Tag Archives: china

An Unforgettable Adventure – Jeremy Sebastien

“Shanghai was my first trip to Asia and I approached the situation with an open mind and excitement to experience a new adventure. From the time that I got off the plane, Shanghai was complete sensory overload. The smell of food, the people, and the sounds of motorbikes honking as they drive past are omnipresent. There is an undeniable energy present in the city.

I have been fortunate enough to travel to other parts of the world. As an American, it is relatively easy to navigate most areas because of a clear western influence and common usage of English. Shanghai was different—in a good way. Not much English is spoken and the written language does not have any recognizable characters. When the journey started, I felt like a fish out of water. It didn’t take very long to feel at home in China.

Shanghai is an interesting blend of modern and ancient. The city is extremely cosmopolitan. A walk through Xintandi could make one feel like they are in New York City. Nanjing Road—with its bold neon signs and endless shopping—draws people into the spirit of the city for an evening stroll with no destination in mind. On the other hand, I would walk down that same road first thing in the morning and was amazed at how the main street looked like it was from the future, but the alleyways that branched out looked like they hadn’t been changed in centuries.

We had a job to do in Shanghai. The client that my team worked for was an up-and-coming agency that had a young staff and bold ideas. From d ay one, the company treated us as their own. They took us out to lunch and always made sure that we felt comfortable in the office. We were even invited to an after-work event and the invitation was extended to the rest of the Intersession group. We played dodgeball and laughed all night. It was one of the most memorable nights of the trip.

Our client gave us the freedom to explore ideas for the project. It was exciting to be a part of a newer firm that allowed its employees to act in an entrepreneurial way. It was also exciting to see that China is a growing and interesting place to do business. The country is expanding its reach and it was interesting to see the almost endless potential.

The study abroad program was one of the reasons that I decided to attend USD. My experience exceeded expectations. We were put into a new environment with a new culture and a new company. With that framework in place, we had the opportunity to take what we wanted from the trip. I came into the experience with the objectives of learning a new business culture and stepping out of my comfort zone. I wanted to take on an intellectual challenging project while experiencing life on the other side of the world. I left with much more than I wanted. I left with new friends, a broader global perspective, and an adventure that I’ll never forget.”

To check out more student experiences, please visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Business Environment in Spain, Portugal, and China – Angel Wu

Angel (Shengdi) Wu made the journey to Lisbon and Madrid, experiencing a contrast of Portuguese and Spanish business etiquette to that of her native country, China. Please enjoy reading her perspectives on European and Chinese cultural practices, and how to have cultural-awareness while conducting international business.

Time flies, two weeks’ intersession in Europe passed quickly in the blink of an eye. My overall impression on Europe is complicated. I was completely absorbed in the rich culture, accumulated through the long development of the civilization. We visited art centers, img_0238witnessed the perfectly reserved architectures from the last two centuries, watched various classical concerts such as Flamenco in Spain and Fado in Portugal, and tested various authentic European food and drinks such as Sangria, wines and fresh-made breads with garlic shrimps. However, on the other hand, I was a little disappointed by the current economic statues of the European union countries. Once dominated the sea and colonized many countries around the world to acquire a great deal of fortunes, Spain and Portugal today are no longer prosperous as before and struggling to get out of the economic crisis.

In terms of culture and business differences between China and Europe, the most important element that China and Europe share in common is the long historical development. Both China and Europe entered their respective first golden age at about the same time: 500 BC. However, European culture heritages, including ancient castles and old antiques, are better preserved img_0564than the Chinese counterparts, as both the civil wars and the world wars destroyed lots of historical sites in China. As a result, on the whole, the modern facilities such as elevators in buildings are more spread in China than European countries. A single writing language and a 90% Han-nationality dominated population shaped roughly homogenous cultural traditions in China, while multiple languages and varieties of populations created different culture traditions among European countries. The differences could also be traced to the concept of family. For instance, Chinese view the benefits of the whole family over individuals so that an individual has his duty for the family. Europeans focus more on an individual’s freedoms and rights. Although we could feel the socialism influence in both continents, Europeans enjoy much higher benefits from their governments while Chinese do not.

img_0433When it comes to business, Europeans focus more on the technology and quality, such as some famous luxurious brands – Gucci, Louise Vuitton, BMW cars and so on. Chinese place greater importance on cutting costs, which inevitably harms the quality. However, both Europe and China are complimentary to each other from the market angle. China has huge market potential and production capacities, while Europe has advanced technologies that could be more quickly applied in China. Europe could conquer the Chinese market more quickly by transferring new technologies to China and setting up local production.

