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An Introduction to Chinese | Language Lessons

Today we had a full day of classes! Yet this was different, because there was a genuine sense of excitement for the classes and learning. The university building we had classes in was located very close to the hotel, making it easier to travel and only take necessities. The morning consisted of Chinese culture classes and the difference between the Eastern and Western culture. The professor’s experience of teaching in the US was evident as he was very good at English and passionate about his teaching. The morning classes were very informative as we learnt about several aspects from the food the Chinese eat to the customs and traditions they practice. It was astonishing to see how there are differences in almost every aspect of daily life.

Lunch was great! It was a delegate’s birthday so CBL, very kindly, rewarded us with a huge flamboyant birthday cake. It was very tasty and a nice touch. This was accompanied by lunch at a local restaurant which was more Western. Although it has been nice to have Chinese food so far, this was also a nice way to maintain energy levels.

The afternoon classes were about the Chinese language which was brilliant! The teacher this time was also very passionate and made things easy with a lot of interactive activities and practice – no time to hide around. Each student was asked questions and to participate equally which made everyone pay full attention. It was also, as expected, a challenge to get the intonation and pronunciation of the Chinese language perfectly correct. The teacher made an effort to involve games and challenges. So now, I know how to say the basics in Chinese and count 1-100 – impressive for a few hours of classes!

Classes were finished by 5pm and we were tired! No better way to relax and freshen up by returning to the hotel, showering and resting for an hour and a half. We then met up in the lobby at 6.30pm to go and get dinner and explore the general atmosphere of Tianjin a little more. I hope in the future days, I will really get a good taste and understanding of the city of Tianjin!

Activities |Company & Cultural Visits in Tianjin

Today I really feel settled into China – 3 days in. We spent the day being transferred to Tianjin via a luxury coach. We had our first company visit, which gave us a glimpse into the sheer size and quality of entrepreneurship in China! The company was a significant wine-producing venture. It was interesting and beneficial to see how business operations happen in a very successful Chinese company. The tour varied from seeing huge quantities of well-preserved barrels to seeing the machinery making the bottles. This was fun and it felt like several learning curves in one.

This was rounded off by lunch at the company, which was complimentary. It was fantastic, another chance to enjoy Chinese cuisine and communicate with others on the programme. This lunch also involved wine tasting which aired a buzz of excitement. It did not disappoint, as it was fascinating to compare and contrast the different wines.

After checking into the new hotel in Tianjin, we were greeted by students from Nankai University to lead a campus tour. Normally campus tours in my home country can be boring and dull but this was different. It was a pleasure to see how beautiful the campus was and see the similarities and differences from the buildings from my home country. Most of the buildings or designs had a story behind them; for example, the medicine building is the only building to stay standing following the way with the Japanese.

The tour was rounded of by making dumplings with the students, which was followed by a dinner. The dumpling making was more difficult than I expected but a fun challenge to enjoy. It was also refreshing to see options for everyone i.e. meat and vegetarian options. Dinner involved the dumplings made by us and much more! It was a great chance to learn about the daily and yearly lives of the Nankai university students. We also got their opinions of topics such as the one child policy, food in China and the cultural differences. Their opinions gave us a real-life perspective of the Chinese and it was nice to see how each student’s opinions differed.

I want to find something to criticize but each day has been fantastic and something progressively new!

The Forbidden City – Beijing

Day 2 whizzed by! From past experiences from the CBL, it was decided that today would be best used by visiting the Forbidden City, one of the iconic areas of the world. It was a weekday which meant it would be less busy and the entire day was designated for the visit.

I was really looking forward to this and it did not disappoint! The Forbidden City and the entrance leading up to it are hectic. There are so many people who wanted to experience the city and take a lot of photos. Astonishingly, we were asked for photos with locals who initially made us cautious but we ended up proud and amazed.

The Forbidden City is not small so be prepared to walk! My IPhone recorded about 10,000 steps during the tour. However, the group is very tight-knit and we were each given an electronic tour guide. This was beneficial as it meant we all experienced the same things and had plenty of opportunities to take photos. The electronic tour guides were also very informative by giving us an insight into different aspects. There was plenty of opportunities to take breaks and buy drinks and snacks which is crucial to refresh ourselves every hour or so. It was an amazing experience to tour the Forbidden City.

