the mountain to get more of a birds-eye-view of the fields, and to watch the sunset. The view was breathtaking, and an amazing experience that every photographer should have.

Yuanyang is indeed a wondrous place.

Today we saw more of the terraced fields of Yuanyang, but in a different location. We went to the Douyishu scenic spot where they have an international art and communication center building, including a restaurant and some history about the terraces. The shape of the building and the observation decks below have a great resemblance to the shapes of the terrace fields.

Although today was a little foggy and we couldn’t see much reflection on water it was still a beautiful sight. After taking a couple more photos I had to remind myself that not everything can be captured within a square frame, so I just stood there and admired everything trying to retain it in my memory forever.

Driving back to the hotel we got in a couple traffic jams, because the roads are so narrow and there aren’t any traffic laws. Many people drive mopeds or bikes, so they’re easier to navigate through the smaller roads and around any cars that can’t get through. Considering the size of our bus I’m amazed at how well the drive has gotten through such tight situations. Sometimes there would only be inches on either side of the bus, but we have a great driver and he certainly knows what he’s doing! After finally making it through all the tiny villages and down the mountain we walked around the town we were staying in to see some of their shops, and they had music playing for the New Year. It was pretty crowded, but soon we left and were onto our next destination – Mengzi.

On the way to Mengzi we stopped at a farmers market where they had stand after stand of fruit! I love fruit and we haven’t had much on the trip so far, so this was very exciting for me. We got to try their version of grapefruit, which was delicious, and a lot less tart and sour than ours back home. It was also twice as big and more yellow than pink. We also tried tameron, and jackfruit. They were both very good. The tameron reminded me of a fig because of it’s stickiness, and the jackfruit seemed like a combination of flavors of banana and pineapple. I love both so this was a great new find for me. Arriving in Mengzi we had our New Years dinner and the food seemed never ending, but it was all delicious of course! Mr. Li gave a lovely toast, and it was a nice relaxing dinner.

Mengzi is known for it’s old French buildings and railway station from when the French went into Yunnan in early 20th Century. We visited Bisezhai, which was the former French railway station. The government maintains these buildings so people can visit and learn about what happened in their history, and there were plenty of Chinese people there visiting for the day just like we were.

Everyday I learn a little bit more about segments of China’s history and it’s very interesting to me, because their country is so much older than ours so they have a lot more to tell. Its fascinating how they have developed their culture and customs throughout their history, and they seem very proud to be a part of that culture. Even the stationmaster, which is now a retired old man, of the old French railway has worked there for over 15 years and he still sits there.

Next we moved on to the Honghe Minority Museum, which was very appealing with it’s displays and artwork, but I wish I could’ve understood more of what was written on the walls about each picture. I would’ve enjoyed that experience more I think, but it was still nice to walk through. Lunch was a whole experience in itself! We had the traditional “cross bridge” noodles. Each person got two tiers of plates that were filled with little dishes of different meats and vegetables, one bowl of noodles, and one huge bowl of steaming hot broth.

The story goes that the wife of a scholar sent his lunch over to him, but by the time it reached where he was studying all of the food was cold. She then came up with a way to keep everything hot and fresh by sending the broth over too. So that’s what we had to do to eat our lunch. First we added the quail eggs, raw meat, already cooked meat, vegetables, and the noodles were added last to this hot hot broth. After a couple minutes everything was cooked through and ready to eat.

It was very interesting, very tasty, but a little too much food for me. I ate what I could but it didn’t even look like I made a dent! The Nanhu District was more of the old French government buildings, but we couldn’t go in some of them because they were being remodeled, or were no longer there. Here was where we got to see the house of the scholar and the infamous bridge that the “cross and bridge” noodles came from. I especially loved all the traditional Chinese architecture we got to see.

This morning was our first class of the trip. A couple of us presented our articles about China that Dr. Luo gave us. I also presented today. My articles were interesting to me because they were about the shift in fashion trends throughout the decades, the increase of infrastructure, and developing roadways, the norms and expectations of family life in the city vs. the country, and the different festivals they celebrate throughout the year. Each of them were short articles and only covered the basics of each topic, but at some point when I have time and definite WiFi I would like to research these topics more.

After class we were allowed free time, which was wonderful, because everyday since the beginning of the trip every minute has basically been planned for us. Now that we’re in more of a city environment there are more things to do such as shopping and trying different restaurants. I’m not gonna lie that I’m happy about being in the city for once. Usually I’m more of a country girl because of all the fresh air and open space, but after eating rice and noodles every day for every meal I have grown a little tired of it and was looking for some different food. In the city they have more options, and offer some international foods. Last night for dinner we went to a French restaurant, and today for lunch we tried the Australian place.

