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Leaving the ‘Paris of the East’ – Goodbye Shanghai! – Day Nine of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai

In Business Education, DCU Business School, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, Ireland, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Travel, World Expo 2010 on August 11, 2010 at 9:18 am
The DCU Business School Group pose one last time outside the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai.

The DCU Business School Group pose one last time outside the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai.

And so our Shanghai adventures come to an end.

We decided to spare ourselves the hassle of  negotiating the Shanghai transport system at 7am and rented a coach to the Airport – it took significantly longer than the MagLev! Unsurprisingly (1) we had more luggage leaving and (2) few people were awake to witness our departure through the outskirts of Shanghai. Checking in at Pudong International Airport was straightforward and only one person had to pay extra baggage charges!

Laurynas Binderis modelling a fetching pair of sunglasses at Duty Free in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai.

Laurynas Binderis modelling a fetching pair of sunglasses at Duty Free in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai.

Pudong International Airport is extremely modern and the range of shops and duty free goods is excellent. I think I did a good job avoiding the propensity to buy unusually large amounts of tacky souvenirs and bought what I thought my wife and kids would genuinely like (and for the record they did!) – a Shanghai Tang scarf for Niamh, a “genuine” Chinese ethnic doll for Aoife, a panda bear pillow for Jamie and last but not least, a Panda hat for Chloe. The Panda hat may be a bit big!

Ciara Dolan models Chloe's Panda Bear hat as Micheal O'Leary looks on enviously in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai. Stylish.

Ciara Dolan models Chloe's Panda Bear hat as Micheal O'Leary looks on enviously in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai. Stylish.

The flight home was a mixed affair. I got upgraded to Business Class so I was as happy as the proverbial pig however the group got randomly spread across the rest of economy rather than together and I think the BA crew could have been more understanding in relation to some specific cultural requirements some of our students had. Equally everyone was tired. The minor stopover at Heathrow, lunch at Giraffe and short hop to Dublin was not worth mentioning – everyone home safe and sound!

6,141 miles, 9 days, 24 postgrads, 3 support staff, one monkey, very little sleep – was it worth it? Absolutely.

The roll of honour:

Andrew Bonello (Research Assistant, DCU Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) Research Centre, DCU Business School)

Andrew Bonello (Research Assistant, DCU Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) Research Centre, DCU Business School)

Sarah McPartlin (Teaching Assistant, DCU Business School)

Sarah McPartlin (Teaching Assistant, DCU Business School)

Micheal O'Leary (Teaching Assistant, DCU Business School)

Micheal O'Leary (Teaching Assistant, DCU Business School)

Wafa AlMuhamma (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Wafa AlMuhamma (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Laurynas Binderis (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Laurynas Binderis (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Siobhan Buckley soaks up Shanghai on the Big Bus Tour

Siobhan Buckley (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Rosemary Clancy (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Rosemary Clancy (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Brian Connolly (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Brian Connolly (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Joe Cullinan (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Joe Cullinan (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Sean Cullivan (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Sean Cullivan (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Ciara Dolan (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Ciara Dolan (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Sean Donnelly (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Sean Donnelly (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Niamh Downey (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Niamh Downey (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Rob Elliffe (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business Sc

Rob Elliffe (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Martin Hennig (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Martin Hennig (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Dan Higgins (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business Sch

Dan Higgins (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School

Keith Lawless (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Keith Lawless (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Tanya McNamara (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Tanya McNamara (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Beatrice Metzler (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Beatrice Metzler (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Laureen Morrissette (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Laureen Morrissette (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Niamh NicClamha (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Niamh NicClamha (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Lorna NiMhuiri (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Lorna NiMhuiri (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Nicolae (Nick) Opris (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Nicolae (Nick) Opris (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Carolann O'Sullivan (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Carolann O'Sullivan (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Barry Sweeney (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Barry Sweeney (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Zara Walsh (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Zara Walsh (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Ekaterina (Katia) Zavershinskaya (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Ekaterina (Katia) Zavershinskaya (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

The Monkey

The Monkey

r. Theo Lynn (Director, DCU Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) Research Centre, DCU Business School)

Dr. Theo Lynn (Director, DCU Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) Research Centre, DCU Business School)

More photos on flickr.
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From Shanghai markets to Shanghai banquets – Day Three of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai 2010

In Business Education, Chinese Restaurants in Shanghai, DCU Alumni in China, DCU Business School, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, Ireland, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Uncategorized on July 13, 2010 at 9:15 pm
Dr. Theo Lynn poses with some purchases - traditional Chinese umbrella (no respecting Irish tour guide can go without one) and "Swiss Army" luggage...

