During Notre Dame’s interterm trip to China, I discovered that most of my pre-conceived perceptions of the country and culture were entirely false.
- China is overpopulated. Okay, this was true; however, Beijing, city of 11.5 million, did not feel nearly as populated as Shanghai, city of 14 million. To put this in perspective, New York City is 8.4 million and the entire Twin Cities metro area is 3.2 million.
- China is polluted. Okay this was also true. The smog and pollution levels made my jaw drop. Non-stop smog filled the air during our 750 mile high speed train from Beijing to Shanghai. This experience was the biggest reality check on what business and manufacturing is doing to the environment.
- The food is gross. I could not have been more wrong. I fell in love with jaozi (dumplings), baozi (pork buns), hot pot, peking duck, and ma po tofu. Now if only there was more cheese and desserts…
- The Western world has little influence on the business landscape. Wrong. As one of the world’s largest emerging markets, many Western businesses are opening offices in China. Having so many Western businesses operating creates significant influence.
- The Chinese government oppresses its people. Wrong. Just as Americans have attribute Capitalism on our country’s growth and quality of life, Chinese have experienced the impact of Communism on China’s growth. The Chinese government might be different, but it is still drives economic growth and brings a better quality of life to its people.
- All cities in China have the same culture. Wrong. The most surprising part of my experience was the vast differences between two of China’s largest cities, Shanghai and Beijing. Shanghai, the financial capital of the country, was booming with energy, life, and cultures from all over the world. Beijing, the political capital of the country, thrived on traditional Chinese culture.