Reflecting on my study abroad experience in China

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Day One: Beijing

Wooow! The flight felt way shorter than I expected.

It did not feel like a 13 hour flight - thank goodness! Maybe it was because I have been on car rides that last more than six hours, maybe because I have been on flights that have lasted longer than four hours, or probably because I slept about 10 hours of the flight.

No matter the reason, the flight was great, because it got me to Beijing  --  A new part of the world I never thought I would set foot on.

After we went through security at the airport, my professors, classmates and I were greeted by our host, the Asian Student Institute.

They were very welcoming to us in every possible way. It took us about 45 minutes to make it to the hotel, and on the way, we were able to see the different architecture in China and to experience how pedestrians and drivers interact on the streets.

After getting settled into our amazing hotel, four of my classmates and I went out for dinner. Allex, Tevin, Hayleigh and I are the only ones who really enjoyed our food, even though we had kind of a rough time ordering it because of the language barrier. We did our best to point out what we wanted, and thankfully the lady understood us.

So far, Beijing and its people have been so kind; I cannot even describe it.

I look forward to tomorrow's business visits and sharing my experience while abroad with everyone.

Day 2: IU China Gateway, 58.com and a welcome dinner

This morning, we had a traditional breakfast at our hotel. There were different kinds of breads, fruits, noodles, eggs, yogurt and a few meats. My favorite was the dragon fruit and the seaweed bun.

After breakfast, we got to go visit IU China Gateway. It is an office of IU Bloomington. The office is designed for parents to stay informed about exchange programs within IUPUI and IU Bloomington, and it also allows IU faculty and and students to fully immerse themselves in academic activities and partnerships throughout China.

At IU China Gateway, we heard a presentation from Helen Due, who works in retail marketing for Apple in China and is an IU alumna.

We had lunch at the office, and I got to try the Matcha Tea Cake from Starbucks. It was actually really good - not a sweet nor bitter cake.

After lunch, we went to 58.com (an online marketplace known as the craigslist of China), and we learned about their services, listened to a panel, received a tour, and we also got to plant flowers on its rooftop. It was a very interactive tour.

I cannot wait to visit more businesses!!

At the end of the night, after coming back to the hotel to freshen up, we went to our welcome dinner. It was so much fun. I learned that in China, they do not have the Chinese food that we have in America, but they do have a sweet and sour fish. A chef came and cooked a duck in front of us, and it was really good!!! I can't wait to keep trying the authentic Chinese food.

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Students plant flowers at 58.com, the largest online marketplace in China.
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Professors Lin Zheng and Darrell Brown at IU China Gateway.

Day 3: Yonyou Software Co. Ltd and Central University of Finance and Economics

Today we got to visit the Yonyou Software Park and the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. These were our last business visits in Beijing. I cannot believe how fast time is going by. I loved how the Yonyou Software Park was so welcoming; they had signs that said
“Welcome for the Visit of Indiana University in Yonyou Software Park.” I loved seeing the architecture of the company and seeing the things that they have to offer to their employees. So far in all the business visits, I have noticed that the businesses are trying to find ways to be “greener” and to conserve energy. I also liked that the company has a gym for its employees, similar to 58.com, and they even have tents so their employees can take naps – The idea being that they can work more efficiently if they’re rested!

Then we got to have food inside the company restaurant, and it was delicious!!! I am so happy that I have been getting so much better at eating with chopsticks! Lastly we went to the Central University of Finance and Economics, and it was a great experience to get a tour of the campus, and to sit in class and work with the students. My favorite thing today was interacting with the students and working on a business case together. We were able to see the different and similar ideas that we have to bring to the table. I loved learning about their culture and how important their studies are to them. I hope to one day be able to work with these students in the real world and resolve problems together.

Day 4: Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City

Today was our first cultural visit day and our last day in Beijing. Even though it is almost time to leave from Beijing, I was really excited to have our first culture visit and see some of the gorgeous things Beijing has to offer. Our visits would include Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall. Getting to see some of the beauty of Beijing was amazing, but learning about the history of these places was the most important thing. I learned that in every country there are things people do not talk about. Even though there are things people do not like sharing with everyone, we need to do our best to understand everyone’s culture and background with the information they allow us access to.

