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Shanghai, China – Part 2

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The next day, Monday, we went to the Timken plant in Wuxi.  Some of the others in the group had been on plant visits before.  For me, it was a first.  Very interesting experience.  We got to meet with the General Manager of the plant, who was very kind and had fantastic English.  He gave a short presentation and then opened it up for questions.  One of the things that stuck out to me was a comment he made about Chinese students graduating from university and then immediately expecting to have a job offer for a high-ranking, good paying position.  But, he said, that rarely happens.  He expressed the need for people to be more willing to start out at the bottom & work their way up in a company.  Something more Americans should be willing to do as well, I think.  The actual plant tour was a bit overwhelming.  Very loud and so much going on all around us.  Our tour guide was explaining various parts of the process as we moved throughout but unless you were standing right next to him, it was difficult to hear so I just did a lot of nodding and smiling.  But still – very interesting.  Unfortunately, we ended up being pretty rushed and had to get back to Shanghai to catch an overnight train.

The overnight train – another first for me – wasn’t bad.  While we were waiting in the train station,  Jackie had Jane freaking out a bit.  He has such a great sense of humor and can be very dry and sarcastic at times.  He’s also great at keeping a straight face when he’s teasing someone.  He told us that we had to rush to get on the train so we’d get a seat; that it was possible we wouldn’t have seats next to each other or even have seats at all… For a 15 hour train ride.  Needless to say, that wasn’t the case.  We had sleeper rooms, each with four beds – bunks attached to the walls of the room.  They were small and the beds weren’t the most comfortable but they were ours.  Dao kept talking about how it was like we were in Harry Potter, on our way to Hogwarts.

The four of us girls shared a room.  The guys, unfortunately, were split up.  Zach and Dr. O were together, I think, with a Chinese couple; Dom & Jackie with two other Chinese folks.  We, the 6 students I mean, sat on the bottom bunks in our (the girls) room for several hours that evening, playing games and just getting to know each other better.  “Never Have I Ever” was one of the games we played (basic idea, if you’re not familiar – you take turns saying something you’ve never done; the rest of the group then indicates in one way or another if they have done whatever it was you said).  It started off innocent enough (“Never have I ever gone skiing” or “Never have I ever read all of the Harry Potter books”) but if you’ve ever played, you know it usually doesn’t stay entirely innocent.  It was an entertaining evening.

I wish I’d taken pictures of the train.  I have nothing to compare it to, as I mentioned, but it was still a pretty cool experience.  My one complaint was that it wasn’t a non-stop train which meant that practically every time it stopped during the night, I woke up.  (Thankfully, the other overnight train we had was non-stop.)

In my next post (which will be more interesting & will include more pictures) I’ll write about Kaifeng.  Kaifeng was probably my favorite city in China.

Until then —

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Shanghai, China – Part 1

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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.

The group - in the bus, leaving the airport when we arrived in China

The group – in the bus, leaving the airport when we arrived in China: LtoR Jane, Zach, Liz, Dao (hiding behind the seat) and Dom (the only one who actually realized I was taking a picture

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.

Dom, Jackie, and Dr. O relaxing for a moment while visiting the garden

Dom, Jackie, and Dr. O relaxing for a moment while visiting a garden in Shanghai

While in Shanghai, we were also joined by Ben, a graduate of our school who now teaches English in China.

Zach (playing with the GoPro), Ben, and Dom (again)

Zach (playing with the GoPro), Ben, and Dom (again)…and half of Jackie

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.

Rainy Shanghai

Rainy Shanghai

Rainy Shanghai

Rainy Shanghai

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).

Nanjing Road Selfie

Nanjing Road Selfie. Notice the bags under my eyes? Oh, jetlag…

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.

Nanjing Road. This doesn't do the number of people justice.

Nanjing Road. This really doesn’t do the number of people justice, though.

 

Zach, Dom & I

Zach, Dom & I

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.

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

Smog

Crazy drivers

Horns honking

Buildings on top of buildings

Wealth

Poverty

Roof-top gardens

Bok choy

Noodles

Happy

Tired

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).

Dom downing Soju like a pro.

Dom downing Soju like a pro

Zach & the remains of our evening - empty alcohol bottles and coins from a game we were playing

Zach & the remains of our evening – empty alcohol bottles and coins from a game we were playing

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 —