Photo Tour of UNNC Campus

Long ago in the great Kingdom of Merica a city was captured by the warlord Snot, who proclaimed that it henceforth be known as Snotingham. In time the city’s name, luckily, was changed to Nottingham and the city grew, soon hosting a university which would itself grow, expanding to three campuses in three countries.

Established in 2004, making it the first foreign/Chinese university in China, officially opening in 2006, The University of Nottingham’s Ningbo, China campus UNNC, is the result of a partnership between Nottingham and Wanli Education Group. Nottingham covers teaching and academic functions while Wanli covers everything else, including the buildings and grounds.

I’d call the campus “frontier town” style, the design is simplistic while looking older than it really is. While having their China campus built Duke University made it clear they weren’t going to put up with the corner cutting and low quality workmanship that is so common here, it looks like Nottingham didn’t. The good news is, it looks like the campus is set to improve. Here’s the tour:

Campus Map SethThis map is from 2009, before the SEB was built. Where is Gate 2?



We Start our tour on a hazy Friday afternoon



The Main Gate / Gate 1 / The North Gate. To the right is The Manor Park Apartments, behind me is Yinzhou Park.


From Main Gate

Walk through the main gate (you have to walk around the car barrier, there isn’t a pedestrian entrance), turn to your left to access AB building or continue walking straight, then look to your left and you’ll see the main teaching buildings. Closest to farthest: Science and Engineering Building (SEB), Teaching Building (TB), Student Services Building (SEB).


From Main Gate2

Same perspective, the Main Gate is to my left. This is the AB: Administration Building, the Library as well.



SEB: The Science and Engineering Building, newest of the three main teaching buildings.


SEB Center

Inside SEB, like the other three teaching buildings, SEB is hollow, I guess so everyone can have a window office? This building is brand new but apparently people are already running out of room. The room numbers are laid out in such a way as to confuse visitors. A lot of new equipment is being constantly loaded into SEB.


SEB Interior1

An average hallway of one of the teaching buildings, this is in SEB. Generally, it’s a low light, hard surface feel. (My camera makes many of these photos brighter than they are in reality)


SSB looking to SEB

SSB connected to TB with the auditorium sandwiched in between. Even though this campus is only a few years old it feels much older. I’ve read on teacher blogs people feel this campus is “dangerous” (the famous  broken arm via a fall story). I don’t think the campus is dangerous so much as just old feeling and not very “homely”.


TB Center

The entrance to TB from the AB building direction. 4 floors of classrooms, each with a window.


TB looking outside

Same location, opposite direction. From here we’ll walk across the oval lawn and go to the Administration Building (the clock tower building).


AB bikes

Bicycle and Car parking under AB. One irritating thing about China is that when a person is in a car they believe they have absolute right of way over anything smaller than them. Which means cars will park blocking bicycles on occasion. The campus is training people to park properly, though, so thi hasn’t been much of a problem on campus lately.


AB English

The Career Center. AB has, obviously, the administration offices, and also most teacher’s offices (except for Science and Engineering), an attempt at a coffee shop (Aroma), and of course the library. 


AB Library

The library. It’s rather small, I think this will one day be a library with a specific topic (The medical library, the Science library, etc.) and they will build a full size legitimate library somewhere else on campus. This library is 4 floors, there are around 20 separate rooms each with books and some study desks. There are no private meeting rooms or areas that can be booked/reserved.


AB Room Type

Each room looks like this. Once while locating a book I couldn’t determine what the “main room” (the location of the book according to the computer) was. I asked the girl working at the counter and she giggled, “Every room is main room”. 


AB Study Room

Study area for group studying. The big screens have connections for your laptop. There are a few more rooms similar to this one, but overall the school is pretty short on study space, especially group study space. 


Garden British

Leave AB, walk onto the oval lawn, and in the middle you’ll find two gardens, a Chinese garden to the East and a British garden to the West (I wonder if that was intentional?). The British garden leaves a lot to be desired. That is SEB in the background. The poor little Narnia lamp post needs fixing and some couple left their garbage behind.


