Day 9: University in China Part 2

Today we visited our second university in China: Donghua University. This particular college specializes in fashion design, international trade, material science, and information technology. A professor of economics gave us a lecture that focused mainly on the e-commerse business in China.

As mentioned in our first lecture, the number of smartphone users is rapid; more than half of China’s 1.4 billion population has a smartphone. As one would assume, the number of internet users has been just as rapid, as most people in China use their phone as the primary means of internet access. A key difference between internet users in the U.S. and China is Chinese citizens utilize online shopping far more than Americans. The main reason why there are 700 million e-commerce users in China has to do with the huge population. Because the population in China is so large, most people live in densely packed cities and therefore have no need for a car. Since few people have a car, traveling to the grocery store and bringing home multiple bags of groceries is inconvenient and inefficient. Therefore, most families have groceries as well as other goods shipped right to their front door to eliminate this issue. Interestingly enough, however, the goods bought most often online are apparel.

Businesses in China have noticed this trend and have capitalized on making their e-commerse sites competitive in the market. Obviously there are factors like logistics, price, visibility, promotion, and a streamlined purchase process that are integral in gaining confidence of cyber-consumers, but these websites also take Chinese culture into consideration as well to appeal to their users. One example the professor detailed involved the layout of the website. Apparently Chinese internet users prefer a crowded and colorful interface, so most online shopping sites have bright displays with as many products displayed on one page as possible.

An interesting part of their university visit was that we got to interact one-on-one with a student at the university. The student I was with, Anna, was a fashion design major. Upon speaking with her, I realized a major flaw within the Chinese university system. After basically being assigned a university based on her test score, Anna did not really have a choice but to attend DHU to major in fashion. Although DHU does have a fashion major, it only includes clothing design, which, for Anna, is not ideal because she wants to design other things like shoes, jewelry, and even car interiors. In order to transfer to a different college in China, a student must be 1st or 2nd in their class or else they are stuck where they are. Essentially, since the admission process is so restricting, Chinese college students who want to transfer have to choose between staying at a university they don’t like or traveling to a new country like the U.S. (often for the first time) to attend school.

After getting to know our Chinese college student, we attempted to make traditional Chinese knots as a source of further bonding. Having extensive experience making friendship bracelets I thought I would be able to concur the challenge. After three failed attempts, I gave up… It was knot as easy as I anticipated!

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