China’s Housing Crisis

In my Chinese class this semester, I had to do a presentation on a current cultural topic. I chose the housing crisis in China. China used to have a public housing system – all housing was owned by the government, and rent was due to the state. But the financial burden of building and maintaining housing for all of China’s residents became too great, and so in the 90s the government implemented a plan to change to a public housing system. People still couldn’t own land, only rent it from the government for a 70-year period.

Now, however, China has a new problem: with the housing market boom has come an increase in financial prosperity for residents. Houses are getting more and more extravagant, and as a result more and more expensive. It’ s becoming difficult for medium-income people to afford housing. The government plans to, by 2020, encourage housing developments to create housing that has fewer square footage and costs less.

Overall, though, the change to private housing has a net gain. The average living space per person before the change was 3 square meters, and the conditions were horrible. Now, conditions have improved greatly, and the living space is 17 square meters per person.

I look forward to seeing how this information impacts my lens of housing and life in China while I’m there next semester.

Getting Ready for China: Part 1

I’m going to be studying abroad in China for the coming spring semester! I’ll be at Peking University (Beida, colloquially) in Beijing. Last week, I got the opportunity to meet with a friend who studied abroad at the same university over the summer. He gave me SO much helpful information – I took pages and pages of notes! I need to let the first layer sink it and revisit my notes later, but I thought I’d share some of the most interesting and useful things he told me that are currently at the front of my mind.

  1. An incoming traveler is allowed to bring up to three pieces of Christian literature into the country. More than that, and the customs officials will throw them away at will to get down to three. However, an NIV Bible in English can be purchased at the university bookstore in their “Superstitions” section.
  2. “Cars WILL hit you”, he said, regardless of where you walk. When this happens, don’t panic; simple bang on the hood of their car, curse at them in Chinese, and walk away.
  3. Go on a date to Pizza Hut. It’s what everyone does – Pizza Hut is fancy in China, with waiters and mood lighting and everything.
  4. For the second part of your date, go to the Pearl Market and pick out individual pearls to have strung into a necklace. A $300 value for just $20!
  5. Go to the American Embassy. When you step through the gates, they say, “Welcome home!” They also host celebrations on minor American holidays.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts to share as the time approaches, but this is all for now!

Chinese Club

This semester, I got the opportunity to be the Vice President of OU’s Chinese Club. We were able to do more activities this semester than in previous semesters. In addition to the Mid-Autumn Festival, which you can read about in one of my previous posts, we had a conversation hour weekly for about two months. I was only able to attend two of them, but both times were very helpful. We were able to gather a group that was about half-and-half Chinese language learners and native speakers, so that we were able to practice our language skills in an effective way. The Chinese Club also took an outing to get dim sum in OKC. I was unfortunately unable to go, but I heard that it was a great time. It seems that the people who participated actively in Chinese Club this semester enjoyed it very much, but we did have difficulty garnering interest for most of our events. I’ll be abroad next semester, but the following semester, I’ll hopefully be able to help the club develop new strategies to reach and attract more students on OU’s campus.