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A Post From China from Eduardo Castaneda, 2014 DCFA Mary Kolb Berglund Traveling Fellow
One of the most vital programs that the Dallas Center for Architecture Foundation administers is its scholarship and fellowship program for students and young architects. Each year, $10,000 or more is distributed to students and architects from across the state and country. This includes the traveling fellowship program: three awards granted for senior architecture students or recent graduates to travel and further their research. Here is a report from Eduardo Castaneda who used his funding from the Mary Kolb Berglund Traveling Fellowship to study urbanization in Asia. We’ll get more information from him soon and post his research presentation on the DCFA YouTube channel.
My name is Eduardo Castañeda and I am a Masters student in Architecture at The University of Texas at Arlington. I took an interest in the field after a trip to France and Spain in high school and then dove right into studying architecture by enrolling in a drafting studio at Moises E. Molina High School during my senior year. I just currently finished my second term as the AIAS UT Arlington Chapter President and serving on the AIA Dallas Board of Directors as the AIAS Liaison for a second term. In addition, I recently started my summer internship at Callison - Dallas with their China studio.
About the Experience:
For two weeks this summer I traveled to China, in which I visited three major cities: Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. The main focus of this trip was to see how the world is experiencing extraordinary rapid urbanization. While economically beneficial, such growth puts incredible strain on cities as their urban contexts drastically transform.
Before heading to China, I was told by many that it was a very difficult place to travel, especially with the language barrier while trying to traverse a huge country. Some had simply given up after a few days due to limited patience levels and an inability to cope with the extreme differences in culture; some just simply bypassed those difficulties. In the end, I wanted to see and experience as much as possible and have my own view about China.
Traveling allowed me to face some tough challenges, such as getting lost, being misinformed, and learning how to be an accomplished mime artist (alongside the limited vocabulary you swiftly learn by necessity). I became a more confident traveler; I got to know places; I experienced all forms of local transportation (metros, trains and buses); and I enjoyed being thrown into the chaos. We are all different, and whether you want to face China and its limitations head on or take the hassle-free route, it doesn’t matter. A land of both frustration and fascination, China has a lot to offer whether you love big cities or tucked-away villages, mountain hikes or temple hopping, history or modernization. Combining forms of travel allowed me to mix and match the scenery and the types of activities available.
I really enjoyed spending 14 days continuously exploring, and loved the bustling city vibe combined with the pockets of history and local life. China is so large that’s it’s impossible to see it all in one trip. After leaving China and starting to recharge my batteries, I started to appreciate it even more. Traveling between places can be time-consuming and exhausting and the frustration—while you get used to it—certainly takes its toll. Everyday something new surprised me and everyday something else drove me crazy. Two weeks allowed me to just start to understand the Chinese way of life. At the rate China is changing and being modernized, I hope to back there soon.
Studying abroad is almost a necessity as an architecture student. I have learned a lot about architecture by studying locally in Dallas, Texas, but going abroad and studying has enabled me to expand my knowledge and skills in the world of architecture incorporating other styles and ideas. Studying abroad has allowed me to open my mind to new ways of learning and understanding my true passion in life: architecture. As an architecture student in China, I was able to learn about a new culture and get to know the culture on a personal level- an essential experience in the field of architecture. By taking advantage of the formal and informal learning opportunities that studying abroad provides, I will be able to expand my mind and skill-set in new ways and, in the future, refer back to what I have learned and apply it to my profession.