One month into our exchange has been interesting and challenging to say the least. Shanghai has been amazing. The relative ease in discovering China is astonishing. The taxis are very cheap and the subway system consists of 14 different lines. The proximity to the airport, railway, bus, and ferry make Shanghai a hub-and-spoke to all the wonders of China. Thus far we have used the bullet train to visit Suzhou, Hangzhou and Yiwu. All have been short journeys to unique cities near Shanghai. It’s a great way to escape the hustle and bustle and view the different traditions and get immersed in the culture. We have seen West Lake (it’s view is on the $1 Yuan note!), Lingyin Temple, Tong Li Water Town, Grand Canal, and the International Trade Mart in Yiwu—which is a roughly 5 million acre wholesale mall with over 70,000 suppliers. It happens to be the largest wholesale market in the world. You will find everything and anything here. The whole world is trading with Yiwu and you will come across foreigners from all over the world.
The culture shock can seem overwhelming at first glance when you consider the language barrier. However, people are friendly in Shanghai and are always willing to help. Google Translate and the Pleco app have worked wonders as well. You will find all of your western fast foods to help you feel a sense of home with a local twist in McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Quizno’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut. My personal opinion would be to keep these options to a minimum and to really get out of your comfort zone and try different foods of the culture. My favourite place thus far in Shanghai has been Lao Sheng Chang Dumplings. This franchise has a wide variety of dishes from noodles to soups to dim sum. All of your favourite shops from around the world are here as well. The distinctive experience comes from going to the markets and bargaining with the locals. Negotiation is a must!
Fudan University is a massive campus where you literally must take a taxi to visit certain areas of the campus. The professors are amazing and keep the class very active. The student life is very engaging as students create WeChat groups (alternative to WhatsApp which is a social network/fintech platform in itself) to communicate and coordinate gatherings for leisure. The goal is to talk to as much people as you can. Build your network. Learn from everyone. You never know where those connections can take you in the future.
The Schulich MBA program has allowed me to come to China and apply myself. I have a passion for branding and it is truly unique to see the different forms of marketing around the world. Exchange is a great time to broaden your horizons, learn new cultures and seek opportunities. You will learn a lot about yourself. It is the ideal situation to tread new waters around the world. As Fred Lazar, my Economics Professor put it, “you have to be there.”
Currently on exchange at Fundan University, China
Apply for exchange by 4pm on Monday, November 7 , 2016