As Seen From Space…

“Ni Hao” from Beijing! We just had the most AMAZING day. After an evening full of peking duck (which included eating duck intestines, liver, and hearts), we woke up bright and early to make the three hour trip to The Great Wall.

I had been coordinating back in the States with a special guide (thanks to second year Katie B!) to take us to a non-renovated, non-public section of the wall. Communication wasn’t quite ideal between the US and Beijing, so we didn’t know what to expect. We were told a guide would be picking us up at our hostel at 7:30 am on Saturday, and, lo and behold, a man wearing an Ohio State shirt showed up and off we went! We were missing Dandan, who went home to Nanjing for the weekend, but luckily Yuming’s Mandarin is up to par, and he was able to communicate for us.

When we got to the Wall, there was hardly anyone around, but there was a small restaurant near the Wall where we ate lunch. It was the best food we’ve had so far, which is saying something! And then the trek began.

I don’t really know what to say about the hike, because it honestly cannot be put into words. The unadulterated beauty, endless miles of architecture, bright blue skies, and incredible history made this one of the best experiences of all of our lives. We were sweaty, dirty, breathing heavy, and absolutely thrilled. Even though photos can’t do it justice, I will let them speak.

O-H-I-O on The Great Wall

O-H-I-O on The Great Wall

wall2

wall3

It wasn't an easy climb!

It wasn’t an easy climb!

Team Philips (minus Dandan)

Team Philips (minus Dandan)

Unfortunately, our CVG team friends missed the train last night. But, they managed to get an early train on Saturday. We set up a car for them to get picked up and taken straight to the Wall, and they were able to do the hike in the afternoon. That evening at the hostel (which was great–we had an 8 person dorm room all to ourselves!), everyone passed out early, prepping for another exciting day of touring Beijing tomorrow.

A Budget Traveler’s Dream

By far the biggest perk about studying abroad in Singapore is the ease of traveling around Southeast Asia. I was able to travel to 5 different countries outside of Singapore and the most I paid for a flight was $300 to Australia. Most flights were 2-3 hours long and only around $150. Airlines such as TigerAir and Jetstar make flying on a budget a breeze.

DSCN0283

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

My favorite country I visited was Thailand and I loved it so much that I went twice on my four month exchange. From the white sand beaches, to feeding elephants, to 40 baht pad thai, Thailand was nothing short of Paradise.

 

My favorite experience out of both my trips to Thailand was visiting an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai called Elephant Nature Park. I heard horror stories about how elephants are domesticated and knew I didn’t want to go the typical route and go elephant riding. Instead, I got to spend the entire day among them, feeding them, bathing them, and observing them. It was an unforgettable experience and I recommend it to anyone traveling to Thailand.

DSCN1580

Elephants playing in the river

DSCN1539

Up Close & Personal

 

Other amazing experiences included visiting the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, sailing Halong Bay (New 7 Wonder of Nature), diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and visiting tea plantations in Malaysia.

DSCN0734

Halong Bay, Vietnam

DSCN1072

Angkor Archeological Park

 

 

DSCN0959

Ta Prohm-Tomb Raider Temple

 

I was fortunate enough to travel to all these amazing places and not have to break the bank. Although traveling was relatively inexpensive, the people I met along the way, the culture, the views, and the memories were all priceless. I definitely recommend traveling as much as possible while on exchange because an opportunity like this doesn’t come often.

 

 

Double the New Year, Double the Fun

After 2 months of being in Singapore, I have come to realize what a truly multicultural country it is. Everything from the people to the food to the holidays embody that. This year I was fortunate enough to experience two New Year’s celebrations.

I started off my New Year in Singapore at Marina Bay and it was absolutely spectacular. The view of the city and Marina Bay Sands were picture perfect. New Year's 2015 in Singapore

 

I thought I would have to settle for an average New Year’s Eve because I knew that Chinese New Year’s was also big in Singapore but the celebrations were anything but average. I got to ring in the New Year with some local Singaporeans and my roommates who are fellow exchange students at SMU. As you can see, the city at night is full of lights.

New Year's with locals and exchange students

I can’t think of any other country where the Gregorian New Year (January 1st) celebrations are just as big as the celebrations for Chinese New Year (February 19th)! Chinese New Year in Singapore was just as fun and colorful with a cultural twist.

Chinese New Year Singapore

 

Even after I leave Singapore, I think my new tradition will be to celebrate two New Year’s, every year.

 

Judgment Day

The day finally came for us to present our research (all 10 weeks worth) in a two-hour presentation in front of the C-Level executives at Philips Healthcare China. Our emotions were running high, from nervous to excited, insecure to confident.