 

Another noteworthy fact is that China is thriving thanks to the fall of communism and the rise of img_0327the capitalism. Europe is falling thanks to the rise of socialism and the fall of capitalism with no easy way out. The rigid, inefficient labor market, in most European union countries, has become probably the largest stumbling block to development of the economies within the European Union. For instance, in the United States, a company in decline could lay off its employees according to its needs without any compensation. While in Europe, the rigid labor law made it even unaffordable for a company to fire a permanent employee. In China, employees laid off by a company are compensated to some extent. As a result, in many European countries, a vicious circle happens as permanent workers in a company might look forward to being fired, and thus companies operating in Europe tend to hire more temporary workers instead. The astonishing unemployment rate at as high as 30 percent makes people question whether it is really beneficial for the economic development of a country to join the European Union.

img_9962To do business in Portugal, some business etiquettes should be kept in mind. Don’t ask about a person’s background or age or exaggerate your gestures. As for punctuality, it is common to be late. For instance, arriving 10 minutes late for a meeting is ok. You will need to make a call if you will be late by more than 20 minutes or request to reschedule the meeting after 30 minutes. Portuguese people are very friendly and sincere about what they say. As is the case with China, personal relationships are very important in business, and people prefer to do business with someone they trust. Thus, it is advisable to seek a mutual contact and build up some credibility with Portuguese businessmen before starting to negotiate with them, a practice shared by Spanish businessmen as well.

In Spain, sufficient time should be allowed to get to know your partners well before any negotiation as a sound relationship is an integral part of successful business negotiation. For instance, before the formalities of meeting, you should spend some time discussing some general informal subjects, such as the weather, family or traveling arrangements. It is really important to follow up with the completion of a business deal and reinforce personal relationships. It is acceptable to invite business partners in Spain to some informal social gatherings. In general, Spanish people value their families, personal relationship and cultural traditions. They enjoy leisure activities to the fullest. Business dress code is very important in Spain as Spanish people will perceive one’s appearance as indication of professional achievement and relative social standing. It is advisable to address with elegance, especially for a dinner. Many high-quality restaurants have a formal dress code. Unless you are a tourist over there, you should always avoid shorts or slippers. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that some rules about giving gifts during business meetings. Spanish people don’t usually give gifts to each other, while inexpensive gifts could be allowed at the end of a success negotiation. Corporate gifts or books are welcome gifts. It is important to know that Spanish people are brand and quality conscious, so high quality items are preferred.img_0440

To check out more student experiences, please visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Must-See’s and Must-Do’s in Shanghai

Joseph LaBarbera studied abroad this past intersession in Shanghai, China and provided us with some of the top things one must do while there. Enjoy!

Shanghai is one of the five largest cities in the world. There are so many things to do and places to see, it is quite overwhelming when trying to plan a trip to this multi-cultural metropolis. If you are anything like me, the best way to experience a city and its culture is to visit the local social spots, as well as try the typical food and drink. I wouldn’t want to spend the entire trip only looking at buildings and statues that you could just google an image of. To help you in your quest of finding a localized and beneficial experience in this wonderful city, I have created a list consisting mostly of some of my favorite bars, food spots, and activities. The best aspect about most of the places I have listed below is that you can enjoy them at night after all of the museums and tours have closed, allowing you to maximize your experience in Shanghai by truly embracing the Chinese culture through a local’s eyes.

1. KTV Karaoke
The most fun and entertaining nighttime activity in Shanghai. KTV Karaoke takes place in a spacious, designated area for just you and all your friends to enjoy! The atmosphere and singing create a fun environment and there definitely will be some quality laughs.

