Stuff to Know Before We Go...
Information on hotels, packing, money, bargaining, health and safety, etc.
Study Abroad Orientation & Information Session
The mandatory in-person Family Orientation for all study abroad programs is on Saturday, April 13, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Location TBD. Or you may exempt yourself from in-person Family Orientation by completing your orientation on line by no later than 4:30 pm on Thursday, April 11.
We will have a Math Ed in China specific information session on Saturday April 13 at 1:00 pm, following the general study abroad orientation, in Swart 127.
Here is the powerpoint for that orientation.
Please feel free to contact me or the Office of International Education if you have any questions or concerns about the Study Abroad Orientation.
We will be having class at UWO on Monday May 13 , Tuesday May 14, Wednesday May 15 and Thursday May 16 from 9 am – noon. Location TBD. A readings packet and course syllabus will be given to you at the study abroad orientation in April.
An updated itinerary appears on our main program webpage at http://www.uwosh.edu/oie/abroad/guide/LNINGguide.php
Information on China
This guide contains some information and general recommendations specific to our trip. A great supplemental source for information on where we will be going is the Lonely Planet China. I prefer the Lonely Planet to other guides because it generally contains more practical information (where grocery stores are, for example) and caters to cheap tourists like me.
See the OIE's webpage for our trip for up to date hotel information.
The weather in China in May and June is similar to Wisconsin. It can be cool and rainy, but also hot and humid. In Shanghai and Hangzhou the average daily high in May and June about 80 degrees; average lows are in the upper 60s. It is the end of the rainy season, so be prepared for some rain and humid weather. On the other hand, umbrellas are really cheap in China, so if you don't have a travel umbrella, you might just wait to buy one there. Humidity also feels cooler at night, so you will want to make sure you have a light jacket. Also, they don't use heat much in this part of China, so if it is cool, you might want to have a polartec or other light sweater for wearing indoors. Near the end of the trip in Beijing, it will likely be much hotter, with temps up in the 80 or 90's during the day.
Air conditioning is not common in China. Our university classroom will likely not be air conditioned, and neither will the schools we visit on our field trips. Our hotel and dormitory rooms will be air-conditioned, however.
What to Pack
Luggage: Going To/From China you can check 2 bags each up to 50 lbs. But on our flight within China you will be limited to one checked bag up to 50 lbs. On all flights you are also allowed one carry-on sized bag and one purse.
Since we are limited to one checked bag within China, plan on checking just one bag on our flight to China. If you plan on buying a lot of stuff in China, then consider bringing along a collapsible duffle or a carry-on sized bag for a second checked bag on the flight back home.
Clothes: As you know, we’ll be gone nearly three weeks. Two weeks will be spent in Hangzhou, at the Zhejiang Education Institute. We'll also spend a week traveling around Beijing, which will be more rugged -- and include climbing the Great Wall. You want to be prepared for everthing -- from a nice restaurant to trekking.
The Chinese tend to dress casually, but not sloppily. They love golf- or polo-type shirts with khakis or slacks. Young people in China love jeans and T-shirts. The Chinese do not typically wear shorts, but when we are being tourists, it's ok for us to wear shorts. You'll want casual but presentable clothes for when we visit schools, with perhaps one nicer outfit for the day that we teach.
There will be clothes washing machines available at the University dormitory, but there will not be any driers, instead there are clothes lines set up in the courtyards for you to use. When we are in Beijing, it may be difficult to find laundry services, so do all of your laundry in Hangzhou before we go to Beijing. You can always wash some clothes in the sink or tub if necessary and our hotels will likely have a laundry line in the bathroom that you can stretch across for hanging clothes. You can buy laundry soap in little packets at the grocery store very cheaply.
I recommend bringing with you 8 days of underclothes (socks, underwear, t-shirts). This way you can wash clothes twice in Hangzhou and have enough to cover the trip to Beijing before we go home. Jeans, shorts and overshirts you can bring fewer of.
Here is a recommended list for clothes:
- 8 days of socks, underwear, undershirts/tank tops
- up to 8 short-sleave shirts (e.g. polo, button-front shirts, blouses), depending on whether you think you can wear a shirt twice before washing
- 1 long-sleave shirt/blouse (for a nice dinner out)
- 1 heavier long-sleave t-shirt (nice for the plane rides and cooler evenings)
- 2 pairs of light-weight jeans or khakis
- 2 pairs of shorts (to wear when we are tourists, especially near the end of the trip)
- 1 light jacket, sweatshirt or polar-tec
- 1 pair of rugged walking sandals
- 1 pair of nicer looking but still comfortable walking shoes
Other things to bring with you.
