March 14, 2010 Hangzhou, Zhe Jiang University

Another early start!  Who thought up this idea of getting trains to nearby cities!!!  Hangzhou started with a visit to West Lake, with a cool amount of misty, hazy, cloud cover to mix with the natural setting of the lake.  After lunch at Louwailou restaurant we were off to visit with the MBA students of Zhe Jiang University, giving us a chance to mingle with peers, seeing a bit what it would be like to study at a Chinese University.  What did you take away from your experience today?  What did you learn about university life in China?

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26 Responses to “March 14, 2010 Hangzhou, Zhe Jiang University”

  1. Shelli Dunigan Says:

    The highlight of today was by far, visiting with the MBA students at Zhe Jiang University in Hangzhou. While the meeting was slightly over-structured, not allowing for as much free discussion and getting to know each other, it was incredibly humbling to connect to MBAs on the other side of the world and compare our experiences. One of the biggest insights of our visit was around the booming entrepreneurial spirit in China. Despite the presence of so many state-owned enterprises and business regulations, the Chinese are finding ways to prosper in building their businesses. This was particularly apparent to me in passing by the abundance of vendors in markets and around tourist sites. These vendors lack differentiation from each other, both in their products and in their sales tactics, which are unrefined and at times pushy. Thinking about this further, it is inspiring that so many people do have that entrepreneurial spirit and it goes to show how much education is needed across all sectors of the Chinese society, not only those with the money to pursue.

  2. Nori Harada Says:

    Hangzhou was another beautiful city with large and magnificent lake. In the park I could see a lot of trees such as cherry blossoms (Sakura), flowers, and red carps (Koi) which again reminded me of Japan. About 1 hour boat ride crossing the lake was a memorable experience. Zhejiang University had a much more beautiful campus than I had imagined. By interacting with faculty and MBA students there, I learned many things such as that Hangzhou area has been a center for entrepreneurship. We concluded a visit with a cart tour around the campus.

  3. Jennifer Woods Says:

    Off to beautiful Hangzhou with the wonderful West Lake. Once again we experienced the random requests for pictures. While it seemed a little weird and uncomfortable as the other times, it was here that I gained a new perspective as to what was happening. I came to China to expose myself to a culture I have never directly witnessed with my own two eyes. All the while, I was exposing some people in China to a culture or people they never directly witnessed with their own two eyes. And even though it’s just a picture or a stare that can seem uncomfortable, that is their way of witnessing something from a culture they have only heard about. I guess I can kind of understand it a little – especially since I kept a camera in my pocket so I can take pictures every five minutes. Something to meditate on…

    The highlight of this visit was Zhe Jiang University. I learned a lot about education and life as a student in China. Again, there are more similarities than differences in my opinion. The coolest thing was that we had similar questions and interests. The student I spent most of my time with was an engineer who is pursuing an MBA to become a better manager. I am an engineer who is pursuing an MBA to become a better manager. While our MBA fields of study and career goals are slightly different, we both started from the same engineering discipline. It was cool learning about education and work cultures through his eyes.

  4. Scott Eberle Says:

    What really surprised me today is how similar University life in China is to University life in the States. As we toured campus we saw dorms, rec halls, libraries and lecture halls in similar layouts to universities in the US. As I looked closer students were congregating and talking about classes and posters were hung around the dorm buildings which looked like flyers for on campus events. We also had the opportunity to speak with current MBA students and they all aspired to have the same types of jobs we do when we’re earning our MBA in the states. One student planned to be an entrepreneur and start his own business while others wanted a corporate finance job and another a strategy position in a major corporation. The main difference I saw was in the diversity. Here everyone in the class was from China and nearly everyone was from the same region that the University was in. The students said that this is very typical for most Chinese universities and for this one in particular on Chinese citizens were allowed to be students here.

