Assiduous Student.

Kayla M. Hedman.
Champlain College.
Burlington, VT.
Class of 2014.
Marketing & Advertising.
Champlain Brand Journalist and Student Leader.
Eclectic, foodie, globe trotter, R.I.P.P.E.D. instructor, designer, lover of nature, music, football, Downton Abbey, HIMYM & Mad Men fanatic, busy-body, assiduous.

It’s that time of year again! ***Make a commitment and apply to attend the annual CGI U meeting in March 2014 at Arizona State University in Phoenix, AZ.***

Hello, I’m Kayla Hedman, your Champlain College campus representative for the Clinton Global Initiative University.

Last April, fellow student Mahmoud Jabari and I had the pleasure of attending the annual CGI U meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. It was a great networking and leadership building experience I will never forget.

This year, my goal is to have more representation from Champlain students at CGI U, by helping you to develop commitments to action in one of 5 categories:

  • Education
  • Global Health
  • Poverty Alleviation
  • Energy and Climate Change
  • Human Rights and Peace

Your commitments do not need to fit perfectly into one of these categories, and does not have to be an existing cause.

In the past years, successful commitments have included:

  • The idea to invent SOCCKET, a soccer ball that generates and stores kinetic energy as it is kicked around. The team created this idea because 25% of all kids worldwide do not have access to electricity. However, most of these children do play soccer. 15 minutes of play with the SOCCKET powers a light for up to three hours.
  • One Bead, using the skills of local artisans in Kenya to raise money for a local school
  • and lastly, Building with Bottles, where students trained mobility-impaired individuals in Haiti to build functional stools out of disposed plastic bottles and sell them for a profit

Many more can be found on CGI U’s website.

Anyone of you has the ability and resources to develop a commitment around something you’re passionate about. And don’t hesitate to contact me for assistance through Champlain mymail.

Still interested? visit CGIU.org for all the information you need.

So it has been a really long time since I’ve posted on here. I’m in the middle of a transition - a big one. I need to catch up on this blog, which I hope to do with photos > written content to keep you engaged, then transition into my new Wordpress blog. The new “blog” will integrate my digital portfolio, my other social networking sites, and a young professional blog. 
You may think the photo above is an odd choice for this blog post, but the action surrounding this photo (and the many others that can be found HERE) is all I can think about at the moment. Friday night I had the pleasure of helping out at the Vermont Ice Ball, an event to raise funds for the U.S.A. Luge team on their quest for gold in Sochi this winter. The prospective Olympic U.S.A. Luge team is comprised mainly of graduating junior Olympians who are under 20 years old. Having just turned 21 a couple of weeks ago, I look at these successful teenagers, who I now call my friends, and contemplate what life has in store for me in the following months as they prepare for international exposure. 
I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have had through Champlain and beyond, but I am so incredibly nervous for what is to come. This is what senior year does to you, kids. More on that to come.

So it has been a really long time since I’ve posted on here. I’m in the middle of a transition - a big one. I need to catch up on this blog, which I hope to do with photos > written content to keep you engaged, then transition into my new Wordpress blog. The new “blog” will integrate my digital portfolio, my other social networking sites, and a young professional blog. 

You may think the photo above is an odd choice for this blog post, but the action surrounding this photo (and the many others that can be found HERE) is all I can think about at the moment. Friday night I had the pleasure of helping out at the Vermont Ice Ball, an event to raise funds for the U.S.A. Luge team on their quest for gold in Sochi this winter. The prospective Olympic U.S.A. Luge team is comprised mainly of graduating junior Olympians who are under 20 years old. Having just turned 21 a couple of weeks ago, I look at these successful teenagers, who I now call my friends, and contemplate what life has in store for me in the following months as they prepare for international exposure. 

I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have had through Champlain and beyond, but I am so incredibly nervous for what is to come. This is what senior year does to you, kids. More on that to come.

Cultural Analysis of America

Gotta have some humility. 

Sorry if you find this post offensive, but I expect you to because…

1. Americans are way too sensitive

…says Benny the Irish polygot.

After receiving quite a lot of angry comments from fellow tumblrs on my formerly titled "China is Weird" post, I decided to share this link, a cultural analysis of America, which I read months ago, chuckled at a few times, but didn’t necessarily take to heart. I actually agree with most of it. I even shared it in my Globalization, Technology & Development class last semester.

