September 5, 2013
We only had an hour wait before we got priority access to board the bullet train because of our group size. We took over all of cart 7 and had luggage shoved in every open corner. Most people traveling on the train only have a carry-on bag but we each had our 50lb luggage, an over-sized carry on and laptop bags. Surprisingly, everything fit. The train was five hours long traveling at 200mph and we arrived in rainy Shanghai around 11pm. We were greeted by Jordan, our new IES coordinator and were transported to the hotel, another hour away. After checking in to the Ramada in Wujiaochang, I tried to unpack and make myself comfortable in our ridiculously small room. Failing, I went to sleep and promised tomorrow I would make myself at home.
September 6, 2013
Unable to sleep well I went to the gym at 7:30 to check out what I would be working with for the next month. The gym consisted of 2 treadmills and a bike, something but not much. Our first obligation of the day was a Welcome Lunch in the hotel at noon followed by another health and safety talk by IES. After the session we met our Fudan University mentors. Stephen was mine, Karan and Katie’s and we spent the day walking around Wujiaochang to Fudan and got a tour of the campus. After our lovely day together we went to dinner in the mall which was a little bit of a production, and three hours later we headed back for home. During dinner we asked Stephen if he had want to ask us anything about America and he asked if it is really like the movie American Pie. We tried not to laugh and to find a way to redeem America from the way it is horribly portrayed in the media. We explained how large America is and the differences between my hometown, Katie’s and where our school is. We talked about how there are many universities and that people party at a young age and hopefully grow up to be very hard workers. He had many more questions about America and was very thankful that we were honest and open with him. As a group we decided, on our first Friday night, tonight would be the perfect night to check out the town. We all went to the club Mint which had fish tanks with sharks in them, pretty awesome. It was a lot of fun going out as a group and the club was very luxurious. A lot of dancing and singing later we decided to call it a night.
September 7, 2013
Today was somewhat of a disaster to say the least. Our intention was to go on the Shanghai Big Red Bus Tour (hop-on hop-off) and this did not go as well as planned. We met up with our mentors at 9am and took the Metro into the city center. Wujiaochang is right off of Line 10 so we rode the Metro to the Peoples Square Exit then took line 2 to the start of the bus tour. The first location we got off of the bus was at the Bund, which is the lookout point on the water and gives an incredible view of the famous Shanghai Skyline- the Pearl Tower, Bottle opener, Citibank building and the new building that is currently under construction which will be the tallest building in China once it is completed. The Bund was nice to visit but the day was overly smoggy and the view was not as breathtaking as it would be on a clear day. After taking pictures at the Bund we walked about a mile struggling to find the next bus stop for us to hop back on. After stopping the bus in the middle of a three lane highway and all piling on, we continued on to end up at the same spot we had just got off and had to wait 30 minutes before the bus continued on. We then crossed the river and got off at the base of the Pearl Tower. My group separated from the rest for lunch because of dietary restrictions and we went to the mall for Pizza Hut. After spending another 20 minutes looking for Pizza Hut in the mall, we were forced to put our names on the waitlist and had another 30 minutes before we could get a table. For the next two hours of lunch I was in complete and utter shock. This was not only the fanciest Pizza Hut I have ever been to, if you had not known what restaurant you were in you would think it belonged in a four star hotel. The restaurant had one solid wall that was all glass and overlooked the Huangpu River. There were high ceilings, leather cushioned seats, and over two dozen waiters and waitresses. The menu was the size of a book, and the options were endless- steaks, pastas, pizzas, appetizers, desserts, frozen drinks and more. For simplicity I stuck with a plain pizza, which tasted identical to Pizza Hut pizza at home. When using a fork and knife to eat my pizza, Stephen was very confused and tried to imitate what I was doing. After a couple of moments of stumbling with his utensils he apologized for not knowing how to use them. He told us it was the first time he was using a fork and knife and to make him feel more comfortable we put ours down and just ate the pizza with our hands. After lunch we went to the Jin Mao Tower to go up to the observatory deck 88 floors up. The view was pretty spectacular, but the craziest part was looking out at the bottle opener and seeing people outside cleaning the windows at least 10 floors above us. In fear I looked away and continued to walk along to get a 360 view of the city. By this time it was 3pm and we were told we did not have enough time to go anywhere else; everyone was pretty frustrated with the lack of organization and complete chaos