What traits are peculiarly American? A U.S. expat reflects.

Shotgun Santa

Only in America: Even Santa totes a rifle.

It’s time for Christmas holidays with the family in America. After working and living in China for six and a half years, I now experience culture shock each time I return to Washington.

Empty sidewalks. Empty subways. Clean air. Polite people. Polite drivers. (Yes, by Beijing standards.)

I also appreciate those American characteristics that are so deeply ingrained that I can’t change, no matter how hard I try to adapt to my surroundings in Beijing.  Here is a list of some of those American traits that give me reverse culture shock – and some I can’t shake.

  1. American food portion sizes are obscene. The steaks are enormous. And so are the plates. No wonder people eat so much. No wonder we’ve become a super-sized society.
  2. Americans eat way too quickly. Maybe it’s the chopsticks that have slowed me down. But I seem to be the last person finished with my meal each time I return to the U.S. Eating slowly improves digestion and helps you lose weight. Another reason there are so many obese Americans with heartburn.
  3. Most of the world doesn’t share America’s obsession with junk food, fried food and gloppy, sweet sauces. I have to admit it: I love good French fries (especially in Belgium). But do we have to eat everything fried, or cooked in/with bacon.
  4. Americans are impatient. We want what we want when we want it. We don’t like to wait in lines. We like our customer service to be friendly. (But not too “have-a-nice-day” saccharine.) Basically, we want service. Most of the world isn’t like that. They wait in lines. In England, the queue up. They don’t complain. I’m American. I complain. I can’t help it.
  5. Guns. Rifles. Machine guns. The rest of the world will never understand the fascination of so many Americans with weapons of death and destruction. Try explaining to Chinese (or Europeans, or Africans) why the U.S. Supreme Court says Americans have the right to own and use assault weapons. You can talk about the Founding Fathers and the anger at British soldiers for billeting themselves in private homes. You can talk about militias and suspicion of too much government power. Almost nobody agrees.
  6. American football does not translate. While NBA basketball enjoys a rabid following in China, and the NHL has a modest cadre of ice hockey fans, the National Football League does not compute. Modern-day gladiators and physical freaks ripping each other’s heads off for the pleasure of the masses and the profits of the few. OK, every society has its peculiar attractions. We don’t eat duck paws or pig’s brains in America, after all.
  7. The Electoral College just cannot be explained. America is a democracy, right? We tell that to people around the world. But the presidential candidate with the most votes wins? No, she doesn’t. The only things harder to explain than the logic of the Electoral College are gerrymandering and the fact that California and Alaska have the same number of senators. Democracy. In theory: great. In practice, it’s complicated. But better than the alternative.
  8. What is a Kardashian? The peculiarly American trait of people being famous for being famous is a hard one to explain.
  9. Binge-watching is unheard of. Most people from most countries don’t sit in front of a screen for days on end and watch a TV series. They find the modern American habit a bit amusing, if baffling.
  10. More food differences: Americans expect ice in their drinks. Americans expect cold beer. Americans expect free refills on (most) drinks. After six-plus years, I’ve given up ice. But I prefer my beer chilled, not room temperature.
  11. Americans are caffeine addicts. The morning cup of coffee is American (and European). It’s definitely not Chinese, at least yet. Every visiting professor in my program asks where they can get a morning coffee fix. I now find this American addiction to be amusing. I prefer some nice Chinese tea.
  12. Americans tip. A lot. And they tip a lot of people. Chinese people don’t tip. Some students of mine, visiting Washington, asked if they had to tip the waiter at a bar-and-grill. After all, the bill already was $30 per person, including tax. Yes, I sternly replied. It’s not optional.
  13. Americans drive on small errands. In the U.S., people drive to the grocery store, drive to the pharmacy, drive to the library, drive to restaurants. It’s the default means of transportation. I still have to readjust each time I return. I’m so used to jumping on the subway or my bike.
  14. Americans are very old-fashioned when it comes to paying for products. Cash is almost obsolete in China. Electronic payments via AliPay or WeChat Pay are the norm. Americans use credit cards, many with big annual fees and high interest rates. A lot of Americans still carry cash. How 20th century.
  15. Americans stubbornly cling to their weights and measures. Almost every country in the world has gone metric. Not the US of A. Every American expat has to translate their heights, weights, volumes and temperatures. Since I’m mathematically inclined, it’s easy. Other Americans just give up. But when they say it’s 32 degrees, they mean it’s freezing. People in China are baffled because they seem to be saying that it’s 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) – 32 degrees Celsius. By the way, I am 168 cm tall.
  16. You can’t always get what you want. Some food favorites from the U.S. are not popular in China: Bagels, donuts, rye bread, corned beef, cheese, queso, hummus, cream of mushroom soup. We have to be patient and wait for the next trip home.
  17. Chinese have a different version of Christmas. Yes, there are Santa Clauses, Christmas trees and Christmas songs across China. ‘Tis the season for conspicuous consumption. What’s missing? In a sentence: The Chinese Christmas does not have Christ and does not have a mass. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Do you have any more cultural differences to add to the lift? Post a comment.


