Jina in China

Jina, a senior management major in Cox School of Business, is spending summer 2010 in Hong Kong with the SMU-in-China program.

Laundry day

The weekend passed by really quickly. Some of us had to do laundry, and trying to figure out the laundry machines was somewhat stressful. Thanks to the help of some students, we were able to get our towels and clothes cleaned! They also had these water extractors, which helped the clothes dry faster.

My initial thought was to take some reading and just sit at a coffee shop to read. Some of us decided it would be nice to get some reading done, so we took the train down to the Shatin Station. When we got there, we found out that the ideal environment of a coffee shop with nice slow jazz music in the background with comfortable sofas was nowhere to be found. We were stuck in the middle of waves of people. We just looked at each other, and that’s when we found out the initial plan had failed. We ended up walking around, or literally “went with the flow” of people and made our way back to I-House.

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Saving money

After spending so much money on food, a couple of us decided to go grocery shopping. In the early afternoon, we took the shuttle bus down to the market and bought some comfort food and detergent. J1.png

When I was in Xi’an, China in 2006, I was surprised to find there was no milk. Now, I was surprised to find so many different kinds of milk so I decided to be adventurous and try some. A PB&J and a cup of milk (box of milk rather) sounded so good!

Many of us were exhausted by the time we got back to I-house, so we decided to rest. Thanks to the exhaustion, some of us were able to be productive and got some assignment reading done. After a few hours of good rest in an air-conditioned room, we all decided to go out. We dressed up and went out without specific destination. We got off at the East Tsim Sha Shui MTR station near the harbor and decided to go have a nice dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel.

J2.pngThe Intercontinental Hotel’s restaurant was overlooking Hong Kong Island, and the view from the restaurant was breathtaking! Even the people in our group who never want to take pictures were willing to take a picture with the amazing view in the background. We sat near the window and had a great meal admiring the view of Hong Kong Island. I feel like it was a great time to get to know each other better and just be touristy and take pictures with the view.

After the dinner, we all walked toward the harbor to get a closer look and the night view of Avenue of Stars, which was totally different compared to the view during the day. After walking around the harbor, we called it a night and returned back to the I-House.

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SMU connections in Hong Kong

One week has passed really quickly. Today’s lecture was about the Competition & Cooperation of Hong Kong and Neighboring Cities, presented by Professor JF Shen. He compared a couple of neighboring mainland cities – Shenzhen and Guangzhou – to Hong Kong.

He presented us with areas of concern in which these cities compete against Hong Kong as well as how these cities are cooperating with Hong Kong. He gave specific examples with the development of the Shenzhen International Airport and its impact on Hong Kong International Airport, which was interesting to see.

After the class, Alison took the group down to the Central Station to meet with Daniel and Ryan (SMU alumni working in Hong Kong). Daniel and Ryan were very engaging and friendly. We were able to ask questions and get advice on must-do and must-eat in Hong Kong as well as how they manage employees from different cultures and backgrounds. Just listening to their own experience was valuable to all of us interested in the international business world.

Since we were already at the Central Station, we were able to split up into small groups to explore the city and shop. Because I have been wearing my heels all day, I wanted a foot massage and decide to go for a nail spa. Alison was kind enough to guide a couple of us to a spa that she knew and we were able to get the 10 percent discount! We took the trolley instead of the train, where we were able to people watch and just see different parts of the city, which was very exciting!

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A full day of activities

Today, we learned about Sino-US Relations and also briefly talked about perceptions that are formed by the impact of media with Dr. Glenn Shive. It was very interesting to see the change and consistency of the relationship between China and US, which has impacted the ways the two countries interact today. After the class, we had lunch with Alison Chan (CUHK Representative of our program).

Over the lunch, I asked Alison if it was common for people not to clean up after themselves in Hong Kong and in China, and I was surprised by an unexpected response. I was expecting her to agree with my confusion but instead she said, “It creates a job and that job feeds a family of four.” Before her response, I just thought maybe it was a result of the One Child Policy and they always had someone who cleaned after them.

But after Alison’s comment, my initial reaction has changed, and now I feel more uncomfortable cleaning after myself because I don’t want to take away a job. It is an interesting change of perception.

