Harbin – The Pearl on the Swan’s Neck



I’m from a city called Harbin, in China, where is as cold as Batavia, NY. But it’s been pretty warm this winter in Batavia, so it’s colder in my hometown right now. I’d like to share with you how people have fun in winter there. First, let me show you something about my city.



My city Harbin (the red part in the second picture) is the capital and the largest city in Heilongjiang Province. Also, the city is the eighth most populous Chinese city and the most populous city in whole Northeast China. There’re over 9.94 million inhabitants from the city, and a number of people living there who come from towns near Harbin.


In the 1920s, the city was considered China’s fashion capital since new designs from Paris and Moscow reached here first before arriving in Shanghai.


On 22 June 2010, the city was appointed a UNESCO “City of Music” as part of the Creative Cities Network.




Our city is also called Ice City, Oriental Paris, and Oriental Moscow.


After I came to GCC, cold weather here made me miss home sometimes. Thinking of what we used to do at home, it even made me miss home more.


There’s a place, Ice & Snow World, open to public by tickets about 20 US dollars every year from New Year to whenever the weather gets warm.



There’re a lot of ice lanterns and snow sculptures for everyone to see and take photos.



Also, there’re a lot of fun activities about ice and snow, such as slides made of ice, and skiing with different kinds of funny boards.


People wear super warm clothes, and just go there to have fun with their families and friends.


Besides the World, there’re some small parks open for free, also with a lot of fun in there.



Also, you can see the ice or snow sculptures everywhere by the streets.


I have to say that the winter is really pretty in our city, which I miss it a lot.


This is Harbin, China.

The Pearl on the Swan’s Neck.

Four Benefits Of Studying Abroad


In Japan, there are not many universities and colleges, which offer Travel and Tourism as a major. I could only find a few universities, but those were private schools, which were expensive. I really wanted to major in tourism, so I decided to study abroad in the U.S. and came to GCC. While studying abroad, I got many great experiences. So, I want to tell you about them.

1. The Culture

Learning different cultures is one of the best benefits to staying in a foreign country. I am learning American culture while living here. I enjoyed experiencing Halloween, Thanksgiving and even Black Friday. They were good experiences that other Japanese people living in Japan could not do. Also, I realize how much I love my home country of Japan, the culture, food, and the people. I would not have realized it if I did not study abroad. It is very important to see my own culture and country from outside of the country.

2. Making The Most Of The Trip


I enjoy traveling here. I went to Niagara Falls, Toronto, New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Orlando in the 1.5 years that I had been here. Also, I am planning to go to Miami this summer. I never thought I could travel so easily before I came here. If I were in Japan, I could not travel to so many places because it is too far. I plan to travel more until the end of my study abroad.

3. Making New Friends


I am making friends with a variety of different people. If I went to college in Japan, as we all know, there is not much of chance to meet other people and become friends with them. Studying abroad gives me the opportunity to meet many kinds of people. In addition, in a foreign country, we can become close friends with other Japanese students because they have much of the same struggles and share the same feelings. I have many close friends who share thoughts about our future, have fun, eat, drink, and live together. These relationships will continue after we go back to our countries.

4. Family 


Studying abroad, I notice the importance of our families. My family supported me through everything. They understand me and welcome letting me go. They support all financial sides and mental sides. They always stay on my side. Sometimes, I miss my family, but I think it is a good time to make sure of the family’s importance. I give thanks for my family more whenever I go back home.

What do you think about studying abroad? Studying abroad brings people many benefits that they will never experience unless they study abroad. Also, there are a lot of opportunities in many ways. It makes your life more meaningful and changes your mind dramatically.

This blog was contributed by Tourism & Hospitality Management Student Yurina Yasutomi.

TOEFL Test Prep at The BEST Center


GCC is proud to have students from over 20 countries studying a variety of academic programs, and we are excited to announce another resource available for these students. The BEST Center is now offering a TOEFL Test Preparation course for Fall 2014.

Students enrolled in the course will be able to improve their English skills through interactive classroom lessons, tutoring, and extra out-of-class activities.

