My time in China can be described with three words: smartphone, large, and difference. These are three unrelated concepts, but I think they describe my time in China accurately. First, the smartphone: a tool with so much more utility than I previously thought. I knew that the iPhone has more power than the technology that got men on the moon, but I did not know that there was a whole society that used smartphones as their way of life. Although we use our smartphones often, we do not use it nearly as much as the Chinese population, nor do we use it to get around in our every-day life. In our time in China, I was able to use the strongest phone the Chinese smartphone market had to offer, Huawei. This phone was superior to Apple’s iPhone in every way and I wondered why it isn’t used in the states. It is because Huawei was accused of espionage. This brings up the ethical debate over whether or not it is acceptable for these companies to data mine by intruding on a user’s privacy. Data mining is a right that companies have because they need to use their customer’s interests to promote more sales. I understand why this needs to be done, but there is a certain point where the ethics of data mining are more important than promoting sales. Companies can not collect data that is private to exploit the user. That is a big issue currently being tackled by the United States government against Huawei.
Another thing that was cool about this trip was the fact that it made an environment where engineers and business students could collaborate in a work and social environment. Although most of the company visits were focused around the business side, there were some that focused on the engineering side. I think it is important for both sides to learn about each other’s profession because it is important to know all of the pieces to a puzzle. Good businesses have good engineers and only the best business ideas are put in motion with the best engineers. I think it is important to see this early on in my professional development because it gives me the perspective necessary to think outside of the box. I do not need to think one way, but I can use what I know about both topics to come to a solution faster with any problem. It is the way of thinking that will help me later in life.
As I move through college, I will learn a lot more. This study abroad experience is another moment on a long list of things that I will do in college. But, it is my job to take all of the things I have learned in the past and combine it with the knowledge I will get in the future. I am a strong believer in the idea that I will keep learning until the day I die. There will never be a point where I will know everything. Keeping this in mind, it is important to soak in all of the information I have received on this trip from all of the different companies and be able to apply the stuff I have learned today, tomorrow.
Although the group of us was diverse, about half engineers and half business, we all got along quite well. Our interests outside of the classroom were similar and we were able to learn more about each other because we live in such different environments at school. It is nice to be involved in the same social environment as people in other professions because it adds different angle in a conversation. But I believe that in a social environment it is important to have people who are similar to you as well because then the group can grow off of each other. This leads into my group. We had two business students, an engineer, and an engineer transferring into the business school. Although we were all diverse in beliefs, manner, and look, we all found a way to get along and work well as a group. No group member did not do their share and the work done in the inter-disciplinary team made it easy to hit all of the perspectives we needed to. This was especially important when working on our business idea because no question was left unanswered. We combined our brainpower to come to a solution to every problem, and this is a skill I plan to bring to all of the other groups I work with in the future.
Lastly, I would just like to talk about how large and different China is from different views. China is home to the largest urban environment I have seen in my whole life. There were so many high rises in every direction and it seemed as if the expansion just kept going on forever. It made China seem more like a horizontal city than a vertical city when in reality, it’s both. Also, although the crowds were not as crowded as I thought, but there were still people everywhere. It’s the population density that caught me off guard. The areas we went ended up being less dense than I would have thought. China seems different than what everyone expected in basically every way. It seems as if China has conquered every stereotype it endures. For example, the pollution in the cities has gotten much better and it seems to be a common misconception that China is dirty. At least where we went, China might be the cleanest place I have ever been to. For example, we were biking the the Xi’an City Wall and I decided to take a break and eat some popcorn. I, unknowingly, dropped a singular piece of popcorn and a lady cleaning the wall scolded me for dropping this one piece. It really made me realize how much China is cleaning up their country and it is a commendable action.
My time in China will be unforgettable because of the different people surrounding me. I am happy that I was able to go 5000 miles away from my home and was able to experience the other side of the world. From the countless historical sites to the captivating company visits, the program helped me grow as a student and an adult. I would like to thank Dr. Li, Chris, and the Asia Institute for their efforts in creating a safe, fun environment and for the rare opportunity to go on a study abroad.