Today was a day of both practical and impractical learning. It was also the most tiring day of our trip so far from the amount of walking we did in the intense heat, but it also may have been the most interesting.
The first good thing to happen was that I found out that there was French toast at breakfast which is one of my favorite foods. It was also nice to have a reminder of home in the crazy culture shock of a trip that we have been on.
After a nice familiar breakfast, the group headed out to the East China University of Science and Technology where we got to hear a lecture by the dean of the business school, Dr. Regina Huang. She discussed the need for financial growth in China and how the RMB(Chinese currency) is trying to become an international unit of payment like the American dollar. Almost everything can be paid for by an app called WeChat, but you need to connect to your bank account in order to use it. The problem that China is facing is that everyone in the country is starting to use WeChat and this leaves the tourists with no access to the most popular form of payment. If the RMB comes an accepted international currency, then it will become easier for tourists to make accounts in the app so that they can pay for things with ease like the people within the country.
When the lecture was over, we got paired up with a student at the university so that they could bring us to lunch and we could talk to them about their school life and how our cultures differed on opposite sides of the world. My partners name was Christine and she had just started at the school six months ago after going to undergraduate school in Beijing. She told me about how monotonous her classes were and I told her about how loose and fun the public school system in America can be. Their cafeteria had many different options for food, including noodles and dumplings, and was surprisingly cheap for the large amount of food that they gave us.
From lunch, we all went to a classroom to play team building games. The first game that we played was one that the students here play. Music plays and an item is passed around the room and when the music stops, whoever is holding the toy must go up to the front of the room and either sing or do something entertaining. At one point, they had three little toys going around the room and I was lucky enough to end up with one of the toys. Me and the other kids who were selected put on a nice show of head, shoulders, knees, and toes for the rest of the students in the classroom.
In the evening, me and a couple other guys in the group wanted to go downtown to a popular shopping district, but the traffic was terrible so we decided to take the subway. The language barrier became a huge problem as we were trying to navigate around the city because when we would get lost and ask for directions, most people could only respond in hand motions rather than spoken directions. After going to three wrong stations, we finally arrived at the strip of malls. Since it was downtown Shanghai, there were many designer stores that had interesting products and outrageous designer prices. One store that we went to had cool shoes for a great price that I was very interested in, but I am a size eleven and most of the stores maximum sizes were around a seven or eight so my potential shopping spree was cut short which I guess could be a good thing.
We walked around the shopping center for a few hours looking at things we may never be able to afford and realized that our steps for the day were really adding up and it was time to go home. We took the subway home, but it was not a problem this time because we were experts after our rough travel experience to the mall.