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Study trip 2015 Day 11-Day ??: #WhereIsJonathan

Author: Jonathan

There I was, alone at the airport in Beijing, as my passport was rejected by the Chinese personnel. Some panic quickly got the best of me as reality gradually started to sink in and I realized that everybody was leaving and I was the only one left behind in a country where almost everyone speaks a language which I had no knowledge of whatsoever.

I took a few deep breaths and calmed myself down by getting over the fact that panicking would not benefit my situation. I then formulated the necessary steps I needed to take at that time, which were: get enough money, find a way to get to the Dutch embassy in Beijing and afterwards find a place to stay for the time being. After seeking help in translating the address of the Dutch embassy, I quickly took a taxi and I arrived there shortly.

With some quick thinking of the study trip commission and a little help of Kitty, the previous hostel, in which we stayed the first few days in Beijing, had already been arranged for me. This made searching for a place to stay a lot easier for me, since I was already used to that place and the people that worked there. After having checked in the hostel I went to the room, changed my clothes, went to the hostel’s bar to buy some beer and slowly process everything, what has happened to me that day.

At the embassy, I was told that getting permission to leave the country would take 2 to 5 days and it could even take longer. Accepting the fact that I would still be in china for quite some time, I decided to just make the best of my situation. For the past “extra” days I stayed in China I met some Chinese and Americans, which I got along with pretty well. My roommates at that time were all Chinese, which were all students and could speak a reasonable amount of English. One of my roommates even needed to go to an Embassy as well, so we just went together and took the subway early in the morning.

Afterwards we met up with the other roommates and had dinner at a few restaurants and just went for some sightseeing. In the evening I did some reading in the bar, but was interrupted by one of the guys which worked there, asking me if I would like to play some pool. Of course, I could not refuse, since I had not played it in a long time. After a few beers and playing pool, a few others joined us, including an American girl, an Indian guy and a Chinese couple. That night the bar stayed open later than usual. While I enjoyed the extra days I also made the necessary calls and work every day to facilitate my trip back to the Netherlands.

Within a few days I received the necessary papers to leave the country and I quickly booked a flight back to the Netherlands. I humbly thanked them for making my stay enjoyable and told them that I shall return after a few years. Alone in Beijing for a few days has been quite an experience as I thought about it sitting in the departure hall of the airport. It was at that moment that I caught a glimpse of a very familiar face at the back of a newspaper a man was reading. Taking a closer look, I realized it was yours truly. My situation had reached the newspapers through the amazing efforts of Mollier by creating a crowdfunding in order to “#GetJonathanBack”. This is where I end the exclusive extended version of this blog, where I give thanks to everyone that supported me in my crazy experience and made my “extra” few days in Beijing enjoyable!


Study trip 2015 Day 10: Wuhan

Authors: Xin Xu & Wies Westerhout

24th May was our last day in the city Wuhan, no official plan were arranged on this day so that participants would have free time to go sightseeing. I (Xin Xu) choose to visit a friend, while Dr. Yu went to his parents-in-law for his birthday. The Dutch students went to Guiyuan Temple and Yellow Crane Tower. I did not know what interesting things they had in the day, but I went through the most exciting story during the entire studytrip which happened in that evening.

As planned, we arrived the railway station for the train back to Beijing. We ate dinner inside the station and everything went fine until we stood in line for boarding the train. dr. Yu was happily chatting with others so that I became the only person who noticed the thrilling news from station broadcast: our train was delayed for at least 2.5 hours due to flood! I immediately told Dr. Yu, but he couldn’t believe at first. I pointed at the Chinese text on the screen saying delayed, then he believed and said, “Now we have a big problem!” Only under the condition that our train arrived on time in Beijing, we could take the flight, therefore 2.5-hour-late delay would result in 16 people missing the flight (and also a big hole on Mollier’s treasure)! Other 5 people would take another train (fortunately punctual) because tickets were sold out when the commission booked them, I was one of these 5 so I led these 5 people to the punctual train and left 16 people waiting in stress.