- ATM Card and a back-up credit card. ATM machines are everywhere in China -- they're fast, easy, and convenient. It’s also a good idea to bring some US cash as a back-up. Make sure they are small bills (twenties or smaller) that are in good condition. Traveller's checks are NOT recommended. You do NOT need to have Chinese money right away, so don't worry about trying to get some before our trip.
- A photocopy of your passport information page and Chinese Visa page, kept separate from your passport.
- WI driver's license as a back-up photo ID. Your UWO student ID card, in case there is a student discount on admissions.
- Travel battery-operated alarm clock or cell phone with an alarm. Our hotels and dorm may not have clocks. You will need this for getting up for class and when we’re traveling.
- Camera, with back-up memory card and batteries and battery charger.
- You might consider bringing your laptop or tablet, as we expect to have wireless internet access at our dormitory and hotels.
- Comfortable, rugged shoes for hiking and walking. We’ll be doing lots of walking and you’ll want to enjoy it. You walk a lot more when you are travelling than you normally do at home. Waterproof hiking boots are nice, but sneakers will work fine. Rugged sandals are also a nice option -- I don't recommend flip-flops. There's lots of stuff in China that you wouldn't want to step in. Don't bring new shoes, as this is a recipe for lots of blisters! If you want to buy new shoes for the trip, get them early and start wearing them all the time to break them in before you go.
Bring your comfy shoes!
- Necessary prescription medicines and the chemical names in case you need a refill in China.
- Women should bring their own feminine supplies. Tampons are difficult to find in China, and their feminine supplies are generally not of the quality we might expect or prefer.
- Birth control, just in case.
- A wind-proof, rain-proof coat or a small umbrella.
- A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. We will be outside in the sun a lot when we are being tourists in Beijing.
- A small backpack for day trips and bus and airplane rides.
- Kleenex mini-packs as most public bathrooms do not have toilet paper.
- Ear plugs, especially if you’re a light sleeper, for the plane rides and in case your room-mate snores.
- Band-aids—good for blisters among other things.
- If you like washcloths, bring your own.
- Sufficient contact lens solution if you wear them. The stores we were in didn’t seem to stock any.
- In general, you can buy cheaply in China. However, US brand toiletries are difficult to come by and expensive. Bring these things from home. Hotels will usually provide shampoo and soap, if you're not picky about the variety.
Other Packing Suggestions
- Pack light. Pack once and then take half that amount. Particularly at the end of the trip, when we’re traveling for a week, you’ll be happy to have a small, light suitcase. You might want to bring a foldable duffle bag to get all the things you buy home.
- Don’t bring anything that you’d be heartbroken if it got lost or ruined. It’s inevitable that your suitcase will be thrown, dropped, and bounced a few times. Especially when we’re traveling, a few rugged clothes in colors that don’t show dirt is the best way to go.
- Definitely don’t bring expensive jewelry, watches, or leather coats.
- Bring things to do on the plane and bus rides. If you like to read, you might also want to bring a travel book light.
- If you plan to bring and use your cell phone, make sure you check your plan for foreign usage and international calling costs. Phone cards are pretty cheap in China — about $4 for 20 minutes of international calling, so that might be a better option. Or look into Skpe for free video calling with your friends and family online.
- Some of the hotels will have hairdryers, but we might not be able to rely on this. If you bring a hairdryer from home, you'll need a voltage converter. A cheaper option might be just to wait and buy a hairdryer in China.
- Go in with your friends and spit up the things you’re bringing—not everyone needs an entire bottle of sunscreen, insect repellent, etc. Share hairdryers, travel alarms, books, CD’s and other entertainment. Buy one guidebook and share it.
- They have photo shops that will download digital photos onto CDs for you, leaving you room to take EVEN MORE pictures! This service usually runs between $2 and $4, depending on the number of CDs you buy.
When traveling abroad there are two separate issues for electricity: plug style and voltage. Most outlets in China uses the same style plugs as the US (flat two-pronged), so you will not need a plug adaptor. However the electricity in China is 220 Volts (the US is 110 Volts) so electrical appliances from the US will not work in China without a voltage converter. A convenient exception is battery chargers, which are usually dual voltage. (Check the label: if it says input 110-220 V, then you're OK). So if the only electronic items you are bringing are battery chargers (such as for your camera or computer), then you will not need to bring any adaptors or converters with you.
