Cooking Lessons at the Linden Centre

On the second day of our stay at the Linden Centre, we were given the opportunity to have a cooking class with Michael, one of the Linden Centre’s chefs. Our group of 15 was broken into two groups. Group One would take a tour of the markets in Xizhou and purchase their own ingredients to be used later that afternoon in the cooking class. Group Two, my group, was chosen for the morning class where all of the ingredients were already purchased. The recipes my group and I would be cooking consisted of two traditional Bai dishes, the Bai people being the predominant ethnic group in Xizhou.

The first dish we prepared was a type of mashed potatoes with leek and green onions cooked in dark soy sauce. The potatoes were already boiled in water and we proceeded to peel and mash them by hand. One of the immediate differences between my experience with western cooking and eastern cooking was how o ften the hands were used to help cut and mash the various ingredients. After the potatoes and related ingredients were prepared, we proceeded to combine them into a stir fried mash potato delicacy.

The second dish was along the lines of a more traditional plate of chicken stir fry. Some of the unique ingredients used were sichuan peppers, cinnamon bark, potato starch, light and dark soy sauce, and Chinese peach flower wine. The peach flower wine used in this dish was the same kind that could be bought at most wine selling stores in the Yunnan province. It is a common drinking wine with a taste similar to rose tea or rose wine which also doubles as a perfect cooking wine. As we started to combine all of our ingredients into the wok, we had the liberty of choosing how much spice to use. Those of us who prefered our food to be spicy used more sichuan pepper than those who liked to maintain the sweeter flavor of the peach flower wine. Even those who enjoy spicy food need to be aware of the dangers possessed by sichuan pepper. Too much sichuan pepper can lead to a numbing sensation in the mouth which is only worsened by drinking water.

Both groups concluded the cooking classes with a late afternoon feast for lunch. While group two made mashed potatoes and chicken stir fry, group two used the ingredients they bought to make a pork stir fry and a spicy rice cake dish. Chef Michael had one last surprise for our lunchtime feast. Michael prepared a soup of his own recipe which consisted of rice wine, sugar, gogi berries, and cheese. The final product was a sweet, yet savory soup which was very filling.

The feast was a satisfying conclusion for a group of tired, amateur chefs.

Final Thoughts

After being abroad for an entire year, there are a lot of big things that you learn. I will not dive into everything that I learned from the entire year, but rather focus on a few things that I felt were very important at the conclusion of the summer. The number one thing that I think is not only important in the workplace is communication. Being able to communicate effectively is something that is very important for a successful life. The other big thing that being abroad taught me is to be open minded and go with the flow. There were many times over the course of the summer where I was very disappointed with something or I didn’t understand a cultural element, so the best thing for me to do was to open my mind and understand the “why” as opposed to criticizing. The memories and experiences that I have from my time in Shanghai will serve me for a lifetime, there are some skills that I would have never obtained if it weren’t for my time abroad. Saying goodbye to really good friends and parting with Shanghai has been very hard for me, nevertheless I am more than ready to take on the challenges that face me ahead. Thanks so much for Davidson for allowing me to have such an amazing opportunity!

Internship experience

I interned at TÜV SÜD Shanghai on the quality management team this summer. Every single member of my team was very supportive and would help whenever necessary. All of my colleagues were extremely interested in getting to know background and why I would choose to come to Shanghai for an internship. Over the two months that I was at TÜV SÜD I managed several big projects and collaborated closely with the executives in the company. Interestingly enough, some of the best interactions that I had with colleagues was outside of the workplace. In China it is very common to go out with colleagues after work for a drink or maybe even dinner. They all were nice enough to show me a few local places and throughout these interactions I was able to learn so much more about China, the culture, and the people. It is very interesting because so many people have very different opinions about their own country, this is especially the case in China. China has so much culture and history that I feel like in a lifetime I will not be able to know near all of it, but by listening and conversing with many locals I feel like I  have a better grasp than ever before. China is an amazing country.

 

 

 

 

 

Shanghai adventures

For the 2017-18 academic year I had been studying in Shanghai. Upon the conclusion of my program in the middle of May, I returned home to Houston for two weeks of rest before returning to Shanghai. I arrived back to PuDong International Airport on May 29th at 8PM. Upon arrival to the airport I quickly cleared customs and continued to my apartment… I started my internship on the following day (May 30). In terms of the culture shock, this trip back to China was, for me, like returning to my own home. I have spent a significant amount of time in Shanghai and knew the ends and outs. Nevertheless, every moment abroad was a new experience for me. You never know what you will encounter, especially in China! My favorite part about China is the food. There are so many awesome options and you can go a very long time without eating the same thing. Not only is Shanghai full of amazing Chinese food, there is also awesome choices for good Japanese food! One of the recent highlights was having Terry Zervos, a senior at Davidson, in Shanghai. I took him to one of my friends restaurant to enjoy some of the best Shanghainese food in Shanghai! After not being at Davidson for a long while, I was able to catch up on the things that happened on campus this past year! Shanghai is an amazing city and I have been more than happy with my experience here!

Final Thoughts

The night before leaving for Beijing, my final destination in China, I met an Austrian traveler walking around the city-wall of Xi’an. It was a rainy evening, but we quickly got caught up in a conversation about our life-paths up until this point. After hearing my story, the guy suggested that after I finish my internship I should take a day/night to reflect on my summer while camping on the Great Wall of China. He shared his experience, and before he even finished, I was sold.

A few locals that agreed to help

There was no specific plan, just a bit of research on the outdated/banned Google. A few days later, I got onto a public bus towards a village near the Great Wall. Initially, the ride there, with all the transfers, was supposed to take about 5 hours. Yet, since nothing really went according to the plan this summer, I got very-very lost at least 3 times. Thinking back on it, for some reason I never doubted reaching the destination. Somehow, after initiating conversations, there was always someone willing to help or at least point me in the right direction. The sun was long set when I finally reached the desired location. Throughout the night, I had plenty of time to reflect on my summer experience. I woke up with the sunrise and spent another 5 hours in peaceful solitude walking along the Great Wall.

5 hour long hike along the Great Wall

 

This summer was incredible for many reasons. First and foremost, the Davidson in East Asia program provided me with an opportunity to explore the world. I have had a chance to travel a little before coming to Davidson, however, after spending 3 years in exploration of different perspectives through various disciplines, the travel aspect of this summer was especially rewarding. Furthermore, because of my pursuit for a double major, I was unable to go through the popular study abroad experience. While finding an internship in a completely foreign environment was a challenge, I am grateful for this opportunity and the assistance I received throughout the process. It is one thing to go half across the world just to explore, but it is a whole different adventure when you are able to immerse yourself through work experience. All in all, this was an experience of a lifetime, and I would like to thank everyone who was a part of this experience with me!

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