Opening up about Chinese propaganda

By Sami Elkan, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

During my visit to China, I went to the most interesting museum I have ever visited, The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre, created by Mr. Yang Peiming. The museum is the only place in the world devoted to the collection and study of Chinese propaganda posters.

This propaganda was disseminated during wartime and peace time to influence the Chinese people’s views on the west, gender roles, foreign allies, domestic politics, and to motivate them to act in certain ways. The Chinese government is not vocal about its excessive use of propaganda, which is why Mr. Peiming’s venture is important; it makes previously concealed information open to the public. 

He is educating people about China's propaganda past. He has collected and studied 6,000+ propaganda posters and created a museum to showcase them in order to educate people. Further, Mr. Peiming made the decision to not allow photo-taking in the museum because his work could easily be made available to the public which might have a negative impact on the number of people who would choose to visit his museum.   It was a truly interesting museum and I would recommend it. 


Shanghia Urban Planning Exhibition Center

The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center is located on People’s Square in Shanghai. It displays the development and urban planning of Shanghai with an impressive large scale models of the entire urban.  The development of the city has been astounding.  Places where there once farms and rice patties are now home to high rise apartments and a financial center.  

The Exhibition Center presents a model with the exact existing and planned future building in Shanghai.  In addition to the model, there are many other interesting exhibits throughout the six story building which is also the home to smaller scale models such as the Bund which is waterfront area in central Shanghai and one of the primary tourist attractions. 



The most expensive “date” I ever had!

By Student, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

One of my most vivid memories of China was getting scammed in Beijing. A friend and I were walking through Tiananmen Square when we ran into these girls about our age. One of them was studying English and economics at some university in Beijing and the other was visiting her for the week and they seemed really happy to meet us. We discussed Semester At Sea, our lives in the U.S., their lives in China and a variety of other things. Anyway, we spent about half an hour talking in the square when they suggested we go to dinner. They were very nice and friendly and as a foreigner, I was very excited to be having a real conversation with locals. My friend was not as enthused and I am still not sure why my scam meter didn't go off immediately. They suggested going to a Karaoke bar and of course I was an idiot and said we would go. So we get there and start ordering drinks, talking and signing songs for about an hour and everything is going well, when my friend and I said we got to meet our other friends for dinner so let’s get the check. It turns out the wine the girls ordered was about 600 dollars. They said that in China, usually the guys pay for the girls and we countered with usually the girls don't order a 600 dollar bottle of wine without asking. So they asked, do you have a credit card and we said no (which was a lie) so after 10 minutes they finally said give us all your cash and we will put the rest on our card. This was bad and cost us each about 150 bucks but it could have been worse. We are still not sure if they blatantly scammed us from the beginning (and maybe even gave us a fake price on the wine) or if they just had expensive tastes. This kind of ruined the rest of my night, made me super annoyed, especially since my friend sort of saw it coming and made me uninterested in trying to talk to locals the rest of the trip. In the future, I should listen more in pre-port. 



Cough, cough....

By Charly Solomon, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

During my time in China, I noticed that there was a lot of smog throughout the cities that I visited, specifically Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai. I asked my tour guide the reason for the highly concentrated smog and she said it was because of the coal burned in order to create energy and heat, as well as the industrial community for factory work throughout the country.

I find this to be a disadvantage for tourism in China. The smog in China has affected the citizens and their breathing, due to the high air pollution. The majority of people that I passed on the streets were wearing masks, and those that were not were smoking cigarettes. I feel that I inhaled a lot of second-hand smoke throughout my six days in China and although I wish I had a mask to prevent my lungs from weakening, I had lots of difficulty finding one until the end of my time in China. As a result of the intense air pollution, this may create a decrease of travelers coming to China. 

Although I knew about the air pollution, I wanted to come to China because I wanted to visit one of the wonders of the world, The Great Wall of China. Even though many people understand the negative impacts of the pollution, they still come to see this wonder. Many of these people are considered to be the Psychocentrics according to Plog’s model. They want to visit a familiar destination, stay for a few days and then leave, rather than seeing the country and exploring.. Many of the countries around the world consider China as a good  location for their factories because of the cheap price for goods manufactured and shipped to their respective countries. However as a result, we are impacting the health of Chinese people and tourists and are missing out on a huge sector of tourism in one of the largest countries in the world. As a citizen of this earth, I believe it is our moral responsibility to reduce the factories in China to better the people who live and travel in this country.



