Jiangnan examination compound

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Course Information: Links, Rules & Guidelines


  • Colorado College International and Off Campus Programs: Travel Resources page: Contains links to State Department, International SOS and other useful sites as well as other information for CC students traveling abroad.
  • State Department: China page | Travel Warnings : important information from the U.S. State Department for travellers headed to China.
  • Center for Disease Control: Information for travellers to China. Contains relevant information on staying healthy while traveling in China, including dietary precautions and other important information. Key sections are "Preparing for your trip to China" and "Staying healthy during your trip" which provides important tips on food and beverage consumption.
  • International SOS: China webpage | Nanjing Clinic
  • WikiTravel: China: Information on various aspects of travelling in China. Good information on issues not covered above; see, for example, the section entitled "People and Habits." Knowing what to expect is the best prophylactic against culture shock, and this covers the important (to foreigners) issues of spitting, smoking, staring, and haggling, among other things. It also contains excellent information on food safety and public hygeine. It also contains links to cities and sites, for example Mt. Huang, which we will visit. This site is the next best thing to dedicated guidebooks about travelling in China.

As a C.C. student in China, you represent three entities: your country, your school, and your instructors. Please remember that your behavior at all times will directly affect host country perceptions of these three entities as well as yourself. Misconduct of any sort will not be tolerated, and the instructors reserve the right at all times to send home students who endanger the success of the trip in any way, shape or form. What does this mean in practice? At the bare minimum, it means that if the instructors have to talk to the Public Security Bureau (i.e., the police) about any sort of incident (property damage, altercations with citizens of the host country, etc.), those students involved will be sent home. Beyond that, we expect all students to use their best judgment and behave accordingly. We assume that C.C. students are intelligent, mature, and ready to face cheerfully and flexibly the challenges posed by residing in a country as large, complex, and different from the U.S. as China; and thus we do not foresee any difficulties. However, incidents that have taken place in the past involving theft and property damage by inebriated students give us pause, and require that we make crystal clear our expectations regarding student behavior. Students with a history of disciplinary action on the C.C. campus will be expected to be particularly circumspect in this regard. We hope to have future classes be welcomed at the Hopkins Center in Nanjing and Fudan University in Shanghai in the same way that yours will be. (Some of you may even be inspired to pursue graduate work at the Hopkins Center). Do not endanger that prospect for your present and future classmates.

A note on drugs and alcohol: In recent years, China has added specific provisions to its criminal code concerning possession and use of marijuana, which is now thoroughly criminalized along with harder drugs. If you are arrested for use of this or any other illicit drug, there is nothing we can do for you. One joint is not worth spending even one night in a Chinese jail, though the penalty will likely be worse. As regards alcohol, the drinking age in China is 18, and it should be noted that while alcohol consumption is a prevalent feature of Chinese life, public drunkenness is frowned upon. If you witness public drunkenness, do not mistake this for acceptable behavior. To the overwhelming majority of Chinese, it is not. For all the reasons discussed above, alcohol will not be served at class meals or functions. Moreover, the first time anyone shows up at class or a course function drunk or hungover, or misses a class or course function for the same reason, they will fail their participation grade. The second time, they will fail the course. The third time, they will be sent home. You are responsible for your own actions. Act accordingly -- if you don't, we will.

In addition to the general guidelines on behavior given above, all students are expected to abide by the following course rules.

  • Because language is not a requirement for this class and many students have little or no training in the Chinese language, we require that whenever you go out, you must go out with at least one other classmate. Even though English is the most popular second language in China, and many people will want to practice English with you, most Chinese do not speak English. This is especially true in Nanjing.
  • When going out, ALWAYS bring the address and phone number of our place of residence. Hong and I will prepare cards for you which have the address in Chinese characters and pinyin romanization, as well as relevant phone numbers. If you get lost, you can show these to a cab driver who can bring you back, or a police officer who can help you.
  • When going out, ALWAYS bring the cell no. of the course instructors, for the same reason as those given above.
  • Always keep your passport on your person at all times. While you will rarely be asked to produce it, Chinese law requires that all foreign nationals keep with them their passport at all times. It is also a good idea to make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place in case anything happens to the original.
  • If you are sick or not feeling well, let the instructors know immediately, even if it is a minor ailment. That way, if the condition persists or progresses, we can act accordingly.