Hidden Gems of Beijing: The Ming Tombs

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The Ming Tombs are often overshadowed on the Beijing tourist trail by the nearby Great Wall, one of the world’s greatest wonders. In the past, en route to the Great Wall, I’ve quickly visited the publicly open parts of the 13 tombs of Ming Dynasty emperors buried in an arc-shaped valley at the foot of the Jundu Mountains, about 40 km north of the Forbidden City.

The second Ming emperor, the Yongle Emperor Zhu Di, decided to build royal tombs in his northern capital of Beijing in 1420 rather than the southern capital, Nanjing, chosen by his predecessor because of its distance from the Mongolian frontier. The tombs themselves have been ransacked and emptied of valuables, starting in 1644 when the rebel army of Li Zicheng’s ransacked and burned many of the tombs as he advanced toward Beijing, where the last Ming emperor committed suicide shortly thereafter. But the glorious structures remain.

Today, there are three public museum sites among the 13 tomb locations. It’s a massive, sprawling complex that stretches over 40 square kilometers. I feel sorry for the tourists who never get to visit the tombs because of the even-more-famous sights to see in Greater Beijing.

Off the beaten path of tourist Beijing, the tombs have their own fascinating history that touches the contradictions of modern (and ancient) China. After the Yongle Emperor built the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1420, he decreed that a burial site be found to house the remains of future Ming emperors. Four years later, his was the first of 13 mausoleums built in a verdant valley beneath the Jundu Mountains, not far from the Great Wall.

The place has been ransacked repeatedly in the six centuries that have followed, most notably during the revolution that preceded the fall of the Ming Dynasty and the Cultural Revolution that followed the rise of Mao Zedong. Its tombs have been raided for political and pecuniary purposes. But its Sacred Way, sometimes known as the Spirit Way or the Avenue of the Animals, remains as a reminder of the permanence of Chinese history, despite its periodic revision.

A final contradiction: A photo of Mao admiring one of the spirit elephants is posted on the Sacred Way, but Red Guards a few years later seized the remains of Emperor Wanli from the Dingling tomb, posthumously “denounced” him and burned his remains, along with his Empress.


Hidden Gems of Beijing: The Ancient Observatory

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The astronomical observatory in longest continuous use in the world is …

No, it’s not England’s world-famous Greenwich Observatory, creator of “Greenwich Mean Time.” It is the Ming Dynasty’s observatory in central Beijing. Near the southeastern corner of the old City Wall, the Beijing Ancient Observatory, originally built in 1442, is 233 years older than Greenwich.