One’s gotta have some humility. Take it or leave it. I’m just sharing my opinions from what I observe throughout my time in China. I’m not saying that any one culture does it right while the other one is wrong. I’m not belittling China’s people, and I’m not hating on China - after all, this is my second time in the country in one year; I chose to spend my summer here. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t come back.

I’ll try to write the next posts with a more favorable tone. Always feel free to give me some feedback, but please, no name-calling. :) Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

(follow the link by clicking the title to this post)

asiamericana asked: I'm a Burlington native, so I felt like I should say hi to another expat with Vermont connections! I read your "China is Weird" post. China is complex, most issues are not black and white (just like the US). Women's lives here are different for sure, but to say that Chinese women aren't important at all is to paint a false portrait. It takes a while to figure out this country, enjoy the ride but keep your eyes open for the full picture!

Thanks for your response! Writing quickly, I didn’t emphasize what I truly meant from that statement. The post is edited now after stirring up quite a bit of responses/reblogs. Whoops! That’s what I get for posting a stream of consciousness from a written journal.
I concur that issues everywhere are not black and white. Here it can sometimes be a little harder though to get to the truth, both from propaganda and the language barrier.
What brought you to China? Gotta say I’m missing a Burlington summer right now, but I heard it’s just been rain.

China is Unique.

Well, the reason I haven’t blogged any updates from Shanghai lately is…it was one of those weeks. One where bad things come in threes. Unfortunately, one of those things was the drowning of my laptop. Thank goodness for my mom (whose birthday was the other day - Happy birthday mom!); she had the bright idea to back up my laptop on an external harddrive before leaving for China. Phew!

So! Back to China. It is unique. I would say weird, but people seem to be sensitive to that word even though it’s not in a negative sense at all. I just wish there was a way I could share my experiences with you all and do them justice.

I really want my boss at the animation company to make a short about Chinese transportation, specifically bikes and scooters. Chinese bikers and scooter-ers are incredible. They carry bundles of 12-ft long bamboo over their shoulders; you can often find them selling animals such as baby bunnies and guinea pigs in cages, and snakes in mesh bags from their bikes (photo via Kaity Roberts ‘15 instagram @kaitygirl16)

Riders wear bike ponchos which cover the handlebars and read “rain coat” across the back; often this look is enhanced by a construction helmet on top. Sometimes I even see four people on one bike. They often ride while holding umbrellas for protection from rain or sun, and quite frequently have many boxes strapped to them. It’s amazing how they keep their balance, avoid cars and pedestrians, and cover such a large and populated city by bicycle.

Another reason why China is weird, for lack of a better word because this really is bizarre: they cancel MAJOR holiday celebrations with no explanation. A couple weeks ago we were given Monday through Wednesday off of our internship due to the Dragon Boat Festival. Although this meant we, and the rest of China’s workers, worked the weekend, we were excited to see this national celebration.

The festival is a time where most Chinese people spend time with their families, but our friend Cherry’s family is back in Beijing while she is working on a year-long project at Shanghai GE. Therefore, she spent the holiday with the next best thing to family - us! Alaina and me, American expats. Wonderful! 

It was truly a win-win. She had “family” and we had a tour guide. 

So Wednesday we set off to the park where the dragon boats were to race all three afternoons. Upon our arrival after an hour-long commute across the city by metro and taxi, we stood at a gate with a number of expats, tourists, and locals. All of us were confused. Beyond the gate we saw decorations and tents, a venue staged to host many guests for a national holiday completely deserted. Were we early? Was there an accident? I know it wasn’t closed due to inclement weather. I was dumbfounded. Cherry asked others, read a small posting in Mandarin on the temporary gate, and even asked security. She returned to us saying, “It’s closed.” I wanted to say, “No sh*t Sherlock” and let the other non-Mandarin speaking expats and western tourists know that there was no sense in waiting around, but it was pointless. There was no explanation for the event to be called off.

Perhaps this is why, days in advance when we asked our co-workers about Dragon Boat Festival events and activities we should check out, they said, “Don’t worry about it. Just enjoy the days off, they don’t come often.” So instead, we filled with day by touring art galleries, browsing shops, trying traditional foods, and checking out Chinese graffiti. (photos via instagram @kaylahedman)

Although the Dragon Boat Festival races and other activities were canceled on Wednesday, it didn’t mean that we couldn’t celebrate and be festive!