  5. Eugenie Lum Says:

    The Zhe-jiang University tour was great! We all had the chance to interact with the part-time and full time MBA students. The campus is beautiful, I think I’ll not be able to study that hard if I’m the MBA student at Zhe-jiang because I’ll just hang around outside the classroom enjoying the beautiful scenary.
    The train ride was also cool, I’ve heard alot about the speedy trains in China and I’m lucky I got two rides during my Global trip!

  6. Adam Staley Says:

    What I found most interesting was hearing how different the professor – student relationship is, even in graduate school. Consistent with what we had heard about lower levels of education, students typically don’t question or push the professor when discussing concepts. The lack of interplay between the professor and student seems like a lost educational opportunity. Also, I gathered from the conversation with the students that classes are mainly tools-based rather than strategic in nature / case-based.

    Also, the cost of University education elsewhere in the world is always alarming. While I tend to, perhaps naively, believe that many if not most of the top universities in the world are on US soil, the idea of graduating from college with no debt (Australia) and getting my MBA for $16K (China) puts the costs we are willing to bear in this country in perspective.

  7. Edyth Adedeji Says:

    Another early day today but the mini-boat cruise as well as the water fountain show in front of the Hyatt hotel brightened up the day. I have to admit that I especially loved the interaction with the students at Zhejiang University. It was a really good way to see what life is like for our peers in a different culture and location. I especially liked the discussion topic sessions we had, learning about what all are included in their MBA programs – no concentrations, no student loans, a lot of hard work and a strong entrepreneurial mindset in their community. The tour of their campus was exciting and gave a better perspective to the trip. Overall, our peers were very welcoming especially if you think about the fact that we were visiting them on a Sunday.

  8. Ben Ryan Says:

    I really enjoyed taking the boat cruise on West Lake. I loved the ancient Chinese style boat we piled into, and the Bellagio style water show was awesome. If only the weather hadn’t been so crummy, the day could have been all that much better.

    I thought meeting the MBA students at Zhe Jiang University was one of the best educational experiences of the trip. They were all very friendly, outgoing, and as interested to learn from us as we were from them. What was especially interesting was how the Zhe Jiang professor moderating the discussion tried to structure the conversation. The differences in American and Chinese teaching styles could not have been more clear. Our whole conversation had basically been mapped out, leaving little wiggle room for deviation. While that was an interesting learning experience, I am very glad that Orlando was able to keep the US style of free reigning conversation and exploration so we could steer the questions in the direction we wanted.

  9. Lindsay Conant Says:

    Hangzhou was another beautiful ‘small’ city in China. Visiting with the university students provided an interesting perspective on the life as an MBA in China. There was a very strong emphasis and focus on being an entrepreneur. Our speaker said this was the result of being in a region, which was known for it’s successful companies started by entrepreneurs. The students were also planning a trip to the US to visit some universities (Harvard, MIT, Stanford), similar to our trip. However, they said the government must give approval of the visit and won’t do so until a couple of weeks before the trip. This would be the University’s first school sponsored trip to the U.S. Overall, it was a very unique experience to talk to students and learn that our student lives and ambitions are more similar than I imagined.

  10. Leslie Farish Says:

    One of my first reactions to the Zhe Ziang University was twofold: 1) It was amazing to set foot in the region where 70% of tie production occurs given that my consulting team, Team Trend, was doing work in this sector and 2) Chinese MBA students do Global Connection study tours as well!

    One of the first students that my table had the chance to talk to was a gentleman named Bruce. Bruce was delighted to meet us as he explained that he and his fellow 1st year students would be travelling to the US in a few weeks to visit NYC and Washington D.C. It was neat to be able to prepare him for what to expect in the US, and equally as exciting to see that a Chinese MBA program is just as focused on globalization and a global education as American MBA programs are.