After the tour, we visited a local café to have lunch. The café was extremely unique as it had handwritten messages from past international tourists on the wall. The food was great and the ambience matched that of an iconic tourist spot in Beijing.

As the day was designated to this, we headed back and headed upwards to an almost bird’s eye view of the Forbidden City. The whole area could be seen and the Olympic stadium which was simply breath-taking. Another chance to take some top quality photos!

To end the day, we did some shopping together and headed back to the hotel. The opportunity to buy souvenirs is something of great importance and plentiful in Beijing – be prepared to bargain hard! It was a great experience with souvenirs to be cherished and taken home. Another excellent day!

China Business School – 27 July 2015

First official day of the CBL International 2-week programme in Beijing, China! Thankfully, the flight and getting there was very smooth and relaxing.

As I had arrived and checked in the previous day, I was ready for the first day of the programme. I set my alarm for 8am, showered and headed down to breakfast! As expected, the breakfast was very Chinese-orientated but satisfying and interesting. Rice noodles as part of breakfast? It was oddly very enjoyable. It was a joy to be able to dive into the culture from the get go. Also, I met up with some of the other delegates which was great to get a head start and ease myself in.

9.45am – we all met up in the hotel lobby, as scheduled, and briefly and informally introduced ourselves to one another. It was comforting to see the friendliness from the CBL Programme Director. Once in a business room, we were told about our upcoming weeks in China, given a welcome bag with information and formally introduced ourselves. It was nice to see this information come across as informative and brief.

We then met up at the hotel lobby at 1.15pm and were taken to the ‘China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission’ by minibus. We were informed about arbitration in China and why it is so useful. Following this, we were given a tour of the building and learnt about some of the arbitrators and famous names from the Commission. Again, short, concise and very informative.

The day was rounded by a Roast duck Dinner with all the delegates and director! Food was delicious and, although different, very interesting and a pleasure to dig into. There was a lot and variety of food which was based around the roast duck! Conversations flowed very smoothly and it was very special to have Germans, Austrians, Americans, Italians and more on the same table as you. Thanks for a brilliant first day CBL!

CBL China Summer School 2014 Day 16

With two days left for China Summer School and the D-day for the business plan all the business students were eagerly looking forward to pitch their ideas to the jury. We left from the guest house at 9 am directly to the European Chamber of Commerce.

We started with a presentation by the European Chamber of Commerce on the different sectors of the Chinese industry in which they setup companies. They are the independent voice of European business in China, they believe accessing greater market access and improved operating conditions for European companies. The ECC is a members-driven, non-profit, fee-based organisation with a core structure of 45 Working Groups and Fora representing European business in China.

The European Chamber now has more than 1,800 members in 7 chapters operating in 9 cities: Beijing, Nanjing, Pearl River Delta (Guangzhou and Shenzhen), Shanghai, Shenyang Southwest China (Chengdu and Chongqing) and Tianjin. Each chapter is managed at the local level by local boards reporting directly to the Executive Committee.

The Chamber is recognised by the European Commission and the Chinese Authorities as the official voice of European business in China. It is recognised as a Foreign Chamber of Commerce with the Ministry of Commerce and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

We later got a presentation on lobbying in China. Lobbying is a process by which people can influence public and government policy at all levels: federal, state, and local. The presentation included various interactive sessions by even going a step further by giving us practical examples. For example if a motor bike wants to manufacture in China and there is a problem is it a rule and regulation problem or a lobbying problem?!  The course until now was been very practically oriented and we have getting information on a lot of real life situations and issues.

Moreover after the presentation we had our business plan presentations. The first group called their product Charge+ which is an unique product as you can now charge your laptop with a power pack. The power pack needed to be 23,000 lbs which they plan to create. The product and marketing plans were really interesting as that was a requirement in the market which this product was covering. The example I remember is how many times you want to abuse the salesman who told you that this laptop is the best for battery life and it crashes. The group was then asked some questions on the plan which was the most challenging process of the business plan but they answered it all. Followed by group 2 which created an education program for educating the workforce with skilled based English which was once again covering a niche in the market. The business presentations ended with group 3 which created a SIM card which was an unique combination of Virtual Private Networks (VPN),Voice over IP (VoIP) and the Chinese Data Bundle. Once again covering a niche in the market.