An interesting fact about Tiananmen Square is that each building or room had a unique purpose. For example, the emperor had a large room where only he would change and have his fittings. When we arrived to the Great Wall we were given the option of climbing it or taking the lift, and of course my lazy self took the lift. I took the lift, because one - because I am lazy :) , and two, because I wanted to see the Great Wall from the top of the sky. As soon as I arrived to the top, I started observing nature and it was one of the my best moments so far. I took like a billion photos!! An interesting fact about the Great Wall is that it is not straight, because it leans to one side, and all the stairs are different heights. The stairs were made different heights so the enemy's horses’ feet or hooves would break.

I cannot wait to keep seeing the beautiful things that are in China, but for now see you later Beijing. Thank you for treating us well!

Day 5: High Speed G Train and Huangpu River Cruise

Wooow, the train ride was amazing! It showed me parts of China I probably would not have seen if I had not taken the high speed train from Beijing to Shanghai.

First of all, our train was going 180 miles per hour!!!!!! The ride was as smooth as it could be. On the train, I was able to see the rural areas and learn how different they are from the high tier cities. Seeing this motivates me even more to find ways to encourage businesses to help others.

After four hours we arrived to Shanghai. Shanghai looks very beautiful! I love the colors and architecture. It has traditional architecture on one side, and European on the other. Our hotel is super big and fancy. As soon as we arrived, we were trying to have a discussion in the lobby, but people interrupted us because they wanted photos with us. I really wonder where all these photos will end up! At the end of the night, we got to go on a cruise, which was called Huangpu River Cruise. In this cruise we got to admire all the buildings and the city at night. It was the first cruise I have ever been on, and it was amazing! I look forward on going on a longer cruise, and being able to admire the beauty of the world.

Day 6: Yu Garden

Today we visited the Yu Garden, and the visit went by really fast. I feel like the tour guide either was going too fast, or he did not feel like showing us everything!

Even though it went by really fast, I loved the buildings because they are old and they let you see old Chinese architecture. There were many fish in the water. I wish we would've had more time so I could share more photos with everyone. The tour gave us enough time to get at least two group photos.

We also got to go into the market, and it was a great experience. I finally had the opportunity to bargain. My classmate Sam got to try a variety of different foods on sticks, and he seemed to have enjoyed it. I was too full to try anything after having breakfast earlier.

Today I also got to be a bit adventurous and go to Disney Shanghai with my friend Courtney. I wanted to go because I have never been to Disney in the United States, and because I knew I wanted to go in the future in the US and I wanted to be able to compare them in the future. According to my friend, it is actually really different because you only have to pay once in China, whereas in the US you need to pay multiple times to get into different theme parks. She also said that it is actually smaller than the US, but that is understandable because the park has only been in Shanghai for one year. I hope I have enough time to visit Disney in Hong Kong and be able to make more comparisons.

Day 7: SAIC General Motors, Deloitte, and Disney Shanghai

Today was our first business visit in Shanghai, and I was really excited to visit Disney Shanghai and SAIC General Motors. I was excited to see Disney because I was just there yesterday, and I wanted to see what their future plans are and how they plan to expand their business.

At SAIC we were able to see their manufacturing plant, and it was the best business visit, at least for me. I loved being able to see how all the employees come together in order to be able to create more cars, so more profit can be earned. I also liked learning about how the company returns to its society.

The second company we visited is Deloitte, a finance company. It was interesting to learn about the services the company offers.

Lastly, going to Disney was also a good experience. I liked learning about how different advertisements need to be created for each different province in China. I also liked learning how Disney Shanghai creates products just for China, and how these products might never be released in the United States, and vice versa. For my personal time today I went to the Friends Cafe with my friends Hayleigh and Allex. We were really surprised at how the cafe looks exactly like the one we saw on TV. We enjoyed the goodies they have to offer: Hayleigh had their famous mocha, Allex had a tea, and I had a pizza. We had a good time and even bought some souvenirs. I look forward on learning more about Shanghai tomorrow. Oh yeah, for lunch I got to have McDonald's. They have different sandwiches and desserts. When I return home I am going to be making some suggestions to our menus.