And now, here’s 18 more unique things about China:

  1. Although people in China eat a lot of rice, they never heard of putting a water-damaged electronic in rice to dry it out. “Geniuses” at one of Shanghai’s Apple Stores said, “Are you sure this is a laptop? Or is it a Transformer?” I just responded, “After drinking all that water, it got hungry.” 
  2. The cleaning ladies in our hotel refuse to make Alaina’s bed if she leaves even one pair of shorts or a business card on it. Now she strips the entire bed to ensure they make it.
  3. China has no services for disabled folk or homeless citizens. Americans should be grateful for the services we and our loved ones have access to.
  4. Hostel website reads, “Chinese nationals can only stay with foreigners if they are married and have a licence.”
  5. One word: FIREWALL.
  6. What we saw: Man walking down sidewalk where there is outdoor dining. He stops at a cooler full of crayfish on the ground, dips his hands in and rubs them together as to wash them, shakes them off on the sidewalk, and walks away. That’s hygiene and clean cooking practices for you!
  7. Another: An old man in a wife-beater tank with lots of keys on his belt loop walks backwards down the busy street our gym is on. There are also a lot of tourists here visiting Century Park. Sometimes, he claps his hands with every step.
  8. Taxis say no a lot, even when you have the address written in Chinese or speak Chinese. Because the city is simply so big, sometimes the drivers don’t want to go that far or they just don’t know where your destination is. They have a star rating system that shows how well the know the city… we always end up with 2’s or lower…
  9. People’s “trendy” clothes. Just imagine. I really appreciate the ability to express yourself, and it’s so fun to go shopping here!
  10. People’s “trendy” haircuts. Even wilder. My personal favorites: the Chinese mullets, rat tails, and boy-band bangs. The girls get upset because they all have straight black hair and want to differentiate themselves with hair dye, permanent texturing, and off-beat cuts and styles.
  11. Speaking of beauty, some girls wear white stickers on their eyelids to create an illusion of a second crease. I think their eyes are beautiful just the way they are!
  12. Men often don’t wear shirts, or just roll them up over their [beer] bellies because it’s hot - but believe me, this style is not!
  13. Pretty sure Chinese people don’t get sick of Chinese food, although it’s very oily. Perhaps I’m just not used to it. Yes, there are many different dishes to choose from, but it mostly is made up of the same staple ingredients. If they do tire of vegetables and rice (they don’t consume large quantities of protein), sources (my local friends) say that they just eat soup.
  14. They love serving animal proteins with all the fat, bones, feet, heads, everything. They just spit it out. No worries.
  15. Just imagine Downton Abbey with chopsticks. Hahahaha. I love these utensils. They make me eat slower because otherwise my napkin-less lap would become a masterpiece of food droppings.
  16. WeChat: an app that makes meeting strangers online cool again - except this time they’re within 100m of you. Yikes! Also, shake your phone to meet people who are shaking their phones at the same time! It’s a helpful app to have though because it allows you to text users you know when you have WiFi. This is an international app, but I have observed how popular it is here.
  17. Not only do things mysteriously get canceled, but often get canceled, postponed, and forgotten about. Here, it’s NBD. Just never expect to have any plans set in stone. It won’t happen.
  18. Disney’s Mulan: accurate on a few accounts. 1) women are often treated like they have no importance, even though Chinese women are very independent and strong willed, 2) honoring one’s family is very important.

More to come! 

Nothing in this post is meant to be degrading or imply that one culture does things right and another, wrong. I am simply sharing differences between Shanghai, China and my home in the United States with other readers so they understand the unique things I am experiencing from day to day. Thanks for reading.

Observations about Shanghai

Awesome:

  • Structures, malls, skyscrapers, industrial parks, apartment complexes - the sheer speed, quantity, and pure size of what they build. There is estimated to be another 6,000 skyscrapers completed by the end of this year.
  • CHEAP FOOD
  • Outer loop of Century Park is a perfect 5k
  • CHEAP TAXIS
  • Fake markets
  • Starbucks - consistent drink and lunch-break
  • Saying “Hello” and “Bye-bye” and giggling
  • WeChat
  • Citizen’s willingness to work, their dignity, and the desire to better themselves/earn for their families
  • Helpful locals, and they make you feel welcome
  • You can wear almost anything, express yourself!
  • Ability to live like a king and make $bank$
  • So much wealth and disposable incomes
  • Innumerable luxury stores and malls
  • Beautiful women
  • French Concession - expat hangouts
  • Food from any culture and western grocery markets
  • Westerners get on TV a lot: Chinese most enjoy watching children, animals, and foreigners 
  • SAFETY - I never feel threatened
  • Locals call their attempts at English, “Chinglish” openly
  • KTV karaoke 24/7
  • Cheap beer at markets
  • Massages - the not sketchy ones