We then visited the grape production field followed by a factory which produces bed mattresses which again was a fantastic experience with us bringing back some really sweet grapes. We got some useful feedback for all the business presentations that they were really competitive and were covering a requirement for the market. We will have to wait and see what happens tomorrow when we all get the results for the business plan and the law essay.

Thank you.

CBL China Summer School 2014 Day 15

Day 15 of the China Summer School we were welcomed with RAIN in Shanghai. We had a class at 9 am at the Tongji University, Shanghai for Chinese Language and Culture followed by our first exam for most of us in Chinese. Unfortunately due to the weather most of us arrived a bit late for class, although majority of us were on time.

The Chinese Language and Culture course was such a program that gave us the basic skills and confidence to communicate in China. Professor Xu Aini gave us some real life examples and situtations where we could have a dialogue. For example, explaining directions to the taxi driver, introducing ourselves, telling the time if someone asks that, explaining what we study and where we from, conversation in a restaurant and most importantly which every girl in the course loved HOW TO BARGAIN in Chinese.  Haha ! The length and depth of the course was not vast as the course was assigned in such a way that we enjoyed studying Chinese. Professor Aini gave the motivation to the whole class to appear for the exam, which 95% and if not more of the delegates gave. CBL International Chinese Language and Culture was a really short introduction to the mandarin Chinese language which would be an amazing tool when anyone of us plan to come back to China. After giving the test some of us stayed back to get feedback on our test papers which was a really fascinating thing so we could work on our mistakes and improve.

Once again after the classes some of the delegates had to visit our tailor on the DongMen Road to collect suits as they wanted to start packing their bags. However, the other groups decided to come back to the hotel to work on the business plan followed by the evening talk at the Moreca Café (Our popular German Bar close to Tongji University where we as students get a 12% discount on our total bill) for the Business delegates organized to speak to an Intern of CBL International to tell us about the possibilities of Interning in China.

The Intern was a pilot from France doing his masters in business which was quite fascinating as he could connect to us from the technical as well as the commercial aspects of things here in China. He further explained on why he choose China and firstly explained the housing rental system in Shanghai, followed by his experience working at a western restaurant as an intern. Thirdly, spoke about the experience he received in the western restaurant and how it was different from the CBL experience. We even took his help to ask him a few questions about our business plans to gain more feedback before the presentation tomorrow which will be held at the European Chamber of Commerce.

We spoke for over a hour about our experiences both professional and studying. Unfortunately even though we all wanted to spend more time we had to head back for some business plan preparations for tomorrow. However , we all exchanged contact details to keep in touch and thanks to this course we got to meet so many people giving us their point of views.  Really amazing experience and hoping all of us do a good job for the business plan.

CBL China Summer School 2014 Day 14

The day started early in the morning, as most of us were still in the German center. The Germans were playing against the Argentinians. The game started at 3 am and went on until the sun came out. It was finally after waiting for 116 minutes of the game that Germany finally scored. Our resident German Hauke and Simon were standing like frozen before the goal, thinking about what would happen if it would come to penalty’s. Then when the Germans finally scored, the whole place erupted and everyone started singing. It was one of the most amazing experiences for me to see the Germans lift the trophy for the fourth time. Although I am not German, being at the German center and cheering for my friends really made me feel happy. This was only possible because of the CBL China Summer School 2014.

After the game we came back and went straight to bed. We could manage to gather a couple of hours if not less of sleep before our lecture began at 9 ‘o clock in the Tongji University after our hectic schedule of Tianjing and Beijing respectively.  The lecture was about start-ups in China and it was given by Rainer Burkardt. This was a very interesting lecture, in the sense that he furthermore explained the process for start-ups in the PRC. Moreover, he gave breaks in between which hold us to keep our concentration high for the class. He brought the best out the lecture by giving some real life examples which could or rather would help students writing the essay.

Afterwards we got an interesting presentation about “The Swiss Presence in the Yangze Delta” by Mr. General-Consul Schellenberg, Consulate General of Switzerland. His presentation showed us that he is really experienced in his field of expertise. The lecture was only one hour long, but it was quite clear to understand.

