The University of Iowa

Forms of legs

February 20th, 2014

By Siqi Wang for The Daily Iowan

I remember the first time I needed to pay an additional fee for a checked bag on the airplane. I was on a return flight to Iowa City when I was asked to pay $25 for my checked baggage. In China, this had never happened to me before, and the experience reminded me of the many differences between Chinese and American transportation.

In China, the airplane companies allow passengers to take a personal item, carry-on bag, and checked bag without additional charges. After going through security, I needed to wait at the gate before boarding my flight. In the United States, each passenger is called to board according to her or his group number. But in China, we sit in a long line and board depending on our position in the line. During the flight, passengers have to buy food from a fixed menu if they want to eat. But in China, the airplane companies provide free food for most flights.

In addition, being a stewardess is a decent job for women in China. They are paid a relatively high salary, have a large amount of free time, and many opportunities to meet new people. Most women want this job because of these reasons.

Aside from flying, I think the most common form of transportation in the United States is the car. Before coming here, I never imagined students would drive their cars to go to class because it is almost impossible for Chinese students in college. Living here for a extended period of time, I've gradually come to know why. Shopping centers, supermarkets, and college campuses are very far from each other, so driving is the quickest method of transportation.

The price of buying a car is relatively lower than it in China (this may be due to the import tax in China). For example, the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle may cost $60,000 in China, but here, it is only around $20,295. Gas prices are also a difference; the United States averages around $3.34 per gallon, but in China, it averages around $4.816 per gallon.

In Iowa City, I think the bus is the most common public transportation. Many students take the Cambus around campus and even the Iowa City Transit to such places as Coralville. But in China, students normally walk or ride their bicycles to school. The usual price for taking the bus in China is around $0.167, and in United States is $1. Retired people in China can take the bus for free, and this is why my grandmother enjoys taking the bus around my hometown, Xi’an.

The most enjoyable transportation for me is the train; I have a couple of experiences in taking Amtrak trains around the United States. I like how I can do many things on the train in a comfortable environment such as reading a book, eating, and surfing the Internet through the free Wi-Fi. My friends have told me there are many trains with an observation car in which you can observe the beautiful views during the journey. There is also a dining car to provide hot meals from a fixed menu. In China, the car attendants will push the carts with food throughout the train. There are hard seats, hard sleepers, soft seats and soft sleepers in China, but here I only ride in the soft seats. The price of each ticket is also different. For example, the price ranges from $12.13 to $135.8 from Beijing to Xi’an, depending on the type of train you choose.

I enjoy riding on public transportation in the United States because it is comfortable, but I will get a car when I find a job because I feel as if the car is a form of legs for people in the United States.