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2. Yang’s Dumplings
Yang’s dumplings are the best dumplings in Shanghai, and I’m not just saying that! They are fried in oil, making them extremely juicy! Be careful, they are also very hot and can be a bit messy 😉

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3. The Cool Docks
The docks are in a newer part of town with a good selection of restaurants both on and across the streets from the Shanghai River. They also have beautiful decorations in the winter!

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4. Bar Rouge
Grab a drink and get the best view of the Bund! This rooftop bar provides a great photo opportunity of the lights in the Pu Dong area of town.

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5. Knock Off Market
Just off the Shanghai Science and Technology metro shop, the knock-off market awaits, surrounding the entire station. Prepare to be aggressively approached and solicited to buy items that you most likely wouldn’t find a use for, but are still fun little trinkets anyways!

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6. Jazz Club
The Jazz Club has amazing music and also is a good place to sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice refreshment. The band consists of most of the original members since its opening and plays wonderful classics.

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7. Shanghai Beer Factory
One of the local breweries in Shanghai with refreshing and delicious beer, as well as has décor that is very hip and trendy! It has a convenient location, right by the Olympic stadium, which also is worth taking a peek at!

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8. Sky Bar in the Radisson
My personal favorite bar in Shanghai. The cover band is excellent and they take song requests, which creates a great opportunity to sing and dance along to the music.

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To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

 

The Pearl of the Orient: A Quick Overview

Clarence Wong studied abroad in Hong Kong for an intersession program that gave him a deeper understanding of the city itself through its differences in housing, public transportation system, and the services sector, in comparison to the United States.

For the first day of MSRE 509 intersession, our group took a city tour of Hong Kong, ending with a visit to ‘The Peak’ at the top of Hong Kong island, which featured a panoramic view of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong skyline is unlike any other skyline I’ve seen; it’s like combining skylines from multiple U.S. cities, such as New York, Chicago, etc., into one tightly packed skyline. This massive skyline comprises of not just commercial high-rise office buildings, but also hotels and many residential towers. According to Cushman & Wakefield, since much of Hong Kong has very hilly terrain that cannot be developed on, Hong Kong has unique geographical constraints and, therefore, limited available land for development, so developers must build upward rather than outward to accommodate the large population. As a result, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. This is quite a contrast to most areas in the U.S., where many people live in larger low-rise homes spread out in the suburbs, rather than live in smaller efficient spaces in high-rise residential towers within the city.

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Hong Kong’s public transportation system is one of the best in the world. As a result, most people in Hong Kong use public transportation rather than drive cars. I’ve never seen so many modes of public transportation before. Options include MTR (mass transit railway), taxi, double-decker bus, mini-bus, cable car, and ferry. The MTR, a type of subway system, is generally the quickest way to get around. One time, a group of us took the MTR to a company visit while another group took a taxi. Due to heavy road traffic, the MTR group arrived at the destination quicker than the taxi group. Another time, one group took the mini-bus while another group took the MTR. This time, the mini-bus group arrived at the destination, Happy Valley racecourse, quicker because the mini-bus had a direct stop to the destination, whereas the MTR group had to walk a few blocks after getting off at the nearest stop. So, it all just depends on the destination and proximity to the nearest MTR stop. In any case, since there are so many different public transportation options available, it is extremely convenient to get around the city. Compared to the U.S., Hong Kong is way ahead in terms of available public transportation. San Francisco, New York, & Washington D.C. are the closest U.S. cities to Hong Kong for also providing good modes of public transportation; however, we are still way behind.