of the day that we just chose to go back to the Bund and hang out before the river cruise. At 5:30 we met back up and walked over to the Ferry Station, we were sure to get first in line for boarding and when everyone started running towards the boat we joined right in to assure we would get good seats. The boat was beautiful and had two large circular staircases in the entry way. We rushed up to the top floor and I was able to grab a large table that had 12 seats around it. Scavenging for more seats, we pulled more over and had the table reserved for when the rest of our group would join us. The city was sunning at night and the lighting on each of the buildings was incredible. Huge advertisements, rotating lights, shapes, all stretching across the sky scrapers. The boat ride put everyone at ease and was a great way to relax after the long and very unproductive day. When the boat docked at 8pm Mariette agreed to take a group of us to Tan Zi Fan for dinner. Little did we know that it would be impossible to hail a cab, we tried for over 45 minutes and then decided to instead take the metro to Xintandi and then walk. My most stressful experiences in China thus far has been involving taxi’s. First of all, they are nearly impossible to get. They do not turn off their green light when they have someone already in the car, sometimes they just do not feel like stopping, and most stop and then after looking at the address refuse to take us. When we finally do get into a cab, they rarely know where they are going and the fare is always double what it should be. We arrived at the restaurant around 10 and it was very quiet and cute. This was the first “America” restaurant we have gone too since arriving and it was strange to see the menu in English, and to see that they served mac n’ cheese, burgers, etc. After my delectable cheeseburger a group of us decided we were very tired and decided to go back while the rest decided to stay out and explore.
September 8, 2013
Today we were scheduled to meet with our mentors but because of yesterday’s disaster, professor and Mariette decided to give us the day off. Katie and I slept in a little and then wanted to finish our assignment that was due at night in case we did not come back early enough to submit it. While Katie was working on her assignment I decided to set out to find a Laundromat. I was able to negotiate the price down to 4 Yuan a piece but my suitcase full of clothes did not allow for this to be an inexpensive trip. At 1pm Katie was ready to leave and we took the metro to East Nanjing Road to find the green line for the bus. Unsuccessful, we went down to the Bund to get onto the Red line and then transfer later on in the route. By the time we got there it was 2:30 and I realize I forgot my bus ticket. I was able to convince the man to give me a free ticket but when we told him we were going to the temples he informed us they closed at 4pm and there was no way we would make it in time. Disappointed, we got Starbucks, thought about what to do now and instead decided to just go back to the Ramada. Therefore it was a very successful hour and a half trip to Starbucks.
At around 6pm I went to dinner with Sammy, Ryan and Professor Mulcahy at a very nice place in the food mall. Dinner was delicious and after we met everyone else at the Metro to go to Xintandi. Xintandi was a lovely area with cobblestone streets and little bars, cafes and restaurants and we just chose one to hang out in for a little and enjoy some fresh air.
September 9, 2013
Today was our officially the first China Entrepreneurship Class. When class ended at 12:30 we sprinted to our scallion pancake man and bun lady for lunch. A scallion pancake and two meat buns, lunch for $3, you can’t beat it! We ate our food on the walk back and made it just in time for Jon Andersons 1pm presentation. Class went later than planned and we just spent the night ordering delivery for dinner and doing homework as a group.
September 10, 2013
Today is the first day we had class at Fudan University. After class we had two guest speakers: Vince Kobler and Professor Yu Hai. Vince is a Babson alumnus and serial entrepreneur. He is currently the founder and CEO of Vince Wines delivering French wines to the Chinese consumer. After Vince’s presentation, Professor Yu Hai gave a presentation on Chinese Modern History from 1949. After getting through only 22 of his 72 slides in 2 hours we concluded the session with questions and were all thrilled to be done for the day. Cole, Kseniya, Nina and I went out to lunch to work on our group project and spent the afternoon putting together our initial presentation. After dinner as a group we went to Trivia at The Camel and had a great time. Both of our teams had an embarrassing amount of points but all that matters is that we had lots of laughs and a ton of fun.
September 11, 2013
We started the morning with a trip to the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum and had an hour guided tour of the museum. This museum was much larger than the Beijing Urban Planning Exhibition and had tons of interactive games and models. However, I enjoyed the Beijing museum more because it showed the old, current and future of Beijing and it was much more manageable and informative. After the museum we went back to the hotel and had five more hours of class.