Not so awesome:

  • Sexism
  • Weather - HOT and HUMID
  • Spitting
  • Manners
  • Beggars
  • Street meat and rarely good chicken available
  • Water - both drinking and dirty public water
  • Smell of sewage and B.O.
  • Bathrooms - squatty potties, no privacy, no flushing toilet paper
  • Smog
  • Noise
  • Crowded subways
  • WeChat
  • Language barrier
  • Can never plan anything
  • Crazy drivers - run through red lights, GO right on red, stopping for pedestrians or bikes, using the horn ALL THE TIME
  • Fireworks outside your window
  • Stray animals…China is not a place for animal lovers
  • Hygiene and personal space do not exist
  • Streets are dirty
  • No ice - no cold drinks
  • They call me “Kay-ra”
  • Smoking is still a big thing and allowed almost everywhere
  • Expat men are only interested in Chinese women… the life of a single expat woman is a lonely one
  • Pop music is awful
  • Hair styles
  • Feminine Chinese men, by our standards
  • Expensive western food, beauty products, and supplements
  • Geting stared at all the time
  • Weird snack foods
  • Lack of dairy products - good yogurt, cheese, milk
  • Chinese people have incredible poker faces

I think a lot of women are too concerned about what people are thinking about them. To me, it’s about forgetting who the other people are in the room. Come with your ideas; come with your passion. It doesn’t matter if you wear high heels or not.

—Charlotte Jones Anderson, via Marie Claire magazine

Things I wish I brought to China

Bug bite anti-itch cream
More shorts, less pants
More athletic tops
More money (could always use more money)
A waterproof laptop case
A waterbottle that doesn’t leak (of which together could have saved me from blogging from my phone and would make watching the season finale of Mad Men a bit easier)
More ibuprofen
More socks and underwear = less laundry
Face moisturizer
A stuffed animal or pillow I’m used to
More protein bars
My family
My best friends
A resistance band
Eye liner
Nutella
Laundry bag
My L.L. Bean slippers
Another pair of casual walking shoes
A foam roller (running so much is killing my legs)
A written list of my friends’ addresses for postcards (they’re all on my now-broken laptop)
More hand sanitizer
A mind already proficient in Mandarin
Lower expectations
A tennis racket

Just to name a few…next time I’ll do better.

Alaina is taking an interest in learning Mandarin in the two months that we’re spending here in Shanghai… and she’s doing a great job with it, too. She constantly is asking our Chinese or expat friends to write down pronunciations of words and phrases that we could use.

So far we have down how to order food, get the bill, call the waiter over; we know the words for various beverages and common foods; we can direct a taxi, say stop and here; we know how to tell creepy construction workers to stop looking at us; we can say “Have you eaten?” which is more common than saying hello when initiating a conversation; and we’re working on numbers and some other vocab, too.

We’re both hoping to continue this education upon arriving back at Champlain. It’s going to be hard to master sentences, but for now it’s rewarding to be able to get our point across to non-English speakers.

Happy Blue Sky with Clouds Over the Ocean

Late Monday night we received a phone call in our hotel room from Jason, a co-worker at Hippo. He requested that we join him for a day at ‘Happy Valley’ on Tuesday. Happy Valley is a Shanghai amusement park, so we also assumed that our boss Kerr and his family would join us.

The next morning, Donny decided he didn’t want to go, so Alaina and I hoofed it to meet him at the building where we work. We were really surprised to meet only him. “You ready?” He asked excitedly. I couldn’t say I was, but we carried on towards the subway anyways. 

After some conversation, Alaina turns to me and whispers, “Should I say something?” because all morning we discussed how we expected to do some sight-seeing, rather than waiting in lines all day. I didn’t think it could hurt, so she pipes up, “Jason, Kayla and I don’t really like amusement parks.”

Awkward silence.

Jason stops in the middle of the sidewalk and says, “Oh.” We explain that we don’t like rides (which is a lie, but I just wasn’t in the mood to be a third wheel on rides or wait in line all day) and he says that he’d call a friend to see what we could do instead. I pull up an e-mail from Grace, one of our contacts from NAHTC, which features a list of tourist attractions in Shanghai. Alaina motions, “Why don’t we go here?” To which Jason agrees and we get on the subway headed for Dapuqian. 

dapuqianDapuqian reminds me of the Beijing hutong, alleyway neighborhoods featuring shops and restaurants. I was excited to see some local art, many Thai food restaurants, and some nice boutiques. 