Chinese Currency and Getting Money
The Chinese currency is called the Yuan or RMB (Ren Min Bi). The symbol is ¥. There are about 6 Yuan to the dollar. Conversely, 1 Yuan is about 16 cents, and so 100 yuan is about 16 dollars.
You don't need to change any money before you go. Once we arrive, you can get Chinese money out of the ATM, either at the airport, or the next day in the city. You won't be needing cash right away. If you have a UWO Credit Union account, you can use ATM machines in China four times a month with no fee. In my experience, Chinese ATMs do not charge you an additional fee. Besides ease, another nice thing about ATMs is that you get the market exchange rate. All other ATM cards will work in China, but the amount you pay varies by bank and type of account. Find out what your situation is before you leave.
I do NOT recommend traveler’s checks. These have to be changed at banks in person (and many banks don’t even do this anymore). Chinese banks are slow, slow, slow, and are not open all that often. This makes exchanging traveler’s checks a real hassle. The banks also charge a fee to do the exchange and you’ll get a poorer exchange rate.
Similarly, I do not recommend bringing a lot of US dollars in cash. They don't usually accept US dollars at stores and restaurants in China, so you would need to exchange your dollars at a bank, which again is very time consuming and expensive. However, I would recommend bringing some US cash with you, say about $50. It's good to have on hand in case of an emergency. Also, when we are tourists (such as in Shanghai and in Beijing, then you can spend dollars (such as to buy water from the bus driver). Bring small bills (ones and fives) in good condition.
As for credit cards, you can charge some things like dinners in “nice” restaurants or items at the large department stores. In many cases, you’ll get a better deal paying with Yuan cash, since both the store and the credit card company will assess a penalty (sometimes up to 8%). So plan instead of paying cash for things.
What to Plan to Spend
In general, China is pretty cheap. Taxis are reasonable, large bottles of local beer in Chinese restaurants or at the grocery store is about $2, and eating out in Chinese-style restaurants will be $5-$7 for a nice meal, though you can certainly eat more cheaply. We've made some arrangements that should help you all save money: breakfasts are included at the hotel and dormitory, and when we are touring in Shanghai and Beijing many of our lunches and dinners will be included. Lunch at the university cafeteria will be very cheap, and the cost of dinner can vary significantly depending on where you eat. American fast food and tourist restaurants tend to be expensive, but a good dinner at a typcial chinese restaurant can be quite reasonable.
What you might spend is an individual kind of thing, but here are some estimates that can help you plan. You will be on your own for 9 lunches and 12 dinners. If you average $5 for lunch and $10 for dinner, that would be $165. If you eat often at upscale restaurants, or eat a lot of American or fast food restaurant, or go out to clubs or bars, you'll want to budget significantly more. In addition, you are responsible for your own taxi money. If you share taxis with folks on the trip, we'd recommend budgeting about $20. You might budget $25-50 for optional tours and entertainment (we will have a free day in Hangzhou), and $50-$150 for souveniers and things you might buy. There’s lots of stuff to shop for, so plan carefully.
Generally, tips are not included on restaurant tabs, and most people do NOT tip waiters in the cheaper restaurants. Waitpersons in these restaurants are usually family members of the owner. If you want to tip, something on the order of 5% is acceptable. You should not tip taxi drivers (see the section on taking taxis).
Shopping and Bargaining
Shopping can get addictive in China, since there’s so much opportunity to do it. Silk (clothes, scarves, pillow covers, etc), and gold, pearl, and jade jewelry are popular (all $2 to $15 to $100, depending on what you want to spend, quality, and originality). In addition, China is known for its knock-off markets -- Coach, Gucci, Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy Bahamas, Nike, etc. etc. etc. Some of these name brand items are seconds, some are fakes. BARGAIN HARD. You should not pay more than $10 for a designer shirt or $15 for a purse of any kind.
In department stores and grocery stores, prices are generally fixed, but bargaining is expected in markets and even in many stores, especially stores that sell to tourists. You can't rely on a standard percentage off. You might be able to get 25% off, 50% off, or maybe even 90% off of the starting price. You can also ask for a discount for multiple items, so there’s an advantage to shopping with friends. When it comes to shopping for items there’s a couple of things to remember:
- You’re more likely to get a bad deal buying items at a tourist site like the top of the Great Wall. That said, I've found the tourist shops in Hangzhou pretty reasonable.