One, two , three stRikes... I am out

By A Student, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017    

The main word that pops into my mind when I think about China is “wow”. China really was an experience. On this trip, I decided to go to Beijing to see the Great Wall, but after being crowded, grabbed and treated like an animal at the Zoo, I have no idea what I was thinking. The experience I had was pretty rough, to say the least. 

My first problem was getting a ticket printed for the train to Beijing. The train station was having a problem printing out my friends ticket and was unwilling to help us with the problem. We had been sent back and forth to 2 different desks at least 3 times until we finally got on someone's nerves enough for them to just help us. That was strike one. 

The next problem was that I had left my bag of clothes in the station that our train left from. Obviously that was my mistake, but when I asked one of the workers on the train if their was a number I could call, she literally ran away from me and my friend. Strike two. 

Let me also add the fact that during this whole adventure that people would continue to stare or take pictures. I understand that some of the visitors were coming from other locations as tourists themselves, but I feel as though if a lot of them were sneaking the pictures, that meant that they knew what they were doing was rude, otherwise they wouldn’t have snuck the pictures. Some people did ask, but I noticed a lot of people pretending to take selfies or pictures of something else, but really the only thing in the pictures were me and my friends. That was Strike 2 1/2. 

The final and 3rd strike that confirms that I will never go back to China again, was the fact that so many taxis refused to take us anywhere. The thought that if I came back again and it was still as difficult to explore the town the way I would've liked makes me uninterested in coming back. The way I was treated as a tourist as well as the way other people I heard were treated makes me feel as even though China is physically open to American travelers, doesn’t mean they are mentally and that is something I feel as though they need to work on before I can even consider coming back.



Celebrating Chinese New Year 2017 in China

By Courtney Morrison, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Have you ever had the privilege of experiencing the Chinese Lunar New Year in China? I had the opportunity to do so through Semester at Sea and it was an experience I will never forget.


The first day our ship arrived in port, January 31, 2017, I was able to visit the Yu Gardens in the center of Shanghai which was during Chinese New Year. As we entered the sprawling marketplace full of vendors that surrounded the gardens, I was taken aback at how many Chinese people had come to the attractions to celebrate. From two month old babies to teenagers to senior citizens, it felt like everyone in Shanghai was in the Yu Gardens. All of the shop owners were out trying to sell souvenir items while the smells of cooking meats and dumplings filled the air. The occasional whiff of stinky tofu was not exactly pleasant, but added to the ambiance of China.

It was an amazing experience being able to be with other domestic travelers and and see all of the gardens lit up with decorations from the New Year. The massive decorations looked like floats but were lit up with hundreds of colorful lights around the main squares and also set up on the ancient temples. If anyone has the opportunity to visit China during their Lunar New Year, I would most definitely recommend it! 



Trash and treasure on the Wall

By Adhali Trejo, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Never did I ever think that I would be able to visit the Great Wall of China one day. Even as I sailed across the Pacific Ocean for two weeks, it did not fully sink in that I would be visiting the great country of China. Navigating across such a vast country presented many challenges and tested my abilities to remain level headed, but after hours and hours of traveling and getting lost, I finally made it.

I arrived at the area named Mutianyu.  It was breathtaking, but I also I noticed that there was trash in many areas around the wall which is probably the result of visitors dropping their trash off the sides of the wall. Although the views from the wall are amazing, I think some of the beauty is ruined by the trash that is accumulating in certain areas.

Many people came to the Great Wall with the goal of taking a piece of it with them as they left. I saw tourists picking at the bricks and at the steps of the Wall hoping to dislodge a piece of it to take home. If people continue to do this over aperiod of time, there will be significant damage to the wall. The section I visited, Mutianyu, was not as crowded with tourists as many of the other sections where trash and taking a piece of the Wall might be even more common.

Overall, my experience at the Great Wall was incredible yet troubling in some ways that touristsare not always respecting UNESCO sites such as this one.