After lunch and a couple hours of free time, we met up in front of the bus station in order to go to our first corporate visit to the Hong Kong Science & Technology Park, which was just one bus stop away from the campus. The HKSTP is a facility that was developed in the attempt of the government to encourage research and development of new technology of entrepreneurs as well as foreign investors. We were able to take a tour of an exhibition of developing RFID technology in consumers’ lives as well as supply chain procedures.

Another full day of activities made many of us exhausted, but with the strong desire to experience the Hong Kong night life, we attempted an adventure down to the Central Station to explore the city. We were supposed to have a quick bite to eat at the Shatin mall and go down to the Central area, but found ourselves too exhausted and naturally found our way back home to the I-House for the night.

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Above Hong Kong

Professor Leslie Young was today’s professor, and the title of the lecture was Macroeconomic Issues in Chinese Economy. The professor was very knowledgeable, and the group members were all impressed at his ability to connect history, economy, finance, culture, and politics. It was an intense three hours of lecture with stimulating ideas and discussions.

After the lecture, we all had a lunch in one of the cafeteria on the CUHK campus. Stimulating discussion from the classroom carried over to the tables of the cafeteria, and we were able to share our thoughts about the lecture. Over the lunch table, we talked about how we should spend the afternoon and decided to take a trip down to the Peak Tram.

As a group, we took the MTR down to Central Station. As soon as I walked out of the exit, we were amazed and overwhelmed by the forest of skyscrapers and the New York-like environment. The Peak Tram was developed originally to provide visitors (of the Peak Hotel) and residents (of the peak) convenience but is now one of the most revenue-generating tourist sights in Hong Kong. About 10 minutes of the tram ride led us into a mall that sold many different souvenirs.

Jina.jpg Out of a handful of restaurants, we chose to eat at the Burger King! I ordered the healthy alternative menu: Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which was so salty it made me wonder why I ordered it in the first place. While eating, I noticed something very unique and odd. Hardly any customers cleaned after themselves, and I wondered why while pushing my tray into the trashcan.

After the meal, we took escalators up to the observatory where we were able to see the harbor, skyline of Hong Kong, and mountains that surrounded the city. It was absolutely priceless to be up in the observatory, seeing the light of the sun being replaced by lights of skyscrapers.

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Arrival in Hong Kong

JIna1.png After arriving to Hong Kong last night, I was able to get a good rest in the dorm room in the International House of the CUHK (Chinese University of Hong Kong). The room had an amazing view of water and mountains.

Jina2.png In the morning, nine of us as a group met up in front of our dorm that will be a home to all of us for a month, and we walked down the mountain to the classroom together. Along the way, we were able to enjoy the extraordinary view of the mountains and tree lines.

Our first class was taught by Professor Gordan Mathews about the Globalization and Culture of Hong Kong, in particular the role played by the Chungking Mansions. Chungking Mansions: a place of trade and also cheap accommodation for merchants and travelers from around the world.

Jina3.png After the lecture, we were able to take a field trip down to the Chungking Mansions. We took the MTR (Subway system in Hong Kong) to the Tsim Sha Tsui station and walked a little to the place. When we arrived at the Chungking mansions, we were able to explore and bargain for phone cards, rings, necklaces, kimonos, and more. It was very interesting to see different ethnicities and cultures interacting together, which is really difficult to find in any other society.

Jina4.png After the group explored and shopped, we had a unique lunch at a hidden restaurant in the mansions with the professor. When we were finished, we were all well-fed and well-hydrated! The group split up in two groups to explore around the mansions, and then met up again at the Avenue of Stars: the Hong Kong version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It had names of famous Hong Kong stars engraved on the ground and endless view of buildings of Hong Kong Island.

I personally love the location of the campus despite all the hills that we have to walk up and down because it reminds me of my hometown in Korea, and it is also great exercise walking up and down and sweating off all your water weight! Hong Kong is definitely user-friendly with easy-to-follow signs and merchants who speak enough English to understand what I want. I knew that people in Hong Kong didn’t speak Mandarin, but I was a bit disappointed to find out I wasn’t able to use a little Mandarin Chinese that I know to communicate. But it is better to be understood and be able to get around than not be understood and be lost!

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