It’s hard to believe that we were just in East Lansing about a week ago, let alone being in the heat of a very hectic finals week just two weeks ago. Along with 35 classmates, I had signed up to go on a study abroad trip that the Broad MBA Program organizes for the first couple of weeks in the summer. (It also warrants mentioning that the MBA study abroad trip can also be taken to fulfill the international business class requirement in the academic curriculum.) Early on in the fall, the MBA Student Council had conducted a survey to determine which country we were most interested in visiting. China won the majority of the votes, and that’s when the journey began for the MBA Administration to start organizing the process and for the students to think about how they were going to prepare for the trip.
Looking back, the weeks leading up to the end of the 1st year were indeed hectic. With 4 finals and a team case paper in 4 days, preparation for the China trip had been placed on the backburner. Although we had lived through similar situations during finals week in the previous semester, the mindset was different in a good way. We knew when we had to start studying, how to better manage our time, and we were better organized with our study materials.
Going back to the preparation for the China trip, the MBA program prepared us well. We started meeting in early March where we had executives with experience in China come talk to us, and international students in the Broad program also taught us about the culture and the language through several sessions. Many students got to learn some Chinese (Mandarin) for the first time, and it was just a great overall experience, including doing research on the companies to see how we could prepare each other for the exposure to doing international business.
So now we’re here in China, and our schedule is packed with lots of good stuff. We’re meeting companies everyday (even sometimes on weekends), and we have some free time to roam around town and see the sights, talk to the locals, and most of all, eat some really, REALLY delicious Chinese food! Our itinerary consists of visitng 3 cities – Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. We spent the first few days in Beijing, and then we moved onto Shanghai. We were here for a few days, and tomorrow we’ll leave for Hong Kong. I’m definitely excited!
The list of companies we’ve engaged in China is not small. We’ve had presentations and tours with Capital Steel, Chrysler, Delphi, Dow, Intel, Oracle, Yangshan Port, Ernst & Young, Steelcase, and once we get to Hong Kong, we’ll meet with Merrill Lynch, UBS, the Jockey Club, and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Everyday has been packed with events and companies, so we get a very rich exposure to the international business and how companies have adapted to doing business in China.
Scheduled sight-seeing events included going to the Great Wall, Tianamen Square, the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, touring the “Bund,” the Yu Garden, an amazing Chinese Acrobatic Show, and the Stanley Market. And if you have energy after all that, we’ve done a lot of things in our free time; it’s utterly awesome – the markets, the cuisine, the people, and the life and culture of China is eye-opening and definitely inspiring.
The experience with the MBA Study Abroad program is something unlike anything else I’ve done back in East Lansing; I’ve learned so much from not only all the companies, the country, but also from all my classmates. The collaborative culture of our program has really shined, and I would definitely recommend anybody to do the MSU MBA Study Abroad program.
On a side note, I taken aback when I walked down the streets of Shanghai, and I saw a random person wearing a Michigan State shirt. I had to reassure myself that it really was true that you can go anywhere in the world, and you’re guaranteed to see a Spartan. Go State!