GLP Shanghai | Student Blog
A word journey into our travels at home and abroad. Follow us as we learn about business across cultures and explore the opportunities available to us with the world as our classroom.
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— Reflection- Taylor Serafin

It’s been two weeks since we have returned from China. Sometimes I feel like the trip has been a dream. It came so quickly and then being there flew by in an instant. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to travel across the world and experience a completely different culture. I witnessed so many incredible things both cultural wise and social wise. 

I am also happy that I got to know my classmates better. I was nervous going into the trip because I did not know that many people. However, being thrown into a foreign country that had so many differences than Southern California had a way of bringing our team together. I met so many new people and made so many friends on this trip.  I really feel as though I have built a strong network of people in which I can work with in the future. Our professors have told us from the start that our GLP classmates will be the most important network we will have; and I feel as though they are right after this trip. 

In addition to the network of classmates I have built, I networked with many different people during our company visits. Listening to the business men and women who work in China was so fascinating. They expressed both the benefits and hardships of doing global business in China. They also taught us different lessons they learned by doing business there. For example, one of our speakers told us that it is important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is the only way that she continues to grow while doing business. Others taught us about the differences between American business customs and Chinese business customs, like how everything is negotiable in China. A contract in China holds little value, unlike the U.S. where contracts are binding. 

One of the most interesting things about this trip was just observing and learning about the many social differences between the U.S. and China. It is easy to forget that people all over the world live, eat, work, and speak differently. Seeing the differences first hand is eye opening and really makes one think about how they affect aspects of life. I really enjoyed this trip and hope to continue to learn about global business in other parts of the world as well. 

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— Trip Recap - Charlene Shi

Three weeks ago, 90 GLP students embarked on a journey that would forever change their lives, business knowledge, and perspective on the world. The past two weeks back in LA have been a whirlwind of midterms, papers, and activities. Next week during GLP class, we will be presenting a PowerPoint detailing the important lessons we learned from our trip abroad. The points that resonated with me the most are the following:

1) Take a risk and step out of your comfort zone.

I never thought I would be trying starfish, much less scorpion in China! Previously, just the thought of eating something with an exoskeleton and claws disgusted me. However, several of our guest speakers stressed the importance of trying something new. I took a leap of faith and tried something I might never ever get a chance to, again. Applying this tenet to our everyday life as students and future businessmen and women, we should remember that looking at something from a different perspective could offer new insights!

2) Network, network, network.

From simply going up to a speaker after his presentation to asking for a business card, networking is key. Joe Johnson, one of the guest speakers in Shanghai and Professor Voigt’s former student, encouraged us to bond with speakers and ask to connect on LinkedIn. With the increasing presence of social networking, it’s so easy to just ask for a business card! You never know when you may need that person’s help in the future. I will always remember the importance of networking to help my future career and personal life, in general.

3) Go global.

With more and more companies outsourcing to other countries, business students should remember that they should always adopt a global perspective, rather than a limited outlook. We might start off working as analysts in California, but who knows, one day, we might be transferred to France or China! This is why it is so important to speak different languages and master global customs. I am lucky that I speak three different languages (English, Chinese, Japanese), which will definitely aid me in the future! I should continue learning about various global customs to ensure that I am a global businesswoman.

Though these were the three main lessons I took away from the GLP trip to Beijing and Shanghai, I also learned the importance of listening to what Professors Voigt and Geck instruct us, with regards to our curfew and wake-up time, of course! I will treasure this phenomenal GLP forever! I was one of lucky people to receive the GLP Summer Internship, so Asia, I’m coming back for you in 2 short months!

GLP love,

Charlene Shi

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— [Amy] Home is Where the Heart Is

It’s hard to believe that, just last week, I was packing my suitcase and getting ready to leave Shanghai, taking with me a week’s worth of unforgettable lessons and memories. I thought it would be best to make my last post a summary of the things I gained from my time in China. 

