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NuView Blog

FASHION: HONG KONG/CHINA STUDY TOUR REFLECTION - Part 1

Maia Wilson

Interested in studying abroad? If you have a desire to travel and experience a new country while furthering your education, then studying abroad is for you. Fortunately, the merchandising department at UNT has more than one opportunity for students to travel abroad!

For this months article, I've collaborated with a few of my favorite people, including Mrs. Zorola, Senior Lecturer and faculty leader of the Hong Kong/China Study Tour, and one of my best friends + frequent flyer companion + NuView Careers Editor, Fernando Zamarripa. In this two part blog post, we will be share thoughts, experiences, tips, and personal media from our study abroad trip to China and Hong Kong. I hope you will explore this post with an open mind, and come away with a desire to join the club of student globetrotters!


Travel Expectations

Hong Kong

 Expect the weather to resemble that of Texas…only more humid! Hong Kong is a subtropical city, that experiences frequent thunderstorms in the summer months.

China

The weather is not as humid as in Hong Kong! However, the temperature is warmer.

Packing Tips for Hong Kong/China Study Tour

As Fashion Editor of NuView, I understand the need to incorporate personal style into one's travel wear! expressing your personal style without having your whole closet to choose from can be quite challenging. Therefore, here are several packing tips for maintaining personal style when traveling to Hong Kong/China. 

Taylar's Packing Tip

Plan your outfits ahead of time by putting together potential looks that will be appropriate for your daily activities. It is worth noting that I did occasionally swap certain garments according to unexpected weather changes, so make sure to pack a few easy, mix & match options. This tip saved me time, luggage space, and the stress of not knowing what to wear. 

OUTFIT INSPIRATION: Exploring Beijing

Get the look: Circle skirt, tee, ankle booties, cross body bag, statement necklace

Get the look: Circle skirt, tee, ankle booties, cross body bag, statement necklace

Check out some more of my looks in this video! 

Fernando’s Packing Tips

“My packing tip would be to roll your clothes in your suitcase, opposed to folding them. I found that by doing this, I was able to pack more items than expected.”

“Wear light weight clothing, so you are comfortable at all times. I brought pieces that were easy to mix and match from day to day. This saved me a ton of luggage space!”

“Make sure to bring an umbrella with you, even when you don’t think you will need it. The weather tends to be unpredictable.”

“Always check to make sure you have everything you need before starting your day.”

OUTFIT INSPIRATION: Lantou Island

Interested in the trip yet? If so, you're in luck!

Mrs. Zorola was kind enough to answer a few  frequent questions, along with some not-so-frequent questions that may have skipped your mind!

Packing Pointers

What are your best packing tips for Hong Kong/China study tour?

Mix and match your wardrobe and plan for ONE pair of dressy shoes for professional appointments and then coordinate your outfits around that. I always select my shoes first, “These light tan kitten-heel shoes,” and then I choose outfits that will match those shoes. If I choose my outfits first, I may find myself needing 2-3 different pairs of shoes.

Also, in terms of maximizing your luggage space, I roll all my clothing instead of folding. For one, it saves space, and two, your clothing won’t wrinkle as much.

Choose clothing that is light, packs small, and is easy to wash and quick to dry. Think synthetic. Yes, they are hot but they will wick moisture and wash/dry easily and quickly.

Place liquid items into small plastic baggies in your carry-on. If anything breaks or bursts open, then the damage is contained to the items in the small baggie. No baggies, and the mess goes everywhere. Large baggies, and the mess still gets on a lot of other product. Use SMALL baggies.

What aspects of your everyday routine do you miss the most when traveling abroad?

Having access to my entire facial product routine. The weather can wreak havoc on your skin, so I make the investment to buy travel size of everything I need, or buy small bottles to take as much with me that I can. I cannot find my preferred line of products overseas so I need to try and take it with me.

Also, not really related to packing, but I miss my fitness and nutrition routine the most. I work out 6 days a week and calorie/macro count every day. Practically impossible to do overseas on such long, tiring days, and when I’m eating new foods. But it’s worth it!