The eight sets of astronomical instruments on the observatory’s roof have had a distinguished scientific past. Their design was strongly influenced by the Renaissance in Europe but they have some distinctive Chinese elements such as dragons and lions. The observatory’s treasures were pillaged in the 1900 war by marauding foreign troops retaliating for the lengthy siege of diplomats and Chinese Christians in the nearby Legation Quarter by Boxer cultists and the Qing military. Germany, defeated in the First World War, was the first nation to return the stolen treasure.

Today, the observatory is a small gem for in-the-know Beijingers (and a very few international tourists). There are interesting historical displays in the Ziwei Palace and some fascinating astronomical devices.


Hidden Gems of Beijing: The Old City Wall

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The Great Wall of China is Beijing’s most famous wall. But there’s another not-as-great wall in Beijing that is more relevant to the capital city’s history and culture. The “Inner City Wall” was built in 1419 early in the Ming Dynasty and formed a highly fortified rectangle that stretched for about 40 km around the Forbidden City and the “inner city” of Beijing.

Well into the 20th century, camel caravans would approach the city gates from the Silk Road, and horses (animal and then iron) would approach from the port of Tianjin. Moats surrounded the defensive fortifications, and a series of watchtowers provided housing for the soldiers.

Several of the gates were heavily damaged by troops from eight foreign nations during the 1900 “Boxer rebellion,” but the walled city remained, in its decaying grandeur, until a combination of the Cultural Revolution and the coming of the Beijing subway resulted in the almost-complete destruction of the ancient wall.

Today, few remnants of the old city wall remain (unlike the restored walls of Xi’an and Nanjing). But there is a mile-long stretch from the Southeastern Watchtower near the former Dongbian Gate to the Chongwen Gate that has been preserved as Beijing Ming City Wall Relics Park. The park was created in the early years of the 21st century when the ramshackle residences, with no heating, running water or plumbing, that abutted it were bulldozed and replaced by flowering trees, grass and hiking paths. (The ancient trees from the Ming era remain.) A small museum on the ramparts contains historical photos, an art exhibit and a few relics. You can walk atop a short section of the original ramparts then continue your stroll at street level. Ancient history, hidden in plain sight.


You’re invited: Here’s why (and how) you should apply to join the Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua

Are you interested in becoming an expert on the world’s fastest-growing economy?

Do you want to study Asia Pacific business development and report that to the world?

Do you want to have an amazing educational and personal experience in a dynamic country?

Do you want to learn how to share your stories with audiences via print, audio, video and digital media?

Please join us in the Global Business Journalism master’s degree program at Tsinghua University in China!

Here are instructions for application for the 2019-2020 academic year. Applications will be accepted after November 1, 2018.

1. Introduction

With China playing a key role in the global economy, there is a soaring demand for trained professionals who can understand the exciting, complicated development of the world’s fastest-growing economy and can explain it clearly and in depth to audiences in China and around the world.

Tsinghua University’s Master of Arts degree in Global Business Journalism is designed to meet that growing need. The program offers international students the opportunity to master the fine points of business, finance and economics in China. All courses are taught in English – the international language of business – by internationally renowned scholars and accomplished journalists with extensive global experience. The program’s facilities rival those of other leading journalism schools worldwide. The news lab has the largest number of Bloomberg terminals sponsored by the company of any college in the world.

Business journalism is one of the fastest growing areas of employment opportunities in the industry today. News audiences are eager to learn about the world of business, while media departments expect PR professionals to understand and analyze the complexities of business issues. Tsinghua’s Master of Global Business Journalism Program is designed to offer you the opportunity to meet these growing needs. We welcome you to join us!

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The first English-language graduate business journalism program on the Chinese mainland, created in partnership with the International Center for Journalists, it has sent more than 200 graduates to news outlets in China and globally over its first decade.

