Day 4 (19 Dec 2009): SYSU [Guangzhou]

For your convenience, please refer to The Journey for the itinerary and the latest updates.

Weather: Sunny

I woke up early to join Alan in his last international marketing class at Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU).

It’s hard not to compare SYSU with the host university which I went to. SYSU is a public university while Sabancı University is a private one founded by one of the biggest foundations in Turkey (in turn set up by one of those massive conglomerates in Turkey). Needless to say SYSU’s facilities couldn’t compare to Sabancı’s or SMU’s. The student mix in both schools were decidedly different. The students at SYSU seem more down-to-earth while most Turkish students in Sabancı are generally well-to-do and many often have nice cars plus substantial allowances from parents.

Where Alan had his classes

The professor is an elderly Australian named Alan and he did most of the talking for the first part of the class; mostly about different cultural context in marketing. He tried to inject humor but I believed that some were lost by the fee-paying Chinese students. As usual, the exchange students would dominate the class participation while the local students would only answer when posed with questions. Alan (my friend) told me that most Chinese students were working professionals and they would spend most of the weekends going for MBA classes. Some would have classes the entire day on Saturday. Their hunger for knowledge and success were really commendable.

There were quite a number of exchange students in the class and they were not required to go for the next class scheduled on Christmas’ Eve. The local students had to attend it because Christmas is not a public holiday in China. In return, the exchange students would have to do their group presentation a week earlier.

Remember the tampons that I had to buy? Alan used them for demonstration purposes in his team’s final presentation in the class. Apparently most local students hadn’t heard of them and the prof seemed rather impressed with Alan’s group’s presentation. I guessed that SMU has trained him well.

Alan and I had lunch at the cafeteria after the class. Both of us had skipped breakfast and we were starving by then. The food at the cafeteria was really cheap; I believed that mine was less than 10 RMB for rice, potatoes, veg and pork.

After our meal, we went around the campus to find the bus stop for the next day’s trip to Zhuhai. I found on the net that there are buses departing from SYSU campus. Some pictures along the way:

Pavilion

Alan said that someone told him that the building was haunted

The man himself

We found the bus station which was located near the South Entrance and inquired about the timings and price. We would return again in the evening to purchase the tickets.

My traveling map: To SYSU

Liverpool was playing Portsmouth away that evening and the match was scheduled for early kick-off. Daniel promised to bring me to a nice place where we could watch the game after dinner.

Dan showing off his street cred

Along the way, we dropped by the bus station to purchase our tickets to Zhuhai. Being non-student, I got to pay 70 RMB instead of 35. Oh well no complaints.

On a side note, something rather interesting happened. While walking through SYSU’s campus again, I noticed an European-looking lady in headscarf with presumably her two kids. The younger lady seemed to be in her late teens and had a cap on while the boy looked like a 10 year old. They fit the profile of Turks and I decided to take my chance.

I waited for the little boy to catch up with me and make eye contact.

I smiled at him, “Merhaba” (Hello!) He replied Merhaba as well.

I asked “Türk müsünüz?” (Are you Turkish?)

Instead of replying he turned back to her mom and sis and shouted “Türkçe biliyor!” (He knows Turkish!)

Thus the mom and sis came over and talked to me. They were quite curious about my ability (albeit really limited) to speak Turkish. After racking my brain for any Turkish vocab left inside, I managed something like:

“Menum öldüm. İstanbulda oturdum. Beş ay ile. Biraz Türkçe biliyorum.” (Nice to meet you. I stayed in Istanbul. For five months. I know a little Turkish.)

To my pleasant surprise I was understood.

The mom asked me what I was doing in Istanbul.

“Universiteside calımasıyorum. Ermm… exchange.” (I’m studying in university. Didn’t know the word for ‘exchange’)

“Hangı?” (Which?)

“Sabancı Universitesi”.

They smiled. Apparently all Turks whom I met reacted the same way.

Apparently the daughter was studying in an university in Istanbul (think it’s Istanbul University) and of course some details escaped me. They also asked me what I was doing in Guangzhou before bidding us “gule gule” (goodbye).

I really had to thank hocam (my teacher) Güniz to make the conversation possible.

The place where we watched the game was a pub/restaurant/pool parlor. The service was really good; the attendants even racked the pool balls for you. The game in comparison wasn’t so good. In fact it was downright atrocious. Easily the worst game of the season. We lost 0-2 with Mascherano sent off. The second half was spent more on chatting with Brendan, Alan and Daniel’s friend from exchange, than on following the game.

Despite a long day ahead of us the following day, we hung around a bit at Alan and Daniel’s exchange friends’ place before going back to rest.

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