What is the most challenging part of packing for the study tour? 

I would say accounting for everything you will need across 16+ days. You can’t imagine what you’ll need when you haven’t traveled overseas before. Start a list now and add to it as you think of things. Choose a day to carefully follow your morning routine. Write down everything you use. I washed my hair so I need shampoo and conditioner. Then I put X-product in my hair. Then I wore a pony tail so I need hair ties. Then I cleaned my face with cleanser so I need cotton balls and facial cleanser. Etc. etc.

What should students be aware of when purchasing items to bring home with them?

Every time you want to buy something, remind yourself that you will need to carry that home. Is it worth it? Do you want to deal with it? Will you be heartbroken if it breaks? If so, can you possibly ship it instead?

Do you have any helpful tips for mixing and matching with items you've packed?

As noted above, start with your shoes, and build your outfits around that. I take 3 pairs of shoes with me: 1 for professional appointment, 1 for factory appointments that can double as my casual shoes, and 1 for working out.

What fiber blends should be avoided when packing, and why? Are there any particular fabrics you recommend for traveling on the study tour?

Stay away from thick cottons. They stay wet in humid conditions, and they take forever to dry when you wash them. I recommend anything synthetic or with a synthetic blend. Cotton/polys, for example. I wear a lot of poly and nylon tops and bottoms that are loose and airy. That allows for more breathability, wicking, and quick drying. Also, they are lightweight. And for the love of God, leave the denim at home! ;)

Destination Suggestions

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Where do you recommend shopping in China/ Hong Kong?

I rarely shop for clothing while in Hong Kong or China because the sizes don’t fit me. In terms of souvenirs, I recommend for students to wait to shop in Beijing so they are not lugging around souvenirs for the next week and a half. In China, they will be more affordable. Also, we usually make a stop at a Chinese art gallery where many pieces are painted by the students and teachers of a local art school. The prices are great for a meaningful, one-of-a-kind piece.

What are your tips for shopping at Pearl Market?

Walk away. You can easily walk away and they [the vendors] will quickly come down in price. I have heard that you should only pay about 10% of the original price they offer. For example, if you want some Beats headphones and they offer $500RNB, you should be paying closer to $50RNB. Also, if you can, buy in quantity. If you buy multiples, you will often get a better price.

What excursions or activities do you suggest checking out when shopping?

Many of the shopping centers will often have free exhibits you can visit. Last May, there was a French shoe exhibit in one of the shopping centers. Also, I recommend getting out into the parks to be around the locals. That will give you a true flavor for the country you are in. Personally, I love to try different food. So visiting different restaurants is fun for me. Again, the local food is a great way to experience the culture.

What is the best gift item you've purchased? Are there any gift items you suggest buying or not buying?

The best gifts I have purchased were at the Chinese art gallery because those were one of a kind pieces. Something that won’t break, and can be hung on the wall to look at and enjoy every day. Also, I like to buy things like Chinese candies and pretty Chinese-style bags. I fill them with candy and pass them out to my nieces and nephews. It’s inexpensive and they love getting a bag full of candy. I recommend not spending too much money on anything counterfeit. Know it won’t last. Handbag straps will bust, jewelry will tarnish, sunglasses will break. If you are OK with the item not lasting long, then that is fine. But don’t be surprised if your handbag doesn’t make it home without ripping first.

Tell us... what are your tips for haggling with vendors? Is it even worth the effort? 

Well, apparently I am the most beautiful lady in the world because everyone was offering me a special discount “just for you because you are a beautiful lady”! ;) 
I don’t like haggling much. I’d rather just buy something and move on. You still want to haggle some, but why spend 5 minutes trying to get them down from $50RNB to $40RNB when that is barely ONE American dollar? I always figure that dollar means more to them than to me. Granted, I am sure they make a killing in those markets, but I don’t have the patience to spend 5 minutes to save an extra dollar.

Advice for Professional Appointments and Factory Visits

What type of attire is appropriate for professional appointments?

