So this is ridiculously delayed. I. Know.
Class. Independent Study. Blah. Blah. Blah.
But – better late than never, right?
I’ve decided to describe the trip in a sort of narrative form, breaking it up by cities, for the most part, I think.
Let me start by introducing the members of the group. Our group consisted of six students and one professor. “Dr. O” is an accounting professor at our school but before the trip, only one of the students in our group had been in his class – Liz. Liz is an undergraduate student, majoring in Accounting. Zach is a recent graduate with a degree in Finance. Dao & Dom are undergraduate students in the engineering school – chemical and mechanical, respectively. Jane & I were the only graduate students – both working on MBAs; Jane’s concentration is Management and mine is Marketing. Of the students, other than Jane & I, who had a couple of classes together in past semesters, we all met for the first time as planning for the trip began several months ago.
Our first stop in China was Shanghai. We left Cleveland at 7:30 am Friday, May 16 (Cleveland time) & arrived around 1:30pm Saturday, May 17 (China time). There’s a 12 hour time difference which made everything… interesting. I think we all started to think in China time pretty much as soon as we boarded the plane. Some of us had more luck than others in adjusting to the change.
During our stay in China, we had an 8th member in our group – Jackie. Jackie works at Henan University & was our guide. He was incredibly knowledgeable about all-things-China and more than patient with our ceaseless stream of questions.
While in Shanghai, we were also joined by Ben, a graduate of our school who now teaches English in China.
Each city that we visited, in both China and South Korea, was connected to a school with which our school has some sort of connection. As such, we often stayed on campus in a university hotel. This was the case in Shanghai.
Our first night in Shanghai was pretty low key. After dinner, some of us retired to our rooms while a few members of the group decided to go out and explore a bit.
The next morning, I woke up stupid early (and continued to do so for about a week, as I tried to adjust to the timezone). Even so, my excitement carried me through the day with plenty of energy. As you may know, some of the large cities in China are facing issues with smog right now, due to a lack of air pollution regulations. In Shanghai, we were actually rather lucky, apparently, that it was rainy, as that helped with the air quality.
Our first stop was Yuyuan – a traditional Chinese private garden. Beautiful. Older than the United States. For lunch we went to this restaurant, where they apparently lost our reservations – as a result, we were seated in a room that seemed to be decorated for a wedding… That led to an ongoing joke about Dao & Dom getting married. Which lead to Dom’s nickname – Sugar Bear (Dao was jokingly calling him random pet names and when she said Sugar Bear, I decided I liked that, too, and so it stuck).
We also went to Nanjing Road, a popular shopping destination in Shanghai, and “The Bund,” a waterfront area in Shanghai. Nanjing Road was so beyond crowded. I can’t even begin to describe the number of people.
We passed a Starbucks and I *had* to get coffee. Jackie had told us the night before that the only type of coffee in China was – “Bad.” I knew that Starbucks coffee would be Starbucks coffee though so I decided to get my “fix” while I could.
Starbucks in Shanghai looks pretty much the same as Starbucks anywhere else.
McDonald’s, like Starbucks, is everywhere, and so we stopped in to experience that as well. I didn’t get anything but some of the others got ice cream (flavors we don’t have in the U.S.) and frozen drinks (also, not things offered at U.S. locations). While I can’t speak to the rest of the Chinese McDonald’s, I can say that the one we went to in Shanghai was SUPER nice. There were two floors. And multiple counters from which to order – each counter, offering different menus (one with the more traditional sorts of McDonald’s offerings, one with drinks…). It was interesting.
On the bus, on the way back to the university, I wrote the following in my journal:
Endless waves of people
Buildings on top of buildings
It may not make much sense but perhaps it at least gives you an idea as to how I was feeling – slightly overwhelmed by all of the newness but, at the same time, so completely happy to be in China.
Somewhere along the way, we met up with Dr. O’s nephew and his nephew’s friend, who are both living in Shanghai right now. They, along with Ben’s girlfriend, who is Chinese, joined us for dinner back on campus.
After dinner, the drinking started. Well, technically it started before dinner when Dr. O offered to buy us all a drink from this tiny little store located on the first floor of our hotel. But it continued after dinner. We played cards, had a few beers, and also had our first taste of Soju (a Korean alcohol that I’d actually had a few times before with Korean friends in the U.S. (it was new for the others though) – a drink we’d become very familiar with once we got to South Korea).
I ended my journal entry that day with: “Good day. Good night. Need to sleep.” And I think I’ll end this post here, as it’s getting quite long. But I’ll continue with Shanghai in another post, soon.
Until then —