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The Hong Kong International Terminal is a key container port operator in the Port of Hong Kong, one of the busiest ports in the world. The Port of Hong Kong serves the South-East and East Asian regions, and is also a key economic gateway to mainland China. Our tour guide for the city tour explained that Hong Kong used to be a manufacturing powerhouse years ago, but now China has taken over much of the manufacturing. As a result, the Hong Kong government assisted former manufacturing workers to get re-educated to work in service sectors, such as the hospitality industry. I learned from our Cushman & Wakefield visit that approximately 50% of the Hong Kong population is provided government-assisted housing, which seems high, but necessary given the relatively expensive cost of housing in Hong Kong. Furthermore, our tour guide explained that since most of the Hong Kong population is taken care of for jobs and housing, most people are generally content. Compared to the U.S., Hong Kong has less citizens to take care of, but we could learn from Hong Kong in terms of providing more career services and job-related skills training to unemployed and transitioning workers. For government housing assistance, although the U.S. offers Section 8 Housing and other types of subsidies, these services could be improved upon so more U.S. citizens in need of low-income housing could benefit.

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To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

International Practicum: iPai in Shanghai

MBA student Emily Lapp recently traveled to Shanghai, China for an international consulting practicum. These are her reflections:

MBA students burn incense at a temple in Zhujiajiao

MBA students burn incense at a temple in Zhujiajiao

“Just prior to my final semester in the University of San Diego’s MBA program, I decided to participate in an international consulting practicum during the 2016 intercessional period. On New Year’s Eve, I boarded a plane and, 13 hours later, touched down to greet the new year in a new country: China. An often discussed but frequently misunderstood country, China is primarily known for being heavily populated (almost 1.4 billion people) and a chief export partner to the United States; many products sold here in the US are produced within China. Yet, most Americans have never been to China and lack firsthand experience of the country. While studying the history and culture of a country can improve one’s understanding, there is little that can compare to firsthand experience. Given China’s significance as a growing nation with an ever increasing role in global business, I decided a trip to China would significantly aide in my understanding of global business by exposing me to both daily life and business in China.

MBA students attended the first auction held in iPai’s new office in Shanghai.

MBA students attended the first auction held in iPai’s new office in Shanghai

The company selected for the China practicum consulting project was “iPai,” an American-owned auction company in Shanghai. Our group was divided into two teams and assigned topics. My team’s job was to identify opportunities for improvement in the company’s organizational structure and work flow processes. While our professor was on-site to oversee the project and provide valuable feedback, we were entrusted to set meetings with the client, organize our efforts and ultimately, decide what recommendations would best assist our client. The project was much more open-ended than a typical MBA assignment and the timeline much more condensed. Not only did my team have to take care to accurately assess the company’s current situation and ensure we effectively communicated with our client to understand their desired outcome, but we also had to quickly assess the strengths of each team member while making time critical decisions as to how best to tackle the workload. Being in a foreign country, far away from the normal resources of USD and working for clients whose Chinese employees spoke little English, added to the project’s complexity. In the process, I learned a great deal about cultural norms in China, particularly related to organizational structure, and took away many tips for doing business in China. In the evenings, after a long day of work, our team was able to get out and enjoy the wonder that is the city of Shanghai.

MBA students and faculty visit the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai on a city tour

MBA students and faculty visit the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai on a city tour

After an intense ten days of working on the project, it was time for our final presentation to the client. I was eager to share our team’s hard work and, after the presentation concluded, felt a great sense of satisfaction. I knew our work for iPai was not just academic in nature, but would actually be used to further develop and grow the company. I truly enjoyed putting the skills I’ve learned during the past two years of my MBA program to great use for a company. I found the entire international practicum experience to be incredible. I know for a fact that it has greatly contributed to my personal understanding of the world and further enhanced my global mindset. I highly recommend an international practicum to all MBA students. I can promise that you will not regret it!”

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Going Global: An Asian Excursion

Torero Travelers

Following Torero Travelers around the globe not only brightens our day, but also sheds light on what our fellow Toreros are doing internationally. USD has a large and impactful presence in the international education community, hosting students from an expansive range of foreign nations and offering programs for the university’s students in 44 countries. In this episode, we follow the journey of USD graduate student during studies in Korea and China through the Ahlers Center for International Business.

Going Global: An Asian Excursion

Written by Steven Cummings (MSGL student)

IMG_2144In the ides of October, I joined a happy company of MSGL students (M.S. in Global Leadership pursuants) to embark on a mission to the Far East, seeking ken of the currents of commerce and as well as the rich cultural vestiges of an ancient past. Our host nations included the Republic of Korea and the Peoples’ Republic of China, lands long familiar with a flux of foreigners visiting their shores and cities.