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I learned a lot about the importance of the Chinese market in a global business. China’s an emerging market with a LOT of growing opportunities, while the US economy’s growth is beginning to stagnate. I learned about the importance of understanding your clients, particular if their culture differs from yours. Chinese non-durable consumption, for example, is very focused on the short-term, while US non-durable consumption is very focused on the long-term, due to the differences in living standards and styles.

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It was also a great personal learning experience for me. I experienced for the first time what it was like to travel abroad to not one, but two countries (we were in Korea for about 7 hours total for layovers, haha)! I got to see how people lived their daily lives in China by exploring Beijing Park and the Silk Market. And it was really awe-inspiring to finally visit the place my ancestors came from.

The entire trip, I was so excited. :] Hopefully I’ll be able to go back in the future, whether it be to study or for leisure. But for now, I’m going to focus on recovering from jet lag. Until next time, everyone! 再见!

Always, 

Amy Chau :]

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— Shanghai: a city that never sleeps - Ling Zeng

It’s been almost a week since we left China, but right now, my experience in China feels so surreal. I got back to USC Sunday afternoon, exhausted and ready to crash, but if I could go back to last week and change anything about my experience, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. I loved every waking (and the few sleeping) moment of it.

Here’s the breakdown of what happened in Shanghai.

So we arrived at the airport in Pudong on Sunday morning and took a bus over to our hotel in Puxi. It was called the Sofitel and was located right on Nanjing Road, which is conveniently the main shopping street of Shanghai. I just want to say thank you to the GLP planners for putting us right in the middle of the vibrant life in Shanghai! :) After we had checked in and put our stuff in our rooms, we were off for some sightseeing with David, our guide in Shanghai. We first visited the Jade Buddha temple, which was very serene and peaceful. While we were there, we saw monks and other natives holding incense sticks and praying. Afterwards, we visited a Shanghai garden that had a traditional Chinese layout with cute covered walkways and red pillars. It was refreshing to see the cultural side of Shanghai that contrasted so sharply with the bright lights and skyscrapers of modern Shanghai. Lastly, David took us to Cheng Huang Miao (the City God Temple), which he referred to as the “Chinatown” of Shanghai. It was in a large temple-like complex that had many little antique shops we could shop at.

That night we had a lovely hosted dinner with some USC alumni in Shanghai at a restaurant called Lost Heaven. The ambience was lovely and the food, which was Asian-Western fusion, was absolutely delicious! I got to talk to four different USC alums - Jeff, Amy, Connie, and Joe - who were all incredibly fascinating and interesting people. Many of them told us how they had not expected to come to Shanghai to live/work, but were pleasantly surprised to find how supportive the Trojan family was there. They worked in a variety of different fields - from finance to banking to entertainment - Connie told us about how she was busy planning the very first Taylor Swift tour in Asia! What they all agreed on was how fast-paced life is in Shanghai; the city never sleeps and never stops growing, and being able to survive in a city like Shanghai was all about learning to adapt and adjust quickly to changing environments.

On Monday, we started our company tours. The very first one was at Carrier of United Technologies, a multinational technology company that offers products and services in commercial building and aerospace industries. It was very neat to hear company representatives talk to us about how they manage their business operations in China and how they are encouraging environmental sustainability in a rapidly developing China.

Our next visit was one of my favorites: it was at SC Johnson, and we got to hear from the general manager of all the Asian branches of SC Johnson. What I loved about his presentation was how candid and frank he was with us about businesses sometimes making mistakes but learning to bounce back to a firm established set of ethics and values. For SC Johnson, their main advantage was their brand appeal and quality; they could not compete with locals on price or other subtle methodologies, so what they did was focus on how they can bring quality to their consumers. The manager talked about how one of the challenges that SC Johnson faced in China was cultural barriers. Eastern cultures are more long-term oriented - for example, Chinese people tend to spend less now to save for the future - so certain products, such as cleaning goods, did not sell too well initially. What SC Johnson needed to do was find a way to market their goods to their Chinese consumers that differed from their marketing strategies with Western consumers.