Philips - PresentationWould we provide Philips with novel ideas that they had never thought of? Had our ideas already been implemented? Were we completely off track? There was a level of uncertainty that was present throughout the project, due to the ambiguity of the assignment. We were going to address that uncertainty today. Would it be a success though? That was the big question.

109Fortunately, the presentation and our ideas were a success. After in-depth questioning of our research and recommendations, we found out that we reaffirmed ideas that Philips was currently working on, as well as presented new ideas for the Home Healthcare team to further explore. Philips was impressed with our presentation, our ideas, and our professionalism. And more importantly, the Philips team was impressed with us as individuals.110They even treated us to lunch with live octopus being cooked right in front of us.  It was definitely a new experience…

112

 

 

Although there was an air of sadness as we finished the day, this was an experience that neither we nor the Philips team will ever forget.

Special Foods

China is full of special and exotic foods.  Although we only tried a few, here are some of the pictures (for bragging rights, of course):

77

Duck head anyone?

78

Crab and meat (?) on a stick

669

Chicken feet. Good for strong bones.

IMG_1676

Live octopus being cooked at the lunch table…

113

Definitely had to try some octopus brains

 

 

IMG_1643

Baijiu – the everclear of China

 

 

IMG_1779

Cobra heart and blood. This was in Vietnam, but still very cool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Wall

We meet again. Team Philips and Team Momentive met up, along with fellow classmate Yiran, to conquer the Great Wall. In our quest to climb this more ancient and lesser-traveled section, we woke up bright and early and drove almost 3 hours away from Beijing. But it was definitely worth it.

Even Phil, having been to the Great Wall several time previously, was stunned by the unadulterated section that we trekked.

Great Wall Pic 1

When we got to the top, we had to scale up the Wall with all of our stuff! The ladies regretted bringing our purses (we foolishly thought this was a tourist excursion)….

Great Wall Pic 2

The view was amazing – the Wall stretches as far as you could see in both directions. Anna, our tour guide, said a friend of hers took two years to walk the full Wall East to West. I believe it – it took us 5 hours to go about 2 miles on the Wall. It is crumbling, and huge boulders and trees are in the middle of the Wall in random places. To navigate the ups and downs there were steps, but some were ridiculously steep.

Great Wall Pic 3

And it took a while to go downhill since the rocks/steps weren’t always super stable (we had a couple of rock slides on our tour).

Great Wall Pic 4

There were a few harrowing moments – like when we had to cross a 6” wide portion of the trail on the OUTSIDE of the Wall to get around an unpassable portion of the hike – there was a sheer drop behind us and a crumbling, smooth Great Wall in front. But we all made it!

Great Wall Pic 5

 

Wrap-up

As we celebrate an awesome final presentation delivered with grace to MES, we want to take the opportunity to thank our client and hosts: Hiten, Heena and Nipul for making our stay in India as pleasant as possible, for the opportunity of studying their business model and learning how business is being conducted in this part of the world. We have learned a lot in these three weeks and we couldn’t have had a better client.
Here is a little something Hiten, the CEO has prepared for his “F” Team. “F” as in Fisher!!!!Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.06.44 AM

Selfies

I had to post this because we have found out an amazing thing about Ean. Actually two.
The first is that he is a robot: he does not sweat on a 100 degrees temperature and can make elevators run when nobody can. The second, is that he has an unique talent for selfies: he can take a selfie with a group of 100 people if he so wants and everyone will be in the picture (weather they like it or not). Here are some examples. He has however trouble taking pictures of more… moving subjects such as the cows in the streets. It took many attempts for a lucky few.

1964780_10152553928934180_1020937451992451214_n

1972350_10152537542879180_5297063557572830678_n

10247289_10152523049909180_2616014495083921769_n

10277399_10152532242944180_271297959896172653_n

10322765_10152537543609180_7685371530833846535_n

Baby Store Tour

Mon and Pop stores are very popular in India. Compared to chains, those small stores seem like more flexible and friendly. Today, we went to two baby stores, one cooperated with our competitor and an individual owner. There is one interesting situation that all the clerks in stores are male. We thought customers would more like to talk to female clerks, since female clerks probably can understand their needs more.

MeeMee is the biggest local brand in India. It is very successful to repackage and market with the MeeMee brand. Wide product category and beautiful package earn lots of customers’ trust. In the MeeMee store, we found that for some products they only sell MeeMee products but they also introduce some international brands in some categories. We wonder how they decide to launch sole or multiple brands in the categories.

In the individual store, we found that the food and products for baby almost are made in America, Europe or Japan with higher price, and the toys or clothes are made in China. It seems like people are more willing to pay more and seek higher quality of products for baby.

In the hot and humid day, the best thing is to have coconut water~~

IMG_2318

IMG_2330 IMG_2333 IMG_2334 IMG_2317 IMG_2313