As one descends onto the streets of Seoul, the first destination on our voyage, the mildly opaque air is not immediately refreshing…but well-structured city blocks and clean streets sweep away any impression of Korea’s history as a developing nation. Full of bright cultural traditions, a colorful palette of Korean cuisine, impressive displays of advanced technology & infrastructure, and a calm yet bustling crowd, Seoul is characterized by a distinct blend of the East and West.

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East-West encounter at a Martial Arts demonstration

Possessed of a rather conspicuous “Californian” look, I did not blend in particularly well in Asia. Drawing stares on the streets proved an easy feat, even those lost in their smartphones could generally be shaken from their Confucian decorum by a long blonde mane on a tall striding male. Public courtesy oft prevented more than a few seconds’ glance, but experiments with sunglasses revealed many wide-eyed gawkers at this alien creature crossing in their path. While Korea has a strong international presence, its society is relatively homogenous in comparison with our melting pot nation: 96% of the population comes from the Korean ethnic group.

By day our group would walk among the markets, sometimes of the less formal variety with a myriad of unidentifiable fruits, fish, rice-based creations, a hundred kinds of kimchi, sometimes the highly modernistic malls that inhabit the upper floors of the city streets as well as the interlocking subterranean levels below. The food ranged from spicy to really spicy, with highlights including the famous Korean barbeque, the signature dish “bibimbap,” and an inexhaustible assortment of side dishes that were constantly refilled and often mysterious. Street food presented further opportunities for mystery and bewilderment – one especially succulent dainty came in the form of a still live & wriggling squid tentacle that would suction desperately to the cheeks and throat on its way down.

The people of Seoul dressed smartly but in plainer styles, as if they all shopped at the same department stores. Exceedingly polite and often decently versed in English, interactions by day felt slightly reserved – but by night, especially if soju had seeped into their veins, the Koreans let fly a very vibrant nightlife social scene. Introduced to Korea centuries ago by invading Mongolian hordes, soju retains its spark of chaos and reigns supreme as the alcoholic drink of choice for the nation – capturing 97% of spirits sales. It’s also an excellent weapon in one’s arsenal to reign supreme in the karaoke den…

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Factory visit to AmorePacific, a Korean cosmetics company

The nightlife scene subsided substantially as our group transitioned to Beijing, the municipal and cultural capital of China. While Shanghai may steal the show with regard to afterdark pomp & circumstance, Beijing contains not only many of China’s most important historic monuments but a strong sense of where the country stands today. Its newly upgraded metro system is fast and efficient, unusually-shaped skyscrapers decorate its skyline, the air breathes much easier than the pre-Olympic days, and a veritable shopper’s paradise greets the residents and tourists of the commercially booming city. Yet it also holds space for a more traditional generation, as well as the envelope-pushing avant-garde – artists, students, and champions of free thought have found the most expedient channels of growth and change on the streets of the capital. With a population of 23 million and growing, Beijing has a bit of everything.

As a group my fellow students and I took in as many of the city’s hallmarks as we could, touring by walk or run the large grounds of the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Behai Park, and also material attractions like the Silk Market and Wangfujing. While the immensity of the Forbidden City was impressive, my personal favorite of the city sights remains the “Nine Dragon Screen” of Behai Park – a spirit screen depicting nine dragons in relief that served to protect the ancient princes of state. Of course, no trip to Beijing could be complete without a trek to the Great Wall, so together (or rather, in a long string) we climbed to a lookout tower of a section of the Wall bordering a garrison.

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Posing on the Great Wall of China

My individual journey in Beijing took me to some of the more underground parts of Chinese culture, sects previously unknown to me. A rendezvous with a longtime friend from my days as a European expatriate deposited me squarely in the midst of the “Chinese Punk” scene, where again my long hair won me attention and allies. Later we went for refreshments with her companions to a nearby vintage shop, the owner of which (another friend) being an organizer of “vintage festivals” all over China. The shop sat nestled in an old hutong of Beijing, essentially a neighborhood of narrow alleyways and buildings constructed long ago in traditional courtyard style. We met again the following night to prepare dinner together, where we set about concocting five customary dishes for a first time houseguest. As “garlic peeler,” my task left the husky remains of no less than thirty bulbs of garlic at my feet by the time my mound of ingredients was deemed satisfactory.