Our last company visit of the day was at HSBC (a global bank started in Hong Kong and Shanghai), which is located on the Bund. We were taken up to the 38th floor of their corporate building and into a meeting room with a clear panoramic window view of the Bund and downtown Shanghai. The view was breathtaking, but the presentation was phenomenal as well. The company representative was a guy called Daryl, who was head of strategic planning/operations, and he walked us through HSBC’s development on a global level. What I found interesting was how competitive the nature of banking is; as big as HSBC is in Asia, it accounts for only about 0.2% of the market share in Asia! And it is by far the largest bank in Asia…

After our company visits for the day, many of us GLP-ers decided to go up to the Bottle-Opener building on the Bund (or more professionally known as the Shanghai World Financial Center), so named because of shape of the skyscraper resembles a bottle opener. It is a whopping 101 stories tall! We rode the elevator at lightning speed up to the 97th floor, which is where the glass skywalk is. On the 97th floor, I got to see the Shanghai skyline glow in the night sky. Right in front of the window on one side was the Pearl Tower, a high-rising TV tower with pink “sequins” on its outside that rises to a point. I spent a good 45 minutes up there, such taking pictures and admiring the view before the rest of the group dragged me down. Afterwards, we got dinner at Din Tai Fung, where we ate famous Shanghai XiaoLongBao, or soup dumplings with pork inside.

The next day, we were up and at it again starting from 6 am! Breakfast at the Sofitel, which I forgot to mention before, was delicious as usual (they had Western and Asian options), and we were off to Volvo for our first company visit of the day! Turns out we were all wrong about Volvo manufacturing cars, because the company representative with us explicitly told us that Volvo did NOT make cars, but made trucks and other types of agricultural machinery (oops…). We also got a tour of the manufacturing facility where we got to see Volvo workers assemble machinery parts.

Next, we visited Eaton, which is a power management company. My main take-away from that visit was the importance of a business to have a clear set of ethics to stick to and to conduct business with integrity. Our last company visit in Shanghai was at Philips, where we were offered a complimentary lunch meal. I got the noodle soup, which was so delicious it made me want to work at Philips in the future! :) Philips is a diversified technology company that is divided into three areas: Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle, and Lighting. It is a company that stresses creativity and innovation, and told us that those were some of the qualities that they seek for in their employees.

After the company visits, we were taken to a market place where we could buy stuff and practice our bargaining skills. This was actually an exercise for us future business leaders in negotiation, which is a skill we all need to develop and hone in order to negotiate salaries and deals in the future. I ended up buying two bags after bargaining it down to a price I was ok with. Not only did I find the bargaining game to be fun, but I also learned how to better negotiate by first identifying who the person you are negotiating with is and what their motives are.

And just like that, we were back at the Sofitel, changing out of our business attire into comfy clothes for the train and doing our last-minute packing before we hit the station for our overnight ride to Beijing!

Shanghai is a very industrialized, commercialized, westernized, and modern city, just like I had expected. But another thing that all the company visits showed me was how fast-paced it was. I vividly remember the manager at SC Johnson telling us that what takes the U.S. six or seven years to go through takes Shanghai less than one year - that’s how fast the city grows. To be able to conduct business in an environment in Shanghai takes guts; you either like it or you don’t, there is no in between. It is a test of your will power and endurance - can you adapt to the fast-paced life of Shanghai? Because it certainly won’t wait for you.

Goodbye Shanghai, for now. I have no doubt that I will be back sometime in the future (possibly the near future).

-Ling Zeng

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— Bye Shanghai. I’ll Miss You - Charlene Shi

So I just got back to LA… I can definitely say I won’t miss the pollution, squatter bathrooms, and lack of toilet paper in China. But I will for sure miss Spring Break and all the memories I’ve made in China!

This post will be pretty picture-heavy, as I now have reliable internet at USC! These pictures are mostly stolen from my friends…so PC to Katie Hamm, Julia Zhao, JD Kumala, Amy Chau.

My friends and I enjoying very cheap and delicious Beef Noodle Soup.

Look at that incredible view of the Shanghai skyline!

In front of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower

And of course, we had to do the Voigt mustache.

Karaoke (KTV) with the gang

Green Tea Mousse at Pizza Hut….so delish.

