Another long bus ride to start the day, but this time without Uncle Joe’s comedy. Today’s visit was to Central University of Finance and Economics or CUFE. We were ushered across the campus to attend a lecture given by Dr. Yao. He taught at CUFE but had for a while been a guest lecturer at The Wharton School of Business at The University of Pennsylvania. He spoke with us about the impact and use of smartphones and the internet in China. Specifically, he spoke about big data, marketing in the smartphone industry, e-commerce and the differences between the US and Chinese smartphone markets. What I found most interesting was how large of an explosion the Chinese smart phone market has had. China now has close to 730 million internet users, but only about a decade ago, before smart phones were introduced, that number was easily less than 100 million users. I find it shocking how few computers are used because it seems in the US that having a laptop is fairly common. Dr. Yao also introduced us to the Chinese holiday “Singles Day” which is almost like Black Friday in the US. However, Singles day is a much larger shopping day than Black Friday. He said that Singles Day brings in three times the amount of revenue that the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday are able to. Dr. Yao also mentioned that using your phone to scan QR codes to pay for things is extremely commonplace. I am mildly jealous that China has a standardized and widely accepted digital payment method as opposed to the US where it is a toss-up if a store will take Apple pay or not or even if you have to swipe your credit card or use the chip reader.
After the lecture, we were given a tour of the library and did some team building exercises with some of the students.
Later, after returning from CUFE, the group unanimously decided to go out to the Olympic Park. So, all 27 people in our group descended upon the subway in our typical raucous way. Unlike most places I have seen in the US, the subway had a wall separating the waiting area from the train tracks (a good idea if you ask me).
Two line changes later and we were at the Olympic Park. The main area was a super long walkway and the stadiums were on either side. The two stadiums that were lit up were the Bird’s Nest (where the opening and closing ceremonies and track and field were held) and the Water Cube (where all of the swimming was held). It was really cool to see the stadiums of the first Olympics that I really remember and paid attention to. Both stadiums were very unique. The Bird’s Nest is aptly named because of the beams that cross all around the stadium. The Water Cube was not as well named. It looked like a pebble-covered wall, but it was a cube and glowed a beautiful blue.