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Steven’s Chinese dinner hosts

Once the graduate studies had concluded in China, I couldn’t bear to leave the country having seen Beijing alone. Luckily, the nation’s expanding network of bullet trains place many of the distant destinations within reach. A six hour ride at 300kmph brought a fellow student and me to Xi’an, the first capital of China and principal city of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Renowned for unifying the host of warlords occupying the lands that would become China, the emperor is also made famous by the remains of his Terracotta Army that accompanied him into the afterlife – over 8,000 unique figures representing his warriors, chariots, and horses, as well as non-military personages such as officials, musicians, and acrobats. Its discovery in 1974 put Xi’an on the map as a tourist destination, although its ornate palaces, pristine city walls, peculiar Muslim Quarter, and salubrious hot springs also make it an attractive site. Unfortunately, time constraints did not allow me to climb Mount Huashan, one of the five sacred mountains of China, and thus I suspect this visit to Xi’an will not be my last.

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Nor to China. International travel, especially over the course of one’s studies in higher education, serves to provide some of the most edifying experiences of a person’s life. The intangible lessons gained through journeys abroad have certainly been a boon to the formation of my character as a global citizen, and I would wish that those faced with the opportunity to travel abroad pursue it with zeal and intention. This excursion to Korea and China has furthered my knowledge of how the world and its people interact, how they exchange information, ideas, memories, and hopeful prospects, and how we are all so universally similar and dissimilar. In the unending quest to leave no stone unturned, I look forward to a future of skipping across the water.

To read more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

More information regarding study abroad opportunities can be found on our website.

From Asia to the United States and Back: An Intersession 2015 Experience in Hong Kong

Over Intersession 2015, I-Shen “Kelly” Wu, Ahlers Center Fellow double majoring in  International Business and Accounting, studied abroad in Hong Kong. An international student from Taiwan already studying abroad in the United States for her degree, she decided that she wanted to see and experience the cultural uniqueness and financial hub that Hong Kong has to offer. Kelly said, “Before my trip, I made the wrong assumption that there will be few cultural differences between Taiwan and Hong Kong. I went through a culture shock when I experienced the hustle and bustle of metropolitan Hong Kong. The way of life, how people value time and money, and the culture were all so new to me! Even within a similar geographical region, there is a radically different way of doing business and methods of approaching a client.”

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Kelly exploring the famous ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau.

Once inside the classroom, her learning continued: “In the three-week long course taught by USD’s Professor Alan Gin, I learned about international trade, investment, and the usage and analysis of foreign exchange rates; I also studied international economic policies and the operations and challenges for multinational enterprises. I was able to conduct a foreign exchange rate analysis and prediction of currency, as well as understand and discuss critical arguments for and against international economic policies within the issues of globalization.”

The study abroad group in Guangzhou, China.

The study abroad group in Guangzhou, China.

Besides the academics of the program, the students went on a company visit to a multimillion-dollar department store in Shenzhen, took a comprehensive tour of the city, had excursions to Macau and mainland China, and attended an alumni reception. “One of the highlights of the program was the Hong Kong USD Alumni Reception. Not only did we get to meet USD alumni who are currently working or residing in Hong Kong, we also got to meet other USD MBA and MSRE students who were also studying abroad. It was a great event to socialize with alumni to understand how they ended up in Hong Kong,” said Kelly.

The undergraduate students at the Alumni Reception.

The students at the Alumni Reception.

Overall, Kelly’s study abroad experience was eye-opening and extremely beneficial to her future career goals. Kelly reflects, “The experience of the program was incredible. I was fortunate to go with a group of amazing fellow students, and be supported by warm and supporting faculty and staff onsite. My study abroad experience in Hong Kong 2015 was definitely one of the most enriching and memorable times of my life! I believe my newly acquired awareness of cultural nuances, education in international economics, and my connection with USD alumni have made me a stronger candidate in pursuing an international career.”