After following Alaina and me around window shopping for a few hours, we head back out to the entrance to meet Jason’s friend Cherry from his English-learning class.

Cherry is really nice, and after stopping in a few more shops, we decide upon a restaurant called BaliBali, and head upstairs to an outdoor patio. We ordered a som tam (green papaya) salad, some duck breast, a couple curry dishes, and mango rice for dessert to share between the four of us. I also got watermelon juice, my new favorite beverage, to quench my thirst.

Chinese namesOver lunch, we talked a lot about what we studied in school, we exchanged English and Mandarin vocabulary and culture facts, and some funny stories. I felt like I’d known Cherry a lot longer than just an hour. That’s why I asked her and Jason to come up with a Chinese name for me. This was a big deal. A name is a name - you don’t often change it. Also, I plan to get a tattoo of my chosen Chinese name upon returning to the States. They came up with three options for me:

  • Kai Xin - happy
  • Hai Yun - imagine a blue sky with clouds over the ocean
  • Yun Fan - a combination of Cherry and Jason’s Chinese names meaning cloud over a sailboat… kind of.

Either Kai Xin or Hai Yun could work because of my name (Kayla Hedman), but I can’t seem to choose! So difficult.

After lunch, we jumped back on the subway and headed to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. It was a very impressive museum, catering to all sorts of interests from robots to animals, media to fitness. It also featured three iMax theaters, an area to shoot archery against a robot, a giant artificial rainforest, and much more. 

The three of us from Hippo couldn’t resist taking a picture in front of the Hippo in the World Animals exhibit, and we had a little too much fun playing in the ‘magic room’ with a slanted floor (we just love embarrassing ourselves - like we don’t stick out enough already). 

When we left the museum, I could really use a coffee, so we headed to a nearby Starbucks. We sat there for a couple hours laughing SO HARD at everything. I have never laughed so hard in my life. We decided to go out to dinner to conclude what ended up a wonderful day.

It’s really fun going out to eat with Chinese people here, because they do all the ordering and you end up eating things you never would have ordered yourself. We got a fish soup, some delicious pickled radishes, some spicy garlic noodles, and a few other traditional dishes. We also each got a TsingTao, which was unusual for Cherry and Jason on such a casual evening. The food was awesome,  even if a lot of it ended up in Alaina’s lap because she’s still working on using chopsticks. 

HippoJason admitted to us near the end of dinner, that he too had no interest in going to Happy Valley. He and our boss assumed that we Americans would want to do something more adventurous.

Our common understanding of other cultures often end up being misconceptions, and I’m really glad that I keep breaking the stereotype and vice-versa by spending time with my Chinese friends.

After sleeping until 1 p.m. on Monday, since we had a longggg night on Sunday, Alaina was craving cheese and insisted we find Mexican food.

Always a cultural identity crisis in Shanghai. We were surrounded by mostly westerners at this Mexican restaurant, and realized that you can live a very western lifestyle in Shanghai, as long as you’re willing to pay a bit more for fresh western food.

And surprise, surprise! It was Margarita Monday!

Weekend Warriors

After only one week of working, we were surprised to learn that we were to have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off for China’s Dragon Boat Festival holiday. There was just one catch… we, along with the rest of the Chinese work-force, were expected to work the weekend. Now I fully understand why a normal work-week is just five days long; it’s exhausting to work seven days in a row from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Our first week of work was like a smooth-operating machine. After work each day, we’d walk to the Jinke Road subway stop and take the fifteen minute commute to the gym we joined. We’d spend a couple hours there, figuring out the rules of the pool and even taking a Zumba class one evening. Post workout we’d grab a bite to eat, either at a restaurant we enjoy near the gym or somewhere local to our hotel. From there we’d clean up and be in bed before 11 p.m., ready for the next day of work.

The weekend was no different; it felt very much like the work-week. As a team of four, we completed a pretty substantial project this weekend, translating a “Chinglish” script (as they called the very literal translations) into proper English with characters, dialogue, and a sense of humor catered to a western market.