After the lecture everyone went out to get some food at the Moreca Café (our common relaxation zone) however some others went to have Sushi. It just shows that the location around Tongji University is quite multicultural. Of course most people didn’t go to eat, but rather decided to go get some sleep after the game in the morning.

We met up at 14 o clock back in the lobby to leave for CMS (a famous law and taxation firm in China whose gross income is 280 Million Euros across the globe). This law firm was in a very clean, sophisticated and stylish looking building. Unfortunately, they did not know we would come with so many people and so their conference room was quite small. They yet managed to get everyone in, and in the end. Dr Ulrike Glueck (Managing Partner at CMS) was the person that founded their branch in Shanghai and was the presentator for the day. The presentation went into some details about CMS as a company and what they focus on as a firm. She also explained that due to the change in the regulations in China it is difficult for law firms to continue doing every aspect of the law and that’s why firms are focusing on specific aspects of the law. Moreover, the presentation explained the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) process in China which was really amazing as I start with M & A when I get back to University.

When the meeting was finished everyone started splitting up. Some went back to the hotel and some went shopping. In the end we ended up on Nanjing road, looking at all the expensive shops and the luxury watches (Nanjing road is a great place for watch-lovers). BUT Nanjing road is also a great place for bargainers, because at the end of the street you will find a shopping mall and inside you will find many bargains to gain. As long as you play your cards right, this could be one of the cheapest or one of the most expensive shopping sprees you could ever have.

Thank you.

CBL China Summer School 2014 Day 13

Day 13,13th July 2014 we have five more days and depart from the course. Before I get all nostalgic, the day started with us transferring from Beijing to Shanghai. All of us were on time for a change even though there was a game of Football the previous night. Mr.John and Ms.Sherry got us at the station one hour early so that we could grab some snacks if not lunch for the journey as none of us found the food to be appetizing on our way Tianjin. The Bullet Train (High-Speed Railway) is a 1,318-kilometre (819 mi) long high-speed railway that connects two major economic zones in the People’s Republic of China, the Bohai Economic Rim and the Yangtze River Delta.The line opened to the public for commercial service on June 30, 2011.This rail line is the world’s longest high-speed line ever constructed in a single phase (China Guide, 2014). The journey started from Beijing to Shanghai was a five hour long with majority of the delegates (us) working on the Business Plan with their respective groups. The Business Plan is a very challenging assignment for us because we work with different people with such a variety of experience and expertise. In addition our German delegates and supporters were getting anxious about the final between Germany and Argentina due to which they were unable to sleep in the long journey. Majority of us are supporting Germany so let’s hope for the best. Furthermore some of us were working on their law essay. Shanghai weather (gloomy) was different from that of Beijing (summer sunshine) and there are expected showers in the coming days.

We were given instructions in the bus for the next day by Mr.John and Ms.Shery. They told us about that the start-up lecture the next morning by Rainer Burkardt and followed by our visit to CMS. Followed by that we were told about our Chinese Language and Culture examination which would be optional for us if we would like to do it. As we arrived to our guest house we went to our famous tailor on DongMen Road. We went to the tailor the first week we were in Shanghai to order some handmade suits and personally I believe it was one of the best things we did. When I asked one of the delegates he said, ‘I would never get such a material and fabric for my suits at such affordable prices back from where I come in Europe’. The suit material is very comfortable, clean and more importantly we had a huge range to choose at very affordable prices.

My Business Plan group ‘Team Fortune’ is planning to do something special with our dressing for the business presentation. When the appointment finished everyone started splitting up. Some went back to the hotel and some went directly for dinner. However, most of the group was eventually planning on how to reach the German center or any other bar where we could watch the game. Let’s hope the Germans win and more importantly we enjoy the game as a group.

Thank you.

CBL China Summer School 2014 Day 12

We started day 12 of the program by visiting the Tiananmen Square also known as the Forbidden City. The Tiananmen or Gate of Heavenly Peace, is a famous monument in Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is widely used as a national symbol. Tiananmen was the entrance to the Imperial City, within which the Forbidden City was located. Tiananmen is located to the north of Tiananmen Square, across the street from the plaza from Chang’an Avenue. Our guide told us some facts about the city that on April 5, 2010, a protester threw ink in a plastic bottle and hit a wall near the portrait. He was arrested. On 28 October 2013 a car crashed in Tiananmen Square. These were the recent happenings in Tiananmen. The building is 66 m long, 37 m wide and 32 m high. Like other official buildings of the empire, the gate has unique imperial roof decorations.