Dr. Theo Lynn poses outside the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum with some purchases from the "market"- traditional Chinese umbrella (no respecting Irish tour guide can go without one) and "Swiss Army" luggage...

Day Three of our trip to Shanghai started with a visit to the market underneath the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. Literally underneath this very official tourist attraction is located a very unofficial one….a huge shopping centre of hundreds of microshops selling every kind of Chinese merchandise imaginable….if you can accept the somewhat questionable provenance! Shoes, polo shirts, dresses, luggage, jewellery (including sunglasses, watches and pearls), sports equipment, toys, tourist mementos and all kinds of electronics.

As Siobhan Buckley fans herself next to Rosemary Clancy, Micheal O'Leary sums up the day of shopping at Shanghai's markets - Deal Well Done!

As Siobhan Buckley fans herself next to Rosemary Clancy, Micheal O'Leary sums up the day of shopping at Shanghai's markets - Deal Well Done!

The discerning eye will notice the small mistakes e.g.

  • Hollister polo shirts in Abercrombie bags
  • iPads with Android OS
  • Todd’s shoes with one ‘d’
  • 500GB usb sticks with 500MB stickers on back of packaging

Despite these small ethical questions, value was to be had provided you were willing to negotiate. ‘Ugg’ boots, ‘Gant’ and ‘Paul Smith’ polo shirts, ‘Breitling’ watches and “Ray ban’ sunglasses seem to have been the popular selections. The adage that ‘all good things come to he who waits’ really is true – some overeager members of the group delighted with a 20% discount found later that they were literally ripped off while the more patient and tenacious got whopping 90%+ discounts on the original offer.

DCU Business School students trade market information at the markets under the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

DCU Business School students trade market information at the markets under the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

Despite this, the key consideration was whether you felt happy with your purchase and whether you could live with the deal you made (although I note history was revised on a number of occasions and deals just seemed to get better and better as time passed).

Laureen Morrissette, Keith Lawless, Rosemary Clancy, Lorna NiMhuiri and Niamh Downey get ready to do some shopping in the market below the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

Laureen Morrissette, Keith Lawless, Rosemary Clancy, Lorna NiMhuiri and Niamh Downey get ready to do some shopping in the market below the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

If shopping didn’t float your boat, the haggling was entertaining. I took a more pragmatic approach which I called “negotiating by walking away” – literally after 1-2 offers, I would walk away. This seemed to work but I was also the focus of some  serious verbal abuse by some indignant hawkers who regularly questioned my manhood! My other strategy was based on my experience in Russia in the eighties which was to identify things everyone in the group would eventually want to buy and negotiate bulk deals; ebony chopstick sets, fans and polo shirts all provided popular with the rest of the group while garnering me both discounts and some free gifts. Unlike Russia, don’t flash hard currency – lamb and slaughter come to mind! Other advice – watch the sizes of clothing – remember large in China is pretty small in Ireland –  and be prepared to live with the knowledge that what you buy will probably fall apart or not work the way you expect. Bag straps break, kinetic watches lose 15 minutes in the hour and iPhones that just make phone calls are just phones. Any regrets? The handmade fitted suits and shirts were good value and some of the guys bought them however even these were not without problems – in one instance, the professional grey suit turned in to a Bono-a-la-zoo-tv shiny silver one but in fairness, they made another suit within 24 hours. I should note that we didn’t see any pirated dvds or music (apparently as a result of recent World Expo-related crackdown).

While the tailor-made suits were good value, the storenames were sometimes lost in translation

While the tailor-made suits were good value, the storenames were sometimes lost in translation

After 3 hours we eventually emerged from our shopping tunnels (can I coin a new word – ‘shunnel’?) to blinding sun, scorching heat and unbelievable humidity….time to do some work. Our first official meeting today was with Xiaoxia Wang, the DCU China Representative. Xiaoxia is based in Beijing and is a graduate of the MBS in Marketing programme in DCU Business School. Some members of our team, Rob Elliffe, Niamh NicClamha and Zara Walsh are doing group practicums on international student recruitment for DCU and DCU Language Services and so wanted to interview Xiaoxia to understand her perspective in the market. With Andrew and I, the six of us met at our hotel and walked to a traditional Chinese hot pot restaurant for lunch before meetings that Xiaoxia organised with some of the DCU recruitment agents in Shanghai.