Saturday we had some help translating from a young Chinese intern that goes by the English name of Yolanda. She took Sunday off, but invited us out that evening to celebrate her upcoming birthday with all of her friends.

subwayAfter going to the gym, getting dinner, and getting a little more dressed up than usual, we were running late to meet Yolanda at 10 p.m. Donald decided to join Alaina and me, which was a lot of fun, and we set out on the subway hoping that it wouldn’t close before we got to our destination…or at least close enough to grab a taxi for a few blocks. 

Since the subway closes at 11 p.m., we did have to hail a taxi to drive us the last leg of the trip. When we arrived at Lune, the bar of her choice, we were surprised to see only a small group of people. Many of Yolanda’s friends canceled due to the crummy weather, complaining of headaches, or they were attending a fashion show that evening. We felt bad, but were excited that we weren’t too late to damper her fun. 

cake time!

Something strange about celebrating birthdays in China is that the birthday girl or boy will treat others on their special day, rather than being treated. So Yolanda bought us a round instead of us showering her with gifts and treats.

At midnight, our mutual friend from work, Jen, fetched a cake from the back room to celebrate Yolanda’s 22nd birthday. We didn’t sing happy birthday or anything, but Yolanda paused to make a wish, and we all shared a Green Tea and Red Bean flavored cake… interesting, but a very common flavor for treats in Shanghai.

Even though the DJ at Lune was playing House/electronic music, Alaina and I got everyone dancing. I could tell Yolanda wanted to go to another place to dance more, so we finally coaxed her into gathering everyone and making our way to a club we heard about in the French Concession. Unfortunately, this place was closed on Sundays, but we knew of many nearby bars and restaurants where we could show her a good time for her birthday.

We ended up at Zapatas, where Alaina and I have been twice now because we always have a good time. We were the odd ones out at this point (third wheels), so we went to the less crowded upstairs and had our own dance party. We were pulling out an assortment of risky (and quite embarrassing) dance moves, and were actually filmed by a number of people on their smart phones. No shame. Later in the night, we even taught a Chinese man how to ska dance to ‘Scotty Doesn’t Know.’ I’d say our time at Zapatas was successful… especially when I got the DJ to play Beyonce. We stayed there until they closed after 3 a.m., and made our way to KTV for karaoke near People’s Square.

KTVNow I’d heard about how popular KTV was in China, but it was nothing like I had expected. When we walked in, it honestly looked like a brothel. We walked past room after room, all which were dark with low sectional sofas and a small group of people; the vacant rooms being cleaned were totally trashed. We finally escaped these long hallways and entered the lobby, which had a giant screen playing familiar American music videos with lyrics on the bottom. Where was the stage? The pub booths or cocktail tables of drunk people waiting to make fools of themselves? This was no 500 Days of Summer karaoke bar. This was KTV. We met up with the rest of the group that came by car and not taxi, and then they went and “ordered a room” or something. We were led down one of the long hallways into room 90, which had a plasma TV, a control station, two microphones, a tambourine and two maracas, and some lazer lights. We all sat on the sectional sofa, and for the rest of the morning (until 6 a.m. when we caught the subway home) we sang karaoke in room 90 as a small group. We all sang American and Chinese songs, and we were amazed by how good our Chinese friends were at singing.  It was a very intimate experience, and I’m glad no one was tone-deaf. Now I want to go back to KTV all the time. Good thing there is one on nearly every block!

First Week at Shanghai Hippo Animation

hippoFellow Champlain students Alaina, Donald and I woke up Monday morning ready for an exciting first day at Shanghai Hippo Animation Co., Ltd., where we would be interning for the next two months. Ethan also works with us, but is commuting from the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, where he has been attending school since March.

Earlier in the week we had already located the company, set in the Shanghai Pudong New District Software Park about 1km from our hotel, and we were excited to see what was inside the modern building. 

kerrWe were greeted by a Chinese man in a lime green polo, Adidas sweatpants, and Birkenstocks; we later discovered that this man, Kerr, is the founder and CEO of the entire company. We had an extensive meeting in Kerr’s office, something that would become quite frequent in our time here. He shared his business experience and told us of his time in the states, much of which was spent in Connecticut. Since, he has become a very successful and wealthy entrepreneur.

The following day we signed a confidentiality agreement, so there is not much I can share about the company’s everyday affairs, but I can share the company’s history, mission, and what my role here is.