What To Bring:

  • Pack light! China is a shopper's paradise, and you will no doubt find all sorts of treasures to bring back, ranging from touristy knick-knacks to name-brand clothing. However, there are a few items that might not be readily available that you will want to bring with you. About.com has a good page explaining strategies for packing for China.
  • Clothes: The Lower Yangzi Delta area has a marine monsoon subtropical climate, which translates to hot, humid summers, cool dry winters and warm springs and autumns. Average April highs for Nanjing range from 66 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit; lows in the same period hover around 50 degrees. In May, highs range from 76 to 80 degrees with lows around sixty. Shanghai temperatures are similar, with May highs averaging 74-78 degrees and lows avering 58 to 72 degrees. Temperatures in both cities can fluctuate significantly, though you can count on humidity being a constant. The bottom line: pack so you will be able to dress in layers, since it is a good bet that at some point you will be cold, and at others quite warm or hot.
  • Electricity: Domestic electricity in China runs at 220 volts, 50 HZ, as compared to the United States, where electricity runs at 110 volts, 60 HZ. If you bring any appliances or electronics, you will probably need a transformer to avoid damaging them, creating a fire hazard, or both. (For example, if you plug in an electric blanket from the U.S., it will rapidly overheat, melt and ultimately set fire to whatever it touches.) China also uses a variety of outlet and plug shapes, so you will also need adapters for many appliances.
    • Transformers/Voltage Converters: If you are bringing an appliance without a variable power supply, you will need a step-down converter that converts 220 volts to 110 volts. These are available at many outlets, including Amazon, Triple A, etc. Note that most laptop computers already have a variable power supply in the shape of small box attached to the power cord which specifies its capabilities. (For example, a standard Dell power supply specifies on the box itself that it can handle input ranging from 100-240 volts at 50-60HZ, which guarantees functionality in both the U.S. and China.) However, appliances like hair dryers, electric razors and battery chargers rarely have such features; to use them abroad you will need a transformer. Step-down converters at Amazon.com range from $15 to $30 dollars; in China they will cost approximately 100 to 200 RMB -- roughly the same.
    • Plug Adapters: Standard two-hole outlets are fairly common and in most instances will accept two-pronged plugs. Nevertheless, three-prong outlets differ significantly, and even some two-hole outlets will not accept flat prongs. Plug adapters, which should not be confused with voltage converters, can be purchased in the U.S. for around $5 a piece (or less if you buy them in a kit).

Food & Diet:
If you are a foodie, going to China is like going to Heaven. Open minds and empty stomachs are well-rewarded in a country with countless regional cuisines and literally thousands of eating options. If you have any food allergies, let us know immediately so we can help you avoid triggering them. Beyond that, a few words on hygeine and food safety are definitely in order:

  • Do not drink tap water. Ever. Chinese don't drink it, and neither should you. Instead, bottled water is cheap and available everywhere, as is soda. (Make sure that the seal is unbroken on any bottled water you purchase. It is not unknown for some street vendors to pass off counterfeit bottled water as the real thing -- but common sense, observation, and caution should help you avoid this.) Opinion is divided on the issue of tooth-brushing. Some fine hotels will have a separate spigot for potable water, which can be used for drinking or brushing.
  • In general, avoid eating food from street vendors. There are several reasons for this. The most salient one, however, is that such vendors usually do not have access to refrigeration for their goods, and thus meat and seafood can be particularly suspect -- though anything can go bad from lack of refrigeration, especially in the warm, humid places we will be. Seasoned travellers and guidebooks increasingly argue that if one follows certain rules -- such as eating food that you watched a vender cook before your eyes -- eating on the street can be safe and enjoyable. This may be true to a point, but there are several reasons we would advise caution: Unless you've lived in China a long time, your digestive system will be adjusting and you may experience minor complications like traveller's diarrhea anyway -- why push the envelope, especially if you have a sensitive stomach? I can tell you from personal experience that a bad case of food poisoning in China could be among the worst experiences of your life. I once broke the street food rule to eat a fried bun for breakfast -- I had seen the vendor cook it, and since it contained no meat or animal products it seemed doubly safe. I paid dearly for the mistake: four days in bed with a fever of 103, punctuated by endless trips to the bathroom as my body violently continued to purge itself long after there was anything left to purge. I wouldn't wish that on anyone so please, better safe than sorry should be the operative philosophy here.