When I boarded the train, Babette answered a call: miracle, they boarded our train! The story was like following. Had known the delay, dr. Yu immediately collected everyone’s passport and rushed to the clerk at the boarding gate. That lady understood the situation and offered a solution that we refunded all tickets and bought standing tickets of the punctual train, so dr. Yu sprinted out of the station and reached ticket office. However, unlike Chinese can just buy tickets by scanning electronic ID cards, foreign passports must be manually inputted one by one! But luckily staff at the ticket office called several more helpers to do this job. When doctor ran into the station, the security let him in exempting any check. Thanks to all these kind people, all of us got on the train.

On the very early morning of 25th May, we arrived in Beijing at Beijing West Railway Station. Even though all of us were still absorbed in the excitement that we succeeded in catching the train to Beijing, we had no time for rest but proceed to Beijing Capital International Airport by subway for the flight back to The Netherlands. Fortunately, we weren’t trapped in heavy traffic and arrived at the airport earlier than estimated with nobody left behind. In our last day in China, the weather was also very pleasant.

Shortly after arrival at the airport, we stood in long queue to check in the flight. I was relaxed because I thought my role as the guide of study trip could officially end after checking in. dr. Yu and I were in the front so we completed soon and then waited outside. Gradually other people came and joined us but my dear friend, Mr. Jonathan Ezechiels wasn’t there. so dr. Yu went to him to see what happened. But doctor’s absence was so long that I realized that they were in trouble. So I went there and got told by doctor that there was problem with Jonathan’s travel document. I remembered that Jonathan couldn’t find his Dutch residence permit card on the morning we left for China, so he specially went to Dutch military police station (Koninklijke Marechaussee) at Schiphol Airport and received a piece of paper from the officer who said with this paper Jonathan could make the trip. Jonathan did pass the border control successfully when we transferred via Frankfurt, also when we entered China, but Lufthansa refused his boarding on his way back to The Netherlands. The rest of the group could not wait longer, so dr. Yu let me lead the group to airplane and he stayed at the check-in desk to solve the problem.

Rest of the group passed the Chinese border and security check, and then dr. Yu caught us up but Jonathan did not, then we were told that Jonathan cannot go with us but go to Dutch embassy for documents, which meant he had to stay in China for a couple of days. We were further informed that Lufthansa insisted that they only accepted uniform EU visa or residence card, later an immigration officer came and confirmed that Jonathan’s paper was not acceptable. Everyone was astonished by this news including me. Commission members soon started reaction: rear personnel at Mollier would stay in touch with Jonathan; someone would call Lufthansa to see whether there was possibility to change or cancel Jonathan’s seat on the airplane; I called Kitty, my girlfriend, to let her order a hostel bed for Jonathan so that he could stay in Beijing safely. However, we could almost do nothing effective but wait for update from Dutch embassy in Beijing. #WhereIsJonathan?

After an 8-hour-long fly we arrived in Frankfurt, I called Kitty again and got told that Jonathan had completed things at the embassy and he needed to wait at least one week for new travel document. Besides, unfortunately, Lufthansa refused to change Jonathan’s seat. Depressed by this bad news, rest people finished the flight to Amsterdam and dismissed at the airport.

The last of studytrip 2015 was very very long, not only because we flew to west, which made the day longer actually, but also one of us fell behind, alone in a city that he is not familiar with. To compensate the costs Mollier started a fundraising for Jonathan. If you want to support him getting back home soon, you can donate with the following link:


Study trip 2015 Day 9: Wuhan

Authors: Bram Botterman & Jelle Reinders

The night already was a great success. Most of the Mollier members where present to enjoy a small beer. Like we encountered before, the long blond gods of Mollier where in the centre of attention in the club. After the usual photo session we were invited to join a group of Chinese people to their table.