Launched in 2007, GBJ has already been recognized by students and recruiters alike as a world-class program. Academe, the world’s leading journal on higher education, has featured a series of articles on the program. The student body is culturally and professionally diverse. The full-time program spans two years of intense, fast-paced, rewarding study. Those who complete it successfully emerge with valuable connections, a rich array of opportunities and the business and journalism skills to capitalize on them. It is a two-year experience that will last a lifetime.

The program aims to bring business journalism in China in line with top international reporting standards. The Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication has a long history of cooperation with major international media and financial-information organizations, and visiting scholars have come from outlets such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Business Week, The New York Times, Financial Times, The Washington Post and CNN.

GBJ offers an array of specialized courses that are at the forefront of global business journalism. Students can learn about international accounting standards, multimedia journalism, data mining, complex financial derivatives, journalism ethics, advanced feature writing techniques and the management of media organizations – knowledge that is transferable to other economies and other professions. At the same time, they gain a deeper knowledge of the Chinese language and economy.

The GBJ program benefits from other academic resources on the Tsinghua campus, including its prestigious School of Economics and Management, the Schwarzman Scholars Program, as well as many Chinese and global media and technology companies in Beijing. Internships, field trips and recruiter visits are integral parts of the program.

GBJ students have opportunities to attend conferences on new media, economic development, global economics and other business topics. They benefit from meetings and discussions with guest speakers, including top editors and reporters from leading Chinese and Western news outlets and international business executives. The GBJ has a growing network of smart, sophisticated reporters, editors and public relations professionals who can enhance the world’s understanding of economic and corporate developments in China and globally.

ChingChing Rick class 2018

2. Program Courses 

Basic Courses

Mass Communications and Society in Contemporary China

Chinese Language

Intercultural Communication

Media Research Methods

Workshop for Academic Training and Ethics

Core Courses

Business News Writing and Editing

Multimedia Business Reporting

Economics and Accounting Basics for Journalists

Business News Data Mining and Analysis

Elective Courses

Corporate Communication

Opinion and News Commentary

Hot Topics in the Global Economy

Basic News Writing

Advanced News Writing: Enterprise Journalism

Feature Writing

Corporate Strategies, Case Studies of Chinese and Global Companies

Personal Finance Reporting

Media Management

Workshop on Film and TV Production

Theory and Practice of Public Diplomacy

Data Journalism

Public Relations: An Introduction

Public Speaking

Other Requirements

Professional Seminar for Master’s Candidates in Global Business Journalism

Literature Review and Thesis Proposal

Academic Activities

Internship

GBJ at Bloomberg

3. Qualification Requirements for Applicants

Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in related fields and a certificate proving English proficiency.

4. Application Documents

1) The completed Foreigner’s Application Form for Admission to Graduate Programs of Tsinghua University with a 2-inch recent photo, signed by the applicant;

2) Statement of Purpose and resume;

3) The original or the notarial degree certificate or proof of education at an academic institution (you need to submit an original or notarial degree certificate after it was awarded) and an academic transcript. The degree certificate and academic transcript must be officially sealed.

4) Two academic recommendation letters from scholars of associate professorship or higher. They must show referee’s phone number and email address on the letter.

5) For non-English speaking students, please provide English level certificates. e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, etc.

6) A copy of your passport page with personal information (personal and ordinary passport);

7) The completed Application Form for Tsinghua University Scholarship (if applicable, original);

8) A non-refundable application fee of RMB800.

The certificates provided should be the original documents in Chinese or in English, otherwise notarial translations in Chinese or English are required. None of the above application documents will be returned.

5. Application Procedure

Step 1: Online Application

Complete Online Application on the Application for Graduate Admission website at http://gradadmission.tsinghua.edu.cn

Step 2: Documents Submission

Submit the application documents listed above to the address indicated below by post mail or in person.

Step 3:Application Fee Payment 

There are two ways to pay application fee:

1 . Pay online using a credit card;

After your online application form is verified or the materials are received by Tsinghua University, the staff will make you the online payment draft, and at the same time, an email will be automatically sent out to remind you to pay the application fee via the online application system.