    As an American born student, I have always heard that students from other countries enjoy the opportunities to come to the USA to study at some of our country’s top universities. But what I gained from visiting Zhe Ziang is an even deeper respect for education in China. The guest professor mentioned that China produces 500,000 engineers annually, while the United States only produces 7,000! This statistic only leaves me to respect and admire the work ethic of the Chinese people. It takes a lot of hard work to get to a number like that!

  11. Daniel Harrison Says:

    The drizzly weather at the West Lake in Hangzhou prompted many of us to don our wet weather gear. An opportunistic street trader approached us as we got off the bus and began hawking small umbrellas. With the humiliations of my chopstick negotiation still reverberating, I managed to bargain with him for an umbrella for 10 yuan – under $1.50! As an added bonus, the umbrella design was decorated with knock-off ‘Toy Story’ characters. My room-mate, Scott, had evidently not planned for the rain and was darting around under various umbrellas. I gathered from previous discussions that he was a big fan of theme parks and figured he might appreciate the cartoon connection. So I gave him the umbrella, my good deed for the day was checked off!

    The afternoon visit to Zhejiang University was a rewarding experience. We had the chance to talk to MBA students and it made me realize how many of my experiences mirrored those studying a similar degree far overseas. Our table host, Bruce (he selected the name due to his admiration of Bruce Lee) was a very dedicated student and was excited by the prospect of one day visiting the USA. He, along with a number of other students, showed us around the campus after our table discussions. We zipped around the sprawling campus in quirky electric vehicles. The landscaped greenery and lakes were tranquil in the afternoon sun, and the campus looked much like any western university. I realized that for those fortunate enough to attend this institution, the future was much brighter than for millions of their peers.

  12. Heidi Burns Says:

    The highlight of today’s experience was the visit with the MBA students of Zhe Jiang University which I believe is the #4 university in China. It was an intimate setting that easily allowed for dynamic discussion. We first heard from one of the entrepreneur professors that talked about entrepreneurship in Hangzhou. He made a comment about the driving force of entrepreneurs in China: $$$. I will be keeping my eye out for Hangzhou start-ups that make it big! We then had mini-table discussions with students. It was interesting to learn that most students go to school in the city they are from and stay there. I think this is quit different to the US graduate school system. Finally, the group gave us a tour of campus. I was impressed with how large the campus was and how modern the buildings were (Carpenter was looking very rough)! I also noticed on our tour how all the students dried their clothes out of their windows. I wonder if US students would ever embrace this or if all Chinese students would switch to a drier if it was readily and cheaply available?

  13. Joel Goering Says:

    Although some in our class were disappointed by the overcast, gray and misty weather today, I actually thought it added a pleasant touch to our trip to Hangzhou’s West Lake. I took a cool picture looking out from the boat through the fog and mist, with a hanging lantern in dark relief in the foreground and the mist rising above the lake in the background. Thankfully, it was not raining hard; it was just a light sprinkle, which seemed to accentuate the green-y lushness of the Huaguang Park garden.

    I agree with others who have said today’s highlight was the visit with MBA students and faculty at Zhe Jiang University. I enjoyed the professor’s lecture on the entrepreneurial spirit among the people in the Hangzhou region and how that spirit has driven its economic growth. He said there were more than 1 million small or medium enterprises (SME’s) in the Zhe Jiang province alone!

    It was also intriguing to learn about the massive numbers of rural Chinese who migrate every year to cities to find better economic opportunities and livelihoods to support their families. Many of these migrants take low-wage jobs in urban factories, making many of the consumer products that we in the U.S. take for granted: shoes, ties and other textiles, toys, small electronic devices, etc. In a period of increasing globalization, it is amazing to consider the interconnections between people all over the world, i.e. how the life of one poor subsistence farmer in China’s western hinterland intertwines with the life of a middle class factory worker in the U.S. If nothing else, the discussion on this topic gave us something important to think about as relatively well-off consumers and as future business managers.