We experienced the hospitality of the Chinese and we were given a lot of beers. It was the birthday of one of the older Chinese men, after we celebrated it with a beer bottle shot the older man did not feel 100% well and ran towards the toilets. On the way he had given a present of his own to the clean-up crew of the club. This little event did not stop the great party that was going on and the man soon joined the group again. To show his masculinity he wanted to arm-wrestle one of our group members. Our own Jill could not resist this temptation and accepted the challenge, after a stunning 0,53 Jill already won the battle. After that the party went on for a few hours and all the present members enjoyed a couple of more small ones.

After a successful night and a good night’s rest (2 whole hours!) it wasn’t a surprise that some of the Mollier members weren’t at their best. Our own Bram had a nice adventure while sleeping. He woke up in a complete other room somewhere in the hostel. He did not noticed that the Mollier members already left for the metro station. Luckily for Bram there where two members that could not find there manliness in the morning and needed there beauty sleep. Bart and Robin where completely wasted after a stunning three beers and a diet coke, so they had used the “Joker” and stayed in bed while the rest of the members actively joint the guided tour in Jiedaokou metro station in Wuhan. The guided tour was very nice and informative. We saw all the parts of the metro station you would normally never see, like the control panels, very large HVAC systems and fire safety facilities. The engineer who guided us helped with the design of the whole metro net and could tell us a lot of all the design challenges like the under and over windpressure, that is caused by the metro trains, and the solutions that he had made. Later we would find out this was an enormous privilege that we got the guided tour because this area was extremely forbidden for all outsiders.

During the lunch the three other students joint the group in Han street, which was one of the spectacular streets of Wuhan according to the local Chinese students. Han street was a street with typical old Chinese shops like H&M, C&A, Jack and Jones, etc.. After a typical Chinese lunch at the Pizza Hut at Han Street the group split into two groups. The lady’s (and some “men”) went to the Spa of Wuhan while the rest went to the real typical Chinese streets to shop for souvenirs and enjoy a few small beers during the daily card games.


Study trip 2015 Day 8: Wuhan

Authors: Tom Wijnen & Thijs Kruisselbrink

The evening, prior to the night of the 1001 mosquito bites, started separated. Half of the group spend the night the time at a karaoke bar singing songs of K3, while the other half spend their time in the hostel playing cards. Eventually, the karaoke group ended the night in the club. However, the night ended not as good as it started. A bewildered man thought he could drink the beer stash of the group. Completely against expectation the security believed his case and the group was removed from the club without any beer at all. The same man continued to bother the group outside as well; therefore the choice for taking a cab back to the hostel was quickly made.

In the morning a delicious breakfast was served, while everybody woke up enjoying the well known embedded marketing technique of the Efteling (which started a new international guerilla marketing campaign), and took a private moment hanging above a Chinese toilet.

The program of the day started with a tour over the campus of the Wuhan University. Some of the Dutch students had a hard time staying focused during a lecture in the material lab, even though they were completely rested (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more). To be more exact, it occasionally even looked like that the short-legged Chinese was followed by a horde of zombies. The only one who was capable to ask questions was Robin, with a question like: ‘Is the design of this vase random?’.

The moment of truth was immediately after the tour: the measurements and the accompanying presentations. Unfortunately, most of it went ‘into the soup’ due to the many adaptations in the program. Therefore, a few groups were unable to obtain any relevant data. The disillusioned students tried to ask for the opinions of Chinese students in the cafeteria, which was not allowed. This caused some distress with the campus security.

That wasn’t all yet. The Chinese dropped the ball when you look at the streets. This could be noticed when we left the university in our bus. Instead of driving, we were bouncing to the Technical Research Institute of Wuhan. Our program here was filled with irony and controversy from the point of view of building safety requirements. For example, research was conducted to the quality of safety helmets, while in the hall next to it, a glass facade of 15m high was constructed without any helmets or any other safety measures. The answer from our guide to this notion was: ‘So what, even if a Chinese gets injured (or worse); we’ll have a new one tomorrow. We have more than enough Chinese people.’ And that was not all, the reaction to the notion that glass facades can’t be just glued in the Netherlands was: ‘It is cheaper this way, but we engineers know better and therefore walk around those facades in a big arc’.

