While I’ve previously travelled outside the United States, this is my first encounter with Asia. Thus it’s the farthest I’ve ever been away from home.
As a Student-Success Coach, I’ve spent years studying the education system, performing coaching services, and discussing what works and what doesn’t. For the past few years when it comes to academic success and a growing desire for success coaching, the country of discussion has been China. Therefore, I felt it vastly important to learn in a personal way what is actually happening in China within the world of education and the coaching industry. A country analysis helped for the initial preparation for my journey. Along with my personal research, advice came from various individuals on…well, everything.
- Prepare for chaos –and no personal space.
- Bring your own toilet paper- public restrooms don’t carry it for free.
- Tell your Facebook friends goodbye—(No FB in China).
- Don’t exchange your $$ until you arrive in Shanghai. Less fees.
- Don’t worry—Heading to Shanghai is like going to New York City—they just speak a different language.
- You’ll come back skinny with nothing but rice to eat.
- You’ll come back hefty from all that rice to eat.
What I’ve discovered is that despite all the research you do, and the words of wisdom you receive from random world adventurists– nothing teaches you about China like stepping into China.
At the Airport…
Within the first five minutes I learned the quick pace and the lack of personal space one has in Shanghai. With a total of over 1.3 Billion people in China, the concept of personal space is drastically different from a western mindset.
The airport shared Rule # 1: There are no official lines!
Waiting your turn is ridiculous—you create your turn. Just keep moving and if you have trouble finding your way-look down at your feet and you may find a nice green arrow assuring you’re still on the path.
Leaving the Airport….
The bus arrived to take myself along with 16 other eager students to the Jin Jang Inn, which is adjacent to the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) campus. Along the way we noticed an intriguing mixture of modern buildings along with traditional homes. Yet, the most noticeable consistency was that no matter how modern the home, a multitude of Chinese families all hang their clothes out the window to dry naturally.
While the day had been exceedingly long due to a 14-hour flight, upon arriving to the hotel it was clear that rest was not in our near future. When traveling to China it is customary for the Chinese host to welcome their guest with a decadent meal, and our arrival was no exception. We sat in the dining area where the gracious dining staff placed dinner portions around a “Lazy Susan”. Family style meals are most common in China, an attribute that connects to their collectivist culture. In China, meals are shared. There’s no such thing as splitting the check or tipping your waiter. Around our table rolled the most beautiful exotic dishes of roasted duck, seasoned vegetables, and a decorated fish (It kept its eye on us). The meal was lovely and served as a delicious start to a great adventure.