Thanks for your support!

Thanks for your support!

Thanks for your support!

Dear parents, family, and friends of the students:

Please check the Home page on the detailed potential itinerary, estimated costs, and FAQ of this course. Below is the information to address the very common concerns from family and friends.
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact the instructor.


Safety is our No. 1 priority of a faculty-led travel course at WCU. All students will be well advised throughout the entire trip. The food choices will be healthy, the lodging locations will be safe, and the physical activities will be moderate.

We will also constantly monitor any alert or warning messages published by the US Department of State.

Time difference and jet lag

In US mainland, there are four time zones (Eastern Time, Central Time, Mountain Time, and Pacific Time), and the summer’s daylight saving time (DST) is in effect during our trip. In China, a single time zone is used; The daylight saving time was once tried but abandoned decades ago. Given the wide area of China, the sunrise can happen around 4am along the eastern border but around 8am along the western border, but the bookkeeping of time is consistent across the country.

The time difference between the Eastern Time DST and the China time is easy to remember, as the difference is exactly 12 hours. North Carolina (NC) time is the China time minus 12 hours, or any day starts 12 hours earlier in China than in NC. Two examples are provided below:

When it is 8:00 AM on June 15th in China, it is 8:00 PM on June 14th in NC.
When it is 8:00 PM on June 15th in China, it is 8:00 AM on June 15th in NC.

If you want to chat with a student, it is best to try early morning and evening, when it is neither too early nor too late for both of you.

Due to the time difference, jet lag is very real, too. In the first couple of days after we land in China, when it is noontime, the body may still think that it is midnight, and the students will be very sleepy in the afternoon. It typically takes several days for the students to adjust to the local time. However, fun activities in the afternoon can often keep them awake and help them get adjusted quickly. We will also take advantage of the jet lag. For example, we will be awake very early in the morning in the first couple of days, and we can easily go to watch the flag-raising ceremony in Beijing at the sunrise.

When the students get back to NC from China, similar jet lag adjustment needs to happen. It is very normal. We will advise the students to use the destination’s local time to guide their sleeping schedule even on the airplane, which often helps.

How to keep in touch with the students

Phone service is one option to consider, and yet using WiFi may be less costly.

In China, no google product (gmail, google maps, etc), facebook, tweeter, or instagram is usable. There are many local apps that do similar things. As to chatting, it is highly recommended that you and the students can both use smart phones and install an app called wechat to stay in touch.

Android version
iPhone version

You can register an account at this app using your phone number alone. Please also add a username and password after you set up the account using your phone number. Once you have the username and password, you can log onto different devices; otherwise the logging in requires a security text-message to your phone, while you may not get such a text-message using your US phone while in China.

This app works whenever Data or WiFi is available. In China, WiFi is often available, so the students do not need to activate international roaming on their phones. The wechat app allows chat, voice chat, video chat, photo sharing, file sharing, update in moments (where you post a paragraph with up to 9 photos, similar to a facebook post or a tweet), and many other features, all for free, as long as WiFi is available. If calling your phone is needed, for a modest fee paid within wechat, the students can call a land phone or a cell phone in US from wechat. It is highly recommended that you all install wechat and know how to use it with the students before the trip.

The instructor will create a group on wechat to include all the students, their families and close friends of their choice, to share our progress in the trip. You are of course welcome to chat with the student privately instead of in the group. The group is just an easy way to update everyone who wants to know our progress quickly. Home-sickness is very likely to happen during a trip abroad, and your support and encouragement are highly appreciated throughout the trip.

Since gmail does not work in China (the students can not log into gmail, although they can receive an email sent from gmail such as from you), the students may want to use WCU campus email, Microsoft emails (Hotmail, etc), and yahoo email. The family and friends should be aware of this restriction and email the students to emails that they can have access.