- Always bargain. Remember, exchange is bilaterally beneficial. You are not forcing them to sell to you, so if they agree to a price it must also be good for them.
- Bargain cheerfully and nicely; if the price is too high smile and shake your head. Sometimes it helps to show you only have 50 Yuan (or whatever). This is why keeping small change in your pocket is helpful.
- Go shopping with small change and try to pay as exactly as possible. People are unlikely to have change for large denominations. And, they'll claim they don’t have change to get a better price from you.
- You can bargain even if you can't speak Chinese by writing down numbers, hold up fingers, or punching numbers in on a calculator. This is actually very common and everyone is used to it.
- Ask Chinese students to recommend stores or to go with you. Or, ask someone before you go what you should pay for something.
- If you absolutely love and must have it, buy it. There’s no telling if you’ll see another one or what it will cost. I can make you a list of 50 things I wish I would have bought in different countries and didn’t.
- The last rule is not to take anything personally. When it comes down to it, if you feel ripped off, it’s likely only for a couple of dollars (or less!). Not really a big deal to you, and it could be a lot of money to them.
- In most regular, such as deparment stores and grocery stores stores, prices are fixed. Here there will be a price tag or sign with the price, and you can't bargain. The exception to this would be tourist shops, and stores selling big ticket items such as jewerly, jade, or silk. Here, should bargain, even if there is a posted price.
- It is commonly accepted that you cannot bargain for small everyday items like soda, candy, or bananas. Everyone is expected to know the standard price, and you will too after a few days.
Health & Safety Precautions
Always carry some form of identification with you. A driver’s license is a good choice. It’s official and has all your information, but is not as big a deal if you lose it as your passport. You'll also want to carry around your student ID. In addition, I know this sounds obvious: always know the name and street address of your hotel. Take the hotel's business card, available from the front desk, or write down this information.
Officially, you are supposed to carry your passport with you at all times when in China. However, I have personally never heard of anyone having to show their passport while in China. The experienced travelers I have talked to recommend keeping your passport in the safest place you have, which is likely in the hotel safe. If you choose to carry your passport with you, do not just put it in your pocket. Buy a "passport pouch" and carry it around your neck or strapped around your waist. If you choose to leave your passport at the hotel, make a photocopy of your passport photo page and Chinese visa page to carry with you. You will need your passport number to write down on credit card transactions, and to be able to log onto the computer at an internet cafe.
Especially in China, do not get involved in any public political discussions or demonstrations. Chinese people can get arrested for demonstrating, so naturally, so can you.
Food and Water
Never, ever, ever drink the water out of the tap. Drink only bottled water, or water that has been boiled. Even brush your teeth with bottled water. The Chinese don’t know what’s in the water, and they don’t drink it either, without first boiling it. You can buy a liter of bottled water at the grocery store for less than 50 cents. Dehydration will ruin your trip, so drink up.
When eating in restaurants you have to use varying degrees of caution, depending on the quality of the establishment. For really cheap non-fast-food restaurants only eat cooked foods, and avoid ice. There’s nothing wrong with these cheap restaurants, just exercise caution. If you’re eating at a fast-food restaurant or a nicer “tourist” restaurant you can feel comfortable eating the fruit and using their ice cubes. Don’t drink soda out of the bottle/can in restaurants. They often keep it cool using ice made from tap water, so the top isn’t clean. Use a glass, no ice. You can eat fruit at the hotels, but not at the cafeterias (unless you can peel it, like a banana or orange). You can always eat the watermelon.
Go ahead...try the duck tongues...
Also, be careful eating from street vendors—it can be very cheap and filling, but check out that the stand is frequented by locals, that the cook looks healthy and clean, and that the cooking facilities are clean. If you buy fruit, buy either fruit that you can peel, or wash it carefully with bottled water. The fruit in China is very good, so don’t let this scare you off.
Another handy recommendation that I have received—and I think really works—eat a chewable Pepto Bismal after each meal. Apparently they contain something like a mild antibiotic, which kills alot of the stuff that can make you sick.
To be fair, there are lots of weird things to eat in China. For the adventurous, you can be challenged by jelly fish salad and duck tongues. For the unadventurous, don't be afraid. Nearly every meal will have options like noodles, fried chicken, scrambled eggs, fried rice, deep-fried dough, etc. There are also usually many vegetarian options.
Vaccinations, Medicine, etc.