Garden Chinese

The Chinese garden is much improved. Better planned out, more substantial, and larger. Perhaps this is due to a Chinese company building the gardens? I’m not sure. 


Garden Clothes

Keeping true to the spirit of China, someone has washed their clothes in the pond and is drying them on a rock. Because who cares that this is a college campus, clothes need to be washed, right?



Just east of the oval lawn is the staff apartments, which, to the north, connects with the hotel (where staff live upon arrival and while looking for an apartment) and Robin Hood cafe (the “high end” restaurant on campus), where hamburgers are made of ham and have nothing to do with the city of Hamburg in Germany.


Main Walkway Academic to Housing

This road, leading away from the teaching buildings, with SSB directly to the right (west), leads towards the residential side of campus. You can see some of the student dorms in the background.


CSET over lake

As you cross the bridge (the back of SSB is just to my right from this perspective) you’ll smell anaerobic bacteria in the pond below, and will also see the Center for Sustainable Energy Technologies (CSET).


CSET close

The CSET is quite small, most of the space is located underground where there is a receiving area (for special guest tours) and a display area for “smart building” things like solar panels, geothermal, and phase changing paint. It seems to be a walled off building, on a “need to access only” basis. The place is ran by a very friendly Dr. Jo Darkwa.


Gym Outside

Just past the CSET in the south west corner of campus is the gym. There are about 8 basketball courts, a couple tennis courts, a large running track and some pull up bar type exercise equipment outside. 


Gym Big Room

The actual building is 4 floors, two small rooms on the first floor have weight lifting and cardio equipment. The rest of the space is empty rooms, music rooms, etc. plus this big open area. 


Gym Future Rock Climbing Wall

This open area is a perfect spot for a rock climbing wall. What do I have to do to make it so?


Gym Weights

The weight room. I’ve heard you’re supposed to sign up or possibly even pay, but no one has ever asked me for my papers, so in practice the gym is free. The room next door has a few treadmills in it. There is no swimming pool.


Gym Track

This is the running track. Personally, I was very happy to find these parallel bars and pull up bars. I don’t think the campus is really big on sports. Very different way of life, at least from the perspective of an American. Especially a Texan.


High Street from end

The Gym is just behind me in this photo, the CSET to my left. I am looking down high street, where all the student dorms, canteens (cafeterias), and shops are located. 


HS Drink Water

This is where you’ll buy your clean (one can only hope) drinking water. 


HS Desserts

From a small central square just off HS’s center, there are a collection of small shops. I have not been impressed with the quality of these shops and restaurants, nor it seems have other people I’ve spoken with. The biggest complaint is “I can’t find a decent sandwich”. Most of the shops are of the “dessert and instant coffee/fruit bubble drink” variety. 


HS Apple Flower Time

Wanli Education Group runs the building, remember, so to lease one of these spots you have to “have a cousin that knows the right people” and so on. At least this is the opinion of Chinese students on campus.


HS Store1

There is a sort of “grocery store”, but it is more of a large corner store with snack food. I’ve heard cooking equipment is banned in student dorms, so that explains the on campus grocery store’s selection.


HS Yummy Res

There are a mix of school ran canteens and private restaurants on campus. I don’t eat on campus so I don’t know a lot about them. This is “Yummy Cafe”, the largest restaurant on campus.


HS Yummy Menus

They have about 20 menus. The English “translations” are amusing. It’s obvious they have never consulted any of the 6,000 English speaking students on campus who could easily help produce better translations.


HS Yummy Menu Close

For example…..



There are three canteens on campus, Canteen #3 (pictured) is supposed to be the best. In the back, the VIP section (seriously), they do serve good food. It is some kind of Muslim food, I haven’t figured out exactly what yet. But it’s good.



Chinese students consider 10 RMB to be a bit high for a meal, they believe 4rmb is an average meal cost. 4rmb is about 70 US cents. Click on the photo to zoom in and see the English descriptions.