The gang again!

Airplane food from Shanghai to Incheon

Airplane food from Incheon to LA

Stay tuned for one final post sometime this week!

GLP love,

Charlene Shi

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— Crunchy Scorpions and Company Visits - Charlene Shi

Day 6 Update

Hello to my lovely readers!

I’m currently writing this on 3/22 6:38pm, which is the last night I have on this GLP trip! I can’t believe this week is already over and my flight is in 15 hours! This was truly one of the most memorable, enriching experiences ever. I think I’m leaving my heart in Shanghai…

My last update was Day 3, so I’ll start from Wednesday, 3/19. We met up with the Shanghai-Beijing Group (Team 1) and we visited the Great Wall. This was my 2nd time there, and let me say, it was still as much of a trek as it was last time!

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Since it was drizzling slightly, the toboggans were not operating, which disappointed everyone…however, the cable cars really offered an amazing view of the gorgeous rural Chinese skyline.

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Next, we toured the Forbidden City and learned about some brief history. Of course, we listened to several stories about the many concubines of the emperor.

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After that, we went to Wangfujing Street. This was a very eclectic amalgamation of various delicacies (?), from gizzards to sea creatures to insects.

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Since our many GLP speakers have told us to get out of our comfort zone, I thought that this would be the best opportunity to do so. Guess what I ate??!! Let me give you a few hints…it was the size of my entire hand, black, with gigantic claws. A SCORPION. YES. I know, I can’t believe it either. My friend and I decided to split the scorpion, but when I took the first bite, I managed to pull the entire scorpion off the stick. The head of the scorpion was in my mouth but the remaining was hanging out of my mouth!!! It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

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I flailed for a few seconds before my friend decided to start eating from the bottom. The scorpion was extraordinarily crunchy and had been seasoned with salt, so I didn’t even think that I was consuming a large scorpion. Wow, I still don’t know how I did that. I also enjoyed a seastar, and that was actually pretty delicious! I ate an entire leg, and it tasted just like fish. All the pictures of me consuming these two strange items are on other people’s phones, so I’ll post them on my next blog post! Reflecting on this leap of faith, I realized that business people often have to take risks and leave their comfort zones. This was just a small taste of what I may be doing in the future (not eating scorpions of course!). I’m very glad I was courageous and adventurous enough to try scorpion! My friends and I also sampled a starfish, and it just tasted like fish…pretty boring.

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After that, both Team 1 and 2 enjoyed a very fancy banquet dinner with duck! Honestly, duck is not one of my favorite dishes, but I really like duck tacos for some odd reason. I think it’s just because of my affinity for tacos LOL. We then embarked on a 12-hour train ride from Beijing to Shanghai. I was expecting a cramped space and bumpy ride, but to my surprise, I had a very good night’s rest. Four of us shared a relatively small room with 2 sets of bunk beds, and all the people in the cabin shared a restroom. The next morning, we arrived in SHANGHAI! On Thursday, we toured AEG, 3M, and SJS. Friday, we listened to guest speaker Joe Johnson, and toured Schindler and Markor.

Now for a recap of all the companies we visited in Shanghai.

My favorites were:

SJS – SJS/Hippo Animation, founded by Kerr Xu, is about to be the next Pixar or Disney. Mr. Xu has an extraordinary passion for animation. Business student turned director, he gave us a tour of his studio and let us see a few of his outstanding animation works. He really inspired me to follow my dream in the future, even if I have to make large sacrifices.
AEG – AEG was exactly the company that I did the presentation on, so naturally, I was excited even before we visited. The two managers gave us a backstage tour of the Mercedes-Benz arena, including the stage area, NBA locker room, Heineken suite, and Mercedes suite. I enjoyed learning about the varying consumer preferences in terms of entertainment between China and the US. This would be a great company to intern!