Business casual is what I advise to students. Conservative shoes that are either flat or with a low heel. No low-cut blouses, skirt and dress hems all the way to the knee, no sheer fabrics, and you should be able to sit in your clothing and retain your modesty. No overly tight clothing.

And attire for the factories?

Pants or capris. No skirts, no open-toed shoes, no active wear, no bra straps showing. Although we will be in factories and sweating quite a bit, our tours are often lead by the factory owner and we want to make a good impression. Also, imagine if you were working full-time and your employer sent you to China to spend a week in the company factories. You wouldn’t be able to take a day off and show up in workout pants, hair in a top-knot, and no makeup. You still have to look appropriate at all times.

What are some questions that students should ask at the appointments?  

I believe that almost any question is a good question. [The question] should be focused to the process seen in the factory, and it can be related to the people or workers. Just remember that a question should not be asked for the purpose of embarrassing anyone or putting anyone on the spot. We are not there t =o challenge their systems. Remember, they see things from a very different perspective than us. What is important to us, may not be important to them, and vice versa.

What's your top tip for how students can make a positive impression during the appointments?

Show interest! Don’t engage in personal conversations or hang at the back of the group. Show urgency. Stay at the front, ask questions, and take pictures (not selfies). The best thing you can do is ask questions. They want to answer questions, and if there are no questions, then it might be misconstrued as a lack of interest.

Personal Reflections

What do you hope that students will gain from this trip, both personally and professionally? 

Personally – I hope that students will understand the challenges that our American consumerism is causing around the world, not just in China. So many of the manufacturing and logistical challenges are due to the consumers’ strong demands for cheaper and faster product. The choices we make have a real effect across the world. It’s not just a $5 t-shirt or a $12 skirt. It’s very well someone’s life and livelihood. We have to start making better decisions that can help improve the fashion industry. There’s a place for fast fashion but there is so much more than just that.

Professionally – I hope that students come away with a great overview of the supply chain. I want students to see how everything works together and how one area affects another.

What visit are you most looking forward to during this summer's upcoming study tour?

We will be visiting a denim dye house, so I’m looking forward to seeing something I have never seen before. Also, I know there are Nike factories in Dongguan and I am still trying to see if we can find a connection at one. In China, everything is about relationships, so unless I can find a connection into a factory, I likely won’t be able to cold-call and request a visit.

Which city is your favorite to visit on the study tour, and why?

I love Hong Kong! The city comes alive at night, there are great museums to visit, lots of wonderful places to eat, it’s easy to get around, and it’s a great mix of people from all over the world! It mixes the new with the old. You can be in some of the most luxurious shopping centers in the world, and then in an hour be at the top of a mountain visiting the Big Buddha. It’s fascinating! I love that mix of history and future.

What is the most valuable thing you have learned from the study tour trip?

The most valuable thing I have learned while traveling in China is that if you want to know about the local culture, just ask! People want to talk to you and share what they know. You cannot believe everything you read about a country from the local media. You have to experience it for yourself. If you have pre-conceived ideas about China, lose them! Travel with us and experience the country and the people for yourself. You’d be surprised to learn how much you thought you ‘knew’……was actually wrong.

What about the study tour do you cherish the most?

I cherish the friends I have made. It’s a little like a homecoming when I visit again. The people I have met in China are beyond kind! They go out of their way to make you feel welcome and comfortable. They think of everything, they are the perfect hosts! I’m always excited to see my old friends Billy, Bun, Yin, and Andy. They really are some of the most beautiful people I have ever known.

Interested in traveling to China and Hong Kong? Email Mrs. Zorola at mzorola@unt.edu. There is still room for 18 students,  but keep in mind that once the applications are up, you'll need to move fast in order to secure a spot!

Lastly, stay tuned for Hong Kong/China Study Tour Reflection (Part 2) which we will be sharing later in December with even more tips!


CREDITS

Copy & Videos: Taylar Gomez, Fashion Editor

Photography: John Keller

Graphic 1: Ashley Nudge, Editor-In-Chief