Post-Trip Thoughts

 

First off, it has been awesome reading my classmates’ posts about their trip and hearing some of their reflections and thoughts about the various aspects of the trip. I really enjoyed experiencing this incredible, life-changing trip across the world with them. The knowledge and insights I gained on this trip could not have been gained in the classroom, and I cannot emphasize that fact enough.

As I mentioned in past posts, one aspect of the Chinese culture that I found most interesting and slightly surprising was how superficial they were. I knew that the Chinese people were more superficial than most, however I did not really realize how much about the “show” they were. For example, the shopping malls there are incredibly extravagant. The most popular brands there are some of the most exclusive brands in the world. These brands all have pretty large logos, and all of their merchandise has that logo on it (obviously). It is extremely important to the people that their peers see that they have a Louie Vuitton bag or an Audi A8. Also, another small thing I noticed was that almost every entrance, even a private driveway by the airport for the president, is extremely extravagant so that people KNOW that the entrance is for someone greater than them. It says quite a bit about the Chinese culture. There is no true sense of individuality, as these extravagant things are what define who you are in the culture. These things represent how successful you are in your career, which is the true value you bring to the world. Now, don’t get me wrong, Americans are very superficial as well and we have plenty of cultural issues. However, this trip to China has showed me what true superficiality and what it’s true deeper meaning is to some cultures.

Also, as all of you know, it is extremely hard to miss the talks of China in the news right now. I read an incredibly interesting article today in the New York Times that I strongly would recommend you read. It is one of the best articles I have read this summer, and is the best article I have read on this issue. See the link below!

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/18/business/international/chinas-devaluation-of-its-currency-was-a-call-to-action.html

It was clear that the country needed to give the currency more flexibility and to reinvigorate exports. If officials did not act, China risked deeper turmoil at home, threatening the stability of the government. I find this especially interesting since there was so much talk about this issue on our trip. I find it even more interesting because none of the officials we asked about this issue were open to discussing or admitting that they thought China intentionally devalued the currency. The article is really a great read, and includes some really great graphics to explain the situation, so please let me know you thoughts, as I am sure I would learn plenty!

Now that the trip is over, I still am continuing to read up on Chinese culture and business issues on that side of the pacific. I really would like to go back and stay for a longer period of time to learn even more about their culture and the corporate business environment there. There is still so much for me to learn and I cannot wait to tackle that mountain. Thanks for a great trip everybody!

Our Time at Fudan University

In all honesty, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect out of the US-China Student Summit as we got closer and closer to the actual dates of the summit. I wasn’t sure how enjoyable it would be and I had no idea what I would learn from the two days. Now that I look back on it and that the summit is all over now, I would not say it was the most insightful aspect of the trip. I can easily name four other outings we did as a group in which I learned more. That being said, going through the activities with the Chinese students and interacting with them in an extremely casual manner was an experience I will remember forever. Teaching some of the brilliant students American slang and learning Chinese slang was extremely funny. There are certain phrases we say (especially in California), that we don’t even think about twice when we say them. I know that the point I am making here but it really helped me fully understand what cultural relativism is. This, obviously, is only an extremely small example of this concept.
At the summit, we did not go as in depth into business differences in US and China as I would have liked. However, understanding how the students and how the Chinese people think is a skill I would never have learned without this trip/this summit. It is one thing to speak the language of Mandarin, but to really understand the culture and be able to connect with the people is a whole different “beast”, so to speak.
As Tala mentioned in her recent post, I also found that the students had a difficult time opening up about even the smallest topics. They were a bit scared to share the opinions about social issues, gender differences, etc. I know it sounds typical, but any government issues that the American students brought up, they did not want to discuss at all. They wanted nothing to do with those types of conversations. It really made me think about how I, personally, share my opinions in a new perspective.
In regards to the various speakers and panels at the conference, I was, the most impressed with the consulate general. The points he brought up from an American perspective were pretty interesting to me. They were pretty similar to the points we had heard for the entire 10 days were in China. However, I remember I was

HSBC and the US Consulate

Our information session at HSBC was one of my favorite parts of the trip thus far. First off, I knew they were a dominating corporation in the space, but I did not realize how HUGE of an international presence they had (all around the globe.) Obviously Shanghai and Honk Kong are extremely large markets for them, so I was interested to hear about their operations in those cities more specifically. For the purpose of this class, I was even more specifically interested in learning about the extent of government control in the banking space and how it effects their operations. By far, the biggest control issue that stuck out to me is the HSBC’s ability to work with client’s assets in other countries. Every single lending transaction is checked and regulated for government records. Generally speaking too, the banks also all abide by specified government rates as well, which is different than in the US.

