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Teams from the Class of 2016 wrote about their anticipation and experiences of their recent International Business Consulting Trip to Shanghai, PR China in a series of blogs. You are currently reading the fourth blog in the series.

The End of the Week Abroad: Reflecting on Shanghai

By Team 6

Team Six at East Shanghai HospitalBefore arriving to China our perception was solely based on research but our minds completed shifted the second that we landed at the Pudong International Airport.

Prior to arrival to China, we were worried about such things as the limited options we’d have when it comes to food. We had heard all of the negative stereotypes from friends and colleagues about “mystery meats” and the lack of western style options. In addition, we also received the cautionary tales of tourists being scammed by cab drivers, and to be overly being overly aware of your surroundings to fend off muggings and pickpockets.  Our expectations were reversed quickly after arriving.

There was an unlimited restaurant styles and choices and close in proximity, the off the wall food choices and fear of being scammed was all a big misconception – we even had McDonalds and Starbucks within a few meters of our hotel for those times that we felt the need for a taste of ‘home’.

Security seems to be integrated into their culture with the traffic cameras taking a picture of every car, with the street cameras taking a picture of every pedestrian. As Canadians, we suddenly realized how we take privacy for granted. It was a very safe experience during the week and our misconception of being overly cautious about our surroundings may have warded off a pickpocketed in the more tourist centric areas- but every City has these petty theft issues at tourist attractions.

Shanghai is a completely different world than Ottawa when it comes to business. This was one difference that really stood out for us. What take days to occur in Ottawa may take months to happen in Shanghai if you are missing one key component. The reason for this is because the business world in Shanghai is built on relationships and nothing happens without it. In North America our business approach is based on transaction where we often skip the small talk and proceed straight to business to be more efficient. But here small talk and building personal relationships is extremely important and is evident in every meeting. It is to be considered the foundation of the deal in progress, they will rather not make the deal happen then lose face in front of someone.

We experienced both ends of the spectrums of lifestyles as we travelled to different parts of the City. We also experienced different levels of culture from the highlight automated toilettes in a high-end hotel to a hole in the ground traditional toilet in the flea markets.

Staying at the beautiful Langham hotel in Shanghai we were spoiled a bit and had the 5-star view of this city. We also learned we had a five-star aspect of another experience- Our Telfer Executive MBA. Our hotel was also hosting another Executive MBA program from North America and throughout the week we met few of candidates. We exchanged stories, and experiences about our respective programs and this is when we realized how our program is a very diverse and engaging experience than what they had received through their program. One comparison for example is that their international trip involved full-day, in-class sessions within the hotel and they only participated in organized tours when they ventured outside. In contrast, here we are conducting real business first-hand for real organizations who will benefit from our established relationships and recommendations as if they had hired a consultant.  

All in all, our first impressions of China are nothing like what we expected. The mixed architecture of the old and the new buildings, the amazing selection of restaurants, and the street fashion just a hint of how great this city is. This experience was truly unforgettable and as a team we hope to be back in china soon.

Additional Blogs in the Series:

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