A Day at Central University for Finance and Economics

Today was our second day in Beijing and I’m starting to slowly get used to the city, even if my sleep schedule still hasn’t fully adjusted. Our main activities today consisted of a visit to the Central University for Finance and Economics where we listened to two professors speak on the smart phone supply chain in China, lunch, and a tour around the university’s campus.

The university was an hour and a half drive out of the center of the city but as it turns out they have two campuses–the one we visited today for students in their first three years and another in the center of the city for students in their final year which had a more convenient location near the students’ internships. There were a few major differences I noticed between CUFE and Pitt some of which being significantly better dining hall food, less space for students in the lecture halls, different dorm room arrangements, and a much more modern library. Talking with one of the university students I found out that there are four students to a dorm room with not much space and each bed bunked above a desk. Unlike the U.S., it seems that students in China are not given as much space or privacy which I think represents the living situation in cities here overall.

We also had our first lecture in China from Professor Lao, a PhD graduate from Wharton school of business. He discussed the major aspects of the smart phone supply chain in China. There has been a major surge in both internet and cell phone usage in China in the past ten years, with almost 55% of China’s Internet users making payments via their smart phones compared to 19% in the U.S. From the lecture it became clear that e-commerce is far more popular here in China because the potential for free shipping with purchases over 100 yuan, high levels of traffic making travel by car inconvenient, and the location of supermarkets that makes purchasing everyday items online and having them delivered more appealing. The growth of e-commerce is linked to the growth of the smart phone industry in China, marking its importance in the study of smart phone supply chain. In addition to a discussion of e-commerce Professor Lao mentioned two other important uses for smartphones in China as a method of payment, and a method of obtaining transportation. Rather than carrying cash or credit/debit cards as in the U.S, people in China pay electronically by scanning QR codes and making payments through applications such as We Chat or Alipay. Furthermore, smart phones in China may be used to track nearby bicycles for rent through applications such as Mobike that use location based services  on smart phones to connect users to the transport they need. In his discussion of the Huawei brand smart phone supply chain, Lao mentioned that around 70% of the materials used in the manufacture of the company’s smart phones come from areas outside of mainland China, making it important for smart phone companies to keep connections with international suppliers to run efficiently. Lastly, Lao emphasized the increase in personalized marketing which uses cookies to track and categorize an individual’s browsing history and subsequently personalize their ads to their demonstrated interests. This was a very informative start to our next two weeks learning about the smart phone supply chain here in China.

After the presentation, we had dining hall food that was similar to what we are yesterday for lunch, and the highlight of the meal was trying my first red and green chiles without being too overwhelmed. We got to tour the CUFE campus and were impressed by their library which was significantly more modern than Hillman in terms of technology used to reserve individual seats and check out books. Afterwards we witnessed the students mandatory gym class, another large difference between U.S. and Chinese universities, and got to try jumping rope with some of the local students. Being able to spend a day on campus in another country really opened my eyes to how different their education system is with a heavier emphasis on test scores and camaraderie between students sharing classes that contrasts the holistic, independent approach in the United States.

It’s also worth noting that there seem to be very few rules followed on the roads here with a chaotic combination of cars, bikes, and pedestrians that all assume their own right of way. There’s also only one cell service provider–China Mobile–that serves China, and as a result the service is far better than the Unites States.

Looking forward to our first company visits tomorrow!

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