2 . Pay in cash at the Foreign Student Affairs Office (Room 120, Zijing Building 22) on the campus of Tsinghua University.

6. Application Deadline

March 20, 2019

Both the Online Application and a complete set of Application documents should be completed and the package should be received by March 20, 2019.

7. Tuition and Scholarship

Tuition:Program tuition fee for the year 2018-19 is RMB39000/year.

Accidental Injury and Hospitalization Insurance: RMB 600/year for 2018-19.

Please visit Tsinghua International Students and Scholars Center for more details about scholarships: https://is.tsinghua.edu.cn/publish/isscen/index.html

8. Program Website

For more information about the program, please visit the GBJ website at:

http://gbj.tsjc.tsinghua.edu.cn/

Follow us on:

Facebook: https: //www.facebook.com/GlobalBusinessJournalism/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GBJprogram

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gbj-global-business-journalism-tsinghua-清华-11133657/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gbjprogram/

Read more about the program:

International Center for Journalists website: https://www.icfj.org/our-work/tsinghua-global-business-journalism-program-gbj

Rick Dunham Blog: https://rickdunhamblog.com/category/global-business-journalism/

10.Contact Information:

Ms. Ma Chengcheng (Sarah Ma)

The GBJ Office Room 302, Omnicom Building,

School of Journalism and Communication

Tsinghua University,

Beijing 100084, P. R. China

Tel: +86 10 6279 6842

Fax: +86 10 6277 1410

E-mail: tsjcws@tsinghua.edu.cn


Come join us! Global Business Journalism students offer tips on navigating the Tsinghua application process


Come join us!

Global Business Journalism Program student journalist Botlhe Dikobe of Botswana produced this engaging video to celebrate the completion of her first semester in the Global Business Journalism Program. It has tips from current students on how to apply for our English-language master’s program at Tsinghua University, and what’s in store for you if you’re accepted.

Remember, our program is a partnership between the International Center for Journalists, the pre-eminent journalism training organization in the world, Bloomberg News, the most respected source of business news and data, and Tsinghua University, China’s top university.

Please share this with your family and friends as we build our community and seek more great applicants for the 2018-19 academic year. The deadline for early admission applications is January 15. The final deadline is March 1. An earlier application improves your chances of receiving a scholarship.

For more information on the program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/11/20/apply-now-for-the-global-business-journalism-program-tsinghua-university/

Video: Why the GBJ program is a great choice for a master’s program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/01/18/video-why-the-global-business-journalism-program-at-tsinghua-is-a-great-choice-for-graduate-school/comment-page-1/#comment-2301

Meet GBJ’s students (video): https://rickdunhamblog.com/2018/01/08/meet-the-students-who-make-global-business-journalism-the-best-program-of-its-kind-in-the-world/

Apply here: http://gradadmission.tsinghua.edu.cn

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Meet the students who make Global Business Journalism the best program of its kind in the world

The Global Business Journalism master’s program at Tsinghua University is made up of a diverse group of students from around the world. Students from more than 60 nations have learned from GBJ’s experienced international journalists and eminent Chinese scholars over the past decade.

GBJ student Narantungalag Enkhtur, a former Bloomberg TV Mongolia reporter, produced a video that allows you to meet current students from Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and America and hear them explain what that they are learning in this world-class program at China’s top university.

GBJ was created in 2007 by Tsinghua and the International Center for Journalists, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that is committed to journalism excellence and training around the world. Bloomberg News is the program’s chief sponsor.

The first round of applications for September 2018 admission is open until January 15, 2018. The second round of applications runs from January 16, 2018 to March 1, 2018. An earlier application improves your chances of receiving a scholarship.

For more information on the program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/11/20/apply-now-for-the-global-business-journalism-program-tsinghua-university/

Apply here: http://gradadmission.tsinghua.edu.cn

GBJ nations of students Jirong