It was agreed upon that the dinner could be enjoyed separately in order to give the participants some free time. The ladies used this time to enjoy and completely relax in a spa. After everyone had dinner and changed clothes, we got into cabs and went to the clubs to spend our time in the Chinese night scene.

Header blog dag 7 btl2015

Study trip 2015 Day 7: Wuhan

Authors: Giel Craenmehr & Manon Derks

After a good sleep in the nighttrain, we had arrived at Wuhan. With our private bus, arranged by Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) we drove to our hostel. This trip was quite an experience as there seems to be very less traffic rules, maybe they are colorblind, while there is no difference between red, orange and green traffic lights. Aside from that there are a lot of construction sites, that transform roads into a bumpy rollercoaster ride.

After dropping our suitcases at the hostel, we were led to the energy flower. The energy flower is a sustainable building. This has been achieved by making use of several modern systems, like PV panels, windturbine, natural ventilation.

After a quick visit we drove to the WUT to install the measurement equipment for our assignments. Those of us that didn’t have to install these devices played carts while enjoying the nice weather, while Dr. Yu gave a presentation at the University of Wuhan. Then we went to Hubu Alley, where we could taste local food, like octopus, frog and fruit salad, and where souvenirs were bought.

After that we were brought back to the university. From there we had a 20 minutes walk to the restaurant. Where we were invited for dinner by several different professors of WUT. This was a very luxurious restaurant. We were introduced to some new traditions of the WUT students during the delicious diner. The tradition is as following:
To show your respect to someone during a dinner, you should toast with your guests. This is mostly done with the famous and lovely Chinese Liquor: rice wine!! To show your respect to one another, you should toast with all people who sit at that table. After nice experience Tom and his harem of girls returned to the hostel for a girls night. The rest of us went to the (karaoke) bar. From there on it all gets a bit vague, that is why we end the blog here with a nice Houdoe!

Study trip 2015 Day 6: Tianjin

Authors: Dennis Pennings & Jill Vervoort

Dear readers,

Again it was a short night after a very pleasent evening. Last night we were invited by a close study buddy of our Yu, whose name we have not heard. At the dinner there was again plenty of food and drinks. We had a couple bottles of wine of yu’s buddy, these were imported just this day at Tianjin Port. These bottles were consumed eagerly accompanied by locale rice wine, there was almost a fight about whom might drink the last bit of this tasteful stuff. After all these gifts it was time to give something in return, of course this could be no better than our drink: the Jägermeister. After singing our Anthem loudly and passionately, the shots were enthusiastic consumed. Our drink was so well received that Yu’s buddy gratuitously accepted an entire bottle as our gift. After 5 hours of terrorizing the restaurant, read: letting know Mollier was there and leaving behind sticky signs, we were kicked out the restaurant. As usual the night went on in a club, but ended differently than expected. Our lovely annoying travel buddy Jelle was behaving naughty and was ‘gently’ requested to leave the club.

In the mean time we are well trained in waking up early. Manon had already prepared some pans to help us rise and shine softly at 7 next morning. However, above all expectations this was not necessary, since Manon underestimated the liveliness of the participants. After a quick hangover breakfast, including a ‘well’ boiled egg, we left by taxi to Tianjin University. This was experienced very differently between cabs. Some of us could enjoy a singing driver, while others enjoyed a spitting driver, whom occasionly opened the door to empty his throat. Our private drivers brought us to our destination no matter what, dodging traffic jams by taking the curb or the oncoming lanes, while of course honking loudly.