HS BarberShop HighEnd

Walking towards Gate 3 you will find several shops, such as high end Italian dry cleaners (that’s what the sign says) and this high end barber shop. Fruit and nut shops are also popular, there are at least 4 fruit shops within 20 meters of one another.


HS Central

Looking towards Gate 3, just outside campus you can see “Talent Apartments”, the three tall buildings where some staff live. Just to my left is the Foreign Students Dorm, #11. I think there is another dorm as well, #16 comes to mind but I could be wrong. I don’t know what the dorms look like, but a conversation I overheard in an elevator went like this, a young British woman speaking, “So I told management there are big cracks in my wall, they came to inspect it, but they say they don’t know what the problem is. I mean, pieces of my ceiling are falling down and they are like, what’s the problem?”.


HS Foreign Housing

One aspect about UNNC which I do not like at all is how the school segregates Chinese students from non-Chinese students. They live in separate dorms, have different rules, and seem to be treated differently. For instance, Chinese students are locked in their dorm after 10 or 11pm. Foreign students do not have a curfew (probably because they know foreign students would laugh at the idea and constantly come in after curfew).



The foreign student’s dorm is directly adjacent to Gate 3, I think intentionally so all the drunk foreigners don’t wake everyone else up when they stumble home at 4am. Leaving campus, you can turn left (you’ll then be going north-west), walk up the street, pass by the North Gate, and cross a little bridge over a stinky canal. At the intersection you’ll see The Manor Park Apartments (a huge sprawling complex), while to your right (east of campus) you’ll see a somewhat nice, and rather large, open park, and also a strip of shops. Really, there isn’t much outside of campus; this stinky canal separates the north side of campus from a recycling and informal waste processing area (plus illegal housing), the west side of campus abuts farmland, the south as well, the east side has a bus depot and (I think) another university. The only sort of commercial development is just north east of campus.


OC Street

And this is it. A collection of buildings which I don’t think were ever occupied. Behind this building are some residential high rises, most of the occupied restaurants/bars/shops are in this back area.


OC English

I’m not sure this English school ever got off the ground. I really wish people would care more about how things look. This place is so dirty.


OC Beefsteak Mansion

In China developers will make fake signs to attract tenants. This is one of them. Beefsteak Mansion. ___________________________________


Providing probably 90% of the development’s rental income, it’s the man who everyone in China thinks of as grandpa, Colonel Sanders.


OC Food Store

Next to KFC is the local grocery store. I don’t think they’ve ever cleaned the entrance. ___________________________________

OC Food Store3

I don’t buy groceries here, sanitation and food handling levels are not sufficient. Plus, a lot of produce, rice (more rice), and meat in China is contaminated by various nasty things.  I get my food from Fields China.


OC Food Store2

The meat department. 


OC Food Store1

Like the grocery store on campus, this grocery store is stocked primarily with what I call fast food and dessert snacks type stuff. They do have some “home goods” type stuff. Cash or Union Pay only, no credit cards (like most 2nt tier China).


  OC Bars

Behind the KFC and grocery store are a collection of small restaurants, a few “bars” and other various shops. I don’t know much about these establishments. Also, I say “bars” because pubs and bars here are very different from a Western interpretation, obviously, being in China and ran by Chinese people.


OC Food Cart

Walking back towards campus from the KFC/grocery store/bar and restaurant area you’ll pass small street food vendors and a public library.


OC Housing

Pass the intersection (going left, south, would take you back to campus) and you’ll come to The Manor Park. This is a brand new complex, no taxi driver knows where it is (even with the Chinese name written down).


OC Housing2

It is a very large complex where many UNNC staff live. Also a few students, such as myself. It is about a 15 minute walk, 5 minute bike ride, from The Manor Park to campus.


OC Housing3

The complex is still under construction, and I don’t think the construction workers will ever pick up their mess.




This is where our tour ends. Looking outside my kitchen window you can see the public library, just beyond it is the KFC, and to my right is UNNC. In the background is the famous China haze.


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