Day 8: Eli Lilly, Huace Navigation Technology, and China Financial Center

The presentation at Eli Lilly was different than I expected, and it was great. I thought they were going to present their history and so on, but instead they told us about the country's culture and the services they offer to the people in China. They talked about how pricing works in China as compared to the United States. They also talked about how their hospital system works and the amount of money that doctors are paid, compared to the United States. It was really sad to learn that doctors get paid so little when they are saving peoples’ life, but then again everyone in China can afford a doctor's visit. We also got to learn about Elenco at Eli Lilly. Elenco concentrates on animal care and they are the top five in the animal health company.

The Eli Lilly reps also told us to find our passion and the right career path for us, and they offered us web pages to visit for career development.

After that, we visited Huace Navigation Technology and got a tour of their manufacturing plant and their offices. The office was really small, but it had multiple uses compared to other businesses we visited. We got to wear awesome yellow lab jackets to keep us safe from all the energy. I think we looked like minions!

Lastly, we visited China Financial Center, and we got to learn about their services and how they help other students get an internship with their company. Sadly the program is only offered in Chinese. Today was our last day in Shanghai, so my friend Dominique and I had to go back to the Yu Garden and work on our bargaining skills. We bought multiple souvenirs - Everything from bracelets to sunglasses. Oh yeah - Dominique had to buy a new luggage bag because she was not going to be able to fit all her new souvenirs in the one she’d brought.

I think the best thing about visiting the market is that it was at night. We got to see the beautiful light in all the buildings and experience how safe it feels to go around China by yourself as a female. Especially with your phone, purse and your shopping bags.

Well - Shanghai has been amazing. I loved everything about it, and I look forward to visiting it again in the future. Esta pronto Shanghai (See you later Shanghai)!!!!! Now time to pack everything for our last stop Hong Kong. Here we go again!!!

Day 9: Flight to Hong Kong, Mazars Company

Time has flown by super-fast. I cannot believe we only have two days left. The flight to Hong Kong was nice and short. The flight attendant again tried talking to me in Mandarin and I was really confused and so were they. The plane ride was very comfortable, but when we arrived in Hong Kong it was raining, so our plane was circling in the air for about 20 minutes. Since the weather was so bad, our first business visit was cancelled. I was sad because I was really excited to visit an IT company. It would had been an amazing opportunity for me because I am thinking about minoring in IT. Luckily, we were able to make it to the other business visit. It was an accounting company, and we were able to hear about how China and Hong Kong are different and alike. After the business visits, we went to a market and took the subway. Hayleigh and I wanted to do our own thing, so we decided to find our own way back to the hotel. We walked around and bought many souvenirs and bargained like crazy. We were able to get some amazing deals. I was so happy that I was able to buy many colorful pens and highlighters. I am sure they will come in handy for I-Core! I am glad we all got to spend time together, and I look forward to tomorrow and seeing some of the beautiful things Hong Kong has to offer. I am actually wondering how many things we will be able to fit into our personal time tomorrow.

Day 10: Lantua Island, Stanley Market and Repulse Bay Visit, Aberdeen Fishing Village , Farewell Dinner

I cannot believe today is our last day in China. We started our day off at 9:00 am. Honestly I would not have minded getting up earlier on our last day. I could have even gotten up at 7:00 am. Going to the island has been my favorite cultural thing. My friends and I almost missed the Buddha because our tour guide got us a little confused. Luckily, we were able to figure it out. After visiting the Buddha, we got on the bus again and went to the Stanley Market. It was a large market, but it was not as busy as the other markets. That might have been because it was Thursday instead of a weekend. The market was also more expensive than the other markets, and people did not want to bargain. After the market, we went to the fishing village to get on a traditional boat and to get a tour. I loved being able to see all the different colors and to see other boats. At the end of the day, we ate a farewell dinner hosted by the Asian Student Institute. At the dinner, we got to see photos from all our visits. It was nice to be able to see the amazing things we got to accomplish. We also got to thank them for hosting us and making our study abroad experience the best.

Well - Goodbye China - You have been a great experience! You have given me many ideas like learning Mandarin, getting an internship overseas and lastly, you have encouraged me even more to explore the world and to find ways for all of us in the business world to come together and help our society.

Adios China hasta pronto!!! (Bye China until next time).