Madrazo Reflects on Trip to China
Fresno State equestrian student-athlete recently travled to China for a agriculture study abroad program.
Fresno State equestrian student-athlete recently travled to China for a agriculture study abroad program.

July 5, 2012

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By Stacey Luke

FRESNO, Calif. --- Lanie Madrazo, a senior agricultural business major and member of the Fresno State Equestrian team, leapt at the opportunity to travel with 14 other students to China where she would learn more about a future career in the agriculture industry from an international perspective.

During the trip, Madrazo visited Shanghai, Beijing, and Nanjing where she interacted with students and professors from local Universities and discussed global agricultural concerns.

Madrazo took time to sit down with and discuss the highlights from a once in a lifetime experience. What inspired you to pick China as a study abroad location?
Lanie Madrazo: Our department offers a trip where we get the chance to look at agriculture in China. It was an Ag based class we took so that's why I picked it because it's related to my major. It's also a new thing with agriculture, mixing with China. Where did you study in China?
LM: We went to Shanghai, Beijing, and Nanjing. They are five hour high speed rail trips from each other. The trains go 200 miles per hour. How many people did you go with?
LM: There were 14 people and two professors. They are all from the Jordan College of agriculture. Like enology, plant science and a bunch of Ag business majors. How long did the program last and how long were you there?
LM: We were there for 16 days, left on a Monday and got back on a Wednesday. It was fun filled but definitely jam-packed. What did you study?
LM: We focused on one class and gave presentations there. The Ag department is connected with some of the universities in China. We gave presentations about U.S. life and culture and some of the issues here in the U.S., like genetically modified organism and how it's becoming a world issue. We gave our opinion on it and presented it to some of the students and professors there. So that was the big part of our class. We were assigned topics and we worked with partners before we left. We also had to write a paper based off of an interview we did while we were about their life [in China] and how they liked it. We also wrote a paper at the end about an issue in China and how we felt about it. Had you been to China before? Do you speak any Chinese?
LM: No, but I am taking Mandarin next semester. I've wanted to learn it in the past but now I really want to. Was this your first travel abroad study or first time out of the country? If not, did you visit previously?
LM: This was my first study abroad for class credit but I've been out of the country before. What was the most interesting thing about studying abroad?
LM: Probably the culture there, it is just so different from here. When you go, there are a lot of big buildings and it looks fancy but when you walk on the streets it still like a third world country. How was the culture/school different from the U.S.?
LM: They have toilets there that you have to squat down on as there are no toilet seats. The hotels were nice but all public restrooms have them. We called them squatters. They have no toilet paper or soap or anything in the bathrooms, you have to bring everything. The food is also really different. What our tour guide ordered us to eat was pretty good but the things on the menu were crazy. We had a hotel that outside you could walk down the street and they would sell things like scorpions and snakes and whole sharks on a stick that they would fry up for you. Some of the guys ate the scorpions, you could try anything you wanted. What is the most interesting thing you experienced during your stay in China?
LM: Going on the Great Wall of China was pretty awesome, definitely got to check that off my bucket list. It's interesting to see because it's really modernized so you can walk on it but if you walk to the end of that area you can see all the rubble and it was just kind of overgrown. It was really cool. Meeting the people there was also really cool, they are super friendly. If they go to school there they start learning English when they are six years old so they want to talk to you to practice their English since they don't have many opportunities to do that. It was cool to try and have conversations with them, it was hard sometimes but it was interesting to interact with them.

They all loved us and we were the best thing ever to them. They all wanted to take pictures with us, it was crazy. We were like celebrities, there were lines to take pictures with us sometimes, it was pretty fun to interact with them, especially when we went to the universities, we met a girl who is coming to Fresno to study in the Fall so it was awesome to meet her and know we will see her in August. She is going to live in the dorms and study plant science here for two years, so we were all excited to help her out when she gets here. Anything additional that was interesting about your trip?
LM: I would definitely want to go back again, but maybe to some different parts in China. I want to go more inland and get a better look at the agriculture. We were more in the city and went inland in just a little bit - I want to go way inland.

We were also able to go to the U.S. Embassy and meet with our representatives there in China. I think I want to do something like that when I graduate. It was cool to talk to them and get contacts, definitely did a lot of networking.

We got to go to an organic tradeshow in Shanghai and we got to look at all the products they are developing and try a bunch of different things. It was really cool to see all the different new and upcoming products. There were people from the U.S. there selling their products trying to branch out and expand their market.

We went to an organic farm and a dairy farm, it was really interesting to see how they grew the different plants and commodities, we went to a lot of what we would call a farms market but they call them a wet market. They have everything you could imagine and so many people. There were rows and rows of people and everyone was selling the same thing. I'm not sure why but that's just how they do it.

All of the fruits and vegetables were imported so we saw a lot of stuff from California in China which was interesting. And they had raw meat, seafood and fish swimming in boxes of water. There were live chickens there too that they were killing in the back; you want a fresh chicken you can get it there. We were not allowed to eat anything from off the street or drink the water because we would have gotten sick. We drank all bottled water.

We ate at all restaurants, sometimes we ate at tourist restaurants and sometimes we went to more traditional on the street restaurants. In the U.S. we have a grading system like an A or a B in restaurants for food safety, but in China they had different smiley faces to represent the quality of the restaurant. A big smile meant it was good, a straight line meant it barely passed standards and a frown meant it was bad.

But I would definitely go back. I've been to Ireland and England but nothing like China. I think working with the U.S. Embassy or consulate office would be awesome and this trip definitely inspired me.

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