Reflections and Recovery - Zach Ameri
It’s hard for me to believe that it’s almost been two weeks since the days of scurrying around China in a suit and tie. I’ve come to realize that the trip meant more than just sight seeing and company visits. As I resume my daily life here at USC, I am constantly making comparisons to how different life was in China. Eating, sleeping, talking, even walking… although the global world is becoming more and more the same, when you go to another country everything is different, even if it’s just a little bit. And when you combine all those little differences, it becomes a total culture shock.
Takeaways from China… new perspectives on a LOT of things. It’s a cliche, but I appreciate little things so much more now. The feeling of sleeping in your own bed, having free time, a sense of awareness of the local area… being in control is such a comforting feeling. Which is why the trip was so valuable in the first place — being in China was tiring, intense, and a sensory overload. Now, I’m so much more comfortable in my daily life knowing that I was able to survive and thrive in China!
I loved the food, the sights, and the crazy experiences. But most of all, I’ve made a group of friends that will last a long time. The GLP group is one of the best I’ve met. And after sharing an experience like that, we’re all very close now. I couldn’t ask for more than that.
That sums it up for me. China is where it is at and will continue to be at. And probably where I’ll be at at some point in time in the future. So with that in mind… Until next time!
I can’t believe its already been 2 weeks!-Katherine Sun
It’s been two weeks since we’ve gotten back to SC and the GLP references are still non-stop. I had such a great time and am so sad now that we have gotten to know each other well and we don’t have class anymore :(
Although I wasn’t able to make class today (I’m in Michigan for a scholarship convention), I’m sure the presentations went super well! I’m looking forward to interviewing for the internship and hopefully going back to China this summer with this same amazing group of people.
I would not trade this experience for anything. The friendships we made, the inspiring leaders we met, and the culture shock was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and I’m so glad that I got to share it with everyone on the trip.
Amazing Trip! :) Now……can I have spring break? - Larissa Purnell
So, I’ve been back at school for a week and everyday I’ve had the opportunity to talk with friends and family about the awesome experience I had in China last week. The main thing I emphasized to everyone is my misconception of how companies choose to operate in China for cheap labor, but almost all of the companies we visited were actually there to sell their products and services to the Chinese market. Of course, aside from the business experience, I couldn’t leave out the fun activities like tobogganing down the Great Wall or dancing on tables at an Indian/Chinese Fusion Restaurant from my discussions.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have traded my spring break experience for anything, but I must admit that I am quite exhausted coming back to projects and midterms. This, along with my reminiscing mind has definitely kept me unfocused for the past few days. Slowly, but surely, though, I am getting back into the groove of school and the reality of work is setting in. One of the great motivations that keeps me going is the small acknowledgment moments I have with my fellow GLP-ers when I see them around campus because our exchange of smiles and waves is definitely a result of all of the adventures we experienced last week, as well as all of the struggles we face together coming back to school.
Blessings and Smiles,
Sights of Shanghai - Larissa Purnell
Bye Bye Shanghai! - Larissa Purnell
Though you may be an expert at riding on a subway or expo line, the experience is different every time you ride. From an observational standpoint, you see people of various cultures and backgrounds fill the seats, you hear the spectrum of stories about how people’s days were or what they’re planning to do. From a personal standpoint, you may feel squished to the point that your lungs can’t expand or you may be one of the few lonely people in that particular car with such a heightened awareness of your vulnerability that your stop can’t come fast enough. Maybe the subway is moving quickly, making the trip that much more valuable in sparing you loads of time, while other times it moves so slowly that each stop rips precious minutes away from your hectic schedule.
Though this description of public transport may seem random, it actually perfectly depicts my stay in Shanghai. Everyday was a different experience - I felt like I did almost everything from eating a lollipop the size of my head to karaoke-ing the night away. I remember hearing before I came to Shanghai that it was a “port importing diversity” and that is exactly what I found to be true! Although we were smack-dab-in-the-middle of a Chinese city, I constantly saw people of all different ethnicities and cultures. As far as space goes, I don’t think the concept of a “personal bubble” exists in Shanghai. Whether it is on the subway or on Nanjing Road in front of my hotel, at midnight or mid-day, Shanghai was teeming with people! However, one day when my group of friends explored a park within Shanghai, it was almost completely empty, except for a random stranger who followed us around until he had the chance to stop us and ask why we were in China….
In terms of timing, the company visits could have gone a little quicker, especially since I was always itching to go out and explore the city. Now that we’re leaving for Beijing, though, I feel like the time in Shanghai flew by way too fast!
Can I stay in Shanghai just a little bit longer, please?
Blessings and Smiles,
Shanghai -Katherine Sun
I saw the beautiful bright night lights of the Bund in the French Concession. I experienced my very first factory visit (if you ever have to go on one remember…no skirts or high heels!!)…and my second…and my third. I saw the a city of the future through the creation of PV solar cells, skyscrapers, and a bustling city full of native Chinese and expatriates from all over the world.
Every businessman and woman I met was so focused on their ambitions and many were already super successful at such young ages. However, I did notice many of the positions of power were filled not with locals, but with foreigners from Western countries such as the United States. Many of the businesses we visited told us about a talent gap in the baby boomer demographic due to the education system of the time and how talent is a very sought after commodity in China; leading to inflated salaries and extreme head-hunting.