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Other companies we visited:

3M – Known for their school supplies, 3M is an innovative company constantly striding to make the world a better place. Our tour guide showed us very 3M innovations to save energy. For instance, one of the window panes could save roughly 30000 RMB a year! How impressive is that! Like Hyundai, 3M is very conscious about their ecological footprint. I think 3M is commendable for not only focusing on manufacturing the highest quality supplies, but also working to save the environment! We enjoyed the interactive environment, where we could test the various objects. One that was very funny was a large gong-like bell. Professor Voigt banged the regular one, which created a very large noise, but when he hit the other one, the sound was greatly muffled. Why? Because the second one had a 3M object on the back, which diminished the sound and echo. Professor Voigt had so much fun with that one that he repeatedly hit it!

Schindler – As one of the world’s premiere elevator companies, Schindler is also famous for their escalators. I was most impressed by the artificial intelligence that they had been working on. How cool is an elevator that can predict your elevator route using an algorithm to map out your past routes? Though I do have to admit that this could be a bit overbearing and Big Brother like at some times, imagine how much time you could save! We also walked along their anti-skid walkways, where we could compare the slipperiness between their and normal ones. I think it’s great that companies like Schindler are constantly finding ways to improve their product.

Markor – Our last visit was Markor furniture, which is traditional American furniture targeted at the Chinee market. The Chief Operating Officer is one of of Professor Voigt’s long-time Kiwi (New Zealand) friends, and beside being an incredible public speaker, she was such a warm-natured person. Most importantly, she showed everyone that she was a woman of power in such a male-dominated job. She had broken the glass ceiling so many times. In the future, I hope that I can achieve as much as she has!

As this is the last night in Shanghai, my friends are getting ready to go to a fancy dinner and KTV (karaoke). This has been an incredible week, and like Voigt advised, we’re not sleeping tonight. After all, we can sleep on the fight back to Cali! Next post will be a reflective post, complete with all the pictures that are lacking from this one! See you soon, Los Angeles!

GLP love,

Charlene Shi

*PC: Julia Zhao, Paul Jung, Michelle Huang, Gunho Jang

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— Shanghai Shenanigans- Zoe Willis
My time in Shanghai was amazing! After a long (and cramped) overnight train ride from Beijing, we arrived early Thursday morning to start our new adventure in Shanghai. Right off the bat I fell in love with the city. While I enjoyed Beijing, Shanghai definitely possessed much more of an urban, city feel which I personally love. As soon as we got off the train, we had a quick 15 minutes to find breakfast before our meeting with AEG China. Luckily there were plenty of options outside the train station and I got yummy curry (this time without cheese!)

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After breakfast, we headed to the Mercedes Benz Arena. We were greeted by three AEG China executives who were more than happy to show us around their massive arena. As a concert junkie, I literally have a list of my personal favorite arenas, and this one definitely makes the top five. I was so impressed by all it has to offer! There’s an ice skating rink, movie theater, music club, and mall all inside the arena! On the tour we got to see the suites, NBA locker rooms, and a 360 degree show being loaded in.

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Photo credit to Katie Hamm

The best part for me however was speaking with the AEG executives and learning how vastly different the entertainment industry is in China. One difference is that promoters handle ticketing for concerts opposed to a company like Ticketmaster, which is how it is done in the US. Also, a lot of times venues are constructed in China for one large event and therefore not built in a manner that allows various types of shows and sports to come through. An example of this is the Bird’s Nest in Shanghai. It was explained to us that in the US most arenas follow a standard which allows concerts to tour with the same production set up, but this is not the case for most venues in China. Another difference is that at the Mercedes Benz Arena, they mostly host concerts and not as many sports. Overall I was really impressed with AEG and interested by the stark differences between entertainment there and  in the US.

Throughout our time in Shanghai we also visited 3M, Schindler Elevators & Escalators, Markor Furnishing, and SJS Animation. At 3M I was really impressed by the wide array of products they make. They sell over 55,000 different products ranging from Scotch tape to air filters. They spoke a lot about wanting to be innovative and shared that they’re working on a new system to give vaccines. SJS Animation was particularly impressive for me. Going into it, none of us knew anything about the company other than the fact that they deal with animation. As soon as we were introduced to the company’s CEO Kerr Xu, I knew it was going to be a great visit! Kerr explained that he originally went to school for business, but after a few years into his career he decided that film was his passion. He actually came to USC, bought 40 books that made up the SCA curriculum and taught himself! I was inspired by his drive and passion. I’ve never heard of anyone that’s done anything like that! He personally showed us some of the films he’s working on and around their offices. What makes SJS stand out is that they produce animation films for far less that studios in the US do. This makes the films a lot more likely to bring in more revenue. Kerr was one of the most energetic and optimistic people I’ve ever met, and I am sure his company will continue to excel in the future.

