When I found out that I got to go to China for my MBA, I was excited. One, because I would get to learn a lot about Chinese culture, business, and food. And two, I would get some sleep. Right before I left, Sophie wanted to hang out from 11 pm to 2 am and I was only getting about 4-5 hours each night. I felt bad for Heather that she had to watch both the kiddos, but not so bad that I would delay my trip.
I learned a lot of things while I was in China. Here are a few of those things.
I learned that Shanghai is beautiful. This was a view from my hotel room. For the most part Shanghai was clear and the weather was pleasant in the 50s and 60s.
This is not the clearest picture, but among the several huge bags was a bike that was somehow carrying them.
This is Nanjing Road, which attracts over 1 million visitors daily. It was pretty amazing and very 5th Avenue. Some of the sights we saw here were a group of over a hundred stone-faced Chinese Tai Chi-ing, street Karaoke, and pimps trying to set up Americans with Chinese girls.
I learned never go out at night looking for fake Rolexes in dark alleys. Luckily, I didn't learn this the hard way, but one of my classmates did. He followed some guys down a dark alley, after which they beat him up, made him take a cab to an ATM, and stole about $1300 from him. Luckily, he was able to memorize the cab drivers number and the police were able to track down the group and get his money back.
I learned a lot from the businesses that we visited and how much China is growing. This was our visit to Caterpillar. We went on a 45 minute tour of the factory, but the batteries in my headset were out so I didn't hear any of it. Most of the other students in my cohort couldn't understand the tour guide anyway and said I didn't miss much.
I learned a lot about the future of China. In the next couple decades, China is expected to slow down its growth and move to a domestic consumer-based economy rather than a export economy. This means that our prices will probably go up a lot in the upcoming years.
I learned that I'm glad I stayed with Michael A. rather than a lot of other people in my class. Michael shared a lot of my same beliefs, like showing up on time, not getting wasted (especially on a business/education trip), and after a week and a half of Chinese food, McDonald's tastes pretty good.
I learned that China is a little too busy. There are over 160 cities that have over 1 million people. Shanghai has 23 million and Beijing has 22 million.
I learned the old parts of China are quite picturesque.
I learned that going off on your own sometimes is a lot of fun. This was my excursion to the Shanghai Museum. I was able to enjoy some impressive artwork. My favorites were the porcelain collection, jade sculptures and the Russian eggs of Faberge.
I learned that traffic in China is awful. I was impressed with our bus driver who had to maneuver through this sea of cars. He even u-turned several times which was quite a feat.
I learned pretty quick that I liked Shanghai better than Beijing. Beijing was colder, dirtier, poorer, and did I mention colder. There were some cool things to see in Beijing but still not as cool as Shanghai.
I learned it is hard to tour the Forbidden City when it is covered in ice. (Can you see all the people slipping in the picture above?) Our tour guide has worked there for over 20 years and said that it was the iciest he has ever seen it.
I learned that all body parts are eatable in China and that sheep testicles do not sound appetizing even if they are shouted out by a entertaining China man. Some of the other deep-fried choices were scorpion, frog, and squid.
I learned that pollution in China is awful. The whole time in Beijing I felt like I was coughing up a small China man.
I learned why the Great Wall of China is so popular. Even though I only saw a small part of the wall, it was very cool to see such a cool part of China's history. Between 4 and 6 million Chinese died building the wall.
I learned I'm taller than the average China man.
The last thing I learned is that I don't want to work internationally. I learned that I really love my family and I missed them too much.