The most common illness will be traveller's diarrhea. Usually a couple of doses of pepto will solve the problem, but you might also want to ask your doctor for a prescription for antibiotics to really kill those bugs.
No vaccinations are actually required by law to enter China (a number are recommended). The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone be up-to-date on their regular vaccines. The CDC also recommends the Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid vaccines. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are food and water borne disease that you can avoid by only drinking bottled water and eating only at clean restaurants. The CDC strongly recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine, as even tourists that are careful about where they eat can be at risk. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infected blood. We will not be in any areas where Japanese Encephalitis or Malaria is an issue; as for Rabies, don't pet stray animals.
The decision about vaccines best made by you and your doctor; if your health insurance covers lots of vaccines, load up. They last a long time. In addition, if you’re going to get vaccines, you want to do so soon. Most take up to 4 months to be really effective.
Everyone should consult with their doctor or someone at the campus health center to determine what vaccinations they should get before going to China. You should also ask your parents about your vaccination record to see if you need any updates (like tetanus) and find out if any are covered by insurance. The information provided here is to help you make the best decision for you and none of it should be taken as definitive.
Please note that when visiting these web sites, we will only be in urban areas in Eastern China. Therefore, things like Malaria will not be an issue.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) This the the site operated by the US government. Sometimes they can come across as alarmist. Read their pages carefully, paying close attention to where we'll be going and what we'll be doing. They have a lot of excellent advice for traveling and staying healthy while traveling.
MDTravelHealth.Com A site for doctors to use in determining what medicine and vaccines are necessary for their patients traveling abroad. They lots of good advice on staying healthy. They also seem to give more geographically specific information than the CDC web site.
Chinese toilets are nothing to write home about. Most suffer from plumbing problems, except in nice hotels and restaurants. Most Chinese avoid problems by not placing toilet paper in the toilet—use the small receptacle provided instead. I know this doesn’t seem very sanitary, but they are careful to empty the wastepaper bins everyday, and it is much better than having an overflowing toilet. Public toilets tend to be rare and not very nice. If using them (at bus stations, gas stations, etc.) be brave, bring your own kleenex, and don’t touch anything.
You will likely encounter some Chinese-style toilets (which I actually like, because they mean touching fewer things) that look like the photo below. Men may also encounter troughs, but this is getting pretty rare.
It is very rare for women to be harassed in China. You may find that people (both men and women) want to take their picture with you because you're really pale, tall, and/or blonde. It is nice to humor them, if you feel comfortable with it.
We do not recommend going out at night alone, but you shouldn't do that in Oshkosh, either. You’ll be more comfortable generally if you always take someone with you when you go out.
The US State Department and all guidebooks on China will include warnings about petty theft. But that's true everywhere there are tourists. The good news is that there’s very rarely any violence against foreigners, and if you take a few simple precautions becoming a victim of theft is unlikely.
- Don’t make yourself a target—no expensive-looking jewelry, keep your camera in your bag, keep an eye on your bag, don’t wave money around, be discrete. At tourist sites there are lots of indiscrete people waving money and valuables around, who thieves will prefer.
- Don’t carry lots of money on yourself—minimize potential loss. Similarly, on a day-to-day basis, leave your passport and extra cash in your hotel room (safely stowed in the hotel safe).
- Women use a travel purse that you keep in front of you; men keep your wallets in your front pocket. Or leave your wallet at the home and only carry the money you need for the day in your front pocket. There are also neck pouches and money belts that are good theft deterents.
- Keep small change easily accessible in your pocket so it is easy to get the money out for taxis, snacks, drinks, etc. swithout opening up your wallet and showing off a wad of cash.
- Keep an eye on your bag—when eating or on the bus, keep one strap around your leg, or keep it on your lap. Never put it down, especially when you’re talking to someone. When in a crowd, keep careful track of your belongings and watch your friends', too.
I don't want you to feel paranoid -- theft is rare. So just use some common sense. In the touristy areas there’s usually plenty of folks like my dad who carry their wallet in their back pocket, a giant camera on their stomach, and who put their bag down on the ground while talking to someone or taking a picture. If you’re careful, you’re unlikely to be a target. Potential thieves have better options.
Stay very, very, very far away from drugs of all kinds in China. Don’t even talk to people about drugs. Their eradication program is draconian, as are the prisons. Don’t think they’ll let you off or let you out because you’re an American. In fact, the authorities are more likely to want to make an example of you. Minimum drug sentences are years in prison. The American Embassy is powerless to help you if you break the law.