Jungle Master

Shanghai Hippo Animation Co., Ltd was founded by the CEO, Kerr Xu, in 2003, when China was facing a national downturn of the animation industry. Under the company mission to sustainably provide original and quality products, Hippo Animation has become the leading animation company in China in the past decade. Hippo Animation has been incubating high-end animation projects that have received attention in both domestic and international markets. Their full-length animated film Animen can be found on Netflix, and another, Jungle Master (right), is going global as well. Hippo Animation strives to deliver three to four original and quality animated films per year to an international market.

Every part of the creative process is done right in the building we work in. Everyone who works here is very young (average age is 27), motivated, have multiple talents, and are great at what they do. The work attire is extremely casual, but it’s still nice to dress up, especially when the humidity and heat is almost unbearable.

out on the townKerr is worried that we’ll be bored because of the language barrier. When we went out the other night, one of his assistants, Jenn, apologized for her lack of English. Kerr took us out Tuesday night for beers and brauts at a German restaurant, then to a bar on the bund.

The greatest part about this internship is that I get to use my creativity and we are learning the entire process of making a feature length animated film, in addition to live-action short works and games. The frustrating parts are that we are not really able to contribute to the company’s domestic business because of the language barrier and short time frame. Later in the process we will get the chance to help with promotion and other campaigns. We also will get to go to trade shows in Shanghai and on a service trip bringing 3D film to impoverished rural Chinese families (this will require taking a domestic flight to another province).

We’re currently working on a screenplay for an upcoming project in the incubation stage, brainstorming how to improve Hippo’s online presence, and doing market research by… watching animated movies. Today I even got some popcorn. 

Champlain International Magazine

jordanFinally uploaded my Jordan Mojo final project to the interwebs. Check it out. Here’s a sneak peak of what to expect from my editor’s letter:

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Champlain International!

This digital magazine features stories of undergraduate students at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont as they gain global perspective in part to course curriculum, study abroad experiences in Dublin, Montreal, and the like; as well as leisurely travels, international internships, and service-learning trips. Students are eager to share their stories in relation to Champlain International Education’s three focus points:

  • Explore
  • Immerse
  • Engage

When I started this project in late February, I imagined a magazine for students like me last year–interested in traveling, but not sure where to start. I was too nervous to spend an entire semester abroad, and I couldn’t decide where I wanted to go if I overcame my anxiety. My solution? Take a Core-330 class that allowed me to go somewhere I never dreamed of going: Beijing, China. I loved it so much last November, I applied and was accepted to spend the summer in Shanghai for a business internship with 13 other Champlain students, funded by a grant from the Freeman Foundation. The travel bug was making me itch though; I couldn’t wait until summer. I decided to take another Core-330 class in the spring semester. The itinerary for this course featured a trip to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over spring break.

After this trip, I wanted to share a compilation of my classmates’ and my own top revelations–our top takeaways from the trip. One always goes into a journey with certain expectations, stereotypes, and anxieties, but my classmates and I will share how these soon changed upon our arrival.

In an effort to produce enough content for my first issue, I called upon the help of the members of Dr. Rob William’s JordanMojo Core-330 course, to publish students’ work about their adventures in Jordan in March. They share their revelations, creative projects, memorabilia, and personal interests with you. They will take us through the Jordanian oriental cuisine, Arabic language, ancient architecture, and introduce us to the Circassians. This Jordan issue is sure to change your perception of the Middle East. You’ll also meet two Champlain students studying abroad this semester: one in London and the second at Champlain’s Dublin campus.

With pride, I present the first issue of Champlain International Magazine. Cheers,

Kayla

Click on the title of this post to follow the link to Champlain International Magazine on ISSUU.

Shanghai, a city like no other that truly never sleeps. This past weekend Alaina and I found this out the “hard” way, as in work hard, play hard.

Eat, drink and be merry.

foodAlaina arrived at 2 p.m. on Friday, and I went to the airport with Wendy to pick her up. It had been so long since I’d seen her since she spent last semester in Spain. When we got back to the hotel, I moved into a double room with her and soon after heard Joey and David knocking on the boys’ door across the hall. We talked them into grabbing a bite with us down the road (it’s never too hard convincing guys to go eat). We shared a delish meal down the road before we parted ways since they were leaving the city for the weekend and had an early morning ahead of them.

Alaina and I looked at the clock, realizing it was already 10 p.m., and we were told never to try and catch the subway any time after 10:30 because it closes sometime around 11. We threw on our shoes and hauled ass to the nearest metro station 15 minutes away and hopped on line 2 despite the fair warning. We wanted to explore the French Concession I’d heard so much about, which is full of expat nightlife. 