Shanghai truly exemplifies the phrase “a city never sleeps.” There is always something to do no matter the time. Even late at night, the beautiful lights near our hotel meant that something was always open. One person even compared the area downtown near the Sofitel to Times Square. In comparison to Beijing, Shanghai is a baby; a city without ancient culture, instead driving full speed ahead into the future.
Shanghai Days, Shanghai Nights - Zach Ameri
At this very moment, I am sitting in my hotel room. I’ve seen ancient gardens, markets, factories, and the blazing lights of the city at night. Shanghai is the city of dreams, for sure. Everyone here is chasing their goals and trying to live their life to the fullest and that feeling gives a powerful energy to the city. I’ll touch on a few key points.
The city has people. More than 20 million. With that in mind, this place is packed. Everyone is trying to get their work done and also party hard, which means it’s a bit of a dog eat dog world out here. You really have to fend for yourself and stay with your friends so you can get around. The taxis are super fast and cheap, but you have to watch out for ripoffs and know exactly where you’re going. The shopping is cheap and plentiful, but you need to bargain down (I like to go 10% of their first offer) to make sure you’re getting a price that’s worth it. The companies we visit teach us what it’s really like to work in China, but also expect us to be world class visitors and ask hard questions. In the end, Shanghai is all about balance. It’s balance between giving and receiving, day and night, work and party.
One thing about Shanghai is the city style. If you’ve been to some American cities, LA to New York to Chicago to SF are all totally different types of places. Shanghai is no exception. Being the trade capital of China, Shanghai is home to massive and frequent highrises and beautiful architecture. Since it’s been built in just the last few decades (and will continue to be built for a few more, most likely), the buildings have very modern, intricate designs. There is a contrast between the clean, cool, and new versus the old, aging buildings. In some ways this is a parallel to the culture of China, which is rapidly modernizing with the younger generation while the elders cling on to tradition and an older time.
The last thing I’d like to point out is the food. This is a common argument between my friends and I, but I have to say Shanghai provides some of the best food you can find in China. My personal favorite and local delicacy is the soup buns — I’ll avoid attempting the Chinese word so I don’t butcher the language even more than I already do — which are simply bread buns with some pork or other meat inside. The trick is that they actually have a saucy soup inside that totally makes it taste different and excellent. Whether they inject the soup or somehow get it in the bun in another way is still a mystery to me, but these things are probably on my top 5 list of greatest guilty pleasure foods on Earth. I’m both incredibly sad yet somewhat relieved that they’re hard to find in America because that would just lead me to rapid soup bun consumption weight gain.
I’m exhausted from a long night out so I’ll end this short and sweet: Shanghai is an amazing city. It’s a city that doesn’t sleep. It doesn’t wait for anyone. It’s a little abrasive and can be a little scary. But if you want to follow your dreams, if you have a goal, if you are looking to the future… Shanghai is where you’ll find it.
The Shanghai Skyline from the Pu Xi side. This view sums up the essence of Shanghai: beautiful, soaring, and aggressively modern. Our time in Shanghai was a blur of incredible opportunities. Between visiting the multinational businesses and seeing the infamous Shanghai nightlife, our group had little time to regroup and reflect on the experience. Living it occupied all the energy we had.
Larissa Purnell - My Pre-Trip Explosion
Hello! My name is Larissa Purnell (some call me Smiley, some call me LarLar, also respond to SmileyLarLar) and I think it’s safe to say that the one word encompassing all of the emotions at this current moment is “explosion.” I’ve been mentally preparing for this trip to China all year, yet I don’t think anything could have prepared me for this week leading up to the trip. Last weekend, I had to say my goodbyes to my parents - it definitely was an emotional affair, considering I am an only child and I’ve never been more than 40 miles away from them for more than a weekend. Then, I returned to a week jam-packed with essays, projects, and midterms with no time to think about my trip to China.
It seems as though everyone is more excited about me going on this trip than I am. Don’t get me wrong, I have been day dreaming about this trip since my acceptance into the GLP program, but this week made me realize that thinking about the future isn’t always the best thing to do. Although I had my empty suitcase crying out to be stuffed with my business attire and guilty pleasure munchies, I knew I had to focus on what was happening this week - what would affect my grades that could potentially make or break possible opportunities I could have in the future.
So tonight, on the night before the big trip, instead of trying on possible outfits to wear in between company visits, I am determined to focus on studying for my midterm (while motivating my friend Heaven to study with me) and charge through tomorrow so that I can dream in peace on my plane ride to China.
Stay tuned for my next post - I promise I’ll have experienced enough to add some color to what you’ll be reading!
Blessings and Smiles,
Larissa Purnell :)
Return to Shanghai? | LA by Brianna Williams
Maybe! The best thing about the Global Leadership Program is the opportunity to return to China to intern in the summer. A number of lucky students are handpicked by the companies themselves to spend 2 months in their office! Of course I applied for this opportunity and am hoping that maybe I’ll be chosen.
As you know, I didn’t accomplish all that I wanted to in a single week. With packed schedules, there was an overwhelming amount of things to do and see. So, if I return to Shanghai (or Beijing), I am hoping to cross a few more adventures off of my list.
Since, I plan to learn Chinese over the summer, actually LIVING in the country would be really helpful. Also, becoming familiar with the business practices and expectations in Chinese firms at such a young age will be incredibly useful in the future.
I badly want some.