Outside of the company visits, exploring Shanghai was a blast! The first day in Shanghai, all of Group 2 went to the Shanghai World Financial Center, also known as the “Bottle Opener”. When it was built, it was the second tallest building in the world! We got the amazing opportunity to go to the top of this immensely tall building. The elevator ride itself felt like forever. My ears actually kept popping from the change in altitude! The view from the observation level was stunning. There was only skyscrapers for as far into the horizon as I could see. It was then that I realized just how urbanized China, and Shanghai specifically, are becoming.

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On our free day, I set off in a group to explore all that Shanghai has to offer. After some walking and a taxi ride, we made it to the City God Temple. The architecture was amazing, and the statues were so intricate. It’s so neat that China can be so advanced and urbanized, yet still so rich in culture at the same time.

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After exploring the City God Temple, we went through the Yu Garden. There were numerous buildings, ponds, and of course foliage. I really enjoyed the serenity of the garden as the area surrounding it was so busy and densely packed with tourists.

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And of course, before we left, we had to try food! We checked out a recommended dumpling place which did not disappoint!

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An eventful taxi trip got Paula, Sara and I separated from the rest of the group, but we didn’t let that stop us from exploring the city. After a yummy lunch at Celeb de Tomato at the base of the Shanghai World Financial Center, we set off to the Oriental Pearl Tower. The line in itself was where we spent most of our time! The funniest part was this group of kids that for some reason thought the three of us were super entertaining. They kept pointing and talking about us, but of course we couldn’t understand their Chinese. After about an hour in line we got the chance to go up the elevators and check out the view. Being from Washington it really reminded me of the Space Needle, but I have to say the view was even better! The neatest part was the glass floor that comprised the 360 degree observation deck. It was a tad daunting at first to look down and see just how high up we were, but the view was like nothing I had ever seen before.

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After a quick dinner and some downtime at the hotel, I went out with a group to explore the nightlife that Shanghai was to offer. The hardest part was communicating with the taxi drivers despite the language barrier, but luckily we got the addresses of where we wanted to go written in Chinese. I’m really going to miss Shanghai and all of the wonderful adventures I’ve gone on here with other GLPers. What I love about Shanghai is the diverse experiences and places it has to offer. No matter what you’re into, Shanghai most likely has it!

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— [Amy] On the Ocean

The last few days have been both so amazing and exhausting. After visiting the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square on Wednesday with the entire GLP class, Team 2 hopped onto the overnight train to Shanghai, the city “On the Ocean”. After company visits that night, a few friends and I explored Nanjinglu, buying from the vendors in the busy area around our hotel. 

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We found a few vendors selling Shengjian Bao, Xiaolong Bao, and my personal favorite— Egg Custard Tarts.

On our last day of company visits, in between meetings, Professor Voigt allowed a few of us to visit the Shanghai Financial Center, known for its incredible height and beautiful view of the city. We were extremely lucky because, unlike earlier in the week, the weather in Shanghai that day was absolutely perfect. The sky was relatively clear, giving us a breathtaking view of the city from near the top of the 101-story building. 

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Later that night, after our fun dinner with Joe Johnson, a USC Alumni and former student of Professor Voigt, we all took a nighttime walk along the Bund. The city of Shanghai is pretty during the day, but at night, with all of the buildings lit up and the moonlight shining upon the water, the city is absolutely beautiful. 

