I apologize for not being able to post anything last week - things have been getting pretty hectic around the Kelley School. Last week was really our last classroom opportunity to focus on Chinese language and culture before leaving. We had a quick Mandarin review of key words and phrases, but spent most of the class session reading about and discussing some of the current issues in China. Key topics included the education system and educational testing, the rural/urban divide, minorities within China, and Chinese nationalism.
Tonight's class was all about logistics: the nuts and bolts of the trip. We received and discussed packing tips, reviewed behavioral expectations (not that we expect any problems), talked about appropriate attire for various parts of the trip, and touched on some procedures we will use for checking in with each other along the way. We also talked about how much spending cash to bring, how to utilize ATMs, and how to determine appropriate prices to pay for things while we're in China. We even talked a little about how to handle the long flight and (we hope) minimize jet lag.
Perhaps the most exciting portion of class was when we took a closer look at our itinerary. The airline has changed our departure flight, meaning we now have to leave the Kelley School at 4:00 am Saturday. There was some debate about whether it will be better to stay up all night or get some sleep. Personally, I plan to sleep unless I find myself still packing late into the night.
But the excitement, for me, didn't come from the fact that we're leaving so early. The most fun was the opportunity to dig deeper into our daily schedule. In Hangzhou, we will attend a lecture at Zhejiang University, visit a couple of Chinese-based companies, and see some cultural sites such as the Tea Museum. On Wednesday we will head to Suzhou for a factory tour of an Indiana-based company, DePuy, and tours of the Tiger Hill and the Garden of the Master of the Nets, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That night we will head on to Shanghai.
During our time in Shanghai, we will visit three other companies and the American Chamber of Commerce. We will also have a reception with IU Alumni, Kelley MBA students, and other business students studying abroad there. Our final day will include a sightseeing tour, some free time, and an acrobat show. After all that, it's a long flight home and then back to classes and work.
Tonight's class made our upcoming trip seem very real. We're actually going to China - and soon. Only two days before we leave - with lots of errands to run and packing left to do! Stay tuned... this blog is going to be pretty interesting for the next week and a half.