Traveling to Beijing and Shanghai opened my eyes to a completely different culture. The experience challenged the way I thought about my own. In America we are progressive thinking, constantly looking for change in areas we deem outdated. But imagine living in a society caught between the old and the new. This is where China stands. From my time there I noticed the countries struggle to honor its rich history and culture, while trying to modernize. It had long been under a communistic rule, which promoted strong relationships and collectivist values. Individuals worked in order to contribute to society, employed in agriculture and trade. Their profits were controlled by the government and distributed throughout the community. Due to this system individuals could not work to gain higher economic status. The Chinese economy has moved towards socialism since the Republic of China and is slowly making its way to capitalism. The thousands who have moved from rural areas to urban cities exemplify this notion. They have left to seek greater economical opportunity by joining or starting their own businesses. Women have left their traditional housewife roles to enter the work force. The people of China are moving towards a new direction, a new society.
However, parts of China still preserve its ties to the old ways. Beijing is culturally rich and maintains many sites from the past dynasties. It is very different than Shanghai, which has become heavily influenced by foreigners. It caters to international business from the port and a more modern lifestyle. I was dazzled by the bright lights and city like atmosphere, but missed the cultural experience Beijing had. It was awe-inspiring to visit places like the Great Wall, a structure that has existed for thousands of years or stand in the Forbidden City, the home of the Emperors. At times we traveled by rickshaw and even partook in a traditional tea ceremony. We witnessed the importance of relationships and the community. It was through our tours and activities in Beijing that we could see how deep the culture goes.
I am grateful I was able to explore China because it made me realize things about my own culture. In comparison I believe that the United States lacks culture. China is much older and therefore has more historical places, but our monuments seem less culturally significant. I think that my experiences in China have definitely been beneficial, especially as an International Business student and able to gain personal experiences to later use in my future endeavors.