Hutongs and Smart Cities: paradigmatic shifts in the way of life

Beijing-2.jpgBasilio G. Monteiro 

Water, the indispensable element for human existence, has been and continues to be the organizing principle of human living arrangements. Communities evolved around the source of the water. Water wells naturally drew people around them. These wells compelled communities to negotiate among themselves how they would live harmoniously and how they would responsibly consume this indispensable resource – water. Hydraulic despotism (Karl Wittfogel) is very much part of the human experience, then when societies were evolving along the rivers and now when the “powers to be” build water dams. Continue reading “Hutongs and Smart Cities: paradigmatic shifts in the way of life”


Language and Respect

beijing-20170104-6Sarah Gunther

The language barrier in China had me dizzy and feeling out-of-place.

It began on my flight from Boston to Beijing, speaking with a flight attendant on Hainan Airlines, and asking for her to throw out the trash. After my request, she smiled and nodded her head as if to agree and then disappeared. OK…I thought to myself, she must be grabbing a trash bag…I wouldn’t want to touch a passenger’s garbage either, but when she returned, she was handing me a cup of hot water. Hot water? How did that translate into garbage? Had I lifted up my cup, to show her it was trash and she has mistaken it for a request for water? Continue reading “Language and Respect”

Socialization and Squat Toilets

dsc_0731-2Sarah Gunther

Have you ever used a squat toilet? If the answer is yes, you’ll understand my surprise walking into a public restroom, opening up a stall, and finding a hole in the floor.

If you haven’t, just imagine if someone took a men’s urinal and laid it into the tile floor of a bathroom, put a bar on the wall for balance (sometimes) and a waste basket for used toilet paper. Continue reading “Socialization and Squat Toilets”

Chinese Perspectives on Food and Health

beijing-20170105-33Julia Theilen

What do you have for breakfast in China? How is Chinese barbecue different from the American one? And do they drink anything but tea in China? These were every-day questions that I found answers to during our trip to China. While finding these answers I also learned a lot more about Chinese diet and Chinese traditional medicine and about how Chinese eating traditions are linked to the country’s collectivistic cultural background. Continue reading “Chinese Perspectives on Food and Health”

Individualistic vs. Collectivistic Perceptions of Happiness

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1088.JPGJulia Theilen 

What is happiness? This is a question I asked myself several times during and after our study trip to China. Whether we were visiting ancient temples in Beijing or the world’s fourth largest statue Guan Yin of the South Sea of Sanya, lighting incense sticks for prayers I always found myself somehow silently wishing for happiness. Besides this, we had the opportunity to visit the End of the Earth, the Edge of the Sky and the Rim of the Sea – a meaningful spot at the Southern coast of Hainan where couples go to have a very happy married life. Continue reading “Individualistic vs. Collectivistic Perceptions of Happiness”

Shopping in China

beijing-20170106-9Kendra Clarke

Being from the New York area I have always love fashion. To me fashion is a way of art that gives one the opportunity to express themselves in their daily attire. While I personally find it difficult to “shop till I drop” I do find great pleasure in observing the clothing/accessory styles in every place I visit. Continue reading “Shopping in China”

The Great Wall & Summer Palace

Beijing_2017-62.jpgKendra Clarke 

Prior to studying in Beijing I knew that China had a lot to offer culturally. However familiar names like The Great Wall and The Summer Palace merely seemed like historic sites turned tourist destinations. I wouldn’t know the impact they would have on me until I finally got the chance to visit them myself. Continue reading “The Great Wall & Summer Palace”