EIT’s Wine & Viticulture lecturers Tim Creagh and Elise Montgomery are currently teaching in China at the University of Jinan, one of EIT’s partner institutions. Tim tells us about the differences between New Zealand and China and about his exciting culinary adventures.
What does Jinan look like?
Jinan is a beautiful city with wonderful contrasts of young and old. There are rivers and lakes that attract thousands of Chinese tourists and an amazing old garden with springs and ancient buildings that have been restored. There are endless shopping malls, markets and restaurants.
How do you get to work?
We live on campus along with 35,000 students, that’s more than the population of Masterton. The campus is about 15 hectares and we have bikes that we get around on. The university is one of ten in the district of Changqing. There are 250,000 students in a ten kilometer radius. Right next to the university is a sub city that is only on a small area of land but contains hundreds of restaurants and shops all targeting the students.
How many hours a week are you teaching?
We teach half days. Elise teaches sensory science in the morning and I teach viticulture in the afternoon. Then Elise prepares her practical sensory class for the next day with the help of postgraduate students.
Speaking of your students, what could you tell us about them?
The teaching is probably the most difficult part. The degree that the students are studying is principally about brewing and distilling, with the programme tailored to wine and viticulture. Class sizes are approximately 70 to 80 students and because of the language barrier it is hard to engage the students in a meaningful dialogue. Most for the students have not tasted wine previously but there are those students who are interested and that makes it worthwhile.
What are you doing in your spare time?
We love to go sightseeing, shopping and to restaurants. The food is fantastic and inexpensive. There is such a variety of everything.
Is there anything else that you noticed being special or different?
The climate is so different to New Zealand. The winters are cold and dry. No rainfall. All of the rainfall occurs in summer. Because of the dry winters nothing grows well outside and that means the earth is bare and that creates a lot of dust. And the dust is the problem. What’s more the city of Jinan is surrounded by mountains that concentrate the dust. Add to this the cars and the coal fired power stations and the pollution can be pretty bad. It’s a major issue here and the government has a goal to reduce emissions and improve the air quality. Since arriving the pollution hasn’t been so bad and the weather has been stunning.
What do you enjoy most?
When I get to the university it feels like home. The people are so friendly and the city is very safe. We can walk around anywhere at night with no fear. The programme manager, Professor Cong, is great. He is a well-travelled wine lover who has excellent English and a wonderful sense of humour.
Any special culinary discoveries?
We have been taken out to some incredible restaurants and eaten some interesting dishes. Jellyfish, bullfrog and cicadas! The beer here is also a highlight. The university has some of the country’s top beer scientists so we get treated to a range of well-crafted brews.