Erin’s Travel Tips for Shanghai

Shanghai

Overview:

Shanghai is a financial hub in Asia and widely considered to be China’s most European city, with its distinctive, futuristic architecture, historical French Concession neighborhood, and myriad of high-end fashion houses with elaborate, glittering window displays beckoning well-heeled tourists and locals alike.

If you plan on travelling to China, make sure to obtain a tourist visa, as this is required for stays that extend past 48 hours.

Shanghai holds an important place in the international financial market, and is home to the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) in the Pudong District.  Rising to a height of 492 meters, the SWFC is the world’s tallest mixed-use urban development center.

View from the observation deck on the 97th floor of the SWFC

View from the observation deck on the 97th floor of the SWFC

 Business Etiquette

1)   When meeting business partners, acknowledge seniority for introductions, seating arrangements and general interactions.

2)   When exchanging business cards, present your card so that it is facing your recipient.  When accepting a business card, take the card with both hands and take a few moments to read the card carefully.  Do not fold or write on business cards.

3)   Respect the concept of “saving face” – avoid insulting, criticizing, or drawing negative attention to someone in front of others

Don’t Miss:

1)   The Bund: stroll along the river and enjoy the sight of barge “rush hour”.  Across the river, gaze at the massive high-rises in the Pudong District.  Right off The Bund on East Nanjing Road, you’ll find the Fairmont Peace Hotel.  This is a historic landmark that was constructed between 1926 and 1929, and now contains an updated art-deco lobby, jazz club, upscale café and tea room.

View of along the Bund, looking towards the Pudong District across the river.

View across the Bund, looking towards the Pudong District across the river.

2)   Old Town: to feel as if you have transported back in time, visit Shanghai’s Old Town (known as Nánshi) where you’ll find traditional architecture, a bazaar with numerous shopping stalls and the Yù Yuán Gardens, which was the former residence of Ming-dynasty officials and is now available to tour.

3)   French Concession: two distinct shopping areas are contained within the Shanghainese neighborhood known as the French Concession – Xintiandi and Tianzifang.  Xintiandi houses dozens of upscale shops and boutiques, restaurants and nightspots, and is partitioned into two sections.  The south block holds an indoor mall with fine-dining and shopping options, while the north block has more of an outdoor market feel, with boutiques and numerous restaurants offering a wide assortment of cuisines.

Another shopping district, Tianzifang, has less of a 5th Avenue in NYC feel and more of an artsy, old-Shanghai feel.  There are dozens of trendy boutiques, tourist shops, cafes and local fashion houses to explore along the traditional alleyways.  I recommend stopping here to find your souvenirs and fun gifts for friends and family at home.

4)   Temples: two interesting temples to visit are the Jing’an Temple and the Jade Buddha Temple, both located in the Jing’an district.  The Jade Buddha Temple is an active place of worship for Buddhists, and has a number of gold, jade and marble Buddha statues, with colorful flags, lanterns and candles adorning them.

Inside the Jade Buddha Temple

Inside the Jade Buddha Temple

Foods to Try:

1)   Noodles: with a multitude of small noodle shops throughout the city, you are sure to find something to appeal to your palate.  I found the udon at Kung Fu Noodles to be the perfect lunch on a cold winter day!

Udon noodles from Kung Fu Noodles, located in the French Concession

Udon noodles from Kung Fu Noodles, located in the French Concession

2) Dumplings: they come filled with many different ingeredients, but a Shanghainese specialty is the “little steamer buns” and the “scallion -and sesame-seed-coated dumplings”.

3) Hotpot:  commonly served in the winter, hotpot offers sizzling broth to dip vegetables and meat into, finishing them with a variety of sauces.

