Reflections

I was very lucky to have this opportunity to visit China. When applying to the Plus3 program, I was originally stuck between China and Germany. Germany’s focus on the automobile industry was attractive as a mechanical engineer, but ultimately I am so happy to have chosen China as my first choice. China’s role in the global economy is such a large influence, one that will grow even stronger in the future. In nearly every industry, it is guaranteed that you will either be working with a Chinese company or competing against them. By visiting the country and talking with so many knowledgeable people in the the world of Chinese business, I believe I was able to gain a unique perspective. In the U.S. I don’t get to hear a lot about the economic plans of foreign countries, unless the president decides that there’s a problem with our country’s trade relationships. The five-year plans developed by the People’s Congress was something that was fascinating to me. With policies that planned to improve citizen healthcare, invest in green technologies, and drive the national economy forward, it is clear that the Chinese government is much more active in promoting the forward progress of the country than anything the United States has done in recent years. In the U.S. innovation is driven by individuals and corporations, while in China the centralized power of the government is the main force behind new innovations. Having a full understanding of how Chinese society and business operates is something that I think will be essential in the future as China’s strength as a world power grows.

Working in groups of half engineers and half business students was incredibly enlightening. Before this trip, I have to say that I was pretty ignorant as to what Pitt Business students did; I thought that there was only one major in the business school . I learned that there are many different aspects to business such as Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Supply Chain Management, and Business Information Systems. By talking with my business classmates it was incredible how much our bases of knowledge had diverged in only a year. By our last presentation I was even able to do a SWOT analysis on China, while at the beginning of the spring semester I hadn’t heard the term before.

The majority of our company and university visits were largely rooted in business concepts, and it was something that I surprisingly enjoyed. It may have been because I was hearing many things for the first time, but it all seemed to be valuable information. I learned about supply chain management, third party logistics, big data aggregation, platforms as a service, and smartphone marketing. I also learned a ridiculous amount of information about China, including the differences between a traditional Western market and the Chinese consumer market, the rapid growth of e-commerce in China, the widespread adoption of mobile phones as a platform, and the impact of the “trade war” between China and the U.S.

It was an unforgettable experience taking in all of the ancient history, modern developments, and rich culture that China had to offer. I loved eating new foods at nearly every meal, and I will truly be missing the flavorful foods I enjoyed during my stay. I don’t think I’ve ever been immersed in a culture that was so different than the American experience before, and pushing one’s boundaries in this way is something I think everyone should have the chance to do.

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