Both were delicious, and more of the types of food I’m used to back home. It was a nice change of scenery.

During our free time I did some walking around town and noticed murals on some of the walls. They depicted scenes or characters from some popular western animated movies. I thought this was interesting, because you often hear that China doesn’t concern itself with the rest of the world, and tries not to let it influence their culture. With how much the government tries to control and keep out, it’s inevitable that some things slip through the cracks.

— Brett Guldin, art studio major #HuskyAbroad

Led by Vera Viditz-Ward, professor of art and art history, and Jing Luo, Ph.D., professor of languages and cultures, a group of Bloomsburg University students spent three weeks in China studying language, culture and photography. The group, hosted by Yunnan Normal University, traveled to Kunming, Hekou, Yuanyuang, Mengzi, Dali, and Lijiang, where they had close contact with a variety of ethnic groups and learned about their lives and cultures.

China Today: A happy community

Arriving in China was definitely a culture shock. But even more shocking was the amounts of food they gave us. Usually we wake up and grab something quick in America to munch on before a day of work. Then, we eat a quick sandwich for lunch and hope for a home cooked dinner once we arrive back at the house. But every meal here is a “home cooked dinner”. We woke up Dec. 29 and walked one minute down the street to a little Asian diner. Breakfast was a big, and I mean BIG, bowl of who knows what. It was amazing! From that point on every meal was huge. Every meat you can imagine mixed with vegetables, rice, noodles, etc. Putting it lightly, we were treated very well upon arrival in China.

I was in complete awe when I saw the amount of labor women did. In America we all basically go to school and find a decent paying job. Nothing too hard and definitely nothing that forces us to work all day. Yes, some may say their work is hard. But I’m talking labor, sweat, pain, survival.

You do that? These people work their butts off. The men seem to be out in the fields or working with construction. The women are carrying sticks on their backs from one place to another. They don’t just watch babysit. The babies are being carried along with them while the kids go off and play alone. So it’s not just staying at home and cooking. These women are carrying all types of heavy materials to the men. Personally, it looks to me like the women do more work than they should but that’s my personal opinion.

The Chinese community is incredible. They still use electronics like Americans, but they don’t let that come between them in terms of communication. They’re always outside with one another. You see a lot of the men playing cards on the side of the street. Or they just hang out together smoking. Almost every time they eat it’s with a group. In America we barely even make time to eat one meal with our family. Playing cards? I’m pretty sure most Americans would prefer sitting in a circle looking at their phones, facebook, twitter, etc. Chinese don’t have this and I can see a happier community because of it.

I want to take every kid back with me to America. They are too cute! The only sad part was seeing the kids beg in the poor areas of China. It’s unbelievable how young they are, and they come up to you asking for money. Even worse, the parents use them to get money! I saw multiple mothers dress up their kids in fancy traditional clothes when they noticed tourists coming. We would take pictures and they would have us pay. I admit I gave a few kids some cash, because it’s impossible to say no to their adorable faces. When the kids weren’t with their mothers they would roam around alone. We passed so many kids walking along the street as we traveled to different cities. It’s different to see since in America we keep a close watch on our kids in public even when they just go out to play.

Many of the different cities we visited had markets along the street. Some were just fruit markets. Now the huge difference in China is that we couldn’t eat certain fruit like strawberries, grapes, and apples. We could eat bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe.

Why? The fruits without peels could get you very sick because of their water. So we had to be careful. Luckily, we had our awesome professors and tour guide to buy us a bunch of Chinese fruit to try that they knew was safe. My favorite was the jack fruit. It was huge! It tasted like every fruit I have ever tried combined into a smoothie. Not lying! If you ever come across a jack fruit, get it. The colors in Chinese clothing blew me away. As an art major, I love all the colors of the rainbow together. The people of china sure know how to use the colors to create beautiful clothing.

The best part is they handmade ALL the clothes and accessories. Practically everything they sewed. We would see them sitting outside their shops working on a fancy design for their next product to sell. Some parts of their outfit represent what village they are from. So we could just look at what they wore to understand where they were from. It is all simply amazing. Of course I bought a few hand sewn accessories with every color imaginable sewn in. I had too. I don’t know many good sewers in America, not like this.

— Jennifer Felegi, art studio major #HuskyAbroad

Led by Vera Viditz-Ward, professor of art and art history, and Jing Luo, Ph.D., professor of languages and cultures, a group of Bloomsburg University students spent three weeks in China studying language, culture and photography. The group, hosted by Yunnan Normal University, traveled to Kunming, Hekou, Yuanyuang, Mengzi, Dali, and Lijiang, where they had close contact with a variety of ethnic groups and learned about their lives and cultures.