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Today, Saturday, March 22nd, we had our free day. One of my friends, Gregg, planned out an itinerary for a full-day adventure to Qibao, a popular water town outside of Shanghai, and to Tianzifang, a series of small labyrinthine alleyways known for its small arts and crafts stores and coffee shops. After about one and a half to two hours of subway lines, my friends and I made it to Qibao. We walked around the small shops surrounding the area before meeting up with another group of GLP classmates and making our way to the river. 

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Qibao was filled with both tourists and locals, but the long journey and unnerving crowds were worth it. 

We couldn’t stay in Qibao (七宝) for very long, as we wanted to visit Tianzifang (田子坊) and be back at the hotel in time for dinner, so we made our way to the arts and crafts enclave and were absolutely blown away by the beauty of the area. Tianzifang’s narrow streets, lined with small shops on either side, were easy to get lost in, both physically and mentally. We explored the shops, searching for gifts and keepsakes, and when it was time to leave, I was sorely tempted to stay behind and continue wandering its passages. 

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After an extremely long, but rewarding day, my friends and I had dinner together at the fanciest Pizza Hut I have ever set foot in. The menu had appetizers, pasta, rice, steak, cheesecake, ice cream cake, and brownies, among many other foods, listed, and although dinner was more expensive than what I was used to paying in China, the food was delicious. 

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We finished off the night at a Karaoke place right next door to the hotel. At the moment, I’m sitting in my hotel room at 3:30am, the morning of our flight back to Los Angeles, packing the rest of my belongings into my suitcase. It’s hard to believe that Spring Break is almost over, that our time in China is nearly coming to an end. It feels like just yesterday we were boarding the plane to Incheon, ready to experience China in a way none of us have before. But as always, all great things must come to an end; however, I plan to return to China someday in the future, whether it be for business, education, or leisure. I will return someday. That’s a promise I want to keep, a challenge for myself. In a couple of hours, we’ll be taking taxis to the Bund to watch the sunrise. I honestly can’t think of a better conclusion to our time in China. Like the sun, all great journeys will set. But at the break of dawn, another will rise to take its place, and the cycle only continues. Our journey with GLP is beginning to set, and I look forward to seeing what new journey will rise after it. 

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— Shanghai Adventures- Taylor Serafin

After 2 flights and 15 hours of travel, we finally made it to Shanghai on Sunday. After we landed, we quickly went to the baggage claim and carried our bags to the bus waiting for us outside. It was so cool to see our tour guide, David, standing outside of the airport with a sign that read “USC Global Leadership Program.” We followed him onto our tour bus and officially began our trip to China.

Once we arrived at the hotel, we had a short period of time where we could freshen up from the flight and get food before we went sightseeing as a group. Taking advantage of this time, a couple of other GLP-ers and I went to a small little dumpling place right outside of the hotel. Not a single one of us knew how to speak Mandarin; therefore, ordering our food easily became the hardest thing we had to learn to do. We eventually figured that pointing to the name of the food we wanted on the menu was the most efficient way to order. The dumplings and noodles tasted so good, and what made them better was that the entire meal split between four people cost only about twelve U.S. dollars!

After lunch, we joined the rest of Team 1, or the group of students who traveled to Shanghai first, on the tour bus to go sightseeing.  We went to the Yu Garden, which was absolutely beautiful. The Chinese architecture of the buildings in it was so amazing to look at in person. Also, the plants were really green and beautiful to see. Our chaperones repeatedly had to tell everyone to hurry up because we all wanted to take pictures in the garden.

From the garden, we went into a street market where there was no such thing as window-shopping. Every vendor yells at you to stop and look at their items for sale. When you do stop, they closely watch you look at things and try to get you to buy more. Besides ordering food, another hard thing to learn in China was how to haggle with the street vendors. The price they tell you for an item is generally a tenth more than you should be paying. Once the vendors recognized us as foreigners, they immediately set the prices higher. If you have patience and know when to walk away, you can generally get the price you want to pay for something.

Later on in the night we went to the Bund, which was so cool to see. We went after a networking dinner and saw all of the buildings lit up. We had seen the buildings from almost every other direction prior, but nothing beat viewing them from the Bund. That view will definitely be in my head forever when I think of Shanghai. 

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