Most of the delegates were really looking forward to visit the Forbidden City but unfortunately due the huge crowds for the Forbidden City the delegates planned to head back to the hotel to complete their essays and some to work for the business plan. However, about 11 delegates went inside the Forbidden City they went to the city and referred to it as a beautiful place to be. Delegate Terenne, Delegate Maria and Delegate Ada dressed inside in the traditional Chinese clothes. They call it awesome fun.Tiananmen is open to the public from each day of the week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and would definitely recommend my friends to go there even though I didn’t feel like going inside the Forbidden City.

After the Forbidden City everyone proceeded to visit different places of their choice. Some of us came home from the square ourselves and then we realized how far the hotel is from the square. Maybe it wasn’t the best plan to do as we went so close to the square and didn’t do in the city. Nevertheless, Some of us had lunch at McDonalds and decided to stay at the hotel to wrap up the essay and get some rest before coming back to Shanghai for the final week of our course. Some of the delegates decided to study some Chinese. This is something which I loved about the group everyone wants to keep learning which such a nice thing.

For dinner some of the delegates decided to go for some scorpion dinner which they loved and wanted to go back for it. I believe they had all sorts of Scorpions. Scorpion meat is a common food in China especially the fried scorpion which is a traditional dish in Beijing. As a part of Chinese medicine, scorpion wine and snake wine are used as analgesic and antidote. Hope they have a good tummy. Wish them all the best for that. On the other hand the people who got back to the hotel were packing their bags for Shanghai before they had a drink at the bar in the hotel.

Thank you.

CBL Summer School 2014 Day 11

We started early to go to the Great Wall of China followed by the Summer Palace in Beijing. Beijing welcomed us that morning with a bright sunshine which was really amazing from the rainy and wet climate of Shanghai. Although these 2 weeks has taught all of us that weather is not an issue. Great Wall of China stretches east-west for more than 5000 kilometers. Its origins can be traced to the 7th Century BCE, when independent kingdoms constructed separate walls to keep out marauding nomads. China’s first emperor linked many of these during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BCE). Although our guide explained that the history of the Great Wall is such more complex than that.Most of us climbed the Great Wall of China right up to the top of the right side of the peak, some went left and some of us took the cable car one way and the bridge ride the other way. Moreover the market at the Great Wall of China had really competitive prices ranging from one of the delegates getting a fridge magnet for 1 Yuan which was initially quoted for 10 Yuan. However, we got a bottle of water which is for 2 Yuan in the market for 10 Yuan. Quite funny but interesting Chinese market.

After the walk we were really hoping for some good food as we were quite tired. We found a food court with a commonly known western fast-food Subway. After an amazing lunch, we had to head to the Summer Palace. The summer palace is located 15 kilometers from central Beijing, this World Heritage Site is a popular tourist attraction. The Summer Palace is a breathtaking display of ancient art and architecture, lush royal gardens and amazing views. The Palace consists of numerous pavilions, towers, bridges and corridors and the gardens are some of the best preserved in China. One example is this boat which is standing on water which symbols the people are the support for the government. Really amazing.

After a hectic day of Great Wall of China and Summer Palace we finally arrived in the hotel we were. We all relaxed for a bit in the hotel, followed by some of us went to the market for some souvenir shopping. Some of us got really nostalgic about western cuisine and decided to go for American food at the Morton’s Steak House at the Regent Hotel. Others went opposite the Regent Hotel to the Novetel for Italian cuisine. Morton Steak House has 70 branches in the United States of America,5 branches in China,2 in Malaysia and 1 in Hong Kong. The steak was really fresh a bit pricey though but would highly recommend it to everyone to go. We had champagne, red wine and even some really amazing snacks after which we couldn’t even walk. After midnight we decided to get back to the hotel but unfortunately we didn’t know that at that time it is difficult to get cabs in Beijing. After waiting for almost an hour we all got our cabs and returned back to the hotel which was again an experience which we certainly will take back home.

Thank you.

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