Niamh NicClamha, Xiaoxia Wang, Rob Elliffe, Dr. Theo Lynn, Andrew Bonello and Zara Walsh enjoy a traditional Chinese hot pot lunch

Chinese hot pot is not as straightforward as it looks nor is it as complicated as it could be. What initially was beginning to look like a series of cultural faux pas ended up being an incredibly entertaining meal and one of the most memorable. For those as uninitiated as me:

1. Don’t make a little pallette of the different sauces, herbs and spices on the table – you are meant to mix them together as a sauce

2. The big pot is not stew, it’s for cooking your food – don’t start spooning it out no matter how hungry you are

3. It really only takes 5-10 seconds to cook your food – don’t overdo it

4. If you can’t use chopsticks, ask for a cutlery and a ladel – the Chinese do it too

Basically, don’t be so Irish!

Rob Elliffe, Zara Walsh, Niamh NicClamha, Andrew Bonello and Dr. Theo Lynn pose with DCU Agents in China and Xiaoxia Wang, DCU China Rep

Rob Elliffe, Zara Walsh, Niamh NicClamha, Andrew Bonello and Dr. Theo Lynn pose with DCU Agents in China, Julia Wang (Shanghai Oriental Overseas Studying Service) and Kenny Wang (IESC), and Xiaoxia Wang, DCU China Rep

Our lunch was followed by a meeting with two of DCU’s Chinese Agents, Julia Wang (Shanghai Oriental Overseas Studying Service) and Kenny Wang (IESC). Between Xiaoxia, Julia and Kenny, a lot of valuable data was both derived and teased out – the difference in undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment, the importance of ranking, the influence of parents (particularly at undergraduate level) and the key role agents play. This was all subordinate to one key factor – Ireland simply isn’t on the radar as an international study destination for the overwhelming majority of Chinese students. Educating the Chinese public, and not only prospective student but parents, on Ireland is essential. While the Irish agencies do a good job, the scale of investment needed is not insignificant if we are to make a genuine mark. Our agents were somewhat surprised (although happily) about DCU‘s increasing specialisms in biotechnology and e-commerce and associated links with industry, our postgraduate business conversion courses (MSc in Business Management), links with US universities and high ranking for our size and age (DCU although ranked 279 worldwide is the youngest college in the top 300 and is ranked extremely high within its class – G1). One of LINK‘s projects is focussed on best practice digital marketing for international student recruitment for the Dublin Region Higher Education Alliance under SIF II and the territory is certainly different than the map. Our Chinese website needs a dramatic improvement and we need to start seriously looking at advertising in China using sites such as Baidu and Sino amongst others.

Beatrice Metzler and Niamh NicClamha with DCU Chinese Alumni

Beatrice Metzler and Niamh NicClamha with DCU Business School Chinese Alumni at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店)

The day ended with dinner at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店), a restaurant frequented by Chinese rather than tourists for a Chinese banquet. These restaurants are much louder and brightly lit than one would expect. We had an all-in price – all the food (some 30 dishes), soft drinks and beer for c. 25 euros per person. We were joined by some the DCU alumni, including Xiaoxia, which added to the evening and provided us with insights in to living and working in China but not necessarily what we were eating!

Ekaterina Zavershinskaya, Xiaoxia Wang and Nick Opris discussing living and working in China at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店), Shanghai.

We sampled a variety of local dishes including various seafood (cooked and uncooked), lotus (quite nice), chicken (slightly raw for my taste), snake (surprisingly nice) and a warm fruit soup, peculiar due to the blue fruit (?) included within.

The snake at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店) was surprisingly tasty

The snake at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店) was surprisingly tasty

I think most people enjoyed the experience, if not the food. I have to say being able to see the live food you are about to eat in aquariums etc behind you is probably not to everybody’s taste and in particular the snakes were somewhat disconcerting.

Live snakes displayed before being cooked

Live snakes displayed before being cooked at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店)

While Julio Herrero, one of our alumni, tried to convince us to support Spain in the World Cup and join him to watch the Spanish match, most people headed back to the hotel late bar, the bizarrely named “Man Club”, although I did see a number of the group tracking down Happy Meals! What would we do without the American fast food invasion of the Far East!

DCU Business School Students discussing the deals of the day in "The Man Bar" at the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai

DCU Business School Students discussing the deals of the day in "The Man Bar" at the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai

More photos on flickr. Day Four to follow….