Emily Huang is a student at University of California, Santa Barbara and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Shanghai, China.
Like many other young adults, the excitement of living in a foreign country sparked my interest in choosing to study abroad. However, I chose Shanghai, China over other cities and countries because I wanted my experience abroad to also set me up for my future. In the past three months, I have increased my knowledge of the Chinese business market, further developed my fluency in Mandarin, and achieved personal growth through living in an international city. As my time in Shanghai is coming to an end, I can genuinely say that studying and living in this city has been everything I could have hoped for and more.
From someone aspiring to go into a field in international business, studying abroad in Shanghai was one of the best choices I could have made. With China’s growing middle class and large population, countless foreign companies want to enter the Chinese market in order to dominate the world market. I have learned that many established companies still fail in China because they do not fully understand the Chinese market and I have gained valuable knowledge in how to effectively conduct business through studying abroad in Shanghai.
My business professors have all had first-hand experience in conducting business in China, having either started a successful business or worked in the marketing field. They were able to share their experiences and offer insight on the many challenges and cultural differences that come with international business. They thoroughly know the business concepts and practices that they are teaching, which I will remember and be able to use in my
future career. I also went on a total of five field trips around Shanghai to meet with entrepreneurs, to tour factories, and to analyze businesses.
Opportunities and Experiences
I have had many exciting and unique opportunities at East China Normal University. I was the leader of my team in the Global Business Project and over a period of 10 weeks, we worked to develop an innovative financial product for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. I had a great experience in working with my diverse team of international and Chinese students and I gained valuable practice in public speaking, as I presented the product’s concept to a crowd of over 100 people.
Mandarin Chinese is quickly becoming an essential language to learn in the business world. With that said, Mandarin is also one of the most difficult languages to master and immersing yourself in the language is simply the best way to learn. Not only have my mandarin classes helped improve my fluency, but since most Chinese residents I have encountered only speak Chinese, there were endless opportunities for me to practice with the locals.
Personal Growth in Interpersonal Relationships
Lastly, I have strengthened my empathy and understanding of other people and their cultures, which I will carry with me throughout my career and for the rest of my life. Shanghai is known as an international city and I see this every day; I have friends and classmates from Japan, Germany, Russia, Italy, France, and many other countries. I have gained new perspectives on topics, ranging from political beliefs to life values, through my discussions with the people I have met in this city.
From this international environment in the classroom, I have learned how to work with in a diverse team through focusing on each person’s strengths. For example, English is my friend Niklas’s second language and we created a great marketing presentation together because he took on the role in finding research articles to back up our claims, while I took on the role in writing our summary. In the beginning we split up the writing, but as the process started to take much longer than anticipated, we realized this division was ineffective. We met many times to discuss our presentation, making sure we were both on the same page, and we decided to capitalize on our strengths. I have learned how from this experience and have continued to use this mentality in my other group projects in Shanghai.
In conclusion, studying abroad in Shanghai was one of the best decisions I could have made for my future career. I have a better understanding of business from a global perspective and a better understanding of culture from an international perspective. Furthermore, I have had once in a lifetime opportunities in Shanghai, from intimate meetings with entrepreneurs to creating and presenting a financial product with an international team. My positive experience and growth over the past three months has even lead me to explore my options in future higher education and career opportunities in Shanghai. Although I am leaving in a matter of days, I will leave with knowledge and experience that will help build a foundation for my future career in business.
The world awaits…discover it.