Shanghainese Cuisine: for Westerners unaccustomed to generous amounts of oils and spices in their food, it is advised to ask for an English menu and sample the various dishes in small quantities, to learn which dishes appeal most to your taste buds and dietary preferences

Shanghainese Cuisine: for Westerners unaccustomed to generous amounts of oils and spices in their food, it is advised to ask for an English menu and sample the various dishes in small quantities, to learn which dishes appeal most to your taste buds and dietary preferences

What about you? What are your go to food items when traveling through China? Share your tips below.

~Erin Kellaway, External Programs Manager

Road Less Traveled in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is complete eye candy.  Everywhere you turn there are vibrant colors, exotic smells and a hum of activity.  Besides being a shopping mecca and home to the world’s most inexpensive Michelin starred restaurant (Tim Ho Wan), Hong Kong also boasts a lively night life, exceptionally efficient public transportation system, and plenty of stunning parks to keep even the greenest of thumbs well entertained.

Personally, I am a gardenoholic.  In a city of 7.2 million people, nearly all of which are living vertically in high rises, the quite repose and sound of running water emanating from many of Hong Kong’s public parks offers a reticent opportunity to reflect and observe.  Most often I’m reflecting on what local taste treat sensation I will dine on next, but who’s counting?…

Hands down my two favorite green spaces in Hong Kong are Kowloon Walled City Park and the Nan Lian Gardens at Chi Lin Nunnery.  Both are free to enter and if you make a point to visit Kowloon Walled City Park early enough, you will catch groups of locals practicing Tai Chi by the waterfalls.  Close to the Chinese New Year celebrations, flag throwing groups also use Kowloon Walled City Park as their rehearsal grounds for the festive parades in which they perform.  Nan Lian Gardens houses a pagoda, waterfalls, koi pond, and more manicured trees than a Dr. Seuss book.  It also pipes in soft music throughout the 3.5 hectares to optimize your relaxation and is home to a vegetarian restaurant with unique dishes focusing on local ingredients.

Kowloon Walled City Park in Hong Kong

Kowloon Walled City Park in Hong Kong

Visitors to Hong Kong often like to spend some time exploring at least one of the 234 outlying islands which also constitute part of special administrative region of Hong Kong.  Generally, western tourists flock to Lantau Island to see the giant seated Buddha and catch the marvelous views from the cable car ride up to the top of the mountain.  But if I have free time to go island hopping, my go to is Cheung Chau.  Just an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong island, Cheung Chau is where the locals go for some of the best seafood around and fantastic people watching.  The whole island can be explored on foot but its also fun to rent bicycles to venture out past the main drag.  Hiking trails on the island also offer spectacular seaside views without having to climb too much elevation.

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Looking to take some pretty spectacular photos in Hong Kong?  You can’t beat the view from Victoria Peak or the colors offered at the Flower Market.  The Yuen Po Street Bird Market is also pretty unique where you can see sacks of live grasshoppers on sale alongside ornate birdcages of all makes and models.  The added bonus of being serenaded by hundreds of birds while floating through this market make it a place I return to on each visit to Hong Kong.  Of course it also helps that the Bird Market is literally situated on top of the Flower Market so its easy to visit both on the same day.

The Flower Market in Hong Kong

The Flower Market in Hong Kong

One of my favorite past times in Hong Kong is heading to the horse track.  Situated in central Hong Kong Island, the race track at Happy Valley turns into Hong Kong’s largest bar every Wednesday evening during the winter months.  Overpriced beer and chain smokers aside, the races at Happy Valley are truly stunning as the Hong Kong city skyline serves as the backdrop for the race track and the convivial atmosphere of locals and expats cheering together rarely disappoints.

Happy Valley Races

Happy Valley Races

Those participating in our MSRE or GSBA courses in Hong Kong will be happy to know that visits to the Nan Lian Gardens and Victoria Peak are part of the city tour itinerary which is included in your program fee.  Additionally, I coordinate a night at the races for each student group where dinner at the Hong Kong Jockey Club and entrance into the Happy Valley Racetrack are both part of the fun included in your program fee.

USD business students at Victoria Peak

USD business students at Victoria Peak

Have you been to Hong Kong? Share your tips below!

~ Allison Howitt, Academic Programs Manager