September 12, 2013
Today we spent the day having class at Fudan and guest speaker Professor Wang Naixian came to speak about Starting a Business in China. Professor Naixian was very knowledgeable and had many years of experience in technology companies. His lecture concluded the class and we split for a short lunch before our Fudan Mixer. After lunch we met at the Tower building on Fudan’s Campus, the tallest campus building and went up to the Starry Sky Cafe. We were greeted by a dozen Fudan students and I had the pleasure of talking to Jasmine and Fiona. I spoke with Fiona for the majority of the time and she was just as interested in American culture as we were about Chinese. Only having traveled around China and to the United States once, she is the most traveled Chinese student I have met so far. She is studying Financial Economics at Fudan and was very curious about how college students have fun in America and what it is like having siblings. We asked her about what it was like to buy an apartment in China and what her thoughts are on the government, social media, and getting a job. She told us that she has 8 classes a day, from 8-5pm everyday and that some of her classes force her to give presentations in English to help prepare students for work. She is such a lovely person and we exchanged contact information with the hope to meet again if she ever visits New York again.
When the mixer ended we went back to the hotel to do homework assignments and nap. At 8pm all of the ladies in the group made our way to Bar Rouge, a rooftop lounge for Ladies night which had a fashion show and manicures. The bar was on the Bund and the view was absolutely incredible. The atmosphere was a little boring, and I was not able to see any of the fashion show. At 11pm all of the city lights turned off and the view of the skyline was no longer fascinating. Katie and I were exhausted and decided to call it a night.
September 13, 2013
This morning we did not have scheduled class time but we were required to conduct an ethnography exercise with our groups. Cole, Nina and Keseniya are in my group and we are observing the Real Estate market to find an opportunity space to develop our idea and develop the idea for a potential business. We observed a number of Real Estate brokerages and recorded the responses to the metrics we had agreed upon. We were observing who was walking past the firm, who stopped in, what they were wearing, how long they were there and what the relationship of the agents were and what their behavior was like. All of the firms we observed were local agencies except for one Century 21 which had the most traffic and employed agents. After we were satisfied with our results we headed back to compile our observations and develop our presentation to the class. In the afternoon we all came together for more class to debrief the mornings exercise and to furthur develop our idea space. We made a triangle chart of grounded ideas, middle ground ideas and spacey ideas. By the end of the day we decided to think about this further over the weekend and on Monday we would revisit with a fresh mind.
September 14, 2013
Today was a scheduled free day but instead the majority of the class decided to participate in a “focus group” for Tomas Barros Froes at his new Scioko location. Tomas is another Babson alumnus from Babson and he has built a restaurant chain selling Portuguese sausages. We visited the space of his third location that was having its grand opening this evening. So we went for lunch to share our thoughts on the location and his product. Like always in China, there were a couple of unexpected delays. First, after a while searching, we were not able to find the store front. After giving him a call we were given directions and finally made it but when we did he was locked out of the space and he needed to wait for the landlord. We parked ourselves in a cafe to wait and when he called us to share the good news that he was let in we all flew to our feet and were ecstatic. When we were let in we were informed that the air-conditioning was not being turned on and we were all extremely warm. We sadly were only given a limited menu of a choice between two sausages but 30 minutes later the production was underway and dogs were flying out. When Tomas was conducting his market research before opening this shop he learned that 1. Chinese love sausage 2. The Chinese do not like touching their food with their hands. To remedy this, the sausage is served in a box with a plastic glove. This allows for there to be a minimal amount of mess and preserves the hand in its full cleanliness form. After we were all stuffed we had to make our way back to the hotel to get ready for the Babson Shanghai Alumni Chapter dinner that was being hosted for us. At 5:15pm we met in the lobby and took the bus to Crystal Jade in the Takachimaya Mall in West Shanghai. Fred Kiang hosted the dinner and the food and conversation were wonderful. We were given beautiful Babson decorative glasses and a paperweights as gifts. It was really awesome again seeing the true international pull and enthusiasm Babson instills in its students and alumni. After dinner the bus dropped us off in the city center so we could go out as a group to celebrate Sammy’s 20th birthday.
September 15, 2013
Thankfully today was a free day because it allowed me to get ahead on some homework assignments and to catch up on rest. I was able to prepare myself for the week, do some laundry and other housekeeping items I needed to get done.