To get to the general area of the French Concession, I knew we had to jump on line 1 and generally what stop to get off at. Upon exiting the metro station, I was so lost. The road was dim and quiet, but luckily we found a kind group of students who led us in the right direction. We stumbled across a large club, which wasn’t our intended scene for the night, then followed a few westerners into a four-story building with a glass elevator leading us who-knows-where. 

Perry's

An Australian on the first level asked us, “You going to Perry’s?” To which I didn’t know the answer. We jumped in the elevator that carried us to the third floor, opening up to a golden hookah bar with a mix of expats and locals, blowing rings of smoke and drinking cocktails out of stainless steel buckets. It was noisy and packed with people in groups, not very welcome to two stag American girls.

Do you even lift?In the meantime, we were entertained by Sharpie graffiti covering every square inch of the place - floor, walls, ceiling, tables, benches. People from all over the world left their mark on the wall for others to see for years to come. If, or when I return, I plan to leave my name on the wall, too. Maybe next to “PUKE MO” or “BRA” up there on the ceiling. Bro, Do you even lift? quickly caught my attention and made me feel right at home.

We soon moved on from Perry’s, strolling down the street where I could hear Heart’s What About Love? blaring from a bar called Oscar’s Pub. I recognized the song, a common cover by my uncle’s band back home, and was drawn in. I soon realized it wasn’t just playing, but was being performed live. This girl could sing anything (despite fudging a lot of words). She went from singing Heart, to Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name Of, to Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe (above). 

Although the place was kind of a dive, it led us to meet some new friends. Tristan, a fellow American, has spent the past few years in Shanghai and led us through the French Concession to places we’d much rather go. We went to a sports bar called The Camel, then to a triad of bars that offer great deals for ladies’ night on Wednesdays. We had fun dancing at Zapatas, which we returned to the following night with Julia and Kelsey. Tristan offered great advice and shared the must-know Mandarin phrases phonetically with us. We now have two words of the day we try to use in context to order food or guide a taxi. It’s quite fun with words ranging from [jully] (here) to [jigga] (this) and [woo foo en], which means waiter and you can yell it anywhere in a restaurant and they’ll come running. Also, [my done] means bill and is easy to remember since you’re done with you’re meal and want to pay. 

After lots of dancing and meeting various expats, we ended the night/morning at a dive bar called Beaver - how could we not? Chauncey T. Beaver would be so proud. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we walked out of the Beaver to see the sun was coming up, and we walked to the metro which was reopening at 6 a.m.

waffles!Once we slumped back to our hotel through a light morning rain, my feet were blistered and I was parched. And I used my first squatty-potty since being in Shanghai. Oh, how I missed those (not!). We were so tired, Alaina and I didn’t get out of bed again until late in the afternoon. We woke up starving, and craving waffles. Thank goodness for Google maps and keyword: waffles. We found Mr. Pancake not too far from line 2, and didn’t hesitate. I ordered a spinach and mushroom omelet, missing my morning eggs I commonly prepare back home. The pink drink is fresh squeezed watermelon juice! Like most beverages in China, it was served at room temperature though, which made it less appetizing than it could have been.

people's park at nightAfter having our fill of American food, we headed to meet Julia and Kelsey at a cafe named Barbarossa near People’s Park. We decided to take a taxi this time, but had to ask six drivers to take us to “People’s Park” with no success before running into more students that helped with the translation. For such a touristy destination, I can’t believe they didn’t recognize the landmark. All taxi drivers here are rated on a 5-star system, and the driver we ended up with only had one star, which made us laugh.

Since there aren’t many other nightlife venues around People’s Park, we took the girls back to the French Concession for another fun night at Zapatas. We threw in the towel at 2 a.m. so we could try and wake up at a reasonable hour today and prepare for work beginning on Monday. 

beef in lotus leafToday, Sunday, Alaina and I had breakfast with Parker, Ryan and Donny before catching up on some homework. In the late afternoon we got a great lunch at Mr. Shen’s Coffee around the corner from our hotel (beef in lotus leaf with cabbage and kimchi), then headed to the Bund for some shopping at the Super Brand Mall.

I also got a chance to Facetime with some of my favorite people back home today, which made me wish I wasn’t so far away, but I am really starting to enjoy Shanghai and excited to begin work tomorrow. After talking to all the expats that have spent a number of years in this city, I could too see myself spending time here in the future. We shall see.