  14. Jason Trkovsky Says:

    Another day, another garden. The garden and lake at Hangzhou were actually really cool. The rainy and foggy weather for the first half of the day actually made the garden have a distinct ancient sort of feel and yielded some great pictures. Visiting the MBA students at the university was a great learning experience, from discussing career goals to the subtle differences such as costs of tuition, lack of accessible student loans, etc. I hope they learned as much from us as we did from them.

  15. Juan Carlos Vallarino Says:

    Interacting with other MBA student from China was great! I was impressed by the enthusiasm students had in meeting with us and sharing some of their culture as well as their experiences as Chinese MBA students. We had some interesting discussions in our table, such as the differences between class discussions in US vs. China. According to Bruce, one Chinese MBA student who sat with us, the case method of teaching is not as popular in China as it is in the US. Furthermore, Chinese class discussions are usually performed in small groups vs. with the whole class as done in the US. I was also impressed by the campus of the University, which was big, extremely modern, and very organized!

  16. Patrick O'Berry Says:

    A couple interesting things from today.

    The first was the contrast between the controlled choas and traffic of Hangzhou and the calm quiet of the gardens of Westlake. I’m actually glad the weather was not very good, as there is no telling how crowded the gardens would have been on a sunny day. It’s interesting to see how a huge, high density population finds ways to relax and be alone for a little bit. These gardens and the lake seem to find that refuge.

    I certainly agree with all of the previous comments about the similarities and differences of the MBA experience in China and the US. I was struck by how modern and spread out the campus was. In a way, it felt very much like the University of Florida in Gainsville. Large, spread out buildings around a lake- the only thing missing was the gators. I also enjoyed one of the students, Bruce, telling us about his experience learning English from movies- primarily Forrest Gump (scary thought)- and how he selected his English name from his movie hero, Bruce Lee.

  17. Ian Vaisman Says:

    This was another highlight of the trip for me. I won’t go into the details of waking up at an ungodly hour again, and riding on a train.
    The West Lake and Temple presented again some more sights of the Chinese landscape. However, the best part of the day was our visit to Zhe Jiang University.
    Widely regarded as the third best University, we got an opportunity to listen to a lecture from a professor from their MBA program. The Q&A we had with him proved to be really insightful, and most people enjoyed the time when he categorically disagreed with Joel’s view.
    My favorite part of the day was the break-out session with the local students. It was such an enriching experience to hear them ask questions, find out what motivates them and what intrigues them. We had a couple of guys on our table and I clearly remember Hannibal (his western name) explaining why he chose the roman conqueror as his namesake. For someone who probably doesn’t speak English often his skills were remarkable. He was inquisitive and really came alive when talking about the Chinese economy and how coming from a smaller town was such a great opportunity for him.
    Our trip there ended with a tour of campus and right there and then I was able to glimpse the magnitude of their University.
    I think they definitely should keep this visit in the future since it added so much to both parties involved!

  18. Dorothy Says:

    We had two outtings this day: the University and Hangzhou. I really enjoyed interacting with the MBA students and comparing life at McCombs with life at Zhejiang. We found out the program is 50% women. Slight difference than in our class! I was also interested to learn about the focus on entrepreneurship and international business. While our cirriculum tends to focus on business in the U.S. for the most part, the Chinese MBA focuses solely on business abroad. I was also reminded about a difference in our culture in that it is not unusual for a married son to continue to receive money from his parents. Perhaps we can adopt that one? The MBA’s are planning a trip to the U.S. to visit other schools and I’d love to hear their take-away from the experience.

    The boat ride was a great break from the rest of the sight seeing activities. It was awesome to get out on the water. It was a little cloudy so visibility wasn’t great, but it was good enough to snag a front row seat at the water show.

