Wednesday, October 24, 2012

College Dormitories in China: An Introduction

Yesterday an American reader wrote to me:
I recently found your blog and just wanted to say how much I enjoy the pictures you post. They really show a different side of China than the image I have had in my mind.
I asked if he could say more and he replied:
My mental image was of a much more dismal place. I never thought much beyond the image of huge factories full of underpaid workers, but your pictures show that there is more than that in China (which I knew on some level, but never really thought about).

I'd really like to visit China if I am ever financially able to at some point.
First, I appreciate the comments, and I hope the reader someday has the opportunity to visit China.

Second, the reader's comments about his image of China are a great setup for some posts I have been planning to provide more context about working and living conditions in China. In another coincidental but perfect setup for what I will soon post, James Fallows is now sharing photos from his recent tour of a Foxconn site in Shenzhen, China. As Fallows writes, Foxconn:
is the hyper-secretive, highly controversial company that makes so many of the smartphones, computers, tablets, and other devices that you use.
At the moment, Fallows has four "Inside Foxconn" posts, all including photos. You can find them here: One; Two; Three; Four.

The third post includes photos inside a dorm room. In commenting on the dorms Fallows writes:
...I've seen enough other Chinese factories, rural schools, villages and so on to recognize that these are on the higher end of the spectrum.
Based on the many dorms I have seen in different regions of China, the photos shared by Fallows left me with a similar impression.

On that note, I will post series of photos from a range of dorms not at factories, but at universities I have visited across China. They will provide points of comparison for the dorms photographed by Fallows and also some perspective on the living conditions common for students in China. But before that, I want to provide a brief overview of why and how I became familiar with university dorm conditions in China as part of my research. That's coming soon.

In the meantime, I recommend checking out the Foxconn posts by Fallows if you haven't already. Newer posts may already be available on his blog at The Atlantic here.

UPDATE: Here is a current (as of Oct 27) list of links to posts on this topic in the order they were published:
More is on the way.

UPDATE 2: Here is a list of links to later relevant posts:

  • Hard Beds in China -- context for considering the thin mattress on the beds in the dorm rooms

College students outside their dorm rooms in Longzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China

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