May 19th- On my way home… to safe tap water!

Last day in Shanghai, another great night sleep without an early morning – great breakfast at the Regal.  My friends and I had a few hours at the hotel (or area close by) until we had to assemble around 11am for the trip to the airport.  It was a weird time because we all had become quite close on the trip, had been working towards our presentations which we had just delivered and now were leaving a place that had started to feel familiar (we often call the Regal hotel home).  At the same time, all of us were students who had just finished their first year in college and were heading back to their families and high school friends for the summer.  There was a lot to think about and it was fortunate to be in a group that was experiencing common issues and reflections.

The Shanghai airport is huge!  We navigated it successfully (with the help of our team-leaders) but were really impressed with the newness and scale of the airport.  We processed through security and boarded our plane, a United flight to Chicago (other team-members with different home cities went to Newark so this was the last time our group would be together).  We had developed strong friendships and fortunately, through the very same smart phones that we had been studying, our group would be able to stay in touch in the future through our “We Chat” group and other social media activities.  Social media gets a bad rap – some of it certainly deserved, but it is great for situations like this where a group assembles for a specific activity and then disaggregates.  Today – partly due to our smart-phones, our group will always be together and I hope that we continue to stay in touch and share experiences.

I had a wonderful trip to China and was very appreciative of the University and our team leaders for all of the planning and support that the students were able to experience, particularly during my food poisoning and hospital adventure.  During my high school years I was heavily involved with our church, and over-time had increasing responsibility for planning and organizing our mission and youth trips.  Once you have done that a few times, you really appreciate when someone else does it for you, especially when they do it well as our team-leaders, guides and company representatives certainly did.

During the flight (and after watching Mulan to put me in the right frame of mind) I thought about what I was most looking forward to in the US.  First – I wanted to fill my water bottle and drink it and fill it up again.  My water bottle had been unused during the entire trip to China because I was nervous about drinking anything but bottled water.  I also missed my family and my other friends in Pittsburgh.  I am a member of the Pittsburgh Ultimate Frisbee team and the rest of the team was getting ready to travel to the national championship tournament in Milwaukee later in the week (I was going as well) – so I was looking forward to that, but also nervous because I had lost 15 lbs. in China and wasn’t sure what my endurance would be like.

I thought about all of the questions that I had two weeks prior as I flew from America to an entirely different culture and country.  I learned a great deal, experienced more and made (hopefully) life-long friends.  I appreciated the scale and complexity of the Smart Phone industry, and thought about the power of the computers we all haul around in our pockets.  In 1985 a Cray supercomputer took up an entire room and cost many millions of dollars.  25 years later (2010), that same computing power was encompassed in one iPhone 4.  5 years later (2015) that same computing power was encompassed within two apple watches.  The pace of change – especially for the smart phone industry is only increasing and the opportunity I had to see it first-hand will help me to visualize the players and economics of the business and hopefully also opportunities to leverage the capabilities these pock-sized super computers in the future.

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