By the time we got to the final day in China, it was weird because on one hand it felt like the days flew by, but on the other, it seemed like forever ago that we left the US. It was bitter-sweet to be leaving (but more bitter really) since I fell in love with Shanghai but was also worn down by the constant grind and ready to see my friends back home. Anyway, the day started out with a trip to the Yu garden, which is a stunning, man-made garden in the middle of the city. It was originally commissioned by one of the emperors as a gift to his parents, so that they could have somewhere quiet and beautiful to spend their time (I aspire to be rich enough to give gifts like that).
The garden features many beautiful plants, rocks, and ponds, but the crowning jewel of it all is the huge jade rock that was recovered by the emperor from the bottom of the sea after having gone down with the ship it was being transported on many years before. Its time in the water created intricate pores throughout the rock so that now it is possible to light incense at the base and have the smoke rise through all the holes. After we departed from the garden, we were given free time to explore the nearby bazaar where I finished up the last of my gift shopping and grabbed some great noodles with Nancy, Dora and some of the guys.
After returning to the hotel, we then had some time to pack up and do some last minute preparations with our groups before the final presentations that evening. Everyone decided to dress up in order to make it look like we knew what we were talking about and we headed to a different hotel where a very official conference room was reserved for us. The point of the project was to come up with a business idea specifically for the Chinese market and approach it from both a business and engineering standpoint (as the groups were made up of two of each). My group was presenting last so I sat through everyone else’s presentations which were all pretty good and made me worry a bit about ours, since we admittedly had trouble coming up with a good idea. Still, it went relatively smoothly, besides some people’s questions at the end pointing out some holes in our plan. Regardless, our work was over and it was time for the farewell dinner. As always, the food was amazing. I’d like to take this time to mention that vegetables in China are so much better than at home. I have literally never enjoyed eating broccoli, but in China I couldn’t get enough of it. Anyway, to end the meal, Liliana wanted to test all of our chopstick skills by having us pick up a raison. I, of course, passed easily because by that time, I was a chopstick master. After dinner, it was time to leave for good. We loaded up the bus with all our luggage and made the drive to the airport, which was filled with singing. We said our goodbyes to Nancy, Liliana and Dora and continued to customs and security with took absolutely forever. Nevertheless, we still made it to the gate in time without anyone getting detained for too long (*cough cough* Jake). Eventually, I made it back to good old Pennsylvania, where on the drive home I got stuck behind a tractor.