Tala asked the speakers if they believed that the government intentionally lowers the value of the Chinese Yuan. The woman had a very generic and, almost political answer. China has been accused of keeping the yuan undervalued and buying up various other foreign currencies. Doing so is a huge boost for manufacturers and for various other businesses in China as well. Doing this increases economic development in China. However, she was not able to really discuss that at all with us it seemed. Overall, I really enjoyed the various insights at this metting. It really gave me even more motivation to add an international business emphasis.

As for the consulate, I had a great time there as well. The two speakers were extremely nice and open to all of our questions. However, many were asking questions that they were not truly able to answer. This meeting is really when I began understanding the importance of the relationship between China and the US and how many countries rely on it in order to grow. Shlomi reminded me of an old African proverb that was said during the trip about their relationship: “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most”.

 

Both the US and the Chinese realize that each of their economies could not live without each other. For that reason, the relationship is continuing to grow. The Chinese are beginning to respect and adhere to copyright issues that have been a problem in the relationship in the past, and the Americans are making improvements as well. Cultural relativism plays a huge role in this relationship, as it does with most. Both sides understand the importance of that when developing and creating new policies (and in doing business.)

CU Conquered Beijing

CU Conquered Beijing
Hi Again Everyone,
It’s seems cliché, but it’s crazy to actually think our time in Beijing is actually already over. The amount of culture that we have just been able to soak in has been incredible. In this post, I am going to go ahead and touch on some key points from my last post and from our time in Beijing.

About the culture, one of the biggest things I have noticed so far about the people has been the fact that the people are much more straight forward in even every day conversations then we have in the US. People talk with quite a bit of emotion and force, if that makes any sense. I feel like that trait has a huge impact on business as a whole in China. In America, we end to BS our way a bit and have quite a bit of small talk in most of our human interactions. This isn’t really deep insight by any means, but it is just something I noticed in regards to the culture in China during our time in Beijing. Also (another minor point), on the streets that we visited on our free day, Igot a very warm feeling from the culture, unlike anything I have felt in the US.

Part of our assignment: I went into 2 American chains while in Beijing, Burger King and Starbucks. First, I will touch on Burger King and its differences than those in the US. Overall, it seemed very similar to any Burger King in the US. They obviously had some different menu items (as they do in any country), but nothing was too different. The menu seemed a bit more out of the ordinary from any menu I have seen in the past (ie, pepperoni on a burger, etc). The price was actually a bit lower than in the States as well. The customer service was also just as warm in the US. I expected it to be a bit cold but they were very nice. The store layout and design was pretty typical, and there was nothing that really surprised me about my experience.

The second chain I visited was Starbucks. This was also pretty identical to any Starbucks I have ever been to. The customer service was very good, like in the States. However they had some different menu options as well. It was a more diverse menu than Burger King had. Sweet dumplings, many more teas, etc are some of different things that you don’t usually see in the US that were unique to China. It seemed a bit pricey, however. The sizes were smaller than they are in the US, but the price was a bit more, which was a bit odd to me. They sold the same Kenyan beans on the shelf that I see in a Starbucks in Orange, though. I thought that was pretty interesting.

We haven’t been exposed to too much of the business environment thus far in China, so I am really looking forward to doing so in Shanghai. We have a ton of business experiences on our itinerary coming up, so I am looking forward to giving a little more insightful post next!

Thoughts on China Over the Pacific

Hi Everyone,

It is a bit hard to believe that this trip is actually upon us. Coming in the middle of finals week, it was a bit difficult to think much about, which is a bit different since we are traveling across the world. So, it just really hit me, as we were in LAX at 4:30 this morning, that we are embarking on a, hopefully, eye opening journey.

Over the past 8 years or so, growing up as a student here in the US, it has been hard to avoid the hype that “China is the future,etc…”. Now that I have completed some of my undergrad at Chapman, obviously I have been able to gain a deeper knowledge about the true strength and importance that business in China has around the globe. However (other than from the class sessions thus far), I really have a limited knowledge of the real relationship between culture and business in China.

I have been exposed to very little corporate business outside of the US, so seeing that completely different culture will definitely be interesting. I think one of the aspects I am most interested in learning about is how their leadership styles differ from those in the US. For example, I don’t expect to see anything similar to the culture Tony Hsieh has created at Zappos in our various tours in China. (And I highly doubt I will be surprised!)

I also have always been told about China’s extremely strict government control. However, I have never truly understood its impact on commerce in the country compared to business in the US. Seeing it fist hand is going to be incredibly insightful for a young, college student such as myself (and the group, of course.) So, I am pretty interested to see these impacts on both corporations as well as small businesses. Seeing how these everyday business people view the government control’s is something I hope to see (even though it will be positive because it has to by law).

In all honesty, I don’t really know what to expect besides some culture shock! This is a huge opportunity for growth for all of us in more than just one way. This trip will give students. who have never been, such as myself, their first first-hand experience of international business. The simple fact that we get to see a completely different perspective is huge for aspiring businessmen and women like ourselves.

Looking forward to a great trip!