  19. Jeff Harbach Says:

    One of the coolest days of the trip, by far! Hangzhou was awesome, and the West Lake area was as beautiful as I hoped it would be. Only bummer was again the visibility, but we were told that it is usually much better than it was that day. Tour of West Lake was great, and the boat ride was also really nice. Lunch was good, but I am starting to grow tired of basically the same dishes each meal. I wish we could get some variety. However, on the bright side, I am enjoying more of the food than I thought I would, and I’m loving using the chopsticks! (One more note about the meals there is that you are very limited in how much drink you get. They just don’t drink as much liquid as we do I guess. This was a tough adjustment for me!).

    Visit with the MBA students was easily the highlight of the day, and really one of the highlights of the trip. It was so invigorating to meet with them, hear their stories, and share ours. They had a lot of questions about the case method, as they do not use that at their school but they are pressing the professors to introduce it into the curriculum. I started some great relationships on this visit, and have emailed back and forth with 3 of the students that I spoke with most. Lasting cross-continent friendships…priceless!

  20. Killian Lapeyre Says:

    It was interesting visiting MBA students at Zhe Jiang University. The infrastructure was very similar to ours. Two things made appearances look different than your average university in the US: (1) there were very few cars on campus; US campuses are always cluttered with traffic. And, (2) all the dorms used clotheslines.

    Talking with students, it was great to exchange questions and hear their thoughts about us. I was amused by their perception of our work life balance. We think they work tirelessly, and we think they work tirelessly. My guess is both of us exaggerate the other’s workload.

  21. Liz Eppler Says:

    While Suzhou was disappointing, Hangzhou definitely made up for it. The variety of plants with different blooming dates made a very beautiful setting. Westlake was also gorgeous, even with the haze. There was a water show on the lake choreographed with music, and one of the Chinese students told us that one of the songs came from the Chinese story similar to Romeo and Juliet.

    The university was quite enlightening. I enjoyed meeting other students and learning about their education. Their campus was very pretty, even though every single person in the dorms had their laundry hanging outside to dry, including underwear! I think I would have to go against culture if I ever lived in China and use a clothes dryer!

  22. Will Bridges Says:

    After going to the West Lake, I got to meet up with a childhood friend of mine at lunch. His name is Ian Hanks and he moved to Shanghai about five years ago, worked there for 4, and just recently moved to Hangzhou. Ian loves it in Asia and doesn’t ever plan to permanently return to the states. He speaks almost perfectly fluent Chinese, which made me pretty jealous. He was even trying to talk me into moving to Shanghai for the World Expo this summer, which I’m still on the fence about, but the realties of job finding are definitely complicating things.

    Meeting with the MBAs from Zhe Jiang University was pretty great. I especially liked touring the campus. It was crazy to see a university almost the size of UT, except everything seemed so calm and sleepy. I guess that’s because it’s in a “small” Chinese town of only 7 million! 😉

  23. Paulo Martin Says:

    The third and last early start of our trip. Another train ride and we got to Hangzhou. Even though it was a rainy day the visit to West lake was nice, specially the boat ride and the dancing waters.

    After having lunch we headed to Zhe Jiang University were we learned about the entrepreneurial culture in the region and the desire of being a boss that moves the entrepreneurs. It was amazing to learn that in some cases they hold wages payment for three to six moths in order to get their business going and how they cooperate with each other to be successful.

    The University Campus was amazing and the students we met were very friendly and eager to learn more about our experiences as MBA students in the US.

  24. Margaret Cheng Says:

    At Zhe Jiang university, Jennifer asked one of the university MBA professors what aspects of innovation the nation excelled in with regards to business. The professor answered that because it was a growing nation, China didn’t need to innovate; you could make anything and turn that into money. I recounted that response to my uncle, and he responded that China always puts on a good face for westerners. For every business success in China, there were thousands of failures behind it, and that response shouldn’t have been appropriate for an MBA program. His reaction reminded me of my cousin’s response to Shannon and Shelli’s question of how many people would be at the Shanghai Expo 2010. My cousin said that whatever number the government reports, it’s over-inflated. These stories and experiences summed up my impression of China where some days I was amazed with China’s progress and potential and other days disillusioned.

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