As usual the first building we entered at the other side of the university campus was not the appointed location When we finally arrived at the school of environmental sciences and engineering. Our young blonde god was adored by the locale women. While shamelessly staring and pointing at him, he was admired over the entire length of the hallway.

The visit at the university consisted of sharing presentations and a tour over the campus. We were joined by 20 Chinese, whom were apparently picked up randomly from the campus, except the people who had to give a presentation. A small speech intelligibility test was done in between presentations for our study related assignments. After a difficult explanation in English, the English test was performed… the results were as expected but led us to think the following. With their poor English we wondered if they even understood our presentations. Maybe this was the reason or maybe because it was lunch time, but suddenly they all disappeared while we stayed for the last presentations.

At last, we could also enjoy a wonderful lunch at the campus cafeteria, here it was not unusual to find a long black hair in your meal. Afterwards, the program continued with a tour to the faculties architecture, civil engineering and environmental sciences and engineering.

Now we are riding the night train to Wuhan, happily playing cards or resting from the exhausting study trip. This was trying to be done without annoying the few unlucky Chinese that sleep with us in our 6 bed cabines. The lights will soon be off, therefore, we are going to climb in our three storey bunk beds after which the lights in our eyes will be out soon too. Maybe, just maybe, we might get a good nights rest today, if we still know what that is, a good nights rest. Hopefully, the train gently rocks of to sleep.

Good night!

Study trip 2015 Day 5: Tianjin

Authors: Bart Kok & Krishan Boere

Today basically started when we arrived in Tianjin.
We found the hostel and decided to find a bar and have some fun.
And what a fun it was, epic place.
Nice atmosphere, lights show, gogo dancers, yep…
All the things you would expect from a asian club after seeing a movie like the The Hangover
The result was a very short night :p

And before finding the bar we noticed that there was a running track in a classical building next to it. Not surprising since we noticed that in this city there were some nice buildings.
The next morning we visited Tianjin Port Museum, Tianjin Port cruise ship terminal, and a few places at Ecocity.
A new city thats designed around specific eco values and tries to make sure that in its basics there are no traditional disadvantages like in most other city’s that developed over years.
The last place we visited was an research building about low carbon, whereby with several design solutions the exhaust of carbon is limited.

After visiting these buildings we went to our amazing dinner organized by a friend of dr. Yu, the next blog will tell you more about this wonderful evening. To be continued….

Study trip 2015 Day 4: Beijing

Authors: Marthe Doornbos & Babette Mattheüs

Dear reader
Before you start reading a little note: everything in this story is based on facts and mostly expressed in numbers.

After 4 hours of sleep we had to go at 8 o’clock in the morning rush of the Beijing metro system. Just to give you an overview of the morning rush, we tried to count the Chinese people in the coupe and with the formula of 4log8^10, this results in 4576,5 Chinese, but don’t forget the 21 blue colored TU/e students!

On our way to the University, we got a little lost, because of a discussion about which direction the sun is rising, and if Peking differs from home. At 9 o’clock we got a warm welcome from professor Xudong Yang, who works for Tsinghua University, the University which we where visiting. Five inspiring presentation from Chinees phd students where giving to us. The situation in the room during the presentation: amount of sleeping Chinees: 6, amount of dutch students fighting against the sleep but still awake: 21.

Between the presentations the entire room was measured. Just to give you an overview: Chinees which where bothered with 15 hard englisch sentence which had to be written down for the speechintelligible, 3 dutch student who were hanging outside the window trying to measure some particles and 4 students who were made an attempt to keep the light outside while measuring the lighting inside.

After an inspiring speech of Dr. Xiaobin Liu from the Oake ridge national laboratory in the VS about heat pumps we were indulged with an amazing lunch. This lunch gave strength for a long walk, read 8 km, around the University campus. For us this was a whole new experience with a real green strip. Chinese people spend there budget of 1.6 miljon, not on renovating and innovation buildings but on parks, waterfalls, fountains, canals and grass. These facilities can al be found in the University campus. Just to give you another overview, the green maintaince reveals in, per cubic meter grass, of 4 mowing Chinese and 2 assistants who collect the grass garbage. With grass sides of 56087 m2 you can imagine the influence of this strategy on the unemployment rates.

