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Midwest in the Far East-COB 2

Shanghai Skyline

Dispelling Myths


After enduring a 14-hour plane ride from Chicago, the students welcomed the sight of the beautiful architecture and modern design of the Shanghai International Airport.

For student Cori Gumz, the China study abroad program opened up her world of small-town USA. “Prior to this trip I had never flown on an airplane nor had I ever traveled this far away from home,” said the accounting and finance major, who grew up in the rural Wisconsin town of Omro. “I still live at home and commute five minutes to school everyday.  Coming from a town of 3,177 people, I was shocked to see millions of people in one city.”

Kari Mitchell, an accounting major at UW Oshkosh, had little idea of what China was going to be like. Her preconceptions of the country included images of rickshaws, rice paddies and sweatshops.

“That kind of negative stereotype, when I got there, it evolved in to something completely different,” Mitchell said. “When I stepped on the grounds there and started doing the company tours it was completely different [than what I thought it would be]. You can’t really study it in a text book and get the full understanding of it.”

Student Rothkegel was equally surprised to see how urban and modern China has become. “When it comes to China, a lot of people still have in mind a backward country,” he said. “But actually seeing business in China and how the cities have developed, it’s incredible to see how sophisticated it actually is.”

Hannah Daniels, an accounting major, says what she learned from the study abroad trip could not be replicated in a lecture hall in Oshkosh. “Most of the things I learned came from being with the Chinese people and seeing how they live on a day-to-day basis,” she said.


Crowd Control


UWO student Brandon Takerian at the China Pavilion
Hurry up and wait: UW Oshkosh business student Branden Takerian (center, black shirt with backpack) and other students brave the three-hour line to get into the China Pavilion, a tourist attraction that was first introduced at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. Behind him are UWO students CeeCee Shan and Ben Witasek.


Shanghai – In China’s largest city of 23 million, the UWO students quickly learned that crowds and traffic jams are just part of life for the Chinese.

There wasn’t just crowding on the streets, but at tourist stops as well. Shanghai was the home to the 2010 World Expo, a collection of  “pavilions,” which allowed participating countries to promote its achievements and the exchange of ideas. The China Pavilion displayed the country’s vision for its future, which includes a push for more urban and environment-friendly development. More discretely, the museum features a valuable cultural experience of being shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of people pushing and weaving to get to the front of a three-hour line.

UWO business student Kyle Graham, at 6-7 stood out in a sea of Chinese people, whiled the time away by allowing himself to be an attraction to the locals. One after another, people took turns photographing themselves with Kyle. “They even took photos of my feet,” he said with a laugh, pointing to his size 14 shoes.

At the futuristic-looking 1,500-feet-tall Oriental Pearl Tower, the students oohed and ahhed over the 360-degree view. The see-through floors, for which the tower is famous, caused great consternation among a few students who suffered from a fear of heights.

After a bit of teasing from his fellow classmates, business student Ben Witasek, who graduated in May, inched onto the clear walkway. “I don’t want to look down,” he said with a nervous laugh. “I’m so scared.”

Despite his apprehension of being sky high, Witasek said he was awestruck by what he has seen of China in the first few days. “This is really cool,” he said.