Preparation includes:

  • reading comprehension
  • sentence completion
  • vocabulary
  • structure of the English language
  • writing exam exercises
  • practical test-taking strategies through practice exams under testing conditions

Students are invited to attend a free program orientation session on Wednesday, September 3rd at 3:00 pm in Room B-260 at the Batavia Campus, 1 College Road, Batavia NY, 14020.

At the orientation session, students will be able to meet instructor Kia Banej, who will provide classroom details and confirm enrollment in the course.

Course Information

Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00 – 5:00 pm.
September 15 – November 12
GCC Batavia Campus, Room B-260
$375 (includes Textbook & Audio CD-ROM)

NOTE: Advanced registration is required by Thursday, September 4, 2014.


Students must register in-person at the Records Office, Online, by Phone or by Mail:

  • To register by phone with a MasterCard or Visa, call The BEST Center, 585-345-6868.
  • You may also register online at http://www.bestcenter.org .
  • Print and complete the registration form to register in person or by mail. Make checks payable to “GCC”.

Mail c/o Records Office, One College Road, Batavia, NY 14020.

Exploring Batavia


What is the best way to learn English? I had been asked this question many times. To me, the best way to learn any language is to actually be in the country where that language is commonly used. Thus, I think the best way to learn English is to come and study in America.

On May 22nd 2014, GCC welcomed 29 Japanese students to come study as part of the ESL (English as a Second Language) program during the summer. This program helps these international students enhance their skills in English that will prepare them for the college courses that they will be taking in the Fall semester.

IMG_3561According to Kathleen Klaiber, GCC English and ESL Instructor, GCC incorporated a summer tour to the school’s ESL program to help increase student knowledge about American culture. For many years, she had been working to coordinate wonderful trips for ESL students to various places around Western New York.

Last Friday, the class took a tour around Batavia by B-Line bus to see some of the attractions in town. As the bus drove around, Mrs. Klaiber pointed out important places that students may want to know such as the library, hospitals and post office. Student Erin Kanno said that this was her favorite part of the trip.

IMG_3639After the bus tour the group visited the Peace Garden and the Holland Land Museum in downtown Batavia. At the museum, students were able to learn about the birth of Western New York and the old living style of the people back then. “I want to stay in the museum longer, because I like history” said Kentaro Kawase, while Yu Shimizu hopes to visit the museum again once her English improves.

Afterward, the students ate lunch at Rancho Viejo, a Mexican restaurant in Batavia. For most of them, it was their first time eating Mexican food. “I like it, Mexican food was surprisingly delicious.” said Hiroki Yoshida. The most fun part for students was dessert at Oliver’s candy shop. “I really enjoy the candy shop, it is really cute. Japan doesn’t really have cute candy stores like that.” said Mina Horiuchi.

IMG_3676The trip ended, but this is just the beginning of the summer. There are still many adventures to have and many places to explore. In the upcoming weeks, these students will get to visit the Jello Museum, Jazz Festival, Kiwanis Park, Lechworth State Park, Niagara Falls  and many more places. At GCC, learning doesn’t necessary take place only in the classroom and certainly, the summer tour had successfully prepared many students for their next step in education in America.

Star Gazing


Summer at College Village may seem boring, but we have roughly 30 students staying in this big dormitory under one building and most of them are new Japanese students who have just arrived at GCC. Because it is the summer, it may not the best time to explore GCC as an international student, but to me this is the summer of youth.

With not many people around, we learned everyone’s name very quickly and soon became friends. Friday was beautiful day with nice weather. I bought a big watermelon and invited the international students to come watch Batavia’s sky at night. We all sat at the basketball court as we enjoyed slices of watermelon, strawberry, snacks and green tea. Everyone brought a little something to contribute to this star gazing night and we all came with a smile!

It was a great opportunities for them to get to know more about all the other students. In addition, it was a chance for them to practice English. So, I had everyone introduce themselves, their major and hobbies. We talked through the night about how coming to GCC is a whole new experience with so many new things to learn about the American culture. We shared stories about our hometown and how different they are from Batavia.

The night ended with a challenge to eat dried salmon with whipped cream! We all had a good laugh at the reactions of our brave challengers. It was fun and we made it happen, after all, we are a community here at College Village!