In order to not forget the dutch standards, dinner was surved at 17:30. Because our Chinees specialist thought we were going to be starved our dinner existed, to give you an overview, off: 36 kilo rice, 6 loempia’s, 3 inside-out soupballs and 12 dumplings. Off course nobody finished there plaid, the food was send to the food bank for the by orphans abandoned puppies.

After our last supper in Beijing, we left with the strategy of throwing our luggage in the metro. A few still struggled and were left behind at the station. After being reunited, we carried our luggage up the not-tourist-friendly stairs, just for your imagination; 345 steps. If you thought we had a crowd putting on traditional Chinese clothing, you should have seen us, waiting at the train station playing cards and football.

Currently, we arrived at a new city, Tianjing, were we where welcomed by a Chinees young men, whom we still not fully trust, but eventually took us to our new hostel were we ended the day with a cold beverage.

Study trip day 3

Study trip 2015 Day 3: Beijing

Authors: Rowan de Nijs & Hanneke Dekkers

Today we experienced the Chinese nightlife for the first time. First we went to a lounge bar with the entire group. After that we went to a cafe where a rock band was playing. Then we split up and continued the night life in smaller groups.

After a short sleep we took a private bus at 08:00AM to the Great Wall.

#WhereIsKrishan? No idea. The weather was really nice; cloudy but warm. At 10:30AM we arrived at the Great Wall and we started to hike to the top of the ‘Jin Shan Ling’ east gate. During the hike we received a message from the hostel: Krishan was alive! After the Great Wall our private bus took us to the Olympic Park. Most of us took the opportunity to grab some sleep in the bus. We first went to the Water Cube where we got a quick tour. We also analysed the building on different aspects of building physics in groups of two. After the Water Cube we walked to the National Stadium ‘Birds nest’ , where Krishan caught up with the group. When we left with the bus, it became a little dark so we could see the Water Cube illuminated.

After the Olympic Park the bus dropped us at a restaurant where Xin made a good deal. This time, no weird food was put on the table and we enjoyed especially the Beijing Duck. After this we took the bus back to the hostel where we prepared the measurements of tomorrow and now we go to bed because the alarm clock for tomorrow is set at 06:45AM!

Study trip 2015 Day 2: Beijing

Authors: Jonathan Ezechiels & Robin van der Sande

With our subway cards in our pockets and flip flops under our feet we began todays journey to the Lama Temple. It was quite the picture although it raised some doubts whether all artifacts were actually ancient. We have been extremely lucky with the weather: 28 degrees and no smog in the sky. The latter is rather special for Beijing.

Next stop: Tianenmen Square. An impressive square with numerous highlights. Our pressence didn’t go unnoticed and we were frequently photographed by the Chinese. Most of which were intended to be taken secretely but they failed to do so. The neighbouring Forbdden City gave a good impression how the Chinese emperors spend their time.

The afternoon ended in style: Dressed up in traditional Chinese clothing for a photoshoot. Word got out quickly and within seconds we were surrounded by dozens of Chinese photographers. Those who were keen for some adventure got on a traditional Riksja for a trip to the restaurant. With excellent guidance from our Chinese friends, we were served an exeptionally delicious dinner.

Het vertier werd voortgezet in een cafe waar enkele alcoholische versnaperingen werden genuttigd en de banden met de Chinezen werden versterkt. Een persoon was niet weg te krijgen en bleef wat langer plakken. #WaarIsKrishan

The evening continued in a bar where we exerpienced some local beverages. Inspired by the beverages, some of us strenghten the ties with the local community. One person decided to stick arround a little longer. #WhereIsKrishan