The Chinese are big fans of massage. Especially popular are foot massages. There are lots of massage parlors and most are legitimate. But some might double for prostitution. More common is that Karaoke Bars are fronts for prostitution. So beware if some pretty girls want to join your table at Karaoke. But because prostitution exists in China, does not mean it is legal or safe. The government is cracking down. Don’t think they’ll let you off or let you out because you’re an American. In fact, the authorities are more likely to want to make an example of you. The American Embassy is powerless to help you if you break the law.
For many people, street vending is a legitimate business—especially with an actual cart and variety of beverages, snacks, and fruits. You’ll also see people selling all sorts of things on and in the road. I find these much more convienent than finding a store with what I want. Just be careful about getting the correct change. When buying water, make sure the seal is unbroken. It is commonly accepted that you cannot bargain for small everyday items like soda, candy, or bananas. Everyone is expected to know the standard price, and you will too after a few days.
Staying in Touch
The country code for calling China is 86. If you want to keep in touch with family or friends, it may be best to have them call you. We will provide you with hotel numbers at many of the places we’re staying. You can buy international calling cards in stores and kiosks. You can also buy international calling cards at Target (and probably Walmart) before you leave. If you do this, you’ll need to call before you leave the US to get the number to call once you’re in China. You also won’t be able to recharge the card once you’re in China.
Our dorms and hotels should have WI Fi.
In a pinch, there are also internet "cafes" in China. These are usually dark, smoky places where crowds of teenagers play thousands of hours of role playing video games. But, you can also check your email. Remember, the Chinese government controls all access to the internet in China. You will NOT be able to visit US news sites. You can check sports scores and read your email. And you may be asked to provide your passport in order to do so. The internet cafes are cheap, usually $2 to $4 for an hour of time.
In both Beijing and Shanghai, there is a very good subway system with everything labeled in English. However, you might also want to take taxis from time to time. For the most part, taking taxis is a safe and cheap method of transportation. Taxis run on meters, though they're not always accurate. Most taxi drivers in Shanghai and Beijing will speak some English thanks to the recent Olympics.
In other areas (Hangzhou, Chengde), ask the hotel to write in Chinese where you want to go and give the slip to the driver. If you have a business card of the internet cafe, the restaurant, the hotel, etc. you can just give that to the driver.
Taxis will allow you to fit as many as 5 people in. If you’re going for 5, flag down a bigger taxi.
- Do not tip the taxi driver. If you like, you can round the fare up to the nearest Yuan. Also, have exact change or nearly exact change for the taxi, as mysteriously, the drivers never have change for large bills!
- If you don’t like finding your own taxis, the hotel will arrange for a taxi for you, though this may result in a higher rate.
- Just as a common-sense precaution, women should not take taxis alone at night—always bring a friend or two, and preferably a guy.
- Sometimes a driver might not know our hotel or where you want to go. If they keep shaking their heads either get another taxi or ask for an easier landmark and walk from there.
Eating and Food
Our breakfasts at the hotels will have a mix of Chinese and Western breakfast items. At the university, the breakfasts will be Chinese, and likely not have many Western Items such as eggs, toast, fruit, yogurt, etc. Chinese breakfast items are actually pretty good -- they have rice porridge, hard-boiled eggs, and deep-fried dough sticks.
Many of our lunches and dinners when we are touring will be provided for us. Even if you're not an adventurous eater, there will be familiar items such as fried chicken, scrambled eggs, fried rice, noodle soup, bananas, egg rolls, french fries, hotdogs, corn on the cob, etc. Of course, there will be lots of things you probably don't recognize, too. Try them!
Yum! Squid on a stick!
You'll be on your own for most lunches and dinners when we are at the university, though especially at the beginning, we can all go out as a group. There are lots of Western restaurants around, if you need a break from Chinese-style food. KFC is everywhere and Pizza Hut is very popular (though a little fancy). These are also good places to find bathrooms when we're out. Of course, in Beijing and Shanghai, there's also McDonald's, Hard Rock Cafe, and Starbucks.
At Chinese restaurants, you do not order and eat your own dish. Instead the whole group will order enough dishes for everyone, and the dshes are put in the middle of the table and shared. The Chinese usually use chopsticks to eat directly from the shared dish. Using a serving spoon to put food on your own dish not common, but is certainly acceptable. You may need to ask for serving spoons.