The First Day: The UK Way

Neither of us have ever been to China, and one of us has never even been on a plane – these are the first impressions of Keshia Agnew and myself;

Xiao, Zouf, Wanf and Sun (left to right)

We woke this morning to our first real day in Hangzhou after an exhausting 24 hours travelling from Coventry to Shanghai via Birmingham and Amsterdam. On arrival our world felt very hot and muggy, almost like the air had turned heavy, like our eyes from the flight. Having arrived at the hotel yesterday, we were immediately whisked off for food, given a tour of the university and introduced to our new world for the next two weeks.

After immediately falling asleep last night (I slept, as usual, right through and Keshia waking a few times from the heat), we had an 8am start for breakfast and to meet our fellow Chinese students with whom we are currently working with.

Writes Tim Watson…

Breakfast is nothing like that of England. No cereal with toast or a greasy fry up to follow, no. Something far better. CAKE! And I’m not joking now, we genuinely had cake and a boiled egg for breakfast. It was like every child’s dream, and to make it even better, chopsticks were the only utensils available. There were many laughs and jokes around the table, firstly the breakfast seeming strange to us and then joking that this was something all of us had probably dreamt as a kid. The cake was surprisingly filling too. And the egg shells make for fantastic chopstick grabbing practice.

From here we ventured to a lecture room which, like everything in China was finished to a beautiful standard. Walls, floor, tables and chairs all made from wood and completely unmarked – very different from the classrooms of England. The windows run along the massive room, and overlooked an again smoggy and, today, wet Hangzhou – thundered rumbled through the room as initial the address came to a close.

Initial address consisted of a welcome talk from lecturers at the university, the university vice principle and the 4 travelling staff from Coventry University. John Mair presented gifts to staff and the vice principal for their generosity of having Coventry staff and students stay – copies of his book and a plate from the royal wedding memorabilia. Laughs filled the room as the vice president laughed at the ‘British’ plate was in fact made in China.

From here we got assigned our tasks – 3 group on ‘The Buzz’ news letter, 4 on the CU Today and 3 on creating videos. I headed the CU Today groups and assigned them all tasks and deadlines. There was a lot of mixing of people, but slowly the groups formed together and remained strong teams throughout the day.

Lunch was a particular bonding point, where we talked about our families, boyfriends, girlfriends, the UK and China. Food was also a topic of conversation, mostly with us asking our new friends what we were eating, how to eat it and so forth, with me needing particular instruction on my new tools of the trade – chopsticks. Both Keshia and I found our favourite foods too, Green Tea Cakes for Keshia and a whole plate of shrimp for myself. Nom.

After heading back to the room to collect equipment we made our way back to the classroom, with a quick stop at the shops – the prices here are unbelievable cheap – £2 buys you 3 note pads, one with black pages, and two neon pens – probably the best part of £12 at home in England.

Back in the room, another difference became very apparent – Xiao, Zouf, Wanf and Sun (left to right) had their part of the task, a diary of events today, finished over an hour ago… Keshia and I are still sat here writing the diary and editing the video…

Having embraced this new world with both hands, Chinese and British are working together over the next two weeks to create audio, video, photographic and print content for you – check back to the CU Today